Letter by Theodore Roosevelt to Charles Davenport: Society should not permit degenerates to reproduce their kind.

From The Outlook, January 3rd letter of 1913 [Source]

My dear Mr. Davenport:

I am greatly interested in the two memoirs you have sent me.  They are very instructive, and, from the standpoint of our country, very ominous.  You say that  those people are not themselves responsible, that it is “society” that is responsible.  I agree with you if you mean, as I supposed you do, that society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind.  It is really extraordinary that our people refuse to apply to human beings such elementary knowledge as every successful farmer is obliged to apply to his own stock breeding.  Any group of farmers who permitted their best stock not to breed, and let all the increase come from the worst stock, would be treated as fit inmates for an asylum.  Yet we fail to understand that such conduct is rational compared to the conduct of a nation which permits unlimited breeding from the worst stock, physically and morally, while it encourages or connives at the cold selfishness or the twisted sentimentality as a result of which the men and women who ought to marry, and if married have large families, remain celebates or have no children or only one or two.  Some day we will realize that the prime duty, the inescapable duty of the good citizen of the right type is to leave his or her blood behind him in the world! and that we have no business to permit the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type.

Faithfully yours,

[signed Theodore Roosevelt]

theodore roosevelt eugenics

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