Margaret Sanger, "Is Race Suicide Probable?," 15 Aug 1925.
Source: " Colliers, Aug. 15, 1925, p. 25 Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Collected Documents Series C16:260."
This article is prefaced by an editorial note mentioning that Dr. Louis I. Dublin argued the negative side of the issue in the April 25, 1925 issue of Colliers.
The people of the United States have been warned against the menace of birth control. If they exercise intelligent self-discipline, it is said, Americans may bring this country to destruction through depopulation. The fear that the present rate of increase in the population of the United States may be decreased and that our population may indeed be brought to a standstill through the practice of birth control is hardly substantiated by the last estimate of the Bureau of the Census. Within the last five years there has been an increase in our native population of approximately 6,000,000, or 1,200,000 a year.
We are a nation of business men and women. We believe in efficiency, accuracy, and sound economic policy. If this is so, it strikes me that it is high time that not only American science but American business as well should begin to analyze the cost to the community of the haphazard, traditional, happy-go-lucky methods in producing the Americans of tomorrow--the laissez-faire policy approved by those who forget that the Biblical injunction "be fruitful and multiply" was given to Noah immediately after the Flood, when according to the Biblical narrative, the entire population of the globe was eight.
It has been conservatively estimated that no less than one quarter of the gross incomes of our states is expended upon the upkeep of asylums for the feeble-minded and insane, the mentally defective, the criminal, the congenitally defective, the delinquent and the dependent. We are spending billions, literally billions, keeping alive thousands who never, in all human compassion, should have been brought into this world. We are spending more in maintaining morons than in developing the inherent talents of gifted children. We are coddling the incurably defective and neglecting potential geniuses.
We have not chosen this Sisyphean task; it has been forced on us because we have left the production of American children to chance, instead of bringing this most important of all human functions within the sphere of choice.
Until the leaders of American business decide to cooperate in this analysis of our biological and racial problems we shall be at a loss to answer such critics as Luther Burbank, to whom American civilization is deeply indebted. In a recent interview he is quoted as asserting:
"America . . . is like a garden in which the gardener pays no attention to the weeds. Our criminals are our weeds, and weeds breed fast and are intensely hardy. They must be eliminated. Stop permitting criminals and weaklings to reproduce. All over the country to-day we have enormous insane asylums and similar institutions where we nourish the unfit and criminal instead of exterminating them. Nature eliminates the weeds, but we turn them into parasites and allow them to reproduce."
Could any business maintain itself with the burden of such an "overhead"? Could any breeder of live stock conduct his enterprise on such a basis? I do not think so.
It is one of the bad habits of us Americans to estimate everything by magnitude, in terms of millions and billions. But in the matter of increasing population we must hesitate before throwing bouquets at ourselves. I am not a calamity howler, and I think my vision of the future of America is as cheerful as anyone's. But let me conclude with the emphatic statement of my conviction that mere increase in population has nothing to do with progress, nor can a decreasing birth rate by any stretch of the imagination be interpreted as an omen of national calamity.
Copyright, Margaret Sanger Project