Manual Frederick L. Hoffman:His Life and Works

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We must first examine the author according to his own canons, and scrutinize his application of the statistical method. Much light and emphasis have undoubtedly been thrown on many points by his numerous and well-arranged tables; the great increase of Negro urban population, the great mortality of blacks in cities, and their accumution [ sic : accumulation] of property in three states, are well shown.

With all this, however, Mr. Hoffman has by no means avoided the many fallacies of the statistical method.

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This method is after all nothing but the application of logic to counting, and no amount of counting will justify a departure from the severe rules of correct reasoning. For instance the author's first contention is that the Negro is not holding his own numerically with the white race. This same fact might be cited as to the Anglo-Saxon element in our nation; but Mr. Hoffman claims that even in the South, where foreign immigration has had little effect, the rate of increase among the whites exceeds that of the blacks: in order to prove this, however, the author relies solely on the Eleventh Census, and ignores the testimony of previous decades—a manifestly dangerous logical procedure unless special reasons for decreased growth appeared first in the decade, to The author discovers this special cause in the increased urban population and the increased death-rate which has resulted.

But the Negro urban population in the South was, in , by the author's own figures, less than eleven per cent of the total, and it is doubtful if a cause affecting so small a portion could exert so marked an influence on the whole. Moreover, even here the author contradicts his own logic, by declaring that the large city death-rate of Negroes is mainly attributable to "race traits" and not to "conditions of life. Throughout this discussion, Mr. Hoffman continually forgets that he is comparing two special classes, the one usually vigorous and intelligent, the other with unusual disadvantages.

It is therefore necessary for the student to place more stress on the absolute increase of Negroes, than their relative increase compared with the abnormal advance of white America. Compared with most modern nations the decennial increase of American Negroes has been large, and although, as in the case with other peoples, it has been lessening each decade, it is still higher than the decennial increase of England and Wales. Hoffman shows that the death-rate of Negroes in cities far surpasses that of whites; in ten Southern cities the annual death-rate for whites averaged during the four years to , This is a dangerous excess and calls for immediate and careful remedies.

One cannot, however, agree with the author that this excessive death-rate threatens the extinction of the race.

Frederick Ludwig Hoffman

Compared with death-rates elsewhere it is not remarkable. Hoffman knows that the large cities of his own German fatherland showed an average death rate of Indeed Montreal, Naples, Belfast, Buda-Pesth, Breslau and Madrid, all have shown within a few years, death-rates which equal and often surpass that of American Negroes in cities. Moreover it may be doubted if the sanitary conditions of the Negro portions of Southern cities are, on the whole, as good as the conditions in the above-mentioned municipalities.

Of course no careful student would think of judging the death-rate of Germany from that of Munich, or of arguing that an increase in the death-rate of Paris showed an increase in the death-rate of France. Yet Mr. Hoffman commits very similar mistakes; he bases his arguments as to the threatened extinction of the Negro almost solely on city death-rates, and argues that an increase in these death-rates means an increase in the general Negro death-rate.

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Such logic would be erroneous, even if Mr. Hoffman proved that, following the recent rush of Negroes into cities, their death-rate there had increased. Even this point, however, the author assumes on insufficient proof. The figures he adduces for Baltimore, Richmond, Washington, Louisville and Atlanta go back only to , but in that period they all show a decrease in the Negro death-rate. Mobile, Savannah and New Orleans show a decrease since the war.

Charleston alone shows an increase, and Mr. Hoffman, on the ground that the records in this city are continuous for a longer period than in others, concludes that they are "therefore the most satisfactory from a statistical standpoint," and from this data concludes that "the Negro mortality has largely increased since emancipation, and that too in the localities considered most favorable for the race. Many tables prove the great susceptibility of Negroes to respiratory diseases.

That this susceptibility has increased since emancipation, however, is very doubtful.

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To prove this thesis the author uses four sets of statistics: Gould's anthropological statistics, the measurements of soldiers during the war, the reports of the hospitals of the Freedman's Bureau and Dr. Billings' mortality reports.


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The careful statistician will immediately see that, while all these different sets of figures give data interesting in themselves, they must be used with great care in comparison, because they relate to different classes people and to widely different conditions of life. The first two sets refer to the same period—, and to recruits and soldiers in the field; the third set refers to men, women, children and even new-born babes—the outcasts and refugees of war-time; finally, Dr.

Billings' Negro death-rates refer mostly to the slums or worse portions of six great cities. Manifestly to take the absolute returns of these statistics and argue a decrease or increase of susceptibility to particular diseases among millions of people is unscientific. If Mr. Hoffman had followed up the statistics of the special class with which he commenced, i.

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These figures do not in any degree support Mr. Hoffman's contention. Not only do the reports of the Surgeon-General show a progressive decrease in the mortality from consumption among Negroes in the army, but a progressive disappearance of the difference in the mortality between whites and blacks from this dread disease.

The same fact is noticeable in the statistics of general disease.

Frederick L. Hoffman (–) | Amstat News

Hoffman's table's. One extreme case of abuse of the statistical evidence deserves to be cited. Gould publishes the following table Anthropological Statistics, p.


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Hoffman regards this as proof sufficient to justify the statement that "The power of vision of the negro [ sic ] is inferior to that of the white" p. Such examples as I have cited show that the author does not always use the statistical method with the nice discrimination which its nature requires, and has often allowed himself to be hurried into conclusions which agree with his general thesis, when the facts bearing on the particular point under consideration offer no conclusive testimony. In his general social conclusions Mr. Hoffman lays before us many considerations to which attention has seldom been called before; chief among these are the statistics of illegitimacy in the city of Washington, and of property-holding in Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.

The proper interpretation of apparently contradictory social facts, is a matter requiring careful study and deep insight If, for instance, we find among American Negroes to-day, at the very same time, increasing intelligence and increasing crime, increasing wealth and disproportionate poverty, increasing religious and moral activity and high rate of illegitimacy in births, we can no more fasten upon the bad as typifying the general tendency than we can upon the good. Least of all can we subscribe to Mr.

Hoffman's absurd conclusion, that "in the plain language of the facts brought together the colored race is shown to be on the downward grade" p. Such contradictory facts are not facts pertaining to "the race" but to its various classes, which development since emancipation has differentiated. As is natural with all races, material and mental development has, in the course of a single generation, progressed farther than the moral: to save a little money, to go to the mission schools, were paths of progress much easier of comprehension to the dazed freedman, than the rehabilitation of the family relationship which slavery so fatally destroyed.

Insurance, as a branch of contract law, has a literature of its own, which, however, is quite limited in its utility to the student of insurance questions and problems of the present day. As yet, only a few really useful works have been written in English on the larger and broader aspects of insurance in its relation to public policy and the functions of government arising out of the corporate nature of insurance institutions.

Obviously, the conduct of the business cannot be called entirely successful unless insurance interests are intelligently co-ordinated to an enlightened public opinion demanding economical administration on the one hand, and absolute certainty of the fulfillment of contractual obligations on the other. Insurance today is an indispensable element of social and commercial life, and it is no longer exclusively a matter of local or state concern.

The marvellous growth of the business within recent years emphasizes its national, and even international, importance and the duty of government to conserve the public interests represented by it to the fullest possible extent. The questions and problems discussed in the present volume are, therefore, not only of today, but of the future, and a matter of serious concern to all who hold responsible positions with insurance companies, or who, in some capacity or another, are required to express their judgment upon public questions involving insurance considerations.

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