Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/226

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

And when we remember that the greatest illiteracy is to be found in the former slave States, we-see that the increase of the criminal ratio in the South may not be due wholly to ignorance, in spite of census figures. The ignorance and the crime were both there before the criminals were locked up and counted in the census.

One might, indeed, claim that the lessened ignorance had much to do with revealing this criminal element and imprisoning it. And this brings us to our third cause of the increased ratio of crime. The gradual elevation in the standard of life, and the intervention of the courts in cases which were formerly decided by the bullet or the knife, occasions a rapid increase in the official number of criminals.

Drunkenness, I suppose, was not a crime anywhere in our land half a century ago. Now drunkenness and disorderly conduct form one tenth of all the crime of the country. And naturally the restraint of these offenders will be most complete in the most orderly and educated parts of our land. Accordingly, we find that the ten educated States show a proportion of imprisonments for these offenses tenfold greater than the uneducated States do. The one has 2,865 and the other only 198 in a population three fourths as large. And the educated States record three times as many prisoners as the uneducated States for assault and battery and simple assault. If any one wishes to prove from the census that education is a failure, he could find no stronger facts than theseā€”a tenfold larger share of drunkenness and a threefold larger share of violence in the States where men can read and write than in the States where they can not.

But, of course, no one thinks that the South is more quiet, orderly, and innocent than the North. No one believes that there was not a single case of drunkenness or disorder in all Alabama and Arkansas in 1880, and only a score of cases of assault, while Massachusetts, with a less population, had 597 cases of drunkenness and disorder and 337 cases of assault; yet this is what the census tells us. The natural interpretation must be, that drunkenness and violence are not punished by imprisonment in certain States, while they are in others, and the States that punish least are most illiterate. This interpretation is amply confirmed by the census itself. Though education shows three times the violence that ignorance does, yet ignorance perpetrates three times as many murders as education, and that, too, while two or three of the educated States imprison the murderer for life, and so swell the number, and while the illiterate States do not even think of arresting some murderers, and often acquit others who are most notoriously guilty. It was only last year that all the land heard that a certain Dr. McDow, a married man of Charleston, S. C. murdered a Captain Dawson, simply because he saved a girl whom the doctor was trying to ruin. No