Full text: Problems in eugenics

!54Section II.C. B. Davenport. 
procreation of more defectives. Laws against the marriage of the feeble­ 
minded are futile in any case. For so long as a feeble-minded person is at 
large he will find another feeble-minded person who will live with him and 
have children by him. It would be as sensible to hope to control by 
legislation the mating of rabbits. The only way to prevent the reproduction 
of the feeble-minded is to sterilize or segregate them. As to the marriage 
of the insane, it seems doubtful if it is wise to refuse this without 
qualification. Two mentally normal persons who have each an insane 
parent are more apt to have insane offspring than an insane person who 
marries one in whom there is no taint of insanity. I think it might be 
unwise to deny to every person who has shown a tendency to manic depressive 
insanity in its lighter forms marriage into mentally sound stock. Further 
study of this matter is needed. The requirement of a physician’s certificate 
as to bodily soundness, which some clergymen are requiring in the States, is 
primarily directed toward venereal disease and certainly has eugenical 
bearings. When a requirement is made of a certificate that both parties 
come of mentally and physically satisfactory stock, a still more important 
step in eugenics will have been taken. 
Finally, the third legal limitation of a biological sort is that concerning 
the mixture of races. Most of the States of the Union have laws declaring 
marriages void when contracted Between a white person and a negro or the 
descendants of a negro for a certain number of generations, usually three; 
i.e., “ having one-eighth of negro blood.’’ But the law of the State of 
Georgia prohibits for ever and declares null and void any marriage between 
a white person and one of “ African descent.” The Oregon law renders 
void any marriage of a white person with a person having one-fourth or 
more of negro, Chinese or Kanaka blood, or any person having more than 
one-half Indian blood. 
The biological basis for such laws is doubtless an appreciation of the 
fact that negroes and the other racesi carry traits that do not go well with 
our social organization. For the Ethiopian has not undergone that selection 
that in Europe weeded out the traits that failed to recognize property rights, 
or that failed to give industry, ambition and sex control. The Soufherner 
looks aghast at the possibility that these traits shall become disseminated 
throughout his social organization and become part and parcel of the make up 
of his descendants. So with the cruelty of the Indian. These fears are 
justified, but the cure is inadequate. Already the south is full of persons 
of one-eighth negro blood, whose (illegitimate) children may legally marry 
with whites. The Georgia law which denies marriage of white persons to 
descendants of blacks, however remote, is equally futile. Many a child 
arises in the third or later generations that by no test shows evidence of 
“African descent.” How unjust the Missouri law that provides that the 
proportion of negro blood is to be determined by the jury from the 
appearance of the person ! The south, indeed, has a problem in its huge

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