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Eugenics, B.C.

From: Dr. Haiselden And The Bollinger Baby
Creator: n/a
Date: November 18, 1915
Publication: The Chicago Daily Tribune
Source: Available at selected libraries

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Ancient Spartans Turned Defective Infants Out on Mountains to Perish to Keep Nation Virile.


The ancient Spartans were the pioneers in the field of eugenics, and in the theory that the defectives should not be allowed to burden the state.


Compared to this early code, Dr. H. J. Haiselden's theory that an infant doomed to be a defective should be allowed to die is almost sentimental.


"Whenever a child, male or female, was born to Spartan parents," said Prof. John A. Scott, head of the Greek department of Northwestern university, last night, "it had no legal standing in the state until its physical fitness had been passed upon by certain constituted officials. This body of men, made up of the leaders in the community, determined whether it should live or die. If it gave promise of developing into an able bodied citizen, capable of withstanding the intensive physical training in youth, preparatory to a service of arms, beginning about the age of 21, the child was permitted to live.


"In cases where this board found the baby weak and possibly defective its parents were compelled to turn it out on the mountains to perish or to dispose of it in other ways.


"This practice also was followed by the Athenians not so much as a measure in military efficiency as a purely social one, to insure a strong, vigorous, virile country. And under this regimen the Greeks continued for ages to be the most militant, unconquerable people in the world. There were few feeble minded and no cripples, save those wounded in war.


"Indeed, in the Greek drama, this elimination of the unfit or weak was one of the standard plots. Thus, in Oedipus, by Sophocles, the son of a king was turned out in the mountains to perish, after his feet had been maimed. He was found by a shepherd, reared, became a man of power, and, not knowing the line from which he came, he slew his father and married his own mother. Subsequently he learned of his descent, and he and his mother slew themselves."