Popular Science Monthly/Volume 57/August 1900/Discussion and Correspondence

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Dear Sir: I observe that a new bill on the subject of vivisection has been introduced into the Senate, Bill No. 34. This bill is a slight improvement on its predecessor, but it is still very objectionable. I beg leave to state very briefly the objection to all such legislation.

1. To interfere with or retard the progress of medical discovery is an inhuman thing. Within fifteen years medical research has made rapid progress, almost exclusively through the use of the lower animals, and what such research has done for the diagnosis and treatment of diphtheria it can probably do in time for tuberculosis, erysipelis, cerebro-spinal meningitis and cancer, to name only four horrible scourges of mankind which are known to be of germ origin.

2. The human race makes use of animals without the smallest compunctions as articles of food and as laborers. It kills them, confines them, gelds them and interferes in all manner of ways with their natural lives. The liberty we take with the animal creation in using utterly insignificant numbers of them for scientific researches is infinitesimal compared with the other liberties we take with animals, and it is that use of animals from which the human race has most to hope.

3. The few medical investigators can not, probably, be supervised or inspected or controlled by any of the ordinary processes of Government supervision. Neither can they properly be licensed, because there is no competent supervising or licensing body. The Government may properly license a plumber, because it can provide the proper examination boards for plumbers; it can properly license young men to practice medicine, because it can provide the proper examination boards for that profession, and these boards can testify to the fitness of candidates; but the Government cannot provide any board of officials competent to testify to the fitness of the medical investigator.

4. The advocates of anti-vivisection laws consider themselves more humane and merciful than the opponents of such laws. To my thinking these unthinking advocates are really cruel to their own race. How many cats or guinea pigs would you or I sacrifice to save the life of our child or to win a chance of saving the life of our child? The diphtheria-antitoxin has already saved the lives of many thousands of human beings, yet it is produced through a moderate amount of inconvenience and suffering inflicted on horses and through the sacrifice of a moderate number of guinea pigs. Who are the merciful people—the few physicians who superintend the making of the antitoxin and make sure of its quality, or the people who cry out against the infliction of any suffering on animals on behalf of mankind?

It is, of course, possible to legislate against an improper use of vivisection. For instance, it should not be allowed in secondary schools or before college classes for purposes of demonstration only; but any attempt to interfere with the necessary processes of medical investigation is, in my judgment, in the highest degree inexpedient, and is fundamentally inhuman.

Yours very truly,
C. W. Eliot.
Hon. James McMillan.


Prof. Shaler's article in the June number of the Popular Science Monthly was in many ways sensible and timely, but it seems to the writer that in common with many other people he is misleading in his remarks about higher education for the negro. One would think from the great outcry against the higher education for young people of the colored race, that scarcely any other kind of education was being given them. On all sides we hear the familiar refrain: "The higher education for the negro has been a failure." Now success is a relative term. If a mere handful of colored college graduates, in a few years, ought to have settled the race problem, and induced their white fellow-citizens to treat these graduates and all members of their race fairly, then it has been a failure. But if the higher education should simply give added power of mind, enlarge the mental grasp and capacity for usefulness, lift up, socially, morally, religiously and financially, not only its disciples, but also thousands who have been induced to look upward by the force of their example, then the higher education for colored youth has been a tremendous success. Is not the latter the fair test? Of course the higher education of the few has not eliminated crime. It has not done that for the white race. The writer is a colored man and a college graduate. He can not see that the higher education has any different effect on the colored youth from what it has on the white. If there be any difference it is this: It raises the colored youth from a lower social level, as a rule, and places him on a social plane, relatively, among his own people, higher than it does in the case of the white youth. The higher training, therefore, should be more valuable to the colored youth.

In a recent address before a graduating class at Howard University, the Hon. W. T. Harris, Commissioner of Education, submitted statistics which showed that the proportionate number of secondary and higher students to the whole number of children attending school in the United States had increased from 2.22 per cent in 1879 to 5.01 per cent in 1897, nearly two and a half times; while the proportion of colored students in secondary schools and colleges had increased very little indeed, from 1 per cent to only 1.16 per cent. But the story is not yet half told. According to the report of the Commissioner of Education, 1897-98, Vol. 2, page 2,097, the total number of students taking the higher education in the United States, as a whole, was 144,477, being 1,980 to each million of the total population. The same report, page 2,480, gives the total number of colored students pursuing collegiate courses in these much discussed colored colleges as 2,492. This is only 310 to the million of colored population, whereas the whole of the United States, as shown above, had 1,980 to the million, nearly six and a half times as many in proportion to population. This does not look as if the entire colored population were rapidly stampeding to the higher education, or as if the labor supply in the Southern States were falling off from this cause.

This is an age of higher education for the masses. The increase in the number of students taking the secondary and higher education in the United States during the last ten years has been phenomenal—unprecedented. Is the person of color so much superior to the white that he does not need so much educational training? I think not. In view of the history and present condition of this race, there is an obvious necessity for a large number of educated and trained teachers, ministers, physicians, lawyers and pharmacists; and in view of the fact that this race has only one fifth of its quota pursuing studies above the elementary grades, what fair mind will not say that there is great need of more of the secondary and higher education for colored youth, instead of less of it?

According to the report above cited, I 161 academies and colleges for colored youth in the United States reported. The total number enrolled was 42,328, of which 2,492 were reported in collegiate grades, 13,669 in secondary grades and 26,167 in elementary grades. Even in these colored colleges less than 6 per cent of the students are pursuing collegiate courses. Of these, perhaps not more than 2 per cent are pursuing a college course equal to that offered at Howard. Nearly two thirds of the total enrollment in these colored colleges are receiving elementary instruction in the three R's. Classified by courses of study, 1,711—217 in a million—were taking the classical course; 1,200—150 in a million—the scientific; 4,449—555 to the million—the normal course in preparation for teaching; 1,285—160 in a million—professional courses; 9,724 the English course, and 244 the business course. In each of these courses the colored race has only about one fifth or one sixth of its quota. Is there anything in these figures to alarm the nation?

About one third of the total number of students in these 161 colored schools and colleges are taking industrial training. When we consider the great demand for educated colored ministers, teachers and physicians, and the quick reward for ability in these lines, on the one hand, and the exclusiveness of some trade-unions in shutting out colored workmen, on the other, the wonder is that one third of the total number of colored youth in these schools have chosen the industrial course. For it is by no means certain that they will be allowed to work at their trades after they have learned them.

The number of colored students who have had even a smattering of the higher education has been shown to be ridiculously small, and the total number of colored graduates with the college degree proper does not at the most liberal estimate exceed one thousand. Many of them are dead. Of the number now living, almost every one can be located in some useful and uplifting employment as ministers, teachers, physicians, lawyers, business men, or as wives presiding over nappy, prosperous, cultured homes which white persons seldom enter except on business. Our critics seem to know nothing of these homes, which, as a rule, are owned by their occupants. For the most part these homes are scattered throughout the South, and are centers of culture and refinement that elevate the moral and social status of the entire community.

To deprive the youth of the colored race of the higher education is to deprive them of all the nobler incentives to study, to sacrifice, to struggle to get an education. Every thoughtful person knows that these incentives are necessary for the white race; they are equally necessary for the colored race. Neither the white youth nor the colored, in large numbers, will toil and struggle and apply himself to get an education, unless he sees that education brings power and a better living to its possessors.

The colored race, like every other part of our population, needs all kinds of education. It is a sheer fallacy and a grievous wrong to them to hold all of them down to the rudiments of an education, with industrial training. All can not profit by the industrial training any more than all can profit by the higher training. There is no conflict between the advocates of industrial training and the higher education. Both are right. Both are good in their respective spheres. At any rate, it is not necessary to disparage the magnificent achievements of colored persons who have received the higher training to make an argument in favor of training all of them in the manual trades, or to justify their elimination from politics.

Andrew F. Hilger,
Washington, D. C.

  1. An open letter from President Eliot of Harvard University to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia.