The Effects of Race Intermingling

The Effects of Race Intermingling

Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society
Volume 56, Number 4 (1917)
pages 364-368

Charles B. Davenport, Director
Department of Experimental Evolution
(Carnegie Institution of Washington)
Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York

Read on April 13, 1917

The problem of the effects of race intermingling may well interest us of America, when a single state, like New York, of 9,000,000 inhabitants contains 840,000 Russians and Finns, 720,000 Italians, 1,ooo,ooo Germans, 880,000 Irish, 470,000 Austro-Hungarians, 310,000 of Great Britain, 125,000 Canadians (largely French), and 9o,ooo Scandinavians. All figures include those born abroad or born of two foreign-born parents. Nearly two thirds of the population of New York State is foreign-born or of foreign or mixed parentage. Even in a state like Connecticut it is doubtful if 2 per cent of the population are of pure Anglo-Saxon stock for six generations of ancestors in all lines. Clearly a mixture of European races is going on in America on a colossal scale.

Before proceeding further let us inquire into the meaning of “race.” The modern geneticists’ definition differs from that of the systematist or old fashioned breeder. A race is a more or less pure bred “group” of individuals that differs from other groups by at least one character, or, strictly, a genetically connected group whose germ plasm is characterized by a difference, in one or more genes, from other groups. Thus a blue-eyed Scotchman belongs to a different race from some of the dark Scotch. Strictly, as the term is employed by geneticists they may be said to belong to different elementary species.

Defining race in this sense of elementary species we have to consider our problem: What are the results of race intermingling, or miscegenation? To this question no general answer can be given. A specific answer can, however, be given to questions involving specific characters. For example, if the question be framed: what are the results of hybridization between a blue-eyed race (say Swede) and a brown-eyed race (say South Italian)? The answer is that, since brown eye is dominant over blue eye, all the children will have brown eyes; and if two such children inter-marry brown and blue eyes will appear among their children in the ratio of 3 to 1. Again, if one parent be white and the other a full-blooded negro then the skin color of the children will be about half as dark as that of the darker parent; and the progeny of two such mulattoes will be white, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full black in the ratio of 1:4:6:4:1…

…Not only physical but also mental and temperamental incompatibilities may be a consequence of hybridization. For example, one often sees in mulattoes an ambition and push combined with intellectual inadequacy which makes the unhappy hybrid dissatisfied with his lot and a nuisance to others.

To sum up, then, miscegenation commonly spells disharmony—disharmony of physical, mental and temperamental qualities and this means also disharmony with environment. A hybridized people are a badly put together people and a dissatisfied, restless, ineffective people. One wonders how much of the exceptionally high death rate in middle life in this country is due to such bodily maladjustments; and how much of our crime and insanity is due to mental and temperamental friction.

This country is in for hybridization on the greatest scale that the world has ever seen…

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