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tive' check; and one or the other of these must and does exist
and very powerfully too, in all old societies. Wherever popula-
tion is not kept down by the prudence of individuals or of the
state, it is kept down by starvation or by disease."§

But on the other hand, it has been forgotten by these writers
that the alternative supposed does not exist in the case we have
instanced. Marriages in France, unlike some other continental
states, are continually increasing, and starvation «nd disease are
yearly being shorn of their power.

If we turn to Massachusetts, these arguments acquire addi-
tional force. Amid such general thrift, abundance, wealth, in a
state comparatively young and not over settled, there has been
every reason for the population, general and native, as well as
foreign, to increase. Want and excessive mortality are alike ab-
sent. Emigration westward and abroad, the only apparent posi*
tive check, extensive though this is, can by no means account for
the evident facts. Conscription, war, despotism, restraining to a
certain extent the population of France, are all unknown to our-
selves. With the authors quoted, we are therefore forced to a
single position, that this annual lessening of births must be
owing, in great measure abroad, almost wholly with us at home,
to ^ prudence^ on the part of the community, not as a State, which
ever encourages population, but as individuals.

Before proceedmg, I would remark that the condition of things

'^ Loe. eit, pp. 194, 195. t Joamnl dee Economtstet, 18i7.

I Loc dt, i\ 886. § Ibid., f, 417.

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of papulation in Europe and America. 147

tlitis fiur described is saoh as {)oIitical economists, almost without
exception, approve, and that in great measure it is owing to the
direct influence of their doctrines.

In his well known Essay on Population, Mr. Malthus remarks,
that *' in the average state of a well peopled territory, there can-
not well be a worse sign than a large proportion of births, nor a
better sign than a small proportion."* v

A host of other authorities might be c[uoted, but a few ex-
tracts from a later writer, standard in this country at present
and taught in our universities, till very lately in that of Gam-
bridge for instance, will suffice.

" We greatly deprecate," says Mill, " an increase of p|opula-
tion as rapid as the increase of production and aocumulation."f

" There is room in the world no doubt, and even in old coun-
tries, for an immense increase of population. But although it may
be innocuous, I confess I see very little reason for desiring it"f

" I sincerely hope, for the sake of posterity, that they will be
content to be stationary long before necessity compels them to it"§

*' If the opinion were once generally established among the
laboring class, that their welfare required a due regulation of the
numbers of their &milies, only those would exempt themselves
from it, who were in the habit of making light of social obliga-
tions generally."!

'* The principle contended for includes not only the laboring
classes, but all persons, except the few who, being able to give
their offspring the means of independent support during the
whole of life, do not leave them to swell the competition for em-

*' When persons are once married, the idea never seems to en-
ter any one's mind, that having or not having a family, or the
number of which it shall consist, is at all amenable to their
own control. One would imagine that it was really, as the com-
mon phrases have it, God's will and not their own, which deci-
ded the number of their ofispring."**

" In a place where there is no room left for new establish-
ments," says Sismondi, entirely ignoring the escapes offered by
emigration and the increased importation of food, ''if a man has
eight children, he should believe that unless six of them die in
infancy, these and three of his own contemporaries, of each sex,
will be compelled to abstain from marriage, in consequence of his
own impruaence."tt

Having now explained an important cause of the effects I
have described, I return from the digression.

« Loc. cit, p. 818. t Loc. cit, ii, 268. t Ibid, ii, 816.

Slbid^ ii, 817. I Ibid., i, 461. % Ibid., i, 462, footnote.

* IbML, 1, 447. ft Noureaux Prindpes d'Eoonomie Politiqnt, Ut, til, cb. 6.

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148 H. IL Siorer on the decreeing increase

Prudence, it is asserted, on tbe part of individoals checks and
keeps within bounds the natural increase of the human race.
We cannot well avoid allowing that this statement is true, and
that it applies with even more pertinency to ourselves as a peo-
ple than to nations abroad.

It will be profitable for us to go a step further, and to enquire
in what way this result is effected ; and though I shall be com-
pelled to refer to matters usually thought best to keep concealed,
and to present a conclusion at once frightful, astounding, d^rar
ding, I shall not shrink from the duty. For the subject is one
which concerns each one of us, as philosophers, parents, as citi-
zens, as christians.

There is no reason to suppose, as West,* Husson and DeJonn^
have thought, that the rapid and constant decrease of births I
have shown to exist can be attributable to any progressive lack
of fecundity on the part of women, or of generative power on
that of men ; nor is there reason to think that the passions of
the race burn less freely than formerly, or that they arc more
generally under control/

In a certain measure, no greater than formerly however, these
needs are met by prostitution. Yet marriages and lawful con-
nections have increased and now undoubtedly exist to a greater
proportionate extent than ever before. They are confessed and
easily proved, to be usually, either in whole or in great part, bar-
ren of offspring — we have only to look about us, for abundant
evidence oi this — while formerly, as is equally known, such was
not the case.

Let all allowances be made for certain conjugal habits, exist-
ing extensively among the French, and by no means rarely imi-
tated in this countrv, as unnatural and degrading as they are
detrimental to the pbysiciil health of both male and female ; but
there exist a series of statistics, hitherto unknown, unappreciated
or sedulously concealed, which prevent the increasing decrease
of births from being thus, and only thus explained.

Prevention of pregnancy, to whatever extent existing, cannot
account for the decrease of living births ; actual pregnancies be-
ing proved fully as frequent as ever. What then can? We
answer the question by another.

" Has it been sought," asks Quetelet, in his Theory of Proba-
bilities, though he did not attempt to solve the problem, so puz-
zling to statistician, philanthropist and statesipan, " to account
for tne peculiarities relating to the still-born, and to combat the
causes which in certain circumstances swell their number in so
deplorable a manner ?"t

I shall show that nearly as many pregnancies exist as ever.
We are to consider these pregnancies, not as prevented, but as
terminated without the birth of a living child.

« Med. Timet and Gaiette, June, 1866, p. 611. f Loc. cit, p. S84.

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of population in Europe and America, 149

I am aware that the evidenoe of statistics is received by many
minds with a certain measure of doubt ; but I shall endeavor so
to add proof to proof, and to draw these from such authoritative
sources, that no doubt can fairly remain. I base my remarks
upon the following self-evident laws.

1st That, while a result or event in individual instances is ever
variable and uncertain, this result or event when calculated from
or upon masses of instances becomes proportionately certain and

m. That, to apply this principle to the case we are now con-
sicLering, the absoliUc number or Uving births in a given popula-
tion, in a given time, should, in the absence of an evident and
sufficient disturbing cause, be always nearly the same ; increas-
ing with the increase of the population, and with the progress
of medical science (which might easily be proved to be in this
respect constantly advancing).

8. That the absolute number of stiU births at the fuU period of
pregnancy^ occurring from natural causes in a given time in a
given population should be always nearly the same ; increasing
only in proportion to the actual increase of the popnlation, and
decreasing with the progress of medical science.

4th. That the absolute number of premature births, occurring
from natural causes in a given time in a given population
should be always nearly the same ; increasing only in proportion
to the actual increase of the population, and decreasing with the
progress of medical science.

6th. That the relative number ot still births from natural causes^
at the full period of pregnancy and premature, as compared with
the living births in a given population in a given time should be
always nearly the same ; not being affected by an increase of
population, and constantly lessened by the progress of medical

6th. That the relative number of stiU births from natural causes^
at the full period of pregnancy and premature, as compared with
the general mortality in a given population in a ^iven time,
should remain always nearly the same, not being affected by an
increase of population and but slightly by the progress of medi-
cal science.

7th. That the relative number of still births from natural causes^
premature and at the full period of pregnancy, should remain
always nearly the same compared with each other; neither of
them being affected hy the increase of population and each of
them nearly eaually by the progress of meaical science.

It has alreauy become manifest that the 2d of these proposi-
tions does not accord with existing facts ; that the absolute num-
ber of living births in Europe and in this country does not re-
main the same, time and population agreeing ; that instead of

Am. Joitb. Sci.— SsooiTD Sbbus, Vol. XUn, No. 138.— MabcHi 1867.

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160 H, IL Storer &n the decreasing increau

inoreasing with the increase of the latter and with the progress
of medical science, it has been rapidly and steadily diminishing.

In the discord of existing facts with the remaining propositions
also, I have detected and shali make evident the disturbing cause.

Since 1805, when returns were first made to the Begistry of
New York, the number, proportionate as well as actual, of foetal
deaths in that city has steadily and rapidly increased. With a
population at that time of 76,770, the number of still and pre*
mature births was 47 ; in 1849, with a population estimatea at
460,000 the number had swelled to 1820.* Thus while the pop-
ulation had increased only six times since 1806, the annual num-
ber of still and premature births had multiplied over twenty-seuen
times! The following table shows the rapidity of this increase.

Tabls Vllt^Ratio of Foetal Deatfu to the population in New York.


1 to 1 683*40

1880,... 1

1886, ]

L to 697*60


1 " 1026-24

L " 669*88


..... 1 «* 98<('4e

1840 ]

I ** 616H)3


1 « 664-62

1845, 1

L ** 384-68

1826 1 - 680C8

1849 ]

L " 840-90

In the three years preceding 1849, there were registered in
New York 400 premature births and 3,139 children still bom;
a total of 3,639, representing at that time a yearly average of
some 1200 foetal deaths. It is evident that though almost all
the still births at the full time, even from criminal causes, are
necessarily registered, but a small proportion of the abortions
and miscarriages occurring are ever reported.

In the three years preceding 1867, there were registered in
New York 1196 premature and 4786 still births, a total of 6931,
representing a yearly average of some 2000 foetal deaths ; show-
ing that in the short space of seven years, the number of foetal
deaths in New York, already enormous, had very nearly doubled !

I now present a table showing the ratio of still births to the
living births in various countries of Europe.

Tabu IX.— /Zo^to of Still to Irving Sirtht in Europe,

OeiMva 1824-88 1 to 17

Berlin (hospitals) 1768-74, . . 1 to 18

Kris (Mateniit^) 1816-86, . . 1 to 20

SVedeo 1821-26 1 to 28-6

Denmark 1826-84, lto24

Belgiom 1841-48 1 to 24*2

Prussia 1820-84 1 to 29

Iceland 1817-28 1 to 80

Prague ¥820, 1 to 80

Londoo (hospitals) 1749-81, ... 1 to 81

Vienna 1828 1 to 82

Austria 1828 1 to 49

In France at large in 1858 the ratio was 1 to 24. Department
of Seine 1 to 15. In the city of Paris 1836-M, 1 to 14-8; in
1845-58, 1 to 13-8. The proportion of still births in the rural
districts of France is governed by the same laws as in the me-
tropolis. In 868 provincial towns the ratio was, in 1836-45, 1
tol9-5; in 1846-50, 1 to 18-8.

* lUport of the City luspaetor for 1849.

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of population in Europe and America. 161

White diatrictfl more thinly populated gave, in 1841-46, 1 to
29; 1846-50, 1 to 27 *

In Belgium, daring a similar period, the ratio was much the
same. It was, in 1841-48, in towns 1 to 16*1, in country 1 to

The apparent discrepancy between city and country, noticed
as equally obtaining in Belgium and France, is probably owing
in great measure to greater negligence of the country officials
in registering the still birtha

Again, the total number of births at the full time in New
York in 1856 was 17,756; of these, 16,199 were living ;| prov-
ing that of children at the full time alone, setting aside the
great number of viable children born prematurely, and the in-
numerable earlier abortions not recordeo, 1 in every 11*4 is born

From foreign statistics on a large scale, embodied in the table
we have already given, it is found that the proportion of still
births does not in those countries drop below 1 in 15, and this
in France; ranging from that number up to 1 in 80 or 40 of the
whole number of births reported.

In Geneva, out of 10,925 births occurring from 1824-88, 1,221
of them illegitimate and therefore to be supposed liable to a large
percentage of deaths from criminal causes, there were only 646
foetal deaths ; a proportion of 1 in 17.

In Belgium, there were 29,674 illegitimate births from 1841-48,
and of these 1,766 were born still,§ or 1 in 16*8.

In New York, from 1854-67, there were 48,828 births; and
6,981 still births, at the full time and prematurely ; or in other
words, 1 to every 8*1 was born dead.

In Massachusetts, the ratio of still births, at the full time and
premature, as compared with the living births in 1850, was 1 to
15-5. In France it is 1 to 24, and in Austria 1 to 49. While
the proportion of still births at the full time to the whole num-
ber is enormous and steadily increasing, so is the number of
known abortions and premature births.

The frequency of these occurrences reported from the practice
of physicians, and thus to a certain extent but not entirely,
likely to be of natural and accidental origin, is as follows : m
41,699 cases registered by Collins, Beatty, LaOhapelle, Churchill
and others, there were 6S0 abortions and miscarriages. Here
all the abortions were known ; their proportion was 1 to 78*5.

In New York, from 1854-57, there were 48,828 births reported
as at the full time and 1,196 premature. Here all the abortions
were not known, probably but a very small fraction of them ;
the proportion was 1 to 40*4.

* I>« Jonn^s, loc. cit, p. 289. f Qnetelet, loc cit, p. 162.

t City iDspeptor's Report for 1856. § Compiled from Quetelet, p. 162.

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152 H. R, SiortT on the decrearing increa$e

la Massaofausetts, the ratio of premature births to those at the
full time, as recorded in the registration reports, during the pe*
riod from 186&-56, was 1 to 261.

That th^ ratio of still births and abortions, already so fright*
ful, is steadily increasing, is also seen by the following table; in
which we have compared the still births, supposable perhaps of
accidental value, with the general mortality, whose value is at
least as accidental.

Table JL^Maiio of the Fatal to the general mortaiity in New York.*

Total deaths.

F«tal deaths.





1 to 87-6




1 to 26-8




1 to 191




1 to 16-8




1 to 18-8




1 to 11-1

In 1851, the ratio of foetal deaths in Massachusetts to the gen*
eral mortality was 1 to IS'S ; in 1855, 1 to 104, larger than in
New York city a year later. In a metropolis we should expect
theproportion to l>e greater than in a state at large ; it is here less.

Finally we compare the recorded premature still births of
New York, with those still at the full time.

In the seventeen years from 1888-65, there were reported
17,287 still births at the full time, and 2,710 still prematurely;
the last bearing the proportion of 1 to 6*8.

In the nine years from 1838-47, omitting 1842 for the reason
that the reports to the Registrar for that vear were confessedlv
imperfect, there were 682 still premature births, and 6,445 still
at the full time; a yearly average of 1 to 10*2.

In the eight years from 1848-^5, there were 2,078 premature
still births, and 10,792 still at the full time ; an average of 1 to 6 ;
while in 1856, there were 887 still prematurely, and 1,556 at the
full time; or 1 to 4-02!

On the other hand, there were recorded in Massachusetts dur-
ing the 14 years and 8 months preceding 1855, 4,570 still births
and 11,716 premature births and abortions,! the ratio being 1
abortion to '3 still births ; or in other words it would appear
from the statistics quoted, that the comparative frequency of
abortions in Massachusetts is 13 times as great as in the worst
statistics of the city of New York!

We are willing however^ we rejoice, to modify this statement,
fis in the earliest of the years quoted, returns from the city of
Boston seem to have been imperfect or wanting. We therefore
oonfine ourselves to a more recent period.

From 1850-55, the registration being much more accurate
than before, and ita results compiled with the greatest care, three

• Ouniplled from atj lospector^B Reports for 1865^.
t I4tl> fi4igittfmttoD Report, 1856.

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of papuIoHwi in Europe and America. 158

years of the five by a noted statiaticiaD, Dr. ShurtlefiT, there
were recorded in Massachusetts 2,976 still births and 5,899 pre-
mature births and abortions, the ratio being 1 abortion to *6 still
births ; in other words, the frequency of abortions as compared
with still births at the full time is at least 8 times as great in
Massachusetts as in the worst statistics of the city of New York.*
It is allowed by political economists, by Mill and by Malthus
himself, that so much of the existing decrease as cannot other*
wise be explained, must be attributed to influences generally
prevalent in Europe during earlier ages, and in Asia to the

E resent time. " Tnroughout Europe," says Mill, " these causes
ave much diminished, but they have nowhere ceased to exist. "f
Several of these causes, starvation, wars, disease, have been
named by the authority now quoted, but the greatest of them
;all is left unspoken.

The wilful destruction of living children, at and before birth,
history declares to have obtained, and to a very great extent,
among all the earlier nations of the world, the Jews alone ex*
cepted. Aristotle:|: defends it, and Plato.§ It is mentioued by
Juvenal,! Ovid,^ Seneca and Cicero ; and it is denounced by the
early Christians.** It was common in Europe through the mid-
dle ages, and still prevails among the Mahometans, Chinese, Jap-
anese, Hindoos, and most of the nations of Africa and Polyne-
sia to such an extent that it may well be doubted whether more
have ever perished in those countries by plague, by famine and
the sword.

It- is impossible that the facts I have quoted from present his«
tory can in any great measure be owing to natural causes alone.
^They are wholly inexplicable on any principles which do not
recognize an amount of guilt at which numanity shudders.

We have seen that with us, in the absence of all influences
that tend to keep down population in foreign countries, old and
<2rowded, and under the yoke of despotism, the effects attributa-
ble elsewhere to these causes, exist and to an extreme degree.
That the ratio of fcetal deaths to the population had swelled in
Kew York from 1 in 1688 in 1805 to 1 in 840 in 1849, while in
France at a later period, 1851, they were only 1 in 1000. That the
etjtoal number of fcetal deaths in that city had in the 7 years frpm
IwO-67, very nearly doubled. That the foetal deaths as com-
pared with the total of births, elsewhere in statistics of illegit-
unacy alone, where the results are supposed worst and con-
fessed chiefly from crime, being 1 in 16 8 (Belgium), had here,

* The aboye remarks are not to be misunderstood. In Massachusetts registration
lias been conducted with greater care than elsewhere. Subsequent inyestigationB
have proved that both infaatidde and foeticide preTail to an equal extent in manj
other of our states.

+ Loc cit, i, 417. t Travels^ Anacharsis, t, 270.

§ Ibid., iv, 842. | Satires, Vi, 692.

5 Amor., lib. 2 ; Heroides, enist. 2. ** BaoTt't ApolqgiM.

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164 J7. JR. Skorer on the decreasing increase of population, etc.

legitimate and natural, reached the frightful ratio of 1 in 8.
That the foetal deaths as compared with the total mortality, had
increased from 1 in 87 in 1806, to 1 in 18 in 1865. That the
reported early abortions, of which the greater number of course
escape registry, bear the ratio to the Jivinff births of 1 in 40,
while elsewhere they are only 1 in 78. Ana finally, that early
abortions, bearing the proportion to the still births at the full
time of I in 10 in 1846, had increased to 1 in 4 in 1866.

So far the city of New York — ^a metropolis, and claiming pre-
eminence neither in morals nor religion. On the other hand in
Puritan Massachusetts, in the State at large, and therefore but lit-
tle affected by the statistics of its capital, which however would
by themselves probably be found corroborative of the main result,
we have seen that the ratio of still births at the full time and
premature as compared with the living births in 1860, was 1 to
16*5. In France it is 1 to 24, and in Austria 1 to 49. That the
ratio of premature births to those at the full time, during the pe-
riod from 1860-66 was 1 to 26, while in New York city it is
only 1 to 40. That the ratio of fcBtal deaths to the general mor-
talitv was 1 to 18 in 1861, and in 1866 1 to 104 ; while in New
York city a year later, in 1866, it was only 1 to 11 ; and that
from 1860^6 the frequency of abortions as compared with still
births at the full time, was at least eight times as great as in the
worst statistics of the city of New York.

Few persons could have believed possible the existence of such
frightful statistics, the result toward which they must be con-
fessed inevitably to tend, or the dread cause from which ihey
spring. Either these statistics must be thrown aside as utterly
erroneous and worthless, or they must be accepted with their
conclusions. We would gladly do the former, but they present
too many constant quantities in other respects, as for instance, in
the regularly progressive series of deaths and births as compared
with the population, constant also as compared with each other,
for this to be allowed. My own calculations have been made
with care, and I have presented the elements on which they rest
In asserting the results, at once so awful and astounding, X de-
sire to fix upon them the attention and scrutiny of the Academy.

These conclusions however do not rest alone on the statistics
that have been presented. The experience of courts of justice,
and that equally extensive tribunal, the body of physicians
throughout our land, (I regret, and at the same time rejoice, Mr,
President, that this assertion is not borne out by your own ex-
tended experience,)* tend to corroborate them, and other evi-
dence of equal weight and character is at hand.

* Dr. Jacob Bigelow, then President of the Acndemy. was inclined at one tame
to disbelieve «o the existenoe of certain customs everywhere prevalent among us.
Be subsequentiy publicly aeknowledged however, that hit doubts ware owiqg to his

Online LibraryJohn AlmonThe American journal of science and arts → online text (page 18 of 102)