« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
asserted in opposition to Dr. Foster Pratt (whose statements, I think, are quite as extreme as any which have been made tonight), that the alien races in this country are less subject to insanity and nervous diseases than those persons who can properly be called natives of the United States, — then I should say that the whole experience of persons familiar with insanity in this country would contradict such an assertion. It is well known that certain nationalities in Europe — the Irish and Scandinavian, for example –
exhibit much more insanity than other nationalities, for example, the Germans and Hollanders. In Massachusetts (with the condition of which, in this respect, I am well acquainted), there is much more insanity among persons of Irish parentage than among those of the old New England stock; and the accumulation of the ipsane in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York, is very largely owing to the accumulation there within forty years, or since the great Irish famine, of persons of Irish origin and descent. The Scandinavians, also, in New England, show a greater tendency to insanity than the native New Englanders. If Dr. Dana will refusc to take statistics for more than they are really worth — and on this subject they are really worth very little, so far as the census of 1880 is concerned — I think he will revise some of his statements, and will find himself more nearly in agreement with Dr. Hoyt of New York, and other experts, who have been dealing officially with the insane of many races for the last twenty years.
PRESIDENT WRIGHT: In my opening Address, I had occasion to point out the defects of census-taking in all countries, and particularly in the United States; and I must repeat, in connection with Dr. Dana's figures, what I then said,- that minute accuracy on most subjects, and even an approach to ex: ctness on some subjects, has not yet been reached in our census-taking. Perhaps Dr. Dana relies too much upon these figures ; and he might also arrange his own figures more correctly than they stand now in the Paper just read.
Dr. PECKHAM: In the absence of Dr. Dana, it does not seem to me quite fair to criticize statements, which, if he were present, he could, no doubt, explain and defend. Before his Paper is printed, I am sure he will desire to make it as exact as possible in facts, figures and conclusions.
Other speakers took part in the debate, but no abstract of their remarks was made.
PAPERS OF THE EDUCATIONAL DEPARTMENT.
I. THE OPPORTUNITIES OF AMERICA.
A REPORT BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY, F. B. SANBORN.
(Read Tuesday, September 6, 1887.)
The silent flow of time bas brought our Association almost to the 22d anniversary of its formation, for it was early in October. 1865, that some hundreds of us organized in Boston, with hopes and aims that the many years since elapsed have done much to modify. We have seen, indeed, most of the objects which we then had in view vigorously promoted, and many of them so far accomplished that it does not seem necessary even to mention them. The basis of suffrage has been extended; the extreme taxation induced by the civil war has been abated one-half; our paper currency has been largely reinforced by gold, and is so strong in the solid credit of the nation, that it cannot be much weakened even by the depreciation and needless coinage of silver; the question of two races in the South, which in 1865 seemed a dangerous one, has lost its most threatening aspect; the charities of our fast-growing republic have been organized, and are assuming the proportions of a system; and a great advance has been made both in the higher and lower education of our people. The generation which in 1865 was directing our affairs in the several States, and in the nation, has almost wholly passed away; of the statesmen and generals, the financiers and philanthropists, who bore the burden of the great civil war, but few remain, and those few are enfeebled, if enliglitened, by age. It is no less so with our own members ; death, sickness, or old age deprives us of the presence of almost every person, except Col. Higginson and your Secretary, who joined with enthusiasm in the conference of 1865 which formed our Association.
It is fortunate that we have since enlisted younger members, by whom our work, such as it is, has been carried on of late years : but we are warned by the decrease in our list of names that these recruits do not make good, in number, those whose place they take. This is partly because we have allowed the seamless garment of Social Science to be divided among a swarm of societies, each doing its special work, but, in doing it, withdrawing from our parent society those who once stood with us, or who would have rallied to our standard, had not these new banners been
We cannot regret this; for the Conference of Charities, the Prison Association, the Public Health Association, the Civilservice Reform Society, and the other bodies to which we have lent a hand, or of which we laid the frame, are all doing our work better than a general society like ours could do it. But the vigor of the parent body should be kept up, that it may hereafter, as heretofore, bring forth children as the occasion shall call for them. New emergencies will occur, when new societies must be formed, and there has seldom been found any such prolific breeding-ground of new organizations as the American Social Science Association has been. The National Prison Association, which was our child in 1870, and which we took in out of the cold in 1884, and warmed into new life, will hold a prosperous session at Toronto next week, which some of our members will attend ; the National Conference of Charities, which was our child in 1874, has just held a most prosperous session at Omaha, froin which some of us have but lately returned; and scarcely a month passes in which some scion of our planting does not spread its grateful or fruitful branches to the sunlight of our national life.
Happy. the nation which rejoices in this broad sunshine of opportunity! It has often been my lot to mention what privileges are given us by our political and social institutions, but the topic is an inexhaustible one. Leaving others to bewail our dangers anil warn us of the poison in our cup,-that
Sweet poison of misused wine,
sung by Milton — let me for the tenth or twentieth time dwell on our noble gift and heritage of opportunity. “ With a scalp lock in front, opportunity is otherwise bald,” says the Latin verse,
Post est occasio calva.
Americans may almost be excused for not taking time by the forelock, so many are the chances for “ catching on ” which that bald-pated expressman offers our countrymen, though he denies
them to other nations. We had involved ourselves in the meshes of chattel slavery, from which few nations ever cut themselves loose without a fatal or at least a bloody wound; yet here we are, but a quarter of a century from the first proclamation of emancipation in September, 1862, and not only is our long inheritance of negro slavery done away with, but we have a condition of society following which promises neither insurrection, nor anarchy, nor anything worse than will attend the settlement of the labor problem in those parts of the country where slavery was obliterated a century ago. In our war period we violated in several points that expressive mandate posted up in some work-shops, ** Don't monkey with the buzz-saw.” We monkeyed with the buzz-saw of finance, and introduced the great evil:of an irredeemable paper currency, but so soon as we went to work in earnest to redeem it, the mischief of it passed away. We trifled with the sharp laws of nature concerning taxation, but we seem to have escaped the fitting penalties, unless our present enchanted condition, — when we are raising more revenue by a bundred millions a year than we want, and cannot stop the inflow,— when we desire foreign commerce under our own flag, and can scarcely find a vessel that will fly it,- unless these results are the penalty, as I suspect they are. And these wild experiments in municipal, government which we are now carrying on, at so great a cost of money and reputation, no doubt seem to most of us, as I confess they appear to me, like the lively freaks of a youth just come into his property, and ignorant as yet what he ought to do with it, and how far it will go. One of these days we shall sober down to the business of governing great cities, and shall solve that puzzle, as we have solved so many others thanks to the elastic frame-work of our politics, and the common sense of our people, who desire good government, without either the perpetual wrangling of anarchists, or the too frequent push of the bayonet, or the incessant ding-dong of good-natured political imbeciles, who clamor for the taxation of land, and the congressional repeal of poverty.
Nobody can witness, as I have just seen, the actual building up of new States within our broad borders, and not be convinced that Democracy is, at least, very favorable to material advancement, and the quiet control of new colonies by the mother country. I came last week from the State of Nebraska, which I first looked upon in 1856, only thirty-one years ago, when it was a treeless,
uninhabited monotony of bare plains and swelling bluffs, dotted here and there with a few cabins, a fort or two, and the roving bands of the buffalo and the Indian - one of them as incapable of civilization, apparently, as the other. Today that same barren region, in what used to be known as “ the great American desert,” is supplying the markets of the world with corn; a million of peaceful inhabitants, representing every race under the sun, occupy the boundless acres, and among them the civilized Indian, dwelling in houses and raising his own crops by the acre, is preparing to vote for county commissioner and for president as soon as the polls are opened. Cities are there now, with tens of thousands of people – one of them claiming 100,000, and soon to be larger than most of those in New York and New England ; the newspaper is there, circulating its myriads of printed sheets daily; every form of trade and industry and invention is there,- and all peacefully, if rather noisily, submitting to a few hundred temporary rulers chosen from among themselves, and with scarcely a soldier or a cannon to be seen throughout a territory larger than the British islands.
All this is the work of Democracy in the last thirty years; and it took place in spite of the intervention of civil war, for four fatal years, and notwithstanding the fact that our whole country has been on the brink of ruin at least once in every four years since, or whenever a presidential election made national ruin a contingent necessity. And it is also to be considered that what Nebraska has thus been doing, half a dozen other States and territories have done in the same way, with results very similar ; while the older States, enriched rather than impoverished by the upbuilding of these inland colonies, have in this period gone forward in the development of their own systems of Education, Public Health Finance, Jurisprudence and Social Economy, until some of these have become the admiration of the world.
It is but a century since that miracle of a social compact, the Federal Constitution of 1787, gave the formula and furnished the guiding chart for the extension of settled and self-adjusting government over waste or barbarous regions, and thus offered the first and greatest opportunity to our fortunate countrymen. Under its beneficent provisions, what privileges have been bestowed on the poor man and the patient, laborious woman! Freedom, in the first place, to toil for themselves, relieved from the