In 1916, the biggest threat to America was unmarried women and men (2024)

How much (and how little) we've changed in the last 100 years.

A news story from The Tacoma Times in 1916 states, in big, bold letters, "Scientists Say U.S. is Facing 20 Perils."


Striking color images capture the grit of 1940s rail workers

While not all of these perils, including death and disease, are trivial. However, some of the proposed threats seem a little strange to be considered as possible causes of America's downfall.

In 1916, the biggest threat to America was unmarried women and men (1)

Credit: The Tacoma Times

Considering this was published a mere two years before the U.S. entered World War I, you would think war at least would be on the list. However, scientists seem a little more concerned about people not getting married and having babies than world war, disease and mental health.

You'd be surprised at how similar these fears are to the ones of 2016.

In 1916, the biggest threat to America was unmarried women and men (2)

Assuming that these perils are numbered from most to least threatening (with one being the most dire and 20 being the least), here are these threats in ascending order of importance:

20. Increase in suicides -- total of 15,000 a year.

In 2016, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention notes that 117 people die by suicide per day, adding up to more than 42,000 per year. However, scientists in 1916 found the next 19 items more dire. Bring that up next time someone argues that mental health isn't a problem in America.

19. Marked increase in diseased teeth and poor vision.

The CDC claims that 47% of adults aged 30 years or older have gum disease in 2016.

18. Remarkable cancer mortality increase.

Cancer was the sixth leading cause of death in 1916. In 2016, it is the second. The most deadly cancer in 2016 is gall bladder cancer, with a mortality rate of 97% within five years of diagnosis.

17. Excessive life waste from germ diseases.

This includes diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. The flu vaccine was not invented until 1933.

16. Increase in death from organic diseases.

An organic disease is "one caused by a physical or physiological change to some tissue or organ of the body." This includes infections. Luckily, sterilization in hospitals has improved in the last 100 years.

15. Increase in early breaking down of organs.

The life expectancy in 1916 was 49 years old for men and 54 for women. Today, it's 76 for males and 81 for females.

14. Noticeably low resistance to disease.

Before vaccines, pneumonia and the common flu were the second most likely causes of death in 1916.

13. Increasing obsity (obesity?), weak limbs, soft muscles.

Mashable Top Stories

Stay connected with the hottest stories of the day and the latest entertainment news.

Sign up for Mashable's Top Stories newsletter

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Thanks for signing up!

Today, more than two-thirds of Americans are classified as obese.

12. Hearty eating without exercise.

Today, the average calorie intake is2,640 calories for men and 1,785 caloriesper day for women. While this is within USDA recommendations, a majority of Americans are classified as overweight or obese, and the organization warns that Americans are eating more calories than needed.

11. Extraordinary increase in sedentary work.

This is without the invention of the Internet.

Via Giphy

10. High and increasing nervous tension.

Today, 40% of American adults suffer from anxiety or some nervous disorder.

9. Economic waste from needless sickness and premature death, more than $2,000,000 a year.

Lack of vaccines and poorer health standards may have contributed to this.

8. America leads all nations in murders.

In 2015, Honduras had the highest murder rate in the world.

7. Enormous number of drug and alcohol victims.

In 2013,9.4% of Americans aged 13 or older had used illicit drugs.

6. Increasing idiocy and insanity.

Health care is not only expensive, but almost inaccessible in 2016. A shortage of psychiatric professionalsand the frequency of putting mentally ill individuals in prison rather than a hospital contributes to that.

"Idiocy" may have been a less-PC (and frankly ill-informed and offensive) term for defining people with mental or intellectual disabilities (who were commonly put in mental institutions). Today,roughly 4.6 million people are identified as having an intellectual disability.

5. Large numbers of defectives in school.

High school drop out rates have actually plummeted in 2015. We get one gold star as a society.

4. Excessive infant life waste.

The United States has the highest first-day death rate in the world today. About11,000 American newborns die per year.

3. Declining birth rate due to birth restriction by parents.

In 2015, the U.S. birth rate rose 1% for the first time since 2007. However, the threat of overpopulation is still a complicated issue that could impact the world economy and environment.

2. Increase in divorces.

Between 1916 and 1925, the divorce rate was between 10% and 15%. Today, statistics say 40% to 50% of marriages will end in divorce.

And the number one threat facing America in 1916:

1. 17 million unmarried men and women.

In 2014, the United States Census Bureau found that 107 million people aged 18 or older are unmarried and 53% of them were women.

In addition, the Pew Research center found that four in 10 Americans believe marriage is obsolete.

Sure. Disease, mental health and death are problems -- but apparently not as bad as people not entering into the institution of marriage.

Via Giphy

In 1916, the biggest threat to America was unmarried women and men (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Eusebia Nader

Last Updated:

Views: 5385

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Eusebia Nader

Birthday: 1994-11-11

Address: Apt. 721 977 Ebert Meadows, Jereville, GA 73618-6603

Phone: +2316203969400

Job: International Farming Consultant

Hobby: Reading, Photography, Shooting, Singing, Magic, Kayaking, Mushroom hunting

Introduction: My name is Eusebia Nader, I am a encouraging, brainy, lively, nice, famous, healthy, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.