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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/559

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THE WASTE OF CHILDREN

tains, possess natural advantages, yet cities under similar conditions show most striking contrasts. Still worse, the same city may contain the extremes of progress and of neglect. Hence our efforts can not be abated until they have wrested from the destroyer every vestige of his ill-gotten power. It is the province of science and the duty of society to force from nature what she can not rightfully claim, and to leave her the remainder only. Serious changes in our methods and policies may be involved, but these must be molded according to this undying purpose. The miserable conditions still prevailing among the American negroes are evidence of this need. An infant mortality in Charleston where the majority are negroes, of 419 per 1,000, and in other southern cities of more than 300 is little better than barbarism. At first thought the racial factor might be assigned as the cause of this great difference between the vitality of white and colored infants, but this defence of social inaction is unworthy of our race. A closer investigation shows that the death rate in the rural portion of the registration area was 218.9 for colored infants, but that the city rate stood at 387. This difference roughly measures the advantages of a more favorable social environment. Were the care of the children a more capable one and the conditions making for degradation and disordered birth rate ameliorated, this wide difference would not exist, and the rates in the rural districts could be further reduced. Remembering the former pitiless slaughter of white infants, our hopes for the negro need not be abated. Indeed the colored infant mortality of the rural districts in 1900 was but little above that of white infants for the entire registration area in 1890. What hopes then might not knowledge and prosperity offer! Three eighths of the negro infants of the cities dying annually! To their mothers they are nothing but a curse, a cause of pain and sorrow. A cross-section of a darker age resides in our midst. Yet 150 years ago the children of our ancestors died with an equal facility.

Climate and certain phases of nature have so far proved impregnable to the genius of our race. Their disadvantages may have to be borne for years and centuries, but for acclimated peoples an infant death rate of 307 per 1,000, as was recorded for the Philippines for 1903, is only an evidence of an inferior and brutal civilization. To counteract such death rates and provide for a liberal increase of population a birth rate must be excessive if not inhuman.

These facts disclose a cause of the rapid increase of population during the last century. The increased vitality of infants has made it possible. With their rate of mortality cut in two a new era might naturally arise. The English birth rate was higher in 1851 than in 1891, but the percentage of excess of births over deaths was greater in the latter year. The fluctuations between these two dates indicate the highest net increase as occurring during the decade 1871-80, but