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Despite being contradicted by other studies like those of George Darwin and Alan Huth in England and Robert Newman in New York, the report's conclusions were widely accepted.
These developments led to 13 states and territories passing cousin marriage prohibitions by the 1880s.
In the past, cousin marriage was practised within indigenous cultures in Australia, North America, South America, and Polynesia.
Various religions have ranged from prohibiting sixth cousins or closer from marrying, to freely allowing first-cousin marriage.
The 19th-century academic debate on cousin marriage developed differently in Europe and America.By the 1870s, Lewis Henry Morgan (1818–1881) was writing about "the advantages of marriages between unrelated persons" and the necessity of avoiding "the evils of consanguine marriage", avoidance of which would "increase the vigor of the stock".To many, Morgan included, cousin marriage, and more specifically parallel-cousin marriage, was a remnant of a more primitive stage of human social organization. Briggs appointed a commission to study "idiots" in the state, and this study implicated cousin marriage as responsible for idiocy.When a question about cousin marriage was eventually considered in 1871 for the census, according to George Darwin, it was rejected on the grounds that the idle curiosity of philosophers was not to be satisfied.Cousin and sibling marriage were legal in ancient Rome from the Second Punic War (218–201 BC), until it was banned by the Christian emperor Theodosius I in 381 in the West, and until after the death of Justinian (565) in the East, but the proportion of such marriages is not clear.
In the Roman Catholic Church, unknowingly marrying a closely consanguineous blood relative was grounds for a declaration of nullity, but during the 11th and 12th centuries, dispensations were granted with increasing frequency due to the thousands of persons encompassed in the prohibition at seven degrees and the hardships this posed for finding potential spouses.