THE PHYSICAL STATE OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
IN considering the material prosperity of a country there is not a little danger that we may overlook the physical condition of the people upon which the stability of the nation depends.
In primitive states of society physical strength and endurance were highly prized, not only as a means of attack and defense, but also as a means of subsistence, by subjugating Nature and overcoming material obstacles. The changes wrought by modern civilization have rendered the service of a fine physique less apparent. Steam, gunpowder, and electricity are now doing the work and fighting the battles of the world, and they have increased the power of man a thousandfold. So weak and diminutive do the physical efforts of a human being seem when compared with these powerful agents, that we have almost ceased to regard physical vigor as one of the factors in human progress. We can not help thinking that this mistaken idea has arisen from the tendency to consider the development of man the means rather than the end of all endeavor.
It is true that the aggregated efforts of the people make the nation, with its myriad of societies, industries, institutions, etc., but the nation thus constituted reacts upon the life and character of its people.
This is a matter which much concerns us, for a government, like any other organized thing in Nature, is dependent ultimately upon the physical condition of its individual units. Let us consider, therefore, some of the physical characteristics of the people that have contributed to the upbuilding of the nation, and in turn see how the progress of civilization and the development of the country has influenced our national physique. The early settlers of this country were mostly hardy and vigorous people, as only persons thus constituted would undertake the trials and difficulties incident to a pioneer life. The experiences which these early people underwent in felling forests, opening up the soil, fighting