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Title: A Review of Hoffman's Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro - The American Negro Academy. Occasional Papers No. 1
Author: Miller, Kelly, 1863-1939
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Review of Hoffman's Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro - The American Negro Academy. Occasional Papers No. 1" ***

  The American Negro Academy.

  Occasional Papers, No. 1.



  Price, Twenty-five Cents.



        AMERICAN NEGRO.--Kelly Miller                         25 Cts.

No. 2.--THE CONSERVATION OF RACES.--W. E. Burghard Du Bois    15 Cts.

Orders may be sent to John H. Wills, 506 Eleventh Street N. W.,
Washington, D. C.


In August, 1896, there was published, under the auspices of the American
Economic Association, a work entitled "Race Traits and Tendencies of the
American Negro," by Frederick L. Hoffman, F. S. S., statistician to the
Prudential Insurance Company of America. This work presents by far the
most thorough and comprehensive treatment of the Negro problem, from a
statistical standpoint, which has yet appeared. In fact, it may be
regarded as the most important utterance on the subject since the
publication of "Uncle Tom's Cabin;" for the interest which the famous
novel aroused in the domain of sentiment and generous feelings, the
present work seems destined to awaken in the field of science and exact

Mr. Hoffman has spent ten years in painful and laborious investigation
of the subject, during which time he has been in touch with the fullest
sources of information, and has had the advice and assistance of the
highest living authorities in statistics and social science. The temper
of mind which he brought to this study may be judged from his own words:
"Being of foreign birth, a German, I was fortunately free from a personal
bias which might have made an impartial treatment of the subject
difficult."[1] There are other assurances that the author possesses no
personal animosity or repugnance against the Negro as such. But, freedom
from conscious personal bias does not relieve the author from the
imputation of partiality to his own opinions beyond the warrant of the
facts which he has presented. Indeed, it would seem that his conclusion
was reached from _a priori_ considerations and that facts have been
collected in order to justify it.

The main conclusion of the work is that the Negro race in America is
deteriorating physically and morally in such manner as to point to
ulterior extinction, and that this decline is due to "race traits"
rather than to conditions and circumstances of life. Not only do we find
this conclusion expressly set forth in connection with every chapter,
but it is also easily discernible in foot notes and quotations, in the
general drift of cited references, and between the lines. In order to
give the clearest possible statement of the author's position his own
words will be used.

"The conditions of life therefore ... would seem to be of less
importance than race and heredity."[2]

"It is not the _conditions of life_ but in _the race traits and
tendencies_ that we find the causes of the excessive mortality."[3]

"For the root of the evil lies in the fact of an immense amount of
immorality, which is a race trait."[4]

"A combination of these traits and tendencies must in the end cause the
extinction of the race."[5]

"It is not in the conditions of life but in race and heredity that we
find the explanation."[6]

"The mixture of the African with the white race has been shown to have
seriously affected the longevity of the former and left as a heritage to
future generations the poison of scrofula, tuberculosis, and most of
all, of syphilis."[7]

If the reader will keep constantly in mind the key suggested by these
quotations, he will peruse the book itself as well as this review with
greater ease and facility.


_Subject._ Population.

_Gist._ "For some generations the colored element may continue to make
decennial gains, but it is very probable that the next thirty years will
be the last to show total gains, and then the decrease will be slow but
sure until final disappearance."[8]

I have taken this quotation from another work by the same author as it
represents more clearly than any other condensed statement the substance
of the present chapter. This proposition is a most important one, and
therefore its establishment needs to be inquired into with the greatest
particularity. If a race does not possess the requisite physical
stamina, it is impossible for it to maintain a high degree of moral and
intellectual culture or compete with its more vigorous rivals in the
race of civilization.

"All the elements of society are conserved in its physical basis, the
social population."[9]

Since the author relies mainly upon the eleventh census for facts to
establish his conclusion, and since the accuracy of this census is
widely controverted, we may fairly call upon him to prove his document
before it can be admitted in evidence.

The following quotation from Senator Mills reflects the opinion of many
eminent students of public problems as to the accuracy of this
enumeration: "The announcement that our population is only 62,662,250
was a genuine surprise, not only to those who looked for the dark side
of the picture, but also to those whose faith in the administration and
its census bureau had never for a moment wavered. The census of 1880
gave 50,155,783. The present returns give an increase of 12,466,476,
which is at the rate of 24.86 per cent. That this number is not even
approximately correct may be seen by comparing the increase in this
decade with the gain in others which have preceded it. Any alleged fact
that is without the pale of probability stands impeached at the very
threshold of the inquiry, and must be verified by competent evidence."
Basing his estimates upon the school census, the Senator continues: "The
state of Texas is deprived, by the incorrect returns, of at least three
representatives in Congress. Alabama loses 240,000, Tennessee and North
Carolina 170,000 each, and Virginia, Kentucky, and Louisiana 100,000
each."[10] Whatever force there may be in the protest of the eloquent
Texas Senator, applies with special emphasis to the colored element; for
it goes without saying that errors in enumeration in the South would be
confined mainly to the Negro race, and since the bulk of the race is
confined to this section such errors would have a most disastrous effect
upon its rate of increase as shown by the census reports.

The following table exhibits the development of the colored population
for the last one hundred years, as well as its decennial rates of
increase and percentage of the total population.

  _Colored Population of the United States._

  Year.     Colored      Decennial   Increase     Per cent
            Population.  Increase.   per cent in  of total
                                     10 years.    population.

  1790        757,208      .......   .....        19.27
  1800      1,002,037      244,829   32.33        18.88
  1810      1,377,808      375,771   37.50        19.03
  1820      1,771,656      393,848   28.50        18.39
  1830      2,328,642      556,986   31.44        18.10
  1840      2,873,648      545,006   23.44        16.84
  1850      3,638,808      765,169   26.63        15.69
  1860      4,441,830      803,022   22.07        14.13
  1870[11]  5,391,000      949,170   21.37        13.84
  1880      6,580,793    1,189,793   22.07        13.12
  1890      7,470,040      889,247   13.51        11.93

If we begin with 1810, the first census year after the constitutional
suppression of the slave trade, we see from this table that the growth
of the Negro element followed the ordinary law of population, viz: a
gradual decline in the rate of increase. In 70 years the decennial rate
of increase declined from about 30 per cent to 22 per cent. But from
1880 to 1890 there was a _per saltum_ decrease from 22 to 13 per
cent--that is, the decline in ten years was equal to that of the
previous seventy. And all this has happened during an era of profound
peace and prosperity, when the Negro population was subject to no great
perturbing influences. When a number of observations follow with
reasonable uniformity a fixed law, but a single result deviates widely
from this law it is usual to suspect the accuracy of the discrepant
observation. The author nowhere assigns any adequate cause for this
sudden "slump" in the increase of the colored population. Instead of
attributing it, in part at least, to the probable imperfection of the
eleventh census, he relies wholly upon a blind force recently discovered
and named by him "race traits and tendencies." The capriciousness of
this new factor, in that it may suspend operation indefinitely or break
loose in a day, does not seem to have occurred to the author, at least
it does not seem to affect the confident assurance with which he relies
upon it. As has been shrewdly remarked by an able reviewer, "It would
seem incumbent on him (Mr. Hoffman) further to prove that these race
traits, after being held in abeyance for at least a century, first took
decisive action in the decade 1880 to 1890."[12]

In 1810 there were 1,377,808 Negroes in the United States. In 80 years
this number had swollen to at least 7,470,040, and that, too, without
reinforcement from outside immigration. It more than quintupled itself
in eight decades. Does it not require much fuller demonstration than the
author anywhere presents to convince the ordinary mind that a people
that has shown such physical vitality for so long a period, has all at
once, in a single decade, become comparatively infecund and threatened
with extinction?

It is passing strange that it escaped the attention of a statistician of
Mr. Hoffman's sagacity that, even granting the accuracy of the eleventh
census, the natural increase of the Negro race was greater than that of
the whites during the last decade. The number of immigrants who came to
this country between 1880 and 1890 was 5,246,613. I am informed by the
census bureau that this number does not include the immigrants who came
from British North America and from Mexico after 1885. This number was
estimated by the statistical bureau of the Treasury Department to be
540,000, making the total number of immigrants 5,787,613. If this number
be subtracted from the increase of the white population during the last
decade (11,589,920) their rate of increase will be reduced to 13.35 per
cent as compared with 13.51 per cent for the blacks. Nor is this all.
The immigrants were for the most part in the full maturity and vigor of
their productive powers, being the most fecund element of our white
population. If allowance be made for their natural increase from 1880 to
1890 the white race would show a decennial increase appreciably below
that of the blacks. If the Negro, then, is threatened with extinction,
the white race is in a still more pitiable plight.

The table on page 6 does indeed show plainly that the Negro does not
hold his own as a numerical factor of our mixed population. Whereas he
represented 19 per cent of the entire population in 1810 he now
represents only 12 per cent. But the cause of this relative decline is
apparent enough. It is due to white immigration and not to "race traits"
as Mr. Hoffman would have us believe. It would be as legitimate to
attribute the decline of the Yankee element as a numerical factor in the
large New England centers to the race degeneracy of the Puritan, while
ignoring the proper cause--the influx of the Celt.

Mr. Hoffman's conclusions as to the Negro population are not generally
accepted by students of social problems. Their position is more clearly
stated in a recent notice of the work now under review. "Concerning the
first of these chapters dealing with population he (Mr. Hoffman) reaches
conclusions very different from those generally held by those who have
discussed the subject on _a priori_ grounds. The general impression has
been that the colored population was increasing at a rate greater than
that of the whites, owing both to the greater number of children born
and also to the fact that all children of a mixed race were counted as
blacks. From such a condition of affairs it would naturally be assumed
that the race to which all half-breeds were credited would, especially
if prolific, rapidly gain upon the other race."[13]

On the appearance of each census since emancipation, there has been some
hue and cry as to the destiny of the Negro population. Public opinion
has been rhythmical with reference to its rise and fall above and below
the mean line of truth. In 1870 it was extermination; in 1880 it was
dreaded that the whole country would be Africanized because of the
prolificness of a barbarous race; in 1890 the doctrine of extinction was
preached once more; what will be the outcry in 1900 can only be divined
at this stage, but we may rest assured that it will be something


The author's studies in the minor features of the Negro population form
the most interesting and valuable work which has yet been undertaken on
the subject. The urban drift, the tendency to concentration, and the
migratory movements of the black population are treated with fullness
and force. It is interesting to know that there are 13 cities in which
the colored population exceeds 20,000, and 23 in which it exceeds
10,000, and that the rate of increase of the colored element in these
centers is enormous--more than 30 per cent. The concentration of the
colored population in certain sections of cities is quite suggestive.
The following table will disclose some of the striking features which
Mr. Hoffman has exhibited at length.[14]

    City.        Colored      No.     Colored population
                 population.  Wards.  in wards.

  Chicago        14,271       34       9,122 in 3 wards.
  Philadelphia   39,371       34       8,891  " 1   "
  Boston          8,125       25       2,547  " 1   "
  New York       23,601       24      13,008  " 3   "
  Brooklyn       10,287       26       3,100  " 2   "

This tendency to concentration in undesirable places is found to be
greater in Northern than in Southern cities. Every large city has its
white wards and its black wards, which the politician knows as well as
the seaman knows the depths and shallows of the sea.

The evil of this tendency cannot be denied or gainsaid; but its cause is
not far to seek nor hard to find.


The author also notes with alarm that the Negro population is congesting
in the black belts of the South. There are 70 counties in this section
with an aggregate area of over 50,000 square miles in which the colored
population outnumbers the white nearly three to one. The general
conviction is that the Negroes will be gathered into black settlements
scattered throughout the Gulf states. The superintendent of the tenth
census writes on this subject: "I entertain a strong conviction that the
further course of our (Negro) population will exhibit that tendency in a
continually growing force; that this element will be more and more
drained off from the higher and colder lands into the low, hot regions
bordering on the Gulf of Mexico."[15]

Commenting on this subject Mr. Hoffman says: "This tendency if persisted
in will probably in the end prove disastrous to the advancement of the
colored race, since there is but the slightest prospect that the race
will be lifted to a higher plane of civilization except by constant
contact with the white race."[16]

It is undoubtedly true that the Negro has not the initiative power of
civilization. What race has? Civilization is not an original process
with any race or nation known to history. The torch has been passed from
race to race and from age to age. Where else can the Negro go? The white
race at present has the light. This concession is no reproach to the
Negro race, nor is it due to any peculiar race trait or tendency.

There is a stretch of country extending from southern Pennsylvania to
northern Alabama, containing sections of Maryland, West Virginia,
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky,
and Alabama, and embracing the Appalachian system of mountains. This
section contains a population of nearly 3,000,000 souls. They belong for
the most part to the most thrifty element of our complex population--an
element whose toughness of moral and mental fiber is proverbial. The
Scotch-Irish are famed the world over for their manly and moral vigor.
And yet this people have sunken to the lowest depth of poverty and
degradation--a depth from which, without the assistance of outside help,
they can be lifted nevermore.[17] Is this condition of depravity and
inability of self-initiative due to "race traits and tendencies?"

Then, supposing the Negroes to be concentrated in the black belts, as
seems inevitable, will they necessarily be shut out from wholesome
contact with civilization? Not at all. Just how far personal and servile
contact can elevate the moral and manly tone of a people is not quite
evident. But the result of indirect missionary contact is, perhaps, the
surest way to lift a race into civilization. I point to Japan as a
recent, striking illustration of this argument. The black belts will
afford the richest field for missionary and philanthropic endeavor. No
section of this country can remain long in an uncivilized state or
relapse into barbarism that has in its midst a Hampton Institute or a
Booker T. Washington.


_Subject._ Vital Statistics.

_Gist._ "The vitality of the Negro may well be considered the most
important phase of the so-called race problem, for it is a fact which
can and will be demonstrated by indisputable evidence that of all races
for which statistics are obtainable and which enter at all into the
consideration of economic problems as factors the Negro shows the least
power of resistance in the struggle for life."[18]


Statistics are collected from ten of the largest cities with the result
that the death rate among the whites is 20.12 per 1000, and among the
blacks 32.61. It is acknowledged that the great bulk of this excess in
the colored death rate is due to infant mortality. This fact of itself
would suggest that the real cause is condition rather than race traits.
This truth shall be established out of the mouth of Mr. Hoffman's own
witness. "Fifty per cent of the (Negro) children who die never receive
medical attention."[19]

"The indifference to medical attendance in cases of illness of their
children is due to ignorance."[20] To the ordinary mind this would imply
the most unfortunate condition.


But the death rate is only one factor in the vital equation. The birth
rate is equally important. Mr. Hoffman concedes, with reluctant
reservation, that the colored birth rate may be greater than that of the
whites. "That the birth rate of the Negroes is in excess of that of the
white population is probably true even at the present time, at least as
compared with the native whites."[21] This is indeed a very feeble
admission of a very obvious fact. Mr. Hoffman contends that the death
rate of the Negro race is much greater than that of the whites. It has
already been shown that, leaving immigration out of account, the
increase in the Negro population is greater than that of the white race.
How can these two facts be accounted for except it be on the basis of a
higher birth rate for the blacks? Mr. Hoffman will have either to alter
his estimates or mend his logic.

Direct testimony on this subject must have been known to Mr. Hoffman. Of
course no one is qualified to write on vital statistics in America who
is not familiar with the investigation of Dr. Billings. Let the reader
compare the following quotation as to the relative birth rate of the
races, and, noting date of data upon which the conclusion is based,
decide for himself as to the ingenuousness of Mr. Hoffman's reluctant
admission: "Dr. Billings, in his luminous report on the vital statistics
of the United States (1886) shows that 1000 colored women (age from 15
to 49) give birth to 164 children, and 1000 white women to only 127,
yearly; that is to say, three colored women have as many children as
four white."[22]


Before Mr. Hoffman's conclusion as to the threatening aspect of the high
death rate of the Negro race can be accepted, several questions must be
answered by him.

1. Is the death rate of the colored race higher than that of a
corresponding class of whites subject to the same moral and social
environment? The general opinion is that it is not; nor does the author
attempt to prove the contrary. In discussing this question Dr. John S.
Billings states: "If we could separate the vital statistics of the poor
and ignorant whites, the tenement house population of our Northern
cities, from those of the mass of the white population we should
undoubtedly find a high rate of mortality in this class, and especially
in infancy and childhood."[23]

2. Is the high death rate for the cities sustained throughout the
country at large? Luckily the census of 1880 gives a complete answer to
this question. The death rate of the United States in 1880 was 15.09 per
1000; South Carolina 15.80; Alabama 14.20; Mississippi 12.89; Georgia
13.97; Massachusetts 18.59; New York 17.38; Pennsylvania 14.92; New
Jersey 16.33. This shows plainly that the Southern states with the
largest Negro contingent do not show any higher death rate than the
Northern states where the Negro is not a considerable factor. There is
no evidence, certainly none brought forward by the author, to show that
the death rate of the Negro in the country at large is much in excess of
that of the whites. "In the rural districts the mortality of the Negro
is not excessive; it is in the cities and towns where he is brought into
close contact with the evils and vices of civilization that he dies so

3. Is the death rate, even in the cities, so great as to foreshadow
extinction? Nothing is great or small except by comparison. The death
rate among the Negroes in the large cities at present is not as great as
it was among the whites forty years ago; that is, if we may rely upon
the statistics which Mr. Hoffman himself has presented.

  _Mortality among Whites in Southern Cities._[25]

  City.               Period.     Death rate.

  Mobile, Ala.        1852-1855   54.39
  Charleston, S. C.   1851-1860   29.79
  Savannah, Ga.       1856-1860   37.19
  New Orleans, La.    1849-1860   59.60

Under improved sanitary regulations these rates have been lowered until
at present they are not at all alarming. May not the same improvement in
his environment effect similar changes in the death rate of the Negro?

Let us compare the death rate of the Negro race with that of the Germans
as presented in the census of 1880.

  City.         death rate.     City.        Death rate.

  Washington    32.60           Konigsberg   31.50
  Baltimore     32.81           Munich       33.40
  Richmond      28.48           Breslau      31.60
  Louisville    30.73           Cologne      27.00
  New Orleans   30.42           Strasburg    29.60

This high death rate of the American Negro does not exceed that of the
white race in other parts of the civilized globe. If race traits are
playing such havoc with the Negroes in America, what direful agent of
death, may we ask the author, is at work in the cities of his own

4. Does the death rate among Negroes show a tendency to increase? In the
District of Columbia there has been a gradual decline in the death rate
of the Negro population from 40.78 in 1876 to 29.54 in 1896.[26]

Again, Mr. Hoffman's statistics will show a steady improvement in
Southern cities for the last twenty years.

  _Death rate among Negroes in Southern Cities._[27]

                                 Death                Death
  City.              Periods.    rate.     Periods.   rate.

  Mobile, Ala.       1876-1880   39.74     1891-1893  30.91
  Charleston, S. C.  1876-1885   43.83     1886-1894  44.06
  Savannah, Ga.      1876-1880   51.66     1891-1894  32.26
  New Orleans, La.   1880-1884   52.35     1890-1894  39.42

A recent report of the Labor Bureau throws much light on the subject.

  _Annual Death Rate of the Colored Race for three quinquennial

  City.        1880-1885.   1885-1890.   1890-1895.

  Atlanta      37.96        33.41        32.76
  Baltimore    36.15        30.52        32.47
  Charleston   44.08        46.74        41.43
  Memphis      43.01        29.35        21.11
  Richmond     40.34        38.83        34.91

This table shows an unmistakable decrease in the death rate for the
successive quinquennial periods.

All of which tends to prove that this high death rate is due to
condition and is subject to sanitary check and control.

In further confirmation of the fact that the death rate among Negroes is
on the decline, the Army records will afford valuable testimony.

  _Death rate of Colored Soldiers in the U. S. Army._[29]

  Average from 1883 to 1892        9.07
  Average in 1894                  6.26
  Average in 1895                  5.03

In 1895 it is lower than that of the white soldiers. The same general
law of a gradually decreasing death rate is here revealed.

If the death rate of the Negro population in cities is not higher than
that of corresponding classes of whites; if the records of the census
for the country at large do not show it to be in excess of other
classes; if the highest rates are not above those of the whites a half
century ago, nor higher than those of other civilized communities of the
Caucasian race at the present time; and if this rate is constantly
decreasing under more favorable sanitary appliances--it is hard to
justify the author's position as to the low vital powers of the race, or
to reach the conclusion that extinction will be its ultimate fate.


In further proof of the low vitality of the Negro race the author shows
at great length that the race cannot thrive in the North. For every
Northern community for which statistics are available it appears that
the death rate is in excess of the birth rate. It does not seem to have
occurred to the author that economic and social environment may lead to
this deplorable result. Dr. Walker, in a publication which has already
been referred to, states: "The industrial _raison d'etre_ of the Negro
is here (in the South) found at its maximum. In the Northern states this
_raison d'etre_ wholly disappears. There is nothing, aside from a few
kinds of personal service, which the Negro can do which the white man
cannot do as well or perhaps better."[30]

In the North the Negro race lives in industrial and social captivity;
not being in sufficient numbers to form an independent constituency,
they whine and pine over certain abstract principles of equality and
brotherhood, but which, alas, fade into impalpable air under the
application of a concrete test. They sit in the shadow of the tree of
liberty and boast of its protecting boughs, but must not aspire to
partake of the fruit thereof. The undershrubbery purchases shade and
protection at too dear a price when it sacrifices therefor the
opportunity of the glorious sunlight of heaven. No healthy, vigorous
breed can be produced in the shade. No wonder, then, that the productive
sensitiveness of the Northern Negro is affected by his industrial and
social isolation among an overshadowing people who regard him with a
feeling composed in equal parts of pity and contempt.


The author enters into the causes of mortality and points out that in
addition to infant mortality, which has already been noticed,
consumption, pneumonia, and vicious taints of blood are the most
alarming ones. With gloomy forebodings we are reminded that: "Its (the
Negro race) extreme liability to consumption alone would suffice to seal
its fate as a race."[31]

The following citation will express the truth of the situation as
clearly as it is possible to do: "From close personal observation,
embracing a professional life of nearly forty years among the Negroes
and from data obtained from professional brethren in different sections
of the South, I have no hesitancy in declaring that insanity and
tuberculosis were rare diseases among the Negroes of the South prior to
emancipation. Indeed, many intelligent people of observation and full
acquaintance of the Negro have stated to me that they never saw a crazy
or consumptive Negro of unmixed blood until these latter years. The fact
of their comparative exemption from these ailments prior to emancipation
is so well established..."[32]

"Man is an organized being, and is subject to certain laws which he
cannot violate with impunity. These laws affect him in the air he
breathes, the food he eats, the clothes he wears, and (in) every
circumstance surrounding his habilitation. In the wholesale violation of
these laws after the war, as previously stated, was laid the foundation
of the degeneration of the physical and mental condition of the Negro.
Licentiousness left its slimy trail of sometimes ineradicable disease
upon his physical being, and neglected bronchitis, pneumonia, and
pleurisy lent their helping hand toward lung degeneration."[33]

It will be noticed that Dr. Miller accepts all the facts alleged by our
author, but places the causes squarely upon the ground of conditions,
habits and circumstances of life. He does not seem to be acquainted with
Mr. Hoffman's discovery of "race traits." The fact that under the
hygienic and dietary regime of slavery, consumption was comparatively
unknown among Negroes, but that under the altered conditions of
emancipation it has developed to a threatening degree, would persuade
any except the man with a theory, that the cause is due to the radical
changes in life which freedom imposed upon the blacks, rather than to
some malignant, capricious "race trait" which is not amenable to the law
of cause and effect, but which graciously suspended its operation for
two hundred years, and has now mysteriously selected the closing decades
of the nineteenth century in which to make a trial of its direful power.

No people who work all day in the open air of a mild climate and who
sleep at night in huts and cabins where crack and crevice and skylight
admit abundant ventilation, will be subject to pulmonary weakness. Now
take the same people and transplant them to the large cities of a colder
climate, subject them to pursuits which do not call for a high degree of
bodily energy, crowd them into alley tenements where the windows are
used only for ornament and to keep out the "night air," and a single
door must serve for entrance, exit, and ventilation, and lung
degeneration is the inevitable result. The cause of the evil suggests
the remedy. The author in a previous chapter points out the threatening
evil of crowding into the cities; a counter movement which would cause a
return to the country, or would at least stay the mad urban movement,
would not only improve the economic status of the race but would also
benefit its physical and moral health. Here is an open field for
practical philanthropy and wise Negro leadership.

The increase in consumption among Negroes is indeed a grave matter, but
it is possible to exaggerate its importance as sociological evidence. If
we listen to the alarmists and social agitators, we would find a hundred
causes, each of which would destroy the human race in a single
generation. The most encouraging evidence on this subject from the
Negro's point of view is afforded by the last report of the Surgeon
General of the United States Army. The statistics thus furnished are the
most valuable for comparative study, since they deal with the two races
on terms of equality, that is, the white and colored men are of about
the same ages and initial condition of health, they receive the same
treatment and are subject to the same diet, work, and social habits. "It
is to be noted, also," says the Surgeon General, "that during the past
two years the rates for consumption among the colored troops have fallen
so as to be much lower than those for the whites, whereas formerly they
were much higher."[34]

The following table prepared by Mr. Hershaw, shows plainly the gradual
decrease of the death rate from consumption in Southern cities for the
past fifteen years.

  _Death rate per 1000 among Negroes from Consumption._[35]

  City.        Period.    Rate.   Period.    Rate.   Period.    Rate.

  Atlanta      1882-1885  50.20   1886-1890  45.88   1891-1895  43.48
  Baltimore    1886       58.65   1887       55.42   1892       49.41
  Charleston   1881-1884  72.20   1885-1889  68.08   1890-1894  57.66
  Memphis      1882-1885  65.35   1886-1890  50.30   1891-1895  37.78
  Richmond     1881-1885  54.93   1886-1890  41.63   1892-1895  34.74

It appears that the total death rate as well as that due to consumption
among Negroes reached the maximum about 1880 and has been on the gradual
decline ever since.

Consumption is only one of the contributing causes of the total death
rate. It has been shown that the death rate from all causes does not
necessarily point to the extinction of the race. This being so, there is
no need of unnecessary alarm over a single factor; for in sociology, as
in mathematics, we cannot escape the fundamental truth that the whole is
greater than any of its parts.


The author's proposition as to the low vitality of the Negro and its
effect upon his economic efficiency is contrary alike to the traditional
and prevalent belief. The whole fabric of slavery rested upon the
assumption that the Negro was better able to resist the trying condition
of the southern climate than the white laborer. The industrial
reconstruction of the South is building upon the same foundation. No one
doubts that the Negro is able to resist certain miasmatic and febrific
diseases which are so destructive to the white race in the tropical
regions of the earth. Science and wise hygienic appliances have improved
the condition of the white race in this respect, it is true, but will
not the same appliances benefit the Negro in the same degree?

Dr. Daniel H. Williams, surgeon-in-chief of the Freedmen's Hospital, at
Washington, D. C., informs me that during his professional experience he
has performed upward of 3000 surgical operations, one-fourth of which at
least were upon white patients, and that he has found unmistakable
evidence of higher vital power among the colored patients. I am also
informed that this is the general opinion of the medical profession.

Although the author treats exhaustively the whole catalogue of diseases
and the numerous ills which flesh is heir to, it can be safely claimed
that he does not establish his main proposition set forth in the
beginning of the chapter, and that at least a Scotch verdict is
demanded: "not proven."


_Subject._ Anthropometry.

_Gist._ "In vital capacity, the most important of all physiological
characteristics, the tendency of the race has been downward."[36]

Ample statistics are presented to show that in proportion to structure
the Negro is heavier than the white man. This fact, the author tells us,
is ordinarily considered favorable to a healthy development and freedom
from pulmonary weakness. "The elaborate investigations of the medical
department of the New York Mutual Life, in 1874, of the Washington Life,
in 1886, the Prudential Insurance Company of America, in 1895, and the
New York Mutual Life, in 1895, prove conclusively that low weight in
proportion to age and stature is a determining factor in the
susceptibility of an individual to consumption."[37]

In order to explain away this apparent advantage in favor of the Negro,
the author has invented a unique physiological principle, viz: "A
physiological law may hold good for one race and not for another."[38]
It is noticeable that the author applies this principle only when it
suits his convenience but withholds it whenever it runs across his

By a series of measurements based, confessedly, upon insufficient data,
it is concluded that the Negro has a smaller lung capacity, smaller
chest expansion, and a higher rate of respiration than the white man,
and that the Mulatto is inferior to both the parent races in these vital
functions. These differences are considered a powerful factor in lung
degeneration, and proof positive of physical inferiority. In these
respects he tacitly repudiates his erstwhile principle that "a
physiological law may hold good for one race and not for another," and
assumes that the two races are subject to like conditions of disease and

On the whole it may be said that this is the least interesting chapter
in the whole book. The data are so slender and the arguments are so
evidently shaped to a theory, that we are neither enlightened by the one
nor convinced by the other. But the author's judgment must be justified.
The gloomy warning comes with Catonian regularity at the end of each
chapter. Listen to his last words: "A combination of these traits and
tendencies must in the end cause the extinction of the race."[39]

If the Negro is inferior in vital function and power to the Caucasian,
he will be a public benefactor who scientifically demonstrates the fact.
But the colored race most stubbornly refuses to be argued out of
existence on an insufficient induction of data and unwarranted
conclusions deduced therefrom.


_Subject._ Amalgamation.

_Gist._ "The crossing of the Negro race with the white has been
detrimental to its true progress and has contributed more than anything
else to the excessive and increasing rate of mortality from the most
fatal disease, as well as to its consequent inferior social efficiency
and diminishing power as a force in American national life."[40]

The importance of this proposition is apparent when we consider that the
Negroes in this country are a thoroughly mixed people. The pure African
type has been well nigh obliterated. It is pointed out also that the
mongrel progeny has been produced by illicit intercourse between the
white male and the black female. The moral and conservative qualities of
a race reside in its womanhood. The Negro people, then, have missed
these transmitted qualities. The author is either ignorant of or ignores
the large class of mixed Negroes who are the legitimate offspring of
colored parents, but would place the whole class under the ban of

After judicially balancing the testimony furnished by world-renowned
authorities upon the effect of race crossing, the author espouses one
side of the contention with all the ardor of a retained advocate.

Three points are sought to be established.


The opinions of examining surgeons during the civil war are quoted which
quite unanimously show that the Mulatto is strongly inclined to
consumption, scrofula, and vicious taints of blood.

The following table, made out on the basis of Gould's measurements, is
full of interest:

                       White.            Black.            Mulatto.

  Weight               141.4 pounds.     144.6 pounds.     44.8 pounds.
  Circumference chest  35.8 inches.      35.1 inches.      34.96 inches.
  Capacity of lungs    184.7 cubic in.   163.5 cubic in.   158.9 cubic in.
  Rate of respiration  16.4 per minute.  17.7 per minute.  19.0 per minute.

It appears from this table that in the most important vital organs and
functions the Mulatto is inferior to both parent stocks. This opinion
is almost or quite universal among competent authorities upon this
subject. And yet the last word of science has not been uttered on this
question. There is no subject in all the domain of social science which
offers a more interesting or more fruitful field for investigation. The
Freedmen's Hospital at Washington, and similar institutions elsewhere,
by prosecuting accurate and scientific methods of inquiry can throw much
light upon this subject.


This alleged inferiority is attributable to the fact as well as to the
manner of generation. Strangely enough Mr. Hoffman does not employ the
statistics which would seem to bear out his suggestion. The eleventh
census shows that there were 10,377 pure and 3,218 mixed Negroes in
penitentiaries in 1890. Supposing that uniform methods of race-tests
were used throughout the census inquiry, this would show that while the
mixed Negroes constitute only 16 per cent of the total Negro population,
they furnished 30 percent of the penitentiary convicts. But these
figures cannot be relied upon since the census bureau acknowledges that
it has no definite method of determining the different shades of color
and grades of mixture among Negroes.

It is also alleged in proof of this proposition that illicit intercourse
between the races is carried on mainly with the Mulatto women. Can this
not be explained on grounds other than native depravity? The light-colored
Negro woman is made the victim of the lustful onslaught of the male
element of both races. She is placed between the upper and nether stress
of the vicious propensities of white and black men. And if her sins are
greater, is it not because her temptations are greater also? The
following quotation from a distinguished Southerner is significant;
"There was little improper intercourse between white men and Negresses
of the original type in the period before emancipation (after the
creation of the Mulatto class)."[41] Every time a Negro woman is
indicted on this score some white man is inculpated. The reproach hurled
against colored women from such sources reminds us very much of the
lines in Butler's Hudibras:

  The selfsame thing they will abhor,
  One way, and long another for.


In substantiation of this proposition it is claimed that the greater
number of Negroes who have attained distinction have been those of mixed
blood. The truth of this statement must be conceded, and yet the cause
should not be overlooked. Leaving aside the doctrine of inheritance as a
debatable question, the initial advantage of the mixed over the pure
Negroes was considerable. Feelings of blood ties prompted many a slave
holder to deal kindly by his slave descendants, and often to liberate
them and give them a start in the race of life. That an infusion of
white blood quickens the energy and enlivens the disposition of the
progeny is probably true; but that it adds to the intellectual capacity
is far from a self-evident proposition. The Negroes who have shown any
unusual intellectual activity, in America at least, have usually been of
the purer type. Phyllis Wheatly, Benjamin Banneker, Ira Aldridge, Blind
Tom, Edward W. Blyden, and Paul Dunbar are illustrations of this

The investigation of Dr. Gould as to circumference of head and facial
angle are exhibited in the following table:

                           White.        Mulatto.      Black.

  Circumference of head    22.1 inches.  22.0 inches.  21.9 inches.
  Facial angle             72.0°         69.2°         68.8°

A difference of one-tenth of an inch in head circumference and of
four-tenths of a degree in facial angle affords a very slender physical
basis on which to predicate intellectual superiority.

The author lays great stress upon the following table made out by Dr.

  _Weight of the Brain of White and Colored Soldiers_.[42]

  No. of cases.    Degree of color.     Weight of brain.

       24         White                   1424 grammes.
       25         Three parts white       1390    "
       47         Half white              1334    "
       51         One-fourth white        1319    "
       95         One-eighth white        1308    "
       22         One-sixteenth white     1280    "
      141         Pure Negro              1341    "

Twenty-four cases are taken to represent fifty million people, and the
law of averages thus obtained is confidently relied upon. Nor are we
informed as to what methods were employed to ascertain the exact
composition of blood of the 22 cases that are rated as one-sixteenth
white. But, supposing we accept this table, overlooking for the time
being the fact that the brain weight of one white person is taken as
typical of two million others, and also conceding the undisclosed method
of Dr. Hunt in detecting homeopathic dashes of white blood, does it
"clearly prove that there is an increase in the brain weight with an
increase in the proportion of white blood?" If this table shows anything
it is that the pure Negro and the Mulatto have about the same brain
weight and that they are both superior in this respect to all degrees of
mixture between them, but inferior to those of more than one-half white

But it is rather unusual at this late day to base intellectual capacity
upon the shape and size of skull. Investigations have shown that facial
angle and capacity of cranium and cephalic index afford no certain
criterion of thought power or susceptibility to culture. The latest word
on this subject is given by Prof. Ripley, in a series of articles on
"Racial Geography of Europe," in Appleton's Popular Science Monthly for

"An important point to be noted in this connection is that this shape of
the head seems to bear no direct relation to intellectual power or
intelligence. Posterior development of the cranium does not imply a
corresponding backwardness in culture.... Europe offers the best
refutation of the statement that the proportions of the head mean
anything intellectual.... In our study of the proportions of the head,
therefore, we are measuring merely race, and not intelligence in any
sense.... Equally unimportant to the anthropologist is the absolute size
of the head. It is grievous to contemplate the waste of energy when,
during our civil war, over one million of soldiers had their heads
measured in respect to this absolute size, in view of the fact that
today anthropologists deny any considerable significance attaching to
this characteristic. Popularly a large head with beetling eyebrows
suffices to establish a man's intellectual credit, but like all other
credit it is entirely dependent upon what lies on deposit

A still more renowned authority tells us: "The development of the
intellectual faculties of man is to a great extent independent of the
capacity of the cranium and the volume of the brain."[44]

The question of the relative intellectual capacity of the different
races is one of much speculative interest. I am giving the matter more
attention than it would seem to warrant, because the author makes the
supposed mental inferiority of the race the basis of the only practical
suggestion which he has to offer, viz: that all of our educational and
philanthropic endeavor so far has been based upon wrong principles, and
a radical change in this regard is demanded so as to bring the treatment
in harmony with the capabilities of the lower race. Several authorities
will be cited which, I think, will be more than sufficient to offset Mr.
Hoffman's insistent opinion.

"There are hundreds if not thousands of black men in this country who in
capacity are to be ranked with the superior persons of the dominant
race; and it is hard to say that in any evident feature of mind they
characteristically differ from their white fellow citizens."[45]

Prof. Shaler is himself a Southerner, a professor in Harvard University,
and a noted student of current problems.

"Granting the present inferiority of the Negro, we affirm that it has
never been proved; nor is there any good reason to suppose that he is
doomed forever to maintain his present relative position, or that he is
inferior to the white man in any other sense than as some white races
are inferior to others."[46]

"Yet the Negro children exhibit no intellectual inferiority; they make
just the same progress in the subjects taught as do the children of
white parents, and the deficiency they exhibit later in life is of quite
a different kind."[47]

Mr. Hoffman compels us once more to combat the arguments of the slave
holding class: that is, that the Negro is intellectually and morally an
inferior creature (they did not, however, affirm physical inferiority)
and that it is only by servile contact with the white race that his
nature can be improved. The progress along these lines which the race
has made even under the severest disadvantages is sufficient answer to
this argument.

  If I'm designed yon lordling's slave,
    By nature's law designed,
  Why was an independent wish
    E'er planted in my mind?

The Negro's intellectual and social environments hang as a millstone
about his neck; and when he is cast upon the sea of opportunity he is
reproached with everlasting inferiority because he does not swim an
equal race with those who are not thus fettered. We are reminded of the
barbarous Teutons in Titus Andronicus who, after pulling out the tongue
and cutting off the hands of the lovely Lavinia, upbraid her for not
calling for sweet water with which to wash her delicate hands.

No, no, Mr. Hoffman, the philanthropists have made no mistake. They have
proceeded on the supposition that the Negro has faculty for faculty and
power for power with the rest of his fellow men, and that his special
needs grow out of his peculiar condition. Any alteration in this policy
would violate the dictates both of science and humanity.


The remainder of this rather long chapter is devoted to the number and
character of mixed marriages, with the conclusion that the number is on
the decrease and the character of one or both of the contracting parties
is usually unsavory, and that such unions can form no determining factor
in the ultimate solution of the problem.

A study of the fertility of such marriages and the physical, moral, and
intellectual stamina of the progeny would furnish valuable sociological


_Subject._ Social Conditions.

_Gist._ "Immorality is a race trait."[48]


Under the sub-heads of religion and education statistics are presented
showing the progress of the race along these lines. A total church
membership of 2,673,977 shows that there is one communicant to every
2.79 of the Negro population, against one in every 3.04 for the whites.
There were 1,288,736 pupils in the common schools and 34,129 in the
higher schools, colleges, and universities. Ordinarily these facts are
regarded as the most wonderful evidences of progress which the world has
ever witnessed on the part of a backward people. But not so with Mr.
Hoffman; the necessities of his theories compel him to explain away
every apparent advantage in favor of the Negro. The author announces
with an implied negative response to the suppressed question: "It
remains to be shown whether the educational process which the race has
undergone during the past quarter of a century and the additional
efforts and opportunities for religious instruction have materially
raised the race from its low social and economic condition at the time
of emancipation."[49]

This statement needs no refutation, for it will fall beneath the
ponderous weight of its own absurdity.


The following table, if unexplained, tells a startling tale of the
Negro's criminal propensity:

  _Prisoners in the United States, 1890._[50]

                                                Total.   Male.  Female.

  White                                         58,052  53,519   4,433
  Colored                                       24,277  22,305   1,972

                                                      Male,     Female,
                                                    per cent.  per cent.

  Proportion of Negro criminals to total (over 15)    29.38      30.79
  Proportion of Negro population to total (over 15)   10.20      11.09

The Negro element, which constitutes only 12 per cent of the population,
commits 30 per cent of the crimes. Before concluding that this
preponderance of crime is due to "race traits," let us examine more
closely into the circumstances of the case. The discrepancy in the
administration of the law in the South has undoubtedly some effect upon
this relative showing. In order to escape the charge of slander, I will
use the words of a distinguished Virginian who boasts of "my southern
ancestry, birth, rearing, residence and interest."

"And is not the law the same for all, and does it make any distinction
between rich and poor, white and black? Literally, the law is the same
for all. Then what more can be desired? The trouble is not that the laws
are partial, through some of its enactments, namely, the whipping-post,
chain-gang, and poll-tax laws, were aimed principally against the Negro;
but the trouble is with the interpretation of the laws by the juries,
who merely voice the public sentiment, which is superior to the law
itself. The average jury is a whimsical creature, subject to all kinds
of influences, though mostly of a sentimental character. In criminal
matters where whites are concerned, it seems ever to lean to the
defense; and the strongest arguments of the prosecution are easily
offset and upset by appeals on behalf of youth, family, station,
respectability, etc.; or, perhaps the whole family, weeping, is placed
in full view of the jury, and the susceptible jury, sure at least in
such cases to weep with them that weep, speedily brings in a verdict of
acquittal where guilt is clearly manifest; or it says jail where it
ought to say penitentiary; or one year where it ought to say ten; and
ten years where it ought to pronounce death. But the Negro has none of
these sentimental advantages. Too poor to employ competent counsel, his
liberty and life are necessarily committed to incompetent hands, when
the proverb of 'poor pay, poor preach' becomes reality ... But are
Negroes treated unfairly by juries and public opinion? Yes, and the
experience and observation of every fair-minded man will confirm the
assertion. One cardinal proof is that a white man seldom receives
punishment for assault, however brutal, however unprovoked, however
cowardly, be it maiming, homicide, or murder upon a Negro unless,
forsooth, the assailant be some degraded creature, disowned by his own
caste. Of the numberless instances--running into the thousands--during
the past twenty-three years, of homicide and murder of blacks by whites,
there is no single instance of capital punishment, and few, very few,
instances of imprisonment beyond a few months in jail, or a slight fine.
The fact is the juries, which are the sole judges of the evidence, will
accept testimony against a Negro that they would reject in the case of
whites; and on the other hand they will frequently reject, or at least
discredit, testimony of the Negro against the white man, however well
supported it may be. But to compound for sins we are inclined to by
damning those we have no mind to, in case of any difficulty between
white and black, and the former is injured or loses his life, lucky is
the latter if the homicide is not declared murder--when courts of
justice, though sure to inflict the highest penalty in his case, are
found to be too slow, and he is dragged forth and slain, unshrived and
unshriven, as if he were a monstrous wild beast of whose presence earth
could not be rid too quickly."[51]

The social degradation of the Negro is the greatest factor contributive
to this high criminal record. We naturally associate poverty,
ignorance, and crime as being indissolubly connected. The Negroes
represent the stratum of society which commits the bulk of crime the
world over. If we exchange places the same story would be narrated of
the whites. The census records nowhere show that there is any connection
between crime and race, but between crime and condition.

The Negro has a higher criminal record than the Caucasian, it is true,
but so has the foreigner a greater average than the native whites. The
strongest possible argument in this connection rests upon the fact that
the presence of a large number of Negroes in any community does not
increase its total criminal average. The North Atlantic division,
including the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, has a
criminal record of 833.1 to the million, while the South Atlantic
division, including the states of the Southern Atlantic coast shows a
record of 831.7. The Western division has an average of 1300. The
section that has the fewest Negroes has the highest average, and the
states that have the largest quota of blacks show the lowest criminal
rates. If we compare state with state the same interesting results are
revealed. The criminal record of New York (million basis) is 1369, of
South Carolina 702.6, of California 1703, of Alabama 720.1.

But, says the objector, a difference in the rigidity of the enforcement
of the law may account in some measure for this disparity. Let us then
take the city of Washington, one-third of whose population are Negroes,
and compare its police reports with those of Boston, whose Negro element
is a negligible fraction. It will be conceded, I think, that the
enforcement of law in both cities is rigid. The major of police for the
District of Columbia, in his last report remarks: "Those familiar with
the conduct of police affairs in this country generally contend that
there is a constant increase of crime; that it keeps pace with the
growing population. While such may be true of the principal cities of
the United States, facts and figures support the claim of this
department that in this respect the District of Columbia occupies a
distinct standing of its own. Its comprehensive moral status is above
that of most communities. Were it not for the depredations chargeable to
theft, there would be comparatively little crime to chronicle. This
offense must always exist here, unless through some unexpected agency a
complete change should be effected in the social conditions which
prevail. The abiding place of a large class of idle, illiterate, and
consequently vicious persons, it is but reasonable that the respectable
element should be preyed upon to a considerable extent."[52]

The percentage of arrests for Boston during 1896 was 9.37, whereas for
Washington it was only 8 and a fraction. These facts would seem to
furnish sufficient evidence that crime adheres to circumstances and
condition and not to race and color.

But, says the author, in the North (where legal processes are
acknowledgly fair so far as the Negro is concerned) the race shows a
criminal record which is out of all proportion to its numerical
strength. In Pennsylvania 2.23 per cent of its population commit 16.16
per cent of the crimes; in Chicago 1.30 of the population are
responsible for 9.84 of the offenses, and so for other Northern
communities. The Negro's criminal status is from six to eight times
greater than his numerical weight. It has been shown in another place
that from a social and economic standpoint the Northern Negro is
completely submerged. The criminal outbreak under the circumstances is
only natural.

It is also true that where numbers are small proportions are high. The
startling criminal showing of the Northern Negro can be accounted for
largely on this principle. Suppose that there were but one Chinaman in a
community, and coming, as he naturally would, into hostile contact with
a wide area, he should be arrested and convicted. The criminal records
of that community would show that one hundred per cent of the Chinese
population belonged to the criminal class.

I append the following table, extracted from the census of 1880, to
establish this principle. The Negro in the country at large shows a much
higher criminal rate than the foreign whites, but if we limit our
inquiry to those states where the foreign population is small, the
conditions will be reversed.

  _Number of prisoners in several southern states (to the million
   of population.)_

  State.        Foreign white.   Colored.

  Florida       2,624            1,797
  Georgia       2,272            2,181
  Louisiana     1,810            1,728
  Mississippi   2,498            1,783

If, on the other hand, we select those states in which the Negro element
is small and the foreign element large the result is very decidedly to
the disadvantage of the Negro.

The Northern Negro has a criminal record which is not only out of all
proportion to his numerical strength, but is two or three times as great
as that of his black brothers in the South. It is hard to see how "race
traits" could account for this discrepancy.


The attempts at rape and the consequent lynchings are also offered in
evidence of the evil propensity of the race. It is undoubtedly true that
the alleged assaults upon white women by colored men have done more than
all other causes combined to give the race an evil reputation and make
it loathsome in the eyes of mankind. "It throws over every colored man a
mantle of odium and sets upon him a mark for popular hate more
distressing than the mark set upon the first murderer ... It has cooled
our friends and heated our enemies."[53]

The alleged culprit in such cases, especially if he be a colored man and
the victim a white woman, is almost certain to die without due process
of law. The native, savage furor of human nature asserts itself in the
presence of such dastardly outrages, and neither legal enactments nor
moral codes nor religious sanction can restrain it. The perpetrators
cannot be defended or pitied. It is a waste of sympathy to wail over the
deep damnation of their taking off. And yet we must remember that when
the two races are concerned rape has a larger definition than is set
down in the dictionaries. There can be no doubt that there have been
many lynchings chargeable to rape, when the true cause should be
designated by a different, though an ugly name.

Let us not forget, also, that not more than one-third of the lynchings
are even chargeable to rape. The causes include the whole catalogue of
offenses, serious and trifling, from the committal of murder to jostling
against a white man on the street. The attempt to show that lynching and
rape are coextensive is misleading and unjust.

So the effort to show that rapeful assaults are due to "race traits"
can, I think, be clearly disproved. In a pamphlet which is certainly
not flattering to the Negro, a learned medical authority tells us: "I
might remark in passing that, notwithstanding the horrible crimes
perpetrated under the influence of the _furor sexualis_ by the Negro, I
believe that he compares quite favorably as regards sexual
impulses--taking all abnormalities into consideration--with the white
race. The more I see of white men in so-called refined society, the more
contempt have I for quite a large proportion of male humanity."[54]

To summarize the points of the argument, showing that rape is not
peculiarly characteristic of the Negro:

1. Rape has been practiced among all races and nations.

2. The committal of rape by white men is by no means an infrequent
occurrence. Two instances of white men committing heinous assaults upon
white children occurred in Washington during the preparation of this

3. In Africa rape is so severely punished that it is comparatively

4. In the British Islands and in South America where the Negroes live in
greatest relative abundance, the crime is unheard of.

5. When the care and safety of the white women of the South were
entrusted to the keeping of the slaves, they returned inviolable all
that had been entrusted to their hands.

6. Of the hundreds of lady missionaries of the North who have trusted
their lives and virtue to the emancipated race whom they came to uplift,
not a single case of violation has been reported to their friends at the


The present state of social morality is mirrored in the number of
illegitimate offsprings. The figures which show that the rate of
illegitimacy among Negroes in Washington has increased from 17.60 per
cent of total births in 1879 to 26.46 per cent in 1894 have been widely
quoted and remarked upon. These are facts of record and cannot be
gainsaid or denied. According to the opinion of medical men and others
in positions to observe, these figures if anything fall short of the
truth. It is also probable that the other large cities of the country,
if as closely studied, would make as startling a showing. The only
alarming feature of the situation is the constant _increase_ in the
illegitimate rates. That twenty-five per cent of the births among
Negroes are illegitimate will not alarm anyone where it is considered
that even this low moral status represents a gain of seventy-five per
cent over the conditions prevailing under slavery.

Mr. Hoffman having on hand a theory, was spared the pains of inquiring
further into the causes which led to this deplorable state of things.
The reviewer suggests that this increase in social immorality among the
Negroes of Washington is due to the great rush of ignorant, purposeless
colored people to the national capital, a condition of things which
always leads, in its first effect, to social looseness and impurity. The
very late marriages among the better element of the colored people also
help to account for this awful state of things. But perhaps a greater
than any cause yet assigned as leading to the social degradation of
Negroes in cities is the excess of the female over the male element of
the population. On account of the importance of this subject, I append a
table showing this excess for the cities whose colored population is
over 20,000.

  _Colored population._

                                                         Number of
                     Colored    Colored     Excess of    females to
  City.              males.     females.    females.     every 100

  Baltimore          29,165     38,131      8,966        131
  Richmond           14,216     18,138      3,922        128
  Atlanta            12,400     15,717      3,317        127
  Washington         33,831     41,866      8,035        123
  New Orleans        28,936     35,727      6,791        123
  Nashville          13,334     16,061      2,727        120
  Charleston         14,187     16,849      2,662        119
  Savannah           10,493     12,485      1,992        119
  Memphis            13,333     15,396      2,063        115
  Louisville         13,348     15,324      1,976        115
  Philadelphia       18,960     21,414      2,454        113
  St. Louis          13,247     13,819        572        104
  New York           12,649     13,025        376        103
                     ------     ------     ------        ---
  Total             228,099    273,952     45,875        120

Such a disproportion between the sexes can forbode no good to society.
In the West, where the male element predominates over the female among
the white population, the evil effect on society is painfully apparent.
If every colored man in Washington were married and every male minor had
a mate selected for him, there would still be left Negro females enough
to form a manless community larger than Annapolis, Md. Now, no one
should wonder at the moral corruption under these circumstances. These
8000 females, for whom marriage is impossible, be it remembered, are not
restrained by the inhibitory influence of pride, station, and
self-esteem. This is no doubt the greatest evil which threatens the
social integrity of Negro life, and forms the most serious and
perplexing of our city problems.

As startling as the records of crime and immorality are, they are only
the outgrowth of circumstances and conditions. Human nature at best is
weak, and under fostering circumstances has always yielded to the power
of sin and uncleanliness. The author tells us that immorality is a race
trait. This is sadly too true, but it is a human race trait, and is
limited to no particular variety thereof.


_Subject._ Economic Conditions.

_Gist._ "As a general conclusion it may be said that the Negro has not
yet learned the first element of Anglo-Saxon thrift."[55]


Attempt is made to show that the Negro has deteriorated as a farm
laborer, and that as an industrial factor he has not held his own in the
development of the resources of the South. With a process of reasoning
with which we are fully familiar by this time, these assertions are
sought to be upheld. The decline in agricultural interests throughout
the country has had its effect upon the apparent efficiency of the
farming class everywhere. The mad rush to the cities, with a vain hope
of improvement in condition, has well nigh demoralized agricultural


The investigations which have been undertaken to determine the industrial
efficiency of the Negro have shown results not unfavorable to him. The
recent discharge of white workmen in the cotton mills of Charleston, and
the substitution of colored workmen in their places, is quite significant.
The hindrances which the Negro has to meet in the industrial field are
fully suggested in the address to the public of the discharged white
employes of the Charleston establishment: "If the colored man's status
precludes him from competing with the office-holder, it should exclude
him from competing with our wives, sons, and daughters in the light
pursuits of the country. We affirm, by our physical powers and brave
hearts, not to sit supinely by and witness this Negro horde turned loose
upon the pursuits of our mothers, our wives, our widows, our daughters,
our sisters, and rob them of their living."[56]

This is the solemn declaration of 800 workmen in the metropolis of South
Carolina, and represents fairly the white labor sentiment of the South.
The trades unions and labor organizations preach the same doctrine. If
the alleged low industrial efficiency of the Negro is to be chargeable
to race traits, it should be attributed to the domineering and
intolerant race traits of the white workmen who are not disposed to give
the colored man a fair chance. The fact that in almost every contention
between white and colored workmen the employers take the side of the
Negro, is an eloquent argument in behalf of the industrial merits of the
latter; for these employers are in the business for profit and not for


The accumulation of property on the part of the blacks shows that in
Georgia they own $12,941,230, in North Carolina $8,018,446, and in
Virginia $13,933,908. The land held by the colored people in Virginia
alone has an area nearly equal to that of the State of Rhode Island.
These facts make a decidedly favorable showing.



The need of this chapter is hardly apparent, for the author's conclusion
is as clearly set forth in the beginning as at the close of the
treatise. As to his leading conclusion, the author is not only out of
harmony with the general opinion prevalent among students of the Negro
problem, but is also strangely inconsistent with his former self. The
same author who in 1896, wrote: "It is not in the condition of life, but
in the race traits and tendencies, that we find the cause of excessive
mortality,"[57] in 1892 affirmed: "The colored population is placed at
many disadvantages which it cannot very well remove. The unsanitary
condition of their dwellings, their ignorance of the laws of health, and
general poverty are the principal causes of their high mortality."[58]
The Frederick L. Hoffman of 1892, according to the general judgment, is
much nearer the true analysis than the Frederick L. Hoffman of 1896.

The author's conclusion will not stand the philosophical tests of a
sound theory.

1. It is based upon disputed data. The accuracy of the eleventh census
is not acceptable either to the popular or the scientific mind.

2. It is not based upon a sufficient induction of data. The arguments at
most apply to the Negroes in the large cities, who constitute less than
12 per cent of the total population.

3. It does not account for the facts arranged under it as satisfactorily
as can be done under a different hypothesis. The author fails to
consider that the discouraging facts of observation may be due to the
violent upheaval of emancipation and reconstruction, and are, therefore,
only temporary in their duration.

I do not know whether the author believes in Providence as a determining
factor in society or not. It may not be accounted scientific to take
cognizance of any element which cannot be quantified, counted, weighed,
or measured. But I do know that the wisest of our species have always
believed that God is the controlling factor in human affairs. The
Negro's hopes and aspirations are built upon the foundation of this
belief. We are told in His word that he visits the sins of the fathers
upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. If the Negro,
then, will conform his life to the moral and sanitary laws, may not the
evil tendencies now observable be eradicated or overcome? The first
effects of emancipation are always harmful to the moral and physical
well-being of the liberated class. The removal of physical restraints,
before moral restraints have grown strong enough to take their place,
must always result in misconduct. The Jews in Egypt labored under
circumstances remarkably similar to those of the American Negro. After
their emancipation, it required them forty years to make the progress
which the scientific process would have required them to make in forty
days. Such was their moral and physical degeneracy, that only two
persons of all the hosts who left the land of Egyptian bondage survived
to reach the Promised Land forty years afterward. Luckily for the
Hebrews, there were no statisticians in those days. Think of the future
which an Egyptian philosopher would have predicted for this people! And
yet out of the loins of this race have sprung the moral and spiritual
law-givers of mankind. We should not be discouraged because the Negro
does not make a bee-line from Egyptian bondage to the Promised Land
beyond the Jordan. He, too, must tarry awhile in the wilderness before
he enters upon the full enjoyment of the heritage of freedom.

To the Negro I would say, let him not be discouraged at the ugly facts
which confront him. The sociologists are flashing the searchlight of
scientific inquiry upon him. His faults lie nearer the surface and are
more easily detected than those of the white race. Let him not be
overwhelmed when all his faults are observed, set in a note book,
learned and conned by rote, to be cast into his teeth. If all the ugly
facts about any people were brought to light they would furnish an
unpleasant record. When the Savior told the woman of Samaria all that
she ever did, a very unsavory career was disclosed. If all the misdeeds
of any people or individual were brought to light, the best of the race
would be injured and the rest would be ruined. The Negro should accept
the facts with becoming humility, and strive to live in closer
conformity with the requirements of human and divine law. He does not
labor under a destiny of death from which there is no escape. It is a
condition and not a theory that confronts him.



[1] Author's preface.

[2] Page 51.

[3] Page 95.

[4] Page 95.

[5] Page 176.

[6] Page 312.

[7] Page 311.

[8] Frederick L. Hoffman, in the Arena, April, 1892.

[9] Giddings' "Principles of Sociology," page 79.

[10] Senator Roger Q. Mills, in the Forum, April, 1891.

[11] Estimated by General Francis A. Walker, Forum, July, 1891.

[12] W. E. B. Du Bois, Ph. D., in the American Academy of Political
Science, January, 1897.

[13] Miles Menander Dawson, in the Quarterly Publications of the
American Statistical Association, September-December, 1896, page 142.

[14] Page 14.

[15] General Francis A. Walker, Forum, July, 1891.

[16] Page 20.

[17] See New York Evangelist, June, 1897.

[18] Page 37.

[19] The Health Officer of Savannah, quoted by Mr. Hoffman, page 62.

[20] Page 63.

[21] Page 33.

[22] M. G. Mulhall, F. S. S., in North American Review, July, 1897.

[23] Tenth Census, Vol. XI, p. xxxviii.

[24] Dr. John S. Billings' comments upon Vital Statistics of the Tenth
Census, Vol. XI, p. xxxviii.

[25] Pages 53 and 54.

[26] Report of the Health Officer of the District of Columbia, 1896,
page 7.

[27] Pages 53 and 55.

[28] Bulletin of the Department of Labor, No. 10, May, 1897, page 286.

[29] Surgeon General's Report, 1896, Table XII.

[30] Dr. Francis A. Walker, in the Forum, July, 1891.

[31] Page 148.

[32] "The Effects of Emancipation upon the Mental and Physical Health of
the Negro," by Dr. J. F. Miller, Superintendent Eastern Hospital,
Goldsboro, N. C., page 2.

[33] Ibid., page 6.

[34] Report of Surgeon General of the Army, August, 1896, page 89.

[35] L. M. Hershaw, Esq., in Atlanta University Bulletin, No. 2. page

[36] Page 176.

[37] Page 149.

[38] Page 158.

[39] Page 176.

[40] Page 188.

[41] "Plantation Negro as a Freeman," by Phillip A. Bruce, pages 53 and

[42] Page 185.

[43] Appleton's Popular Science Monthly, March, 1897.

[44] A. De Quatrefages' "Human Species," chapter XXX.

[45] Prof. N. S. Shaler, Arena, December, 1890.

[46] Wm. Matthews, LL. D., on Negro Intellect, North American Review,
July, 1889.

[47] Benjamin Kidd's "Social Evolution," page 295.

[48] Page 95.

[49] Page 216.

[50] Page 218.

[51] "The Prosperity of the South Dependent upon the Elevation of the
Negro," L. H. Blair, pages 55-58.

[52] Report of Metropolitan Police Department for the year 1896, page

[53] Frederick Douglass' "Lessons of the Hour," page 8.

[54] "Sexual Crimes among the Southern Negroes," by Drs. Hunter McGuire
and G. Frank Lydstron, page 8.

[55] Page 307.

[56] The Literary Digest, July 24, 1897, page 361.

[57] "Race Traits and Tendencies," by Frederick L. Hoffman, page 95.

[58] "Vital Statistics of the Negro," by Frederick L. Hoffman, Arena,
April, 1892.

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "embraciug" corrected to "embracing" (page 10)
  "communinities" corrected to "communities" (page 14)
  "natarally" corrected to "naturally" (page 29)
  "henious" corrected to "heinous" (page 31)

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