Manuscripts/Mixed Material Letter from Alexander Graham Bell to Mabel Hubbard Bell, April 23, 1917
In regard to military service there is one point that has never been publically alluded too so far as I know. A volunteer army injures the people from which it springs by the fact that the deaths are confined to a selected class of good and fit men thus reducing the proportion of such men who will be the fathers of the next generation. Whereas an army that constitutes an average sample of the population would not cause deterioration of the nation because, however, it might be reduced by deaths the proportion of fit and unfit would remain the same.
A country that wages war for a number of successive generations by means of volunteer armies drawn from the best in the nation must necessarily deteriorate by the continious production of a smaller and smaller proportion of good and fit men and a larger and larger proportion of unfit.
History points to the rapid decadence of the military powers of the past. I see no reason however, for thinking that there would be decadence in a military power employing armies constituting an average sample of the population and not a sample of men selected for superior vigor and abilities.
I am very anxious to get on with towing experiments and of course I cannot even consider the idea of returning to Washington now that we have open water and motor boats available for the purpose. The Gauldrie was only launched yesterday and her engine is not yet in good running order. I hope however we may be able to do something with her tomorrow.