ANY conscious restriction in the birth rate is popularly referred to as "race suicide." It is in this sense that Theodore Roosevelt employed the term when he wrote to Mrs. Van Vorst concerning "race suicide, complete or partial." The prevalence of a conscious restriction in the birth rate on the part of the vast majority of American families has been established beyond question, while the facts from which this conclusion is drawn form a basis for the anathema and ridicule which the opponents of a declining birth rate have heaped upon those anti-social individuals convicted of "race suicide." Paradoxical as it may seem, however, these "race murders" are in reality race saviors, for, acting in accord with the dominant evolutionary tendency of modem civilization, they are disregarding quantity and seeking to insure quality.
A continuance of the rate of increase in population which prevailed in the early nineteenth century would have resulted, in the near future of the western world, in an over-population problem as serious as that now confronting China or India. Consider, for example, the problem as it appeared in the United States. In 1800 the population of the United States was doubling itself, by natural increase, every 25 years. Had this ratio of increase continued the native-born population of 1900 would have numbered about 100,000,000, that of a.d. 2000 would have numbered 800,000,000, while the population of a.d. 2100 would have increased to 12,800,000,000 souls, or eight times the entire population of the world in 1900. The argument is thus reduced to the absurd. Such a vast population could not be adequately cared for, and some reduction of the birth rate of 1800 was therefore inevitable.
The reduction undoubtedly took place, for instead of the 100,000,000 descendants of native-born population predicted for 1900, there were but 41,000,000 in existence. The advent of the other 59,000,000 was prevented by a conscious restriction in the birth rate, made inevitable by the abnormal growth of population at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries.
The reduction in birth rate is clearly shown by a comparison of the United States census figures from decade to decade. From 1790 to 1800, there was little immigration, yet the population of the United States increased 35 per cent.; from 1810 to 1820 the increase was 33 per cent.; 1830 to 1840, 35 per cent.; 1850 to 1860, 35 per cent.; 1870 to 1880, 30 per cent.; and 1890 to 1900, 20 per cent. Between 1890 and 1900 the net immigration to the United States was about 2,000,000.