Martin Luther King, Jr. was opposed to the idea of Gradualism in the 1960s. The government wanted to slowly try to integrate African-Americans and Caucasians into the same society, but many African-Americans believed it was a way for the government to put off actually doing anything about racial segregation:
"This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy." Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC
Charles Darwin was influenced by Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, which explained both uniformitarian methodology and theory. Using methodological uniformitarianism, which states that one cannot make an appeal to any force or phenomenon which cannot presently be observed (see catastrophism), Darwin theorized that the evolutionary process must occur gradually, not in saltations, since saltations are not presently observed, and extreme deviations from the usual phenotypic variation would be more likely to be selected against.
Gradualism is often confused with the concept of phyletic gradualism, a term coined by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge to contrast with their concept of Punctuated equilibrium, which is gradualist itself (but accepts that saltation can occur, even though it is not a necessary mechanism nor the main point).