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constantly in view that the negro has been subjected to degrading and blasting slavery for more than two centuries. While slavery did its victims a great wrong in depriving them of the fruits of the toil, it did them a greater wrong in denying them opportunities for moral and mental improvement. Those who sit in judgme t upon the negro and study his frailties and shortcomings must not forget these previous conditions.

To recapitulate, it has been shown

First. That the colored death rate exceeds the white, the excess averaging for five cities, during a period of fifteen years, 73.8 per cent.

Second. That the death rate of the colored population in five cities is lower for the period 1890-1895 than for the period 1881-1885.

Third. That the principal causes of the excessive mortality among the colored people of five cities are pulmonary diseases and infant mortality.

Fourth. That the least disparity between the white and colored death rates is for those diseases due to un wholesome sanitary conditions- typhoid, malarial and scarlet fevers, diphtheria, and diarrhea.

This last fact, that the excessive death rate of the colored people does not arise from diseases due to environment, is of vast importance. If poor houses, unhealthy localities, bad sewerage, and defective plumbing were responsible for their high death rate, there would be no hope of reducing the death rate until either the colored people became wealthy, or philanthropic persons erected sanitary houses, or municipalities made appropriations to remove these conditions. But since the excessive death rate is not due to these causes, there is reason for the belief that it may be reduced without regard to the present economic conditions of the colored people.


If the colored people in our larger towns are bent upon living near the center of the city, they can not rent or buy property, except in the less desirable or abandoned parts. But it is not necessity, it is only convenience that leads them to live over stables, in dark, damp cellars, and on back alleys in the midst of stench and putrefaction. They can, if they would, go to the suburbs, where they can get better accommodations for less money. I have been in families in Nashville ranging from seven to ten living on a back alley with a rivulet of filth running before the door of the one room in which they bathed and ate and slept and died. Two miles farther out all of these families might have secured for the same money shanties of two and three rooms, with purer air and water, and had a garden spot besides. Among the colored people convenience to the heart of the city often overrides considerations of health, and that the white people offer them hotbeds of disease for homes is no excuse for their taking them. It is better to live in the suburbs than to die in the city. The negro is induced, but not forced, to accept the bad accommodations of down-town life. Apart from this apparent exception in the matter of rented houses, no race discrimination affects in the least the negro's physical condition; and it is for this very reason that I am hopeful of a change for the better in the vital statistics of our people. If the large death rate, the small birth rate, the susceptibility to disease, and the low vitality of the race were due to causes outside of our control, I could see nothing before us but the "blackness of darkness forever;" but because the colored people themselves are responsible for this sad state of affairs, it is to be expected that time and education will correct it.

The conclusions which I shall draw in this paper are based largely upon my study of the problem in Nashville.

In the first place, then, the excess of colored deaths over white is due almost entirely to constitutional diseases and infant mortality. According to health statistics, the constitutional diseases which are mainly responsible for our large death rate are pulmonary consumption, scrofula, and syphilis, all of which are alike in being tuberculous. A large number of the colored convicts in our State prison at Nashville are consumptives or syphilitics. Out of 92 deaths in a certain territory il Nashville, 19 deaths, or over 20 per cent, were due to consumption. The other 73 deaths were due to thirty-five different causes. In the recent Atlanta investigation, according to the mortality report of Cambridge, Mass., consumption was the cause of 15 per cent of the deaths.

Deaths from consumption in Nashville for the period 1893-1895.

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Alarming as are the facts set forth in the preceding table, they are not the whole truth. They would be occasion for serious concern if the races were numerically equal, but when we remember that the colored people of Nashville are only threefifths as numerous as the whites, it is all the more startling. For the year 1895, when 82 white deaths from consumption occurred in the city of Nashville, there ought to have been only 49 colored, whereas there really were 218, or nearly four and one-half times as many as there ought to have been. It is an occasion of serious alarm when 37 per cent of the whole people are responsible for 72 per cent of the deaths from consumption.

Deaths among colored people from pulmonary diseases seem to be on the increase throughout the South. During the period 1882-1885, the excess of colored deaths from consumption for the city of Memphis was 90.80 per cent. For the period 18911895, the excess had arisen to over 137 per cent. For the period of 1886-1890, the excess of colored deaths from consumption and pneumonia for the city of Atlanta was 139 per cent. For the period 1891-1895, it had arisen to nearly 166 per cent. From these facts it would appear that pulmonary consumption is the "destroying angel" among us, and yet I am told that before the war this dread disease was virtually unknown among the slaves. Fortunately, Charleston, S. C., kept even before the war the mortality statistics of the colored people, and, consequently, we are able to ascertain with some accuracy how their death rate from consumption before the war compares with their death rate afterwards. What are the facts in the case ? From 1822 to 1818 the colored death rate from consumption was a trifle less than the white. Since 1865 it has been considerably greater, and is still increasing. According to F. L. Hoffman, the white mortality from that cause has decreased since the war 134 per 100,000. The colored mortality has increased over 234 per 100,000.1 The question arises, How do we account for this change? Is it because the negro is inherently more susceptible to pulmonary diseases, or is it because of his changed environment-his different social conditions? If his tendency to consumption is due to his inherent susceptibility, what was it that held it in check until after the war? It seems that this fact alone is sufficient to fix the responsibility upon the conditions which have arisen since emancipation. Mr. F. L. Hoffman claims that the negro's lungs weigh 4 ounces less than a white man's, and that though his normal chest measure is greater, his lung capacity is less; and that here we have a cause for the negro's tendency to consumption which no environment, however favorable, can affect. Even if this be a fact, it is hard to see how it began to operate as a cause of consumption only since the war.

Let us turn for the present to another cause of the excessive mortality among us, namely, the increased prevalence of scrofula and venereal diseases. For the period 1882-1885 the colored death rate in Memphis from scrofula and syphilis was 205.8 per cent in excess of that among the whites, but from 1891 down to the present time the excess has been 298 per cent. For the period 1893-1895 there were in the city of Nashville 8 white deaths from scrofula and syphilis and 35 colored. In proportion to the population, there ought to have been only 5. Of course allowance must be made for the fact that, on account of the scandal and disgrace, white physicians are reluctant to report white deaths from these causes, whereas such motives rarely, if ever, influence them in reporting colored deaths.

According to the May bulletin of the Department of Labor, ont of 1,090 colored people canvassed this year in the city of Nashville, 18 were suffering from scrofula and syphilis. One whose attention has not been called to the matter has no conception of the prevalence of these diseases among the negroes of Nashville. I have looked for it in both races as I have walked the streets of my city, and to come across the loathsome disease in the colored passers-by is not an uncommon occurrence. This state of affairs can be accounted for when I tell you that there is probably no city in this country where prostitution among colored people is more rampant and brazen, and where abandoned colored women are more numerous or more public in their shameful traffic.

In the families canvassed by me this year, among 50 sufferers from rheumatism, 8 were so badly crippled as to be bedridden invalids. When we consider the fact that some forms of rheumatism are syphilitic in their origin, and that in these same families there were 18 suffering from scrofula and syphilis, it would appear that venereal poisoning was responsible for a considerable share of the rheumatism.

There is one obstacle to the race's reproducing itself that has some connection with venereal diseases, and hence I speak of it now. I refer to the enormous amount of stillbirths and infant mortality prevalent everywhere among colored people. For the period of 1893-1895, the still and the premature births in the city of Nashville were 272 for the white and 385 for the colored; or, in proportion to the population, two and one-third times as many as there ought to have been. This relative state of affairs obtains in Memphis and Atlanta, and in all the large cities of the South.

1 See Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro, by F. L. Hoffman.-ED.

From the health reports of all our large Southern cities we learn that a considerable amount of our infant mortality is due to inanition, infantile debility, and infantile marasmus. Now, what is the case in regard to these diseases? The fact is that they are not diseases at all, but merely the names of symptoms due to enfeebled constitutions and congenital diseases, inherited from parents suffering from the effects of sexual immorality and debauchery. Translated into common speech, they are nothing more than infant starvation, infant weakness, and infant wasting away, the cause of which is that the infants' parents before them have not given them a fighting chance for life. According to Hoffman, over 50 per cent of the negro children born in Richmond, Va., die before they are 1 year old.

The number of still and premature births among us is a matter of great alarm, not only because it seriously interferes with the numerical increase of the race, but because it involves the fecundity, the health, and even the moral character of large numbers of our women. The support of the family often falls very heavily upon our poor washerwomen; and since they find it hard to get the husks to feed and the rags to clothe their already large number of little folks, living in one room like stock, rather than to add to their burden they resort to crime. An official on the Nashville board of health, who is also proprietor of a drug store, tells me that he is astonished at the number of colored women who apply at his store for drugs with a criminal purpose in view.

The sixteen Atlanta groups in the recent investigation showed that the female heads of families are considerably in excess of the male, and out of 324 families 31 were wholly supported by the mother, and 205 were supported by the mother altogether or in part. In such social conditions as these, where the burden of bread winning is borne largely, and often altogether, by the mother of the household, it is not surprising that poor laboring women, who are ignorant of its ruinous effects upon both health and character, should resort to prenatal infanticide.

The average family for the eighteen cities covered by our recent investigation numbers only 4.1, which means that in these eighteen cities the race is doing barely more than reproducing itself. The large colored families of a few decades ago are becoming more and more scarce. I know a grandmother who was the proud mother of over a dozen children; the daughter could boast of nine; and not one of several granddaughters, though married for a number of years, is the mother of more than one child. This family is but an illustration of many others just like it. Such facts go to show that the negro is no longer the "prolific animal" that he once was termed. The race, like the women of whom Paul once wrote to Timothy, must be "saved through childbearing."

I take it that the excess of infant mortality from cholera infantum and convulsions means nothing more than that the negro mothers do not know so well how to feed and care for their offspring. They need instruction in infant dietetics and baby culture.

I have now covered the ground to which our excessive death rate is mainly due, namely, pulmonary diseases, especially consumption and pneumonia, scrofula, venereal diseases, and infant mortality. If we eliminate these diseases, our excessive death rate will be a thing of the past.

Let us now inquire, What is there in the negro's social condition that is responsible for the prevalence of these diseases, and the consequent mortality? In the first place, then, be it known by all men that we to-day in this conference assembled aro not the enemies of our people because we tell them the truth. We shall know the truth, and the truth shall make us free, not only from the bondage of sin, but from vicious social conditions and consequent physical death. Sanitary regulations and the social reconstruction of Israel formed a large part of Moses' religious duty, and why may it not of ours?

While I do not depreciate sanitary regulations and a knowledge of hygienic laws, I am convinced that the sine qua non of a change for the better in the negro's physical condition is a higher social morality. I do not believe that his poverty or his relation to the white people presents any real impediment to his health and physical development. Without going into the reasons for it, it is well known that the poor laboring classes often enjoy better health, are freer from disease, have larger families, and live longer lives than the rich.

I am convinced that for the causes of the black man's low vitality, his susceptibility to disease, and his enormous death rate we must look to those social conditions which he creates for himself. What are they? I have already referred to the social causes of our excessive infant mortality, namely, the frequency with which the partial or the entire maintenance of the household devolves upon the mother; and especially the impaired chance for life which a debauched and immoral parentage bequeaths to childhood. The infants in their graves will rise up in judgment against this evil and adulterous generation and condemn it.

The constitutional diseases which are responsible for our unusual mortality are often traceable to enfeebled constitutions broken down by sexual immoralities.

This is frequently the source of even pulmonary consumption, which disease is to-day the black man's scourge.

According to Hoffman, over 25 per cent of the negro children born in Washington City are admittedly illegitimate. According to a writer quoted in Black America, "in one county of Mississippi there were during twelve months 300 marriage licenses taken out in the county clerk's office for white people. According to the proportion of population there should have been in the same time 1,200 or more for negroes. There were actually taken out by colored people just 3." James Anthony Froude asserts that 70 per cent of the negroes in the West Indies are born in illegitimacy. Mr. Smeeton claims that "in spite of the increase of education there has been no decrease of this social cancer." My attention has been called to a resort in Nashville, within less than two blocks of the public square, where a large number of abandoned women and profligate men often congregate in the underground basement, which is lighted and ventilated only through the pavement grating; and there in debauchery and carousal they make the night hideous until almost morning. What are they sowing but disease, and what can they reap but death?

It is true that much of the moral laxity which exists among us to-day arose out of slavery. It is due to a system which winpped women, which dispensed with the institution of marriage, which separated wives from their husbands and assigned them to other men, which ruthlessly destroyed female virtue, and which miade helpless women the abject tools of their masters. This is the correct explanation of our social status to-day, but to explain it is not to excuse it. It is no longer our misfortune, as it was before the war; it is our sin, the wages of which is our excessive number of deaths. Always and everywhere, moral leprosy means physical death. Wherever the colored people are guilty of the immoralities of which James Anthony Froude and W. L. Clowes of the London Times accuse them, if they continue in them they will be destroyed by them, root and branch. Rome was destroyed because the Empire had no mothers, and Babylon was blotted out because she was the "mother of harlots."

A few years ago I said, in a sermon at Fisk University, that wherever the AngloSaxon comes into contact with an inferior race the inferior race invariably goes to the wall. I called attention to the fact that, in spite of humanitarian and philanthropic efforts, the printing press, the steam engine, and the electric motor in the hands of the Anglo-Saxon were exterminating the inferior races more rapidly and more surely than shot and shell and bayonet. I mentioned a number of races that have perished, not because of destructive wars and pestilence, but because they were unable to live in the environment of a nineteenth century civilization; races whose destruction was not due to a persecution that came to them from without, but to a lack of moral stamina within; races that perished in spite of the humanitarian and philanthropic efforts that were put forth to save them.

To that utterance let me now add this thought: That where shot and shell and bayonet and the printing press and the steam engine and the electric motor have slain their thousands, licentious men, unchaste women, and impure homes have slain their tens of thousands; and I speak the words of soberness and truth when I say that if the charges of sexual immoralities brought against us are true, unless there be wrought a social revolution among us the handwriting of our destruction even now may be seen on the wall. The history of nations teaches us that neither war nor famine nor pestilence exterminates them so completely and rapidly as do sexual


If the cause of our excessive death rate be, in its ultimate analysis, moral rather than sanitary, then this fact ought to appear not only in our vital, but in our criminal statistics as well. Professor Starr, of Chicago University, claims that in the State of Pennsylvania, where there is little opportunity to assert that the courts are prejudiced against colored criminals, though the negroes form only 2 per cent of the population, yet they furnish 16 per cent of the male prisoners and 34 per cent of the female. The race has such great privileges in Chicago and it is dealt with so fairly and justly that the colored people themselves have denominated it the "Negroes' Heaven;" and yet, according to Professor Starr, while the negroes form only I per cent of the population of Chicago they furnish 10 per cent of the arrests. I am convinced that the immorality which accounts for these criminal conditions is also responsible for the race's physical status; and if we are to strike at the root of the matter, it will not be at sanitary regulations, but at social reconstruction and moral regeneration.

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