Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 59.djvu/100

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90
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
THE BLOOD OF THE NATION.
A STUDY OF THE DECAY OF RACES THROUGH THE SURVIVAL OF THE UNFIT.
 

Part I—In Peace.

By DAVID STARR JORDAN,
PRESIDENT OF LELAND STANFORD JR. UNIVERSITY.
"Over trench and clod

Where we left the bravest of us,
There's a deeper green of the sod."
 —Brownell.

I. In this paper I shall set forth two propositions, the one self-evident, the other not apparent at first sight, but equally demonstrable. The blood of a nation determines its history. This is the first proposition. The second is: The history of a nation determines its blood. As for the first, no one doubts that the character of men controls their deeds. In the long run and with masses of mankind this must be true, however great the emphasis we may lay on individual initiative or on individual variation.

Equally true is it that the present character of a nation is made by its past history. Those who are alive to-day are the resultants of the stream of heredity as modified by the vicissitudes through which the nation has passed. The blood of the nation flows in the veins of those who survive. Those who die without descendants can not color the stream of heredity. It must take its traits from the actual parentage.

II. The word 'blood' in this sense is figurative only, an expression formed to cover the qualities of heredity. Such traits, as the phrase goes, *run in the blood.' In the earlier philosophy, it was held that blood was the actual physical vehicle of heredity, that the traits bequeathed from sire to son as the characteristics of families or races ran literally in the literal blood. We know now that this is not the case. We know that the actual 'blood' in the actual veins plays no part in heredity, that the transfusion of blood means no more than the transposition of food, and that the physical basis of the phenomena of inheritance is found in the structure of the germ cell and its contained germ-plasm.

III. But the old word well serves our purposes. The blood which is 'thicker than water* is the symbol of race unity. In this sense the