National Geographic : 1903 Oct
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE 370 proportion as the stresses incident to the struggle for existence become men tal stresses is borne out by the facts. The frontiersman who takes his family and goes west to open up new territory, engage in legitimate agricultural pur suits, and grow up with the country is pretty apt to be of hardy stock, and in sanity, if it appears at all, comes in later generations. It is different, how ever, with those states that have great mineral wealth. Here the attraction appeals to all the wandering, unsettled, rifraff of the country, who hasten to the newly discovered fields in the hope of acquiring a fortune quickly. Arrived there they yield to all the seductions of intemperance ; vice and disease wreak their ravages upon a predisposed soil, and our ratios show a corresponding in crease. This is the situation with Cali fornia. This state, and to a somewhat less extent the whole Pacific coast, is still suffering from the effects of the " gold fever " of '49, and its citizens are paying the price even ' unto the third and fourth generations." In this connection it is interesting and signifi cant to note that the mining states and the states of the Pacific slope, viz, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Cali fornia, all show a much greater number of male than female insane, a condi tion that prevails nowhere else in the country, with the single exception of Minnesota, and it has arisen here al most wholly in the decade from 1880 to 1890, during which period the state has increased in population over half a million. Minnesota also has large lumbering interests, and conditions in a lumbering region are similar to those in a mining region. In the normal order of things we expect to find a slightly higher percentage of insanity in the female sex, but the ''get-rich-quick " fever attracts more men than women and mining districts as a rule are defi cient in their proportion of women. This state of affairs has apparently not vet been recovered from in California. We must also remember with reference to California in particular that it is a coast state and suffers from the effects of immigration, and that the percentage of insanity is invariably higher in the for eign born than in the native population. This law of the increase of insanity in the oldest settled districts and its de crease in the newly settled districts is well stated by A. O. Wright in the Pro ceedings of the National Conference of Charities and Correction, in 1884. He says : "A very powerful cause for the increase of insanity in this country was, so far as I know, first pointed out by the writer in 1881, before the census of 188o had been tabulated, in the Annual Report of the Wisconsin State Board of Charities and Reform, and was stated in debate at the National Conference of Charities and Correction, at Madison, in 1882. Having made a census of the insane under public care in Wisconsin, the writer, on reducing the number by counties to the ratio to the population of the several counties, was astonished to find here a general law : That the older settled counties had the largest ratio of insane to the population, and that the ratio steadily decreased and reached the smallest ratio in the pioneer counties on the north. This seemed to show that a new country has a smaller proportion of insanity than an old country. "When the Compendium of the Census of 1880 was published, the writer, from the numbers given then, immediately calculated the ratios to the population and arranged the states and territories geographically instead of alphabetic ally." From the figures thus obtained he concludes that "* * * allowing for exceptional cases, the proportion of insanity decreases as you go toward the newer settled states, from about one in every 350 of the population in Massa chusetts to about one in 19oo in Colo rado."