Page images



Conservation of our great national resources is a live question in America today. Food, clothing, and shelter for the untold millions that are to follow us is a matter of the utmost importance. Our great statesmen and reformers, realizing that the stability and perpetuity of our government to a great extent hinge on the solution of this question, are calling the attention of the people to the necessity of immediate action. Today we wish to speak of conservation along another line. The state has no material resources that can compare with that of its human population. It is a physically strong and an intelligent people that defends the State in time of war, and contribute most to its advancement in times of peace.

We wish in this paper to direct your attention to the conservation of the best qualities-moral, mental and physical-in the human family, and to this end we ask your kindly consideration. The eugenic program has been mapped out by a few sturdy pioneers in the world's progress, but the possibilities of race culture has not yet even dawned on the vision of the masses.

The word eugenics is of recent origin. The word was coined by Sir Francis Galton from the Greek, meaning, literally, to be well born. Galton defined eugenics as "the study of the agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations, either physically or mentally."

Genetics, or the science of plant and animal breeding, is a modern one, scarcely ten years old. The formulae, or laws upon which it rests, were discovered by Johann Mendel, an Augustinian monk, in 1865. In that year he published a paper entitled, "Experiments in Plant Hybridization," which was read before the Natural History Society of Brün, Austria. Scant notice was paid by his contemporaries to the notable discovery which was destined to overthrow all preconceived views in biology. His manuscript lay unnoticed in the archives of the Natural History Society from 1865 to the year 1900.

In the spring of 1900, three notable botanists, de Vries, Correns and Tschermac, by experiments that each had made on his own account, published manuscripts confirming Mendel's discoveries.

Thus after thirty years of neglect the formulæ of Mendel were unearthed, and the science of genetics placed on a secure foundation. * Read before the Illinois Homeopathic Medical Association, May, 1912.

From the year 1900, Mendel's laws have been universally acknowledged, and his reputation established as one of the world's greatest benefactors.

Since 1900 plant genetics as a science has grown by leaps and bounds. To enumerate the new varieties of fruits, vegetables, and cereals would require much time and space. To mention a few of these may be of interest at this time.

Luther Burbank, of Santa Rosa, California, has created a number of new species of plants. His Burbank potato, Lawton blackberry, Bartlett plum, new English walnut, wonderberry and spineless cactus are notable productions of his genius. R. H. Biffen, of Cambridge, England, has produced a new variety of wheat adapted to English soil, a wheat that is prolific and rust-proof. He has also experimented

with barley.

H. Nilsson, of Sweden, has originated quite a number of varieties in cereals. He produces cereals to order for a large commercial house, the monetary consideration being his chief object.

A new variety of cotton has been produced for our southern states that is immune to the boll weevil, and superior in fiber to the indigenous plant. Dr. H. J. Webber, of Cornell, has produced an orange that will thrive in latitudes farther north than any yet known. Chas. G. Patton, of Iowa, has succeeded in producing a greening apple that will resist the frosts in that cold climate-this is the far famed "Patton's greening."

Space forbids the mention of many other choice plants literally created since the Mendelian laws were recognized.

Our plant breeders no longer await the slow processes of natural evolution. New varieties that require ages for nature to produce can be duplicated by plant genetics in a few years. By simply applying Mendel's formulæ, and selecting only those plants that present the desired Mendelian characters, the survival of the fittest in plant life is quickly accomplished. The results already attained have excited the wonder and admiration of all. The near future promises the choicest specimens of cereals, fruits and vegetables, including trees and flowering plants.

Biologists, notably Prof. Bateson, of Cambridge, England, called the attention of the scientific world to the applicability of Mendel's formulæ to the propagation of animal species. I need but call your attention to the superior breeds of domestic animals that have been produced the last ten years in order to emphasize the importance of animal genetics. Breeders of horses, cattle and sheep unerringly apply Mendel's laws in

the production of superior breeds of those animals. The perfection of form, color, and disposition already attained warrant us in predicting the elimination of all undesirable qualities in any given species of lower animal life.

The application of Mendel's laws to human genetics is now under consideration in all the leading countries of the world. The eugenic movement was launched in England at the close of the last century. Sir Francis Galton, the auther of this movement, wrote a book entitled, "Hereditary Genius," in 1869. In 1883 he wrote another work, "Inquiries into the Human Faculty." These works attracted some attention, but it was not until 1901 that his work in this field excited much public interest. In that year, in his Huxley lecture before the Anthropological Institute, his subject was, "The Possible Improvement of the Human Breed under Existing Conditions of Law and Sentiment."

From this date on, the movement took deep root in the English mind. Sir Francis Galton died in January, 1911, leaving the bulk of his fortune to the University of London to endow a professorship, "The Galton Professorship of Eugenics." He named Prof. Karl Pearson as director of the laboratory and library. There has been recently organized in the United States a department of eugenics, an adjunct section of the American Breeder's Association. This organization has for its president David Starr Jordan, of Leland Stanford University, and for its secretary Chas. B. Davenport, of New York.

The germplasm in a family is the chief biological factor, and its most valuable asset. The germ cell is well nigh immortal, for it alone survives generation after generation, and from age to age. We have been taught that an ideal environment would solve the ills of mankind; that the human race, if well fed and housed and clothed, would change by natural evolution to a perfect stock, mentally and physically. Such a view is now considered unscientific. While environment is important in human development, it is far from being the principal factor. As an illustration of our meaning, we cite you to the experience of the agriculturist. He prepares his ground carefully; cultivates his grain assiduously; the rain and the sunshine visits his fields at the usual periods; the harvest time arrives and finds his crops inferior in quantity and quality. The cause of his failure lies not in environment nor in lack of cultivation. The seed that he selected was inferior.

Another illustration may assist in making the matter clearer: The stock farm is an established institution, and the breeder of domestic animals is recognized as a public benefactor. He provides suitable food, shelter and care in rearing his young stock. The environment

and care may be above criticism, but any tyro knows that the propagation of "scrub" stock will doom his business to failure.

Breeders inform us that the excellencies in stock production depend almost wholly on the careful selection of sire and dam. chosen carefully to bring out the Mendelian units desired. When these qualities have been secured they are made fast by inbreeding, and the breed becomes fixed and permanent. To the breeder, the germ plasm is of paramount importance. The environment, although important, is but secondary. So much for the consideration of comparative values of germplasm vs. environment.

The biological laws that apply in the breeding of apples or sheep apply also in the reproduction of the human species.

We now arrive at the main consideration in my paper.

(1) Is there a necessity for a world movement along eugenic lines. (2) How best to carry out the eugenic program.

(3) How best to impress the masses with the importance of race culture.

It is believed by many that the human race has arrived at a critical period in history at the parting of the ways. at the parting of the ways. The laws of natural

selection, which in the past insured the stability of mankind, are now to a great extent suspended.

Civilization can progress very little further until radical measures, from a biological point of view, are inaugurated. Man, by his great discoveries and inventions, has circumvented nature in many ways, so that her laws do not apply in safeguarding the race from the degenerate.

It should be stated also, as a common observation, that the degenerate among mankind are often quite prolific, while those families which are mentally and physically superior increase but slowly.

The same is true in the vegetable world. Weeds and noxious plants need no cuitivation. They grow spontaneously, and crowd out edible and other useful varieties. Fruits, cereals, and vegetables require protection and careful cultivation to insure their survival.

Statistics from many sources show conclusively that the human race as a whole is drifting towards mediocrity. Our penitentiaries and work houses, our asylums and other eleemosynary institutions are full to overflowing. Even in the State of Illinois, a new palatial asylum is being projected to accommodate the increasing army of defectives and degenerates. Our present methods for caring for this class only augments their number and increases the civic burden.

To this neglect of the criminal and defective classes is due many of the ills of society. We favor their propagation by a sentimental and mistaken philanthropy. Do not understand us to favor harsh means, such as ancient Greece inaugurated to rid herself of an undersirable population. We would retain all our humane methods of caring for these delinquents. We seek only to avoid the future propagation of these undesirable elements of society. The burden placed on the state. by the rapid production of paupers and criminals has reached the straining point, and threatens disruption.

Modern states have been not only indifferent to the rapid propagation of the criminal, degenerate and defective classes, but have unwittingly, from sentimental reasons, contributed largely to their multiplication. We have carefully preserved in large, charitable and penal institutions-veritable palaces of splendor-the diseased and defective specimens from inferior stocks, and then have allowed them liberty to generate brood after brood of similar degenerates.

Another source of danger, especially to our own country, are the inadequate immigration laws. From many countries of Europe and Asia swarm to our shores families with defective germ plasm. These individuals, admitted by our immigration officials, may not give evidence outwardly of their defective heredity; yet the fact remains that they are a menace to posterity. An apparently normal individual may bear with him a very defective germ plasm, and thus be more dangerous, from a biological point of view, than an actually diseased person who otherwise is of good stock.

Germ plasm that contains a half determiner for criminality or feeblemindedness is a great menace to society, and should not be allowed admittance to this country. Our immigration officials carefully exclude individuals who present any of the ordinary manifestations of disease. or mental defects.

On first reflection, these laws seem adequate to protect our people from admixture with inferior stock, but from a biological standpoint this is far from being true. The individual desiring admission may pass all physical and mental tests successfully, and yet, as stated above, carry very defective germ plasm. The perfecting of our immigration laws and some other steps necessary to be taken in order to exclude these defective strains, are matters that require careful consideration.

The heredity of prospective emigrants should be determined before they are allowed to set sail for our shores. Our government should place experts at our consular stations abroad for this express purpose. Our stock breeders search the world over for desirable qualities and

« PreviousContinue »