A Civic Biology

Hunter, G. 1914. A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems. New York, USA: American Book Company.

“It was such a strange, tremendous story, that of the Greek Poseidonia, later the Roman Paestum. Long ago those adventuring mariners from Greece had seized the fertile plain, which at that time was covered with forests of great oak and watered by two clear and shining rivers. They drove the Italian natives back into the distant hills, for the white man’s burden even then included the taking of all the desirable things that were being wasted by incompetent natives, and they brought over colonists — whom the philosophers and moralists at home maligned, no doubt, in the same pleasant fashion of our own day.”

Bisland, E., and E. Hoyt. 1909. Seekers in Sicily: Being a Quest For Persephone by Jane and Peripatetica. New York, USA: John Lane Company quoted in Hunter (1914), p. 107.


Evolution of Man. — Undoubtedly there once lived upon the earth races of men who were much lower in their mental organization than the present inhabitants. If we follow the early history of man upon the earth, we find that at first he must have been little better than one of the lower animals.  He was a nomad, wandering from place to place, feeding upon whatever living things he could kill with, his hands. Gradually he must have learned to use weapons, and thus kill his prey, first using rough stone implements for this purpose. As  man became more civilized, implements of bronze and of iron were used. About this time the subjugation and domestication of animals began to take place. Man then began to cultivate the fields, and to have a fixed place of abode other than a cave. The beginnings of civilization were long ago, but even to-day the earth is not entirely civilized.

The Races of Man. — At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa ; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific ; the American Indian ; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos ; and finally, the highest type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America.

pp. 195-196


The Hookworm. — The discovery by Dr. C. W. Stiles of the Bureau of Animal Industry, that the laziness and shiftlessness of the “poor whites” of the South is partly due to a parasite called the hookworm, reads like a fairy tale. The people, largely farmers, become infected with a larval stage of the hookworm, which develops in moist earth. It enters the body usually through the skin of the feet, for children and adults alike, in certain localities where the disease is common, go barefoot to a considerable extent. A complicated journey from the skin to the intestine now follows, the larvae passing through the veins to the heart, from there to the lungs ; here they bore into the air passages and eventually work their way by way of the windpipe into the intestine. One result of the injury of the lungs is that  many thus infected are subject to tuberculosis. The adult worms, once in the food tube, fasten themselves and feed upon the blood of their host by puncturing the intestine wall. The loss of blood from this cause is not sufficient to account for the bloodlessness of the person infected, but it has been discovered that the hookworm pours out a

hookwormpoison into the wound which prevents the blood from clotting rapidly (see page 315) ; hence a considerable loss of blood occurs from the wound after the  worm has finished its meal and gone to another- part of the intestine. The cure of the disease is very easy; thymol is given, which weakens the hold of the worm, this being followed by Epsom salts. For years a large area in the South undoubtedly has been retarded in its development by this parasite ; hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of lives have been needlessly sacrificed.

p 228-229


The Jukes. — Studies have been made on a number of different families in this country, in which mental and moral defects were present in one or both of the original parents. The “Jukes” family is a notorious example. The first mother is known as “Margaret, the mother of criminals.” In seventy-five years the progeny of the original generation has cost the state of New York over a million and a quarter of dollars, besides giving over

civic 1to the care of prisons and asylums considerably over a hundred feeble-minded, alcoholic, immoral, or criminal persons. Another case recently studied is the ” Kallikak ” family. This family has been traced to the union of Martin Kallikak, a young soldier of the  War of the Revolution, with a feeble-minded girl.

civic 2She had a feeble-minded son from whom there have been to the present time 480 descendants. Of these 33 were sexually immoral, 24 confirmed drunkards, 3 epileptics, and 143 feeble-minded. The man who started this terrible line of immorality and feeble-mindedness later married a normal Quaker girl. From this couple a line of 496 descendants have come, with no cases of feeble-mindedness. The evidence and the moral speak for themselves !

Parasitism and its Cost to Society. — Hundreds of families such as those described above exist to-day, spreading disease, immorality, and crime to all parts of this country. The cost to society of such families is very severe. Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other plants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others by corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease, but they are actually protected and cared for by the state out of pul)lic money. Largely for them the poorhouse and the asylum exist. They take from society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites.

The Remedy. — If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with success in this country.

Blood Tells. — Eugenics show us, on the other hand, in a study of the families in which are brilliant  men and women, the fact that the descendants have received the good inheritance from their ancestors. The following, taken from Davenport’s Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, illustrates how one family has been famous in American History. In 1667 Elizabeth Tuttle, ” of strong will, and of extreme intellectual vigor, married Richard Edwards of Hartford, Conn., a man of high repute and great erudition. From their one son descended another son, Jonathan Edwards, a noted divine, and president of Princeton College. Of the descendants of Jonathan Edwards much has been written ; a brief catalogue must suffice : Jonathan Edwards, Jr., president of Union College; Timothy Dwight, president of Yale ; Sereno Edwards Dwight, president of Hamilton College ; Theodore Dwight Woolsey, for twenty-five years president of Yale College ; Sarah, wife of Tapping Reeve,

civic 3founder of Litchfield  Law School, herself no mean lawyer ; Daniel Tyler, a general in the Civil  War and founder of the iron industries of North Alabama ; Timothy Dwight, second, president of Yale University from 1886 to 1898 ; Theodore AVilliam Dwight, founder and for thirty-three years warden of Columbia Law School ; Henrietta Frances, wife of Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, who, burning the midnight oil by the side of her ingenious husband, helped him to his enduring fame ; Merrill Edwards Gates, president of Amherst College ; Catherine Maria Sedgwick of graceful pen ; Charles Sedgwick Minot, authority on biology and embryology in the Harvard Medical School ; Edith Kermit Carow, wife of Theodore Roosevelt ; and Winston Churchill, the author of Coniston and other well-known novels.” Of the daughters of Elizabeth Tuttle distinguished descendants also came. Robert Treat Paine, signer of the Declaration of Independence; Chief Justice of the United States Morrison R. Waite ; Ulysses S. Grant and Grover Cleveland, presidents of the United States. These and  many other prominent  men and women can trace the characters which enabled them to occupy the positions of culture and learning they held back to Elizabeth Tuttle.

p 261-264


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