Margaret Sanger, "Social Selection," 1925.

Source: "Margaret Sanger Papers, Sophia Smith Collection Margaret Sanger Microfilm, Smith College Collections S73:0229."


It is one of the tragedies of civilization that its tendency is to destroy or eliminate those mental and physical superiorities by which it has been built up and which are essential for its maintenance and progress.

The development of civilization has brought mankind under influences which have never before come into play. There have arisen various agencies which tend to favor or reduce the prevalence of certain types according to the nature of the institution and the time and place.

Our friend Lapouge has described the operation of several forms of social selection

Military Political } All brought into play as a consequence of the development Religious } of civilization. Moral Legal Economic

Military selection eliminates the best male population of the race.

Political selection through the effects of the Civil War, the prison, the scaffold and exile gets rid of more independent and courageous spirits and tends thereby to render the population submissive and tractable.

Religious selection through celibacy of the clergy and persecution, tends to affect the elimination of the more intelligent and independent minds.

Moral and legal selection in general produce dysgenic effects.

The economic selection has a most destructive effect upon the superior elements of the race. It makes machines of rare souls. It starves our artists, musicians and poets and reduces the artisan to the state of the unskilled.

The racial influence of civilization is bad and the feeble force of natural selection seems powerless to stay the havoc brought by the agencies which result from the development of civilization.

Add to these disconcerting facts amount of care, attention, money, effort and energy devoted to the care and perpetuation of the insane, feebleminded and inferior types and one gasps for breath as no remedy appears to grapple with the problem.


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