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A Review of Hoffman's Race Traits and Tendencies o

The American Negro Academy.

Occasional Papers, No. 1.

A REVIEW of HOFFMAN'S RACE TRAITS AND TENDENCIES OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO,

BY KELLY MILLER.

Price, Twenty-five Cents.

WASHINGTON, D. C. PUBLISHED BY THE ACADEMY. 1897.

OCCASIONAL PAPERS.

No. 1.--A REVIEW OF HOFFMAN'S RACE TRAITS AND TENDENCIES OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO.--Kelly Miller 25 Cts.

No. 2.--THE CONSERVATION OF RACES.--W. E. Burghard Du Bois 15 Cts.

Orders may be sent to John H. Wills, 506 Eleventh Street N. W., Washington, D. C.

A REVIEW OF HOFFMAN'S RACE TRAITS AND TENDENCIES OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO.

In August, 1896, there was published, under the auspices of the American Economic Association, a work entitled "Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro," by Frederick L. Hoffman, F. S. S., statistician to the Prudential Insurance Company of America. This work presents by far the most thorough and comprehensive treatment of the Negro problem, from a statistical standpoint, which has yet appeared. In fact, it may be regarded as the most important utterance on the subject since the publication of "Uncle Tom's Cabin;" for the interest which the famous novel aroused in the domain of sentiment and generous feelings, the present work seems destined to awaken in the field of science and exact inquiry.

Mr. Hoffman has spent ten years in painful and laborious investigation of the subject, during which time he has been in touch with the fullest sources of information, and has had the advice and assistance of the highest living authorities in statistics and social science. The temper of mind which he brought to this study may be judged from his own words: "Being of foreign birth, a German, I was fortunately free from a personal bias which might have made an impartial treatment of the subject difficult."[1] There are other assurances that the author possesses no personal animosity or repugnance against the Negro as such. But, freedom from conscious personal bias does not relieve the author from the imputation of partiality to his own opinions beyond the warrant of the facts which he has presented. Indeed, it would seem that his conclusion was reached from _a priori_ considerations and that facts have been collected in order to justify it.

The main conclusion of the work is that the Negro race in America is deteriorating physically and morally in such manner as to point to ulterior extinction, and that this decline is due to "race traits" rather than to conditions and circumstances of life. Not only do we find this conclusion expressly set forth in connection with every chapter, but it is also easily discernible in foot notes and quotations, in the general drift of cited references, and between the lines. In order to give the clearest possible statement of the author's position his own words will be used.

"The conditions of life therefore ... would seem to be of less importance than race and heredity."[2]

"It is not the _conditions of life_ but in _the race traits and tendencies_ that we find the causes of the excessive mortality."[3]


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