Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

The percentage of illiteracy in each group was as follows:

[blocks in formation]

The government figures for the fiscal year 1912 show that 63 per cent of the immigrants for that year were males, and that 21 per cent of the males over 14 years old were illiterate, and nearly 25 per cent of the females. The Immigration Commission, in its report on "Emigration Conditions Abroad" shows, however, that the percentage of literacy among the immigrants from southern and eastern Europe is very much higher, in general, than that for those foreign countries at large, indicating that we still get the more intelligent and enterprising of such races. Even in these countries, people are now reasonably familiar in practice with the exercise of the suffrage and representative government.

It is time that we turned to authorities who are familiar with the new immigrants in our midst, their past experiences here, and the agencies open to Americanize them, for light on this problem. Immigrants from nearly all of the various races from southern and eastern Europe have been settled here for many years, and we learn almost uniformly that there has been little difficulty in Americanizing and assimilating them. For example, The Italian in America, by Lord Trenor and Barrows reminds us how much we owe to the Italians from Columbus down to our own day. Italian settlement throughout the nineteenth century, especially in agriculture, only awaits a competent chronicler to show that it does not indicate difficulty of Americanization. Professor Balch, in her excellent work Our Slavic Fellow Citizens, outlines many decades of worthy citizenship on the part of Poles and Bohemians in America, running back to valuable services during our Revolutionary War. The same is true of the Jews in America, and of other races included among the new immigrants, all of which refutes the unwarranted assumptions of the restrictionists. The investigations of the Immigration Commission, especially with respect to our school rolls, also bear this out.

Disinterested social workers who have devoted their lives to studying these new immigrants find that they are being rapidly absorbed, and are valuable increments to our population. It is time that we heeded the observations of capable students at close range, such as has been furnished to us in valuable studies by

Jane Addams, Lillian D. Wald, Peter Roberts, Emily Balch, Grace Abbott, Edward A. Steiner, and others.

Moreover, we are apt to overlook the fact that over 80 per cent of the immigrants of 1912 reported that they were joining relatives here, and nearly 14 per cent more reported that they were going to friends, so that this most important agency for Americanization and aid in new and untried surroundings was open for all but 8 per cent of the immigrants in question. It is this important factor that accounts for the wonderful success of the immigrants, landing here almost wholly without funds and unfamiliar with our language, of whom a purely negligible quantity only became public charges. It is this factor, together with other agencies presently to be considered, which accounts for the remarkable fact that the United Hebrew Charities of New York, for instance, have only about half as many applications for assistance today as they had about fifteen years ago, when the Jewish population and the Jewish immigration was much less than half as large! We are also entirely too prone to forget the lessons of the census, pointed out for us by Professor Walter F. Willcox for the Twelfth Census, and reapplied by him to the Thirteenth, 37 that the natural distribution of immigrants is much wider and more thorough than appears from their originally reported destinations. Nor should we forget that it is the illiterate immigrant, victim of inferior conditions in his own country, upon whom we depend to do work which the more literate laborer will not perform-working our farms, digging our subways, excavating our lots, and operating our mines.

For example, the 1,197,892 immigrant aliens who came over here in the fiscal year 1913 included 333,285 farmers and farm laborers (exclusive of their wives and minor children entered as having no occupation), whom we particularly need here, and who would be most likely to be debarred by an educational test. Professor Balch pointed out before the American Economic Association, in 1911, that "most Americans have an entirely false conception of the real significance of peasant illiteracy, which need not connote a lack of either energy or intelligence." The census reports indicate that the literacy among native white children of foreign-born is appreciably higher than among native white children of native-born.38

"Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol. 20, p. 523; and Papers Twenty-fourth Meeting of the American Economic Association, p. 66 et seq. 38 Abstract Thirteenth Census, p. 239.

When we turn, however, to a study of the genesis and potency of the agencies provided for the assimilation of the immigrant, his Americanization and improvement, we notice that nearly all have been developed during the past few decades, and were unavailable to the old immigrant. Even educational facilities for the immigrant were formerly most elementary and inadequate, while we have today night schools with special immigrant classes, social settlements and educational alliances, industrial, trade and vocational schools, instruction in civics, improved foreign newspapers, and public lectures in foreign language. Labor unions and other associations promote high wages and high standards of living. These have gone up steadily, and not down. Tenement-house reform and increased railroad transit have improved housing conditions, particularly in our large cities, to a degree undreamed of in the days of the Gilder commission.

Federal and state bureaus of information for immigrants and resident laborers, employment bureaus, immigrant aid societies, immigrant service of the Young Men's Christian Association and of other church organizations, and such organizations as the Italian Immigrant Bureau, the Industrial Removal Office, the Hebrew Agricultural and Industrial Aid Society, the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society, the Baron de Hirsch Fund, and other similar organizations throughout the land, do effective work in Americanizing the immigrant, finding employment for him at good wages, overcoming tendencies towards congestion, effecting distribution, and promoting acquisition of American standards of living and thinking.39 Of course, such agencies deserve and require unlimited extension and development; and in a number of our states, regulative legislation is badly needed, especially as applying to mining and labor camps.

"One must turn to innumerable scattered, individual reports to get an idea of the number and extent of these agencies and their achievements, for no historical and descriptive account of any individual branch even of these many activities has, to my knowledge, been thus far published. See particularly vol. 41 of Reports of Immigration Commission; "Distribution of Admitted Aliens and other Residents"; Proceedings of the Conference of State Immigration, Land and Labor Officials with Representatives of the Division of Information Bureau of Immigration, Nov. 1911; Report of the Commission of Immigration of the State of New York, 1909; The First Century of the Republic (Harper's, 1876); Robert's The New Immigration; Jane Addams, Twenty-Years of Hull House; Griffin, A List of Books on Immigration; Carroll D. Wright, "Influence of Trade Unions on Immigrants," in Bulletin of Bureau of Labor, January, 1905, and chapter on this subject in Wiernik's The Jews in America, pp. 297-300; as also Hourwich, Immigration and Labor, pp. 325-52.

In the light of these agencies the unbiased student cannot but conclude that the assimilative process today, even among the newer races in question, is far more potent than it was in the old immigration. Mr. Bryce, in the new edition of his American Commonwealth sums up the philosophy of this process:40

The point in which the present case of race fusion most differs from all preceding cases, is in the immense assimilative potency of the environment. . . . The effigy and device, so to speak, which the American die impresses on every kind of metal placed beneath the stamp, is sharp and clear. The schools, the newspapers, the political institutions, the methods of business, the social usages, the general spirit in which things are done, all grasp and mould and remake a newcomer from the first day of his arrival, and turn out an American far more quickly and more completely than the like influences transform a stranger into a citizen in any other country. These things strengthen the assimilative force of American civilization, because here the ties that held the stranger to the land of his birth are quickly broken and soon forgotten. His transformation is all the swifter and more thorough because it is a willing transformation.

42

William D. Howells has said:41 "I believe we have been the better, we have really been the more American, for each successive assimilation in the past, and I believe we shall be the better, the more American, for that which seems the next in order." Mr. Bryce also suggests 12 that nearly all "the instreaming races are equal in intelligence to the present inhabitants"; that a blending of races tends to stimulate intellectual fertility; and that the Jews, Poles, and Italians are likely to "carry the creative power of the country to a higher level of production" than it has yet reached. He also notes that "today, most of the hard, rough toil of the country is everywhere done by recent inhabitants from central or southern Europe. The Irish and the urban part of the German population have risen in the scale, and no longer form the bottom stratum." As to attempted comparative valuations of races, we should not forget Professor Royce's scathing analysis of the phenomenon in his Race Questions and Provincialism and Other American Problems. It is in initiating and developing salutary public and private agencies for distributing and Americanizing aliens, that a true solution of the immigration problem can be found.

MAX J. KOHLER.

"Vol. II, p. 488.

41 Harper's Weekly, April 10, 1909, p. 28.

F

Op. cit., vol. II, p. 482.

REVIEWS AND NEW BOOKS

General Works, Theory and Its History

Principles of Economics. Being a Revision of Introduction to Economics. By HENRY ROGERS SEAger. (New York: Henry Holt and Company. 1913. Pp. xx, 650. $2.25.) Though a number of the chapters remain practically as they were in Introduction to Economics, first published in 1904, this is in many respects a new work. The portions which deal with practical economic problems like the tariff, trusts and monopolies, taxation, labor problems and legislation, social insurance, and socialism, have been amplified and brought down to date. There is discussion of not only the latest enactments but of the most important proposed legislative measures and reforms. Moreover, throughout the work, which was always rich in illustrative material, may be found the latest statistical information.

In the new chapters on Reform of the Tax System of the United States, Profit Sharing and Labor Copartnership, Social Insurance, and Socialism, as in descriptive chapters which have appeared in former editions, the author does not content himself with mere description and statement of fact. He not only puts the facts in their proper historical and theoretical setting, but he bases conclusions and judgments upon them. He has opinions, and does not hesitate to express them.

Quite as important are the changes which have been made in the theoretical portions. The first of these has to do with value. A chapter of 26 pages on Value and Price has become two chapters which cover 43 pages. Opinions will differ as to the merits of this revision and expansion. I myself note with approval the elimination of the greater part of the Robinson Crusoe illustration which I have always found confusing rather than helpful in presenting the subject to a class of students. I do not, however, regard the increased prominence given to the distinction between value in use and value in exchange as either desirable or necessary. The distinction between utility and value in use is so metaphysical in character as to confuse rather than to clarify the subject for the ordinary student. While it is evidently true that back of the process of social evaluation, which is the significant thing in economics and which is really value in exchange, there is a process of individual valuing or measuring of utilities, this process is too

« AnteriorContinuar »