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Are We A Dying Race?

Creator: J.H. Kellogg (author)
Date: 1897
Source: Wellesley College Archives

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But it is not so small an increase as a gain of ten per cent in fifty years to which we call attention; instead, it is an increase of nearly three hundred per cent., or thirty times the small ratio named. Let us look for a moment at the significance of this enormous rate of racial deterioration. Suppose, for example, that defectives should continue to increase at the rate of three hundred per cent. every fifty years, as during the last fifty years; starting with the supposition that there are to be found in our population at the present time at least thirty defectives to every one thousand persons (the number is doubtless greater than this), let us see where we should land a few centuries hence. In fifty years the number of defectives per thousand would be three times thirty, or ninety; fifty years later, or at the end of the twenty-first century, the number would be three times ninety, or two hundred and seventy; fifty years later, or about the year 2050, the number of defectives would have increased to eight hundred and ten per thousand; and long before another half century -- even before the lapse of another quarter of a century, or somewhere about the year 2060, the number of defectives would be one thousand to the thousand, or, in other words, the whole population would be degenerates.


These facts show beyond controversy that the human race, even in the most civilized lands, and where are afforded the greatest freedom and the best conditions for physical, mental, and moral health which any country offers, as in the United States, is going downward at a most appallingly rapid pace. And this deterioration is not simply physical, as shown by the number of physically weak individuals, but it is mental and moral as well. A few are recognizing these facts, and it is this recognition which is giving rise to the erection of gymnasia, the organization of gymnastic clubs, health associations, and various societies which have for their purpose the physical, mental, and moral improvement of the race; but unfortunately these influences affect but a very small percentage of the population. Probably not more than two or three per cent. of the entire population of any of our great cities are to any considerable extent benefited by the efforts which are thus made in behalf of the physical improvement of the individual.


The increasing use of tobacco and of intoxicating liquors, the increase of sexual vices, and the operation of various other deteriorating causes, far outweigh the little that is being done in the opposite direction; and hence it is apparent that without the adoption of some more radical and thoroughgoing measures than those in operations, there is nothing before the race but degeneration and ultimate extinction, and that not many hundred years ahead.


What will be the condition of civilized nations four or five centuries hence, when society is entirely composed of degenerates, and when the whole lump of humanity is permeated with the leaven of physical, mental, and moral perversion? How much longer time will be retired for complete race extinction? My figures may not be exact, and I am not disposed to set a particular date at which the last puny, weazened, infirm specimen of the genus homo shall expire "without medical assistance" and "without benefit of clergy;" but the awful fact stares us in the face that we are going down at a rate which, unless materially diminished, will at a time not many centuries distant, bury the race in oblivion, and that this rapid rate of decay is more likely to be accelerated than diminished, unless some new and powerful agency is set in operation whereby the downward progress shall be stayed.


Through the almost universal ignoring of the duty devolving upon every human being to preserve intact, as far as possible, the natural powers transmitted to him from his ancestors, and by training and painstaking development make the most of them, we find the human race deteriorating in physical stamina, and a rapidly growing multitude of "disinherited" individuals who are born into physical, mental, and moral bankruptcy. It is high time that society gave more serious attention to this great class of bankrupts by heredity, from which springs the greater share of crimes and criminals, cranks, lunatics, fanatics, and imbeciles.


Public health measures protect the weak, not the strong: the strong man is able to take care of himself. The perfectly healthy man, adhering to the divinely appointed laws of his being, is able to cope successfully with any germ which he is likely to encounter under the natural conditions of life. Barbarous nations maintain the standard of racial vigor by destroying the weak and feeble. The ancient Romans tolerated, and at one time even encouraged, infanticide, making it the duty of the midwife to strangle at birth deformed or puny infants. But the spirit of our modern Christian civilization is to succor the weak, to protect and preserve the feeble. The hard-hearted medical editor who recently argued at great length in favor of the proposition to kill all idiots, received no support from his medical brethren, it being evident that any argument which would justify the killing of idiots would make equally proper the killing of incurably insane persons and the helpless, blind, and aged, -- perhaps also the crippled and deformed, the cancerous, and other incurables.

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