Civic Federation Review
Vol. II. No.3 NEW YORK, JUNE, 1905 Ten Cents
IS THERE AN IMMIGRATION PERIL?
The popular impression that the scum of Europe invades the United
States vigorously combated by qualified experts.
The growing volume of immigration and its relation to American
industry was the general topic discussed at the quarterly meeting
of the Civic Federation of New York and vicinity held on June 19
at the rooms of the Board of Trade and Transportation, 203 Broadway.
Special questions considered in relation to the subject were: What
is the net annual gain in the population of the United States from
this source, and what is its characters? Is there any practicable
and desirable plan for distributing the immigrants throughout the
country? What percentage of the arrivals is undesirable, and what,
if anything can be done to reduce this? What proportion of the 64
percent that arrive at Ellis Island remains in this city? What industries
does this affect and how?
The participants in the discussion all spoke with the authority
of expert knowledge. The information that they presented and the
opinions they expressed were such as to correct much popular misapprehension
upon this subject; such as, for example, that a great majority of
the arrivals are from the jails, asylums and poor-houses of Europe.
They were also of such a nature as to emphasize the importance of
the topic. For that reason, a resolution was adopted requesting
the National Civic Federation to appoint a committee to give especial
consideration to the relation of immigration to American industry,
including particularly methods of its distribution and existing
and proposed legislation; the committee to be composed of men of
national reputation and to make a public report as soon as practicable.
Among the illustrations accompanying this report are reproductions
of photographs of immigrants, selected by the officials at Ellis
Island as typical, both of those admitted and of those deported.
A verbatim report of the proceedings follows:
Charles A. Moore, President of the New York Civic Federation, in
calling the meeting to order stated succinctly the scope of the
discussion. He introduced as the first speaker Nathan Bijur, President
of the State Conference of Charities and Vice-President of the United
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen- I doubt whether I can say more than
a word or two on one or two of the suggestions contained in the
invitation, as the subject is so broad as to be impossible of thorough
treatment in the short compass of a few informal remarks.
As a lawyer I take the liberty of advising my friends that it is
impossible to discuss a problem unless we know what the problem
Waiting for Tickets at Railway Ticket Office, Ellis Island
It is a very common thing to hear of the evils of immigration and
the misfortune brought upon the United States by the immigrant,
and of the hardships and burdens of the immigrant. Personally, I
have no knowledge of these burdens; personally, I have not seen
the evils as the term is applied particularly to immigrants, and
I have searched in vain for a categorical and clear statement of
what the trouble may be. I know that we have in the United States,
and particularly in New York City, a great many poor people. That
is nothing new. It simply carries out the prediction contained in
the good old book. I presume we shall have those poor with us for
a long time to come. I have no knowledge whether there were poor
people when the original Americans monopolized the inhabitancy of
this country, that is the North American Indians, but so far as
our civilized history goes, we have had the poor among us ever since
the first immigrant landed here, in the person of Columbus.
Now, in regarding the question of the immigrant- not the evils of
immigration, but the question of the immigrant- we are frequently
furnished with statistics. Let me say a word about statistics. Statistics
should never be gathered by an advocate. Statistics should be gathered
by a statistician. You know the old joke about three kinds of lies:
Lies, and blank lies, and then statistics. That is a very unfair
characterization of statistics. Statistics, if gathered by a statistician,
do present the pictures of fact. After we have the statistics we
may honestly determine whether we are an advocate or an opponent
of the particular question which the statistics elucidate. The trouble
with very much of the statistics gathered on the subject of immigration
is that they have been sought after with a view of proving or disproving
some previously conceived theory.
Now, when we look at the question broadly, what have you here about
immigrants and immigration? That there is such an enormous number
of immigrants coming into the United States at the present time.
I have taken the trouble to look up some figures, in fact they have
been collated by a number of men interested in the subject, and
some of these have been published. A very interesting tale is the
one prepared by Mr. R. P. Falkner and published in the Political
Science Quarterly for March, 1904. Taking the decades from 1821
to 1900, 1821, 1831 to 1840, and so on, he shows the relation of
the total number of immigrants to one thousand inhabitants of the
initial population. That is, the relation of the number of immigrants
coming in during each ten years to the number of inhabitants of
the United States then present in the United States. Now I will
read this relation of the number of new immigrants to the actual
population by decades:
1821 to 1830, 15 to the 1,000.
1831 to 1840, 47 to the 1,000.
1841 to 1850, 100 to the 1,000.
1851 to1860, 110 to the 1,000.
And now in the subsequent decades, 73, 73, 104, and in the decade
from 1891 to 1900, 59 to the 1,000.
In other words, not only is the ration of increase by immigration
not growing, but it is actually diminishing. That is to say, the
number of immigrants who came between 1891 and 1900 is very much
fewer to the general population than the number of immigrants who
came in 1841 to 1850, 1851 to 1860, 1881 to 1890, and the other
periods that I have named. So that this tremendous inrush of immigrants
is something that is tremendous in its absolute figures, but very
small in its relative figures to the general population of the United
Building, Ellis Island
Children on Roof Garden, Ellis Island
Now, when you remember that the State of Texas, which is larger
than Germany, is alone capable of feeding a population and holding
a population very much larger than Germany, which is. I think, some
fifty-five million, and that the total number of inhabitants of
Texas is about three and a half million, you will see that there
is room in the United States, for an increase of population, whether
by immigration or otherwise.
But when these figures are presented we hear another objection to
immigration, namely, this: It is true we need two hundred million,
or we can stand two hundred or three hundred million more population,
but we want them in the West and we want them in the South, and
they should not come in the great cities; but that is where the
Now, it is equally interesting in that relation to see what growth
of urban population has been in the United States in recent years.
From 1891 to 1900 the increase of population in the United States
as shown by the last census was 13,000,000. That is, new inhabitants
of the United States, whether born here or coming here as immigrants.
Now, out of the 13,000,000 the growth of population in the urban
communities was 7,600,000; in the semi-urban communities 2,000,000,
and in the rural communities, 3,400,000. That is, the urban and
semi-urban population grew 9,600,000 while the rural population
grew 3,400,000. The total immigration during that period was but
3,600,000. It is perfectly evident, therefore, that the tremendous
growth of the urban communities was not due to the immigrant at
all, or at least was only due to the immigrant to the same extent
that it was due to the native. The people from the country have
come to the city, because either they liked it better, or thought
there were greater opportunities in the city. If we are going to
shut out from our city, because of some rule that we arrogate to
ourselves the power to make, the people who now live in the country
who prefer to live in the city, because they either liked it better,
or thought there were greater opportunities in the city. If we are
going to shut out from our city, because of some rule that we arrogate
to ourselves the power to make, the people who now live in the country
who prefer to live in the city, we should have to shut out the Vice-President
of the National Civic Federation, Mr. Oscar S. Straus, and we should
have to keep from our city lines a gentleman who has recently distinguished
himself, named Mr. Thomas F. Ryan. There are other men you might
think of who have come from rural communities to the cities and
have not been a great burden upon the city institutions or upon
the charity of the rich.
Servian Gypsies- Deported
Now, what other general objection do you hear to the immigrant?
You hear this, as I have said: First, there are too many of them.
Well, the figures do not seem to show that, proportionately considered.
Next, they flock to the cities more than the native does. That does
not seem to be borne out by the figures. But, you are told, the
immigrant in particular becomes a burden upon the community by occupying
the charitable and the penal and the reformatory institutions which
the public have established. Then you are told that there are two
kinds of immigrants- desirable and undesirable, the desirable being
those that are designed as the ones who are kin to us in race or
blood or habits, and the undesirable are all the rest.
But an analysis of the figures, which it would be altogether too
voluminous a task to undertake here will indicate that while it
is true that the alien and the foreign-born furnish a large proportion
of the census of our charitable institutions, it is not true that
the undesirable, so-called, that is, the south and the eastern European
furnishes that larger proportion. On the contrary, an analysis of
our criminal and of our charitable statistics will show that the
so-called desirable aliens from northern and western Europe occupy-
well, nearly double the amount of room in our charitable and penal
institutions that is occupied by the so-called undesirable immigrant
from southern and eastern Europe. I want to say a word after all
about this occupancy of our charitable institutions. The immigrant
comes here and generally for the first ten or twenty years, until
the new generation is on its feet, the immigrant is poor; the immigrant
takes what we might call the laboring oar in the community. Is it
any wonder that he occupies our hospitals and our insane asylums?
Not at all.
You see, statistics must always be regarded from a comparative standpoint.
You must differentiate, you must classify.
If you compare the statistics of accidents that happen in the City
of New York and pick out, say, the firemen, you will find the proportion
of accidents is much larger among firemen than among other people.
It is their duty to meet with accidents. And the same might be said
of the police. If you pick out the immigrant, who is generally the
worker, it is quite natural you will find more immigrants in the
hospitals than native, because the immigrant is the man who takes
up the employment which brings about the accidents; he takes up
the employment in which the work is hard and dangerous. It is no
wonder that he breaks down, and it is no wonder that he is injured.
On the question of intelligence I have never heard the immigrant
criticized. There is a vague notion that the immigrant is illiterate.
That is not true. Moreover, whether the original immigrant be illiterate
or not, his children are more literate than the children of the
I was very much startled to find a little set of figures that gave
these facts: Natives of foreign-born parents who could not speak
English in New York State, according to the 1900 census, 2,500;
in Wisconsin, 3,000; in Minnesota, 2,740; in Pennsylvania there
were natives born of native parents who, nevertheless, the children,
could not speak English to the number of 19,000.
Now, there is nothing significant in this; there is no conclusion
to be drawn from this. I cite it merely to dissuade rapid judgment
from insufficient figures. I know of no inference that can be drawn
from this. But you go about and you know from your own experience
that the children of the immigrant are the most ardent citizens
and the most ardent students in our schools and colleges.
We have a notion that the immigrant comes here poor and that,
therefore, he is a burden on the community. What would we do without
the poor? Somebody has got to do this work. The history of the United
States has been that in every irruption of a large number of immigrants
the people who have been here before have been, as I think some
politician once expressed it, kicked up into a higher place. It
was been the history of this country since 1821 that every time
a poorer class comes in, it takes the last economic strata of the
community and pushes it up a peg. And that is going on today exactly
as it did in the 1830’s and in 1840’s.
Typical Slovac Woman
Typical Holland Dames
If we establish a purely economic or financial basis for immigration
I am afraid we would be apt to exclude a great many gentlemen who
are today quite a factor in the community- we would have excluded
them, one of whom I see sitting here now, another of whom has become
famous the world over as the greatest ironmaster, and yet when he
came here he was quite incapable of getting in by a show of cash
|Stalwart Specimens From Romania
There is a different question, not the question of anti-immigration,
but the question of sifting the immigrant who comes in. When it
comes to the question of keeping out the diseased, the actually
pauperized, the actually criminal, who, gentlemen, come here, I
think, not of their own accord, but because they are sent here-
that is a different question. Anything that we can do to protect
ourselves against the burdens that probably belong in other communities
we should do. Whether we can do that by imposing a money penalty
upon the immigrant that comes in I doubt very much. Whether we charge
a $2 a head tax or a $25 a head tax, it is my impression it will
make no difference. I think the community- I do not mean this as
applying to Germany or France- but I think the community in Germany
or France or Austria or England, or wherever it is, will pay the
$25 to get a pauperized immigrant in here. But the honest immigrant,
who deserves to come in and who may have only $10, will be kept
out. Financial bases for immigration are very artificial and very
I do not know that I can add anything more- excepting to say one
word: There is something in this question of immigration altogether
outside of figures and dollars and cents. The United States is great,
not because of any one class of population, but just because it
represents an amalgamation of various types. There have been brought
to us all the forms of activity that have made modern civilization
what it is, and the United States has become on that account a microcosm.
We have got our love of art from the Italian; we have a lively and
active spirit, perhaps from the French and from the Irish; from
the German we got our love for music. From all these continental
nations we are beginning to learn how to rest. Now, why do we want
to keep these elements out? What is the matter with them? From the
Russian we are getting an idealism to which ourselves have been
strangers for decades. Do we want to go back to the old humdrum,
or do we not want to have all these elements?
|Typical Routhenian Woman
||From Roumania to Michigan Lumber Camps
And then there is one other consideration, I need not go into
the history of the United States to say that if the United States
stands for anything, it stands for political and for religious freedom,
and I think I voice the sentiments of the American people in its
true sense if I say that so long as there exists a man or a group
of men in any part of the civilized word who are persecuted or oppressed
because of peaceable political or religious beliefs and purposes,
so long the doors of the United States will have to remain open.
The Chairman- The Chair will call on Mr. A. W. Sullivan, editor
of the Weekly Bulletin of the Clothing Trades.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, being asked a few days ago my views
on immigration, I replied, “Exclusion”. There upon I
was invited to come here and outline my position.
The transatlantic steamship lines, almost exclusively non-American,
in the last three years, coming and going, have carried wage workers
in migration to the number of more than three million; any one may
compute for himself how nearly the gross earnings of these companies
from this traffic have approached one hundred million dollars. If
the average of the railroad and steamboat fares spent within this
country by three migrants has been ten dollars. If the manufacturers
and mine owners and the employing classes in general have availed
themselves of one-tenth of this providential supply of cheap labor,
in substituting it for labor previously better paid by 10 percent.,
they have saved in the three years in wages a matter of fifty million
dollars. Crumbs sufficient to keep them alive falling from this
traffic have also been picked up by some thousands of contractors,
padroni, employment agents, slum landlords, and dealers in small
patches of “our” undeveloped resources. If in America
it could occasionally happen that lawmaking should result from pull
and steering, the not somnolent interests mentioned might perhaps
be tempted to try their turn in asking Congress for something good.
Having overstuffed the cities to a point of acute indigestion, they
might come forward and suggest a project for loading up the hinterland.
Among the numerous articles afloat on the ocean of print during
the last year or two advocating government aid in distributing the
arriving millions, none has suggested a clearly considered, specific,
detailed plan. “Kansas announces its need of forty thousand
agricultural laborers for the coming harvest” “The South
is always calling for more field workers” “Immigrants,
have reclaimed many abandoned New England farms” “Healthy
new communities can be nurtured from the bosom of Nature itself”
“Land is offered everywhere on desirable conditions”
“Plenty of room in our West, Northwest, South and Southwest”-
these glittering pearls, borrowed from the phraseology of the real
estate boomer, have been dangled before us, but out of it all we
have been given no definite project.
To what part of this country can the coming poverty-stricken swarms
be sent where they will surely benefit themselves and the community?
Shall we recommend the Pacific Coast? For twenty years rural California
has been the gleaning ground of thousands of roving, homeless white
blanket men and of great gangs of yellow and brown men, whose movements
depend on the successively ripening crops on large plantations in
various parts of the State. Today the entire Pacific Coast is in
the throes of an agitation for the exclusion of all Asiatic laborers.
The San Francisco Chronicle says that there are now in California
thirty-five thousand Japanese, and on the whole length of the Coast
fully one hundred thousand, the majority having arrived in the last
five years, and a former agent of the Industrial Commission reports
that “the number of Japanese in California alone is greater
than the total number recorded at all ports of the United States
in ten years”.
Shall we send immigrants to the Northwestern States? The last number
to hand of the Butte (Mont.) Reveille re-describes the remarkable
movement of American citizens to Canada. It says the number going
this year will be fifty thousand; Collier’s counts on a hegira
of one hundred thousand a year. Why don’t these people stay
and develop the alleged virgin riches of the country they are deserting?
Next, Colorado. Are we to send a hundred thousand more laborers
to that noble State? Last year the United Mine Workers spent nearly
half a million dollars in the Rocky Mountain region supporting moderate
union demands and came to grief. But perhaps there are other vast
mining districts only awaiting the “magic hand of labor”
for their needed development. There’s Illinois, the State
of Mr. Joseph Leiter, having Professor Commons tells us, thirty-seven
thousand coal miners, 60 percent, being foreign born, the majority
arriving since 1894, having taken the places of Americans and Americanized
miners from Western Europe. There’s West Virginia, the scene
of a long series of strikes, still on, many of the non-unionists
newly arrived foreigners and the union men being described in the
United Mine Workers’ Journal this month as living under a
reign of terror, the victims of lawless opponents. There’s
the Alabama mine district, where the United Mine Workers have recently
had eight thousand men out, but where convicts have long been busily
employed. There are the anthracite regions of Pennsylvania, where
the Slaves and their descendants number one hundred and ten thousand,
if we may believe Dr. Peter Roberts, of Mahoney City, a systematic
observer of the subject.
|A. Moore, President New York Civic Federation
||Robert Watchorn, Commissioner of Immigration at Port
It is no longer proposed that immigrants adapted to the work be
sent to the New England textile mills, which now largely employ
not only French Canadians, but Armenians, Greeks and Portuguese,
with remnants of the English and Irish who have two decades ago
pressed in on the American employees. None are to go to the iron
and steel mills of Western Pennsylvania, where the callous indifference
to their swarming foreign human life has recently moved the Austrian,
German and Italian Consults to seek an investigation. Skilled immigrants
are not to be assigned to communities according to their trades-
for example, potters to the pottery towns, packed with importations
from England; glassworkers to the middle West, over-run with Belgians
who came under inducements; quarrymen to Vermont and Massachusetts,
where the union organ is printed in four languages. Are our beneficent
railroads still clamoring for more foreign construction hands? Or
are there really not enough half-employed Italian gang laborers
in this country now? The Ninth Special Federation Report (p. 29)
put the percentage of the unemployed unskilled Italians in Chicago
at 56.97. Dr. Peter Roberts writes that after the great anthracite
strike, when the mining industry was rushing, the collieries did
not average more than two-thirds time.
What region or occupation in America is not already over-supplied
with cheap foreign labor?
Ah, agriculture! Every farmer needs a hired hand! Five million farms;
five million hands wanted! Five years more of business for the steamship
companies before our vast national stomach shall be crammed to the
throat. Unsophisticated persons there are who still echo the marvelous
tales told about farm help somewhere growing rich on harvest-hand
wages. And what is the big, broad, blanket-like fact that covers
the entire proposition? It is this: For fifty years the average
yearly earnings of the American farmhand have been the lowest in
the entire national wage scale. From 1860 to 1890, except during
the part of the Civil War, the annual farm wages was variable in
but the slightest degree. Aside from the census, the Department
of Agriculture has made repeated investigations, one of official
conducting five of them within twenty-five years, and always finding
this same state of facts. The census of 1900 reported a small increase,
but the late Dr. Spahr, making special inquiries in ’99 as
correspondent of the Outlook, found that general farm wages in Arkansas,
for example, had fallen from $18 a month to $10 within fifteen to
twenty years. Those excellent citizens who find mental recreation
in belittling the laboring classes sometimes indulge in agreement
on a fallacious prejudice according to which the working man shuns
the country and loves the city’s lights. The fact and principle
involved are otherwise. America’s labor, following the line
of least resistance in striving for the American standard of living,
cannot be expected to remain contented at an occupation whose rewards
do not include a united family life, a home or wages above that
of the day laborer. As to the attractions of the South and Southwest,
continually advertised during the last quarter of a century, the
foreigner believes them to be counteracted by a competition with
the Negro, who, acclimatized, disciplined to subservience, by nature
a season worker, presents to the world an example of the survival
of the fittest.
But, “the immigrant is to buy land,” “the era
of the small farmer is at hand,” “suitable acreage can
be had on most desirable terms”. Reply: The three hundred
thousand Southern Italians, Hebrews and Poles arriving last year
landed with an average capital of $13 per person. The Industrial
Commission in 1900 gave the average for these nationalities for
years as respectively $8.84, $8.67, and $9.94. Our immigrants reach
here on the brink of want, the general average of their capital
in 1904 being $25.70. Nearly all are untaught in American methods
of agriculture and of selling produce. The barrier between the $10
foreign capitalist and the independence of an American farmer’s
life is mountains high- his need of food, clothing and shelter until
he can surely produce a paying crop, his need of at least a part
of the purchase price of his land, his ignorance of our language
and commercial methods.
Where in the name of horse sense, is there today a dearth of common
labor in America? In what region will not brawn and backbone, of
itself, appear, ready and willing, whenever a living wage is offered?
In 1900, the census tells us, the percentage of those engaged in
gainful occupations who were unemployed during some portion of the
year was for the whole country 22.3; in 1890 it was only 15.1. In
agriculture the percentage was 20.7.
[At this point the speaker said that to deliver his entire address
would overrun his time; he therefore asked to leave to print. Granted.]
One quarter there is to which the non-English speaking creatures
with but $10 between themselves and pauperism can count on being
rushed posthaste to work. It is where there is a strike or lockout.
In one occupation they are given an indulgent trial for the passing
hour by solicitous employers. It is as strikebreakers. Unrestricted
immigration is unlimited government aid to union workers.
The cry now is for “distribution!” The unemployed are
already well distributed in every State of the Union. The many great
strikes of the miners the last two years should be deeply significant
to those who urge sending the laborers out away from the cities.
That is where the miners are. The miners are diggers, delvers, laboring
men, as closely related to farm workers as any other class. If really
any rural part of this country wants labor, underpaid, partly employed
mine workers are so distributed by the thousands that it is strange
they do not respond to the demand.
The problem of immigrants admits at its present stage of only two
modes of interference.
The first mode is further to extend the present policy, which, ostensibly
that of assistance to the immigrant, is really a costly and indulgent
paternalism toward parasites on the American people. Further steps
in its pursuance will provide for more dividends to foreign corporation
subsidized by European governments, possessed of ships convertible
to war uses, and developed with the intent to drive our American
marine from the seas in peace and in war. These further steps will
also call for more rackrent for slum landlords, more rakeoffs for
contractors, padroni and foreign agents of transportation, more
blood for real estate sharks, more non-unionists for manufacturers
combines, more outlay for every charitable and penal institution
in this country, and incalculably more misery for America’s
Shall I illustrate by facts?
Not alone more riches and power for foreign steamship companies,
but help to foreign governments. We read only last week that the
Royal Steamship Company of Great Britain, built up by a subsidy
of a million dollars a year, is to establish a line between America
and the Mediterranean ports. We are informed that the English Government
has a sovereign interest in the great new convertible Cumarders.
The advertised present activity of the Italian Government in supervising
emigration greatly results in keeping in Italy conscripts for the
military service. The long continued practice of deporting public
dependents has been astutely permitted by foreign governments to
be shifted to a new form of insurance company. Professor Edward
T. Devine writes that at Bremen and other points of embarkation
are agencies with offices in many parts of Central and Southeastern
Europe which contract for a price a safe landing transaction the
hand of neither government nor steamship company can be seen. But
steamship officials are not always so modest. On January 26, 1897,
the restriction bill being up in the Congress for a vote, a German
steamship official telegraphed to doubtful members threatening them
with defeat at the next election if they voted for the act- if we
may believe the Restriction League, which prints the telegram, with
names, in one of its leaflets. Mr. Lodge declared in the Senate,
without contradiction, that another telegram had been sent at the
time to every American newspaper carrying the company’s advertising.
More fees to steamship agents! Stimulating emigration to America
is in Eastern Europe a recognized profession. A representative of
the United States Treasury Department investigated the subject in
the summer of 1903. He found that in Europe drummers for steerage
passengers to America included school teachers, notaries, postmasters,
pedlars, peasants, and even priests. Mr. Ward assures us that the
seven thousand steamship agents scattered thousands to come here
who otherwise would have remained at home.
More access to Italian padrone and American contraction. For example,
Rome, New York. That city let out to the lowest bidder certain public
works. He sent to New York for a gang of two to three hundred Italians.
They came and did the work at wages representing a degenerate level
for Americans. They lived in shacks, ate animal food, wore foreign
clothing, lived meaner than at home, for economy’s sake. They
saved their full share of the $25,000,000 annually sent to Italy
by New York’s Italian banks. To the town shopkeepers they
brought little or nothing; to the State, no taxes; to the jail,
assault cases; to the public school, itch and trachoma. The city
of Rome, N.Y., had numerous workingmen who would have been glad
of the work. But, as in ancient times, foreign serfs labored on
the municipal improvements while Rome’s proud citizens stood
idly by. In this respect the history of Rome has been repeated in
a hundred American cities.
To the employers’ combines that are engaged in the crusade
against trade unionism the hordes of fresh immigrants have been
an inestimable blessing. These combines are invariably composed
of intense Americans, bound by hooks of steel to every American
tradition save traditional American wages. They’ll drive the
American workers out of a trade, and when their foreign non-unionists
purge themselves and join the unions, will upbraid them for their
An example, the clothing trade. The New York State Department of
Labor has pronounced the sweatshop a result of immigration. Dr.
George C. Stiebling, of St. Mark’s Place, New York, thus defines
sweatshops: Workshops “in which clothing is manufactured and
which serve at the same time as dwelling rooms to the bosses, their
families and boarders”-“overcrowded, ill ventilated,
over heated, full of dirt, filth, vermin and stench” consequently
“unwholesome, health destroying and disease breeding”.
Joseph Barondess two weeks ago publicly stated that never were sweatshop
conditions worse than at present on the East Side. In 1904, the
Immigration Bureau reports, 23,508 tailors arrived. Besides, a benevolent
society maintains schools for tailors on the East Side. Last summer
the wholesale ready-made clothiers’ combine, with philanthropic
intent, established another school and union blacklisting employment
bureau in Astor Place. This combine’s organ, the “Daily
Trade Record” (March 28, 1905), thinks well of the proposed
Ellis Island great exhibition hall. It wants there, as a part of
it, “a big clothing factory, in which arriving immigrants
could note the class of tailoring work to which they are best adapted.
Agents could be stationed there to direct them to the concerns in
different markets most in need of their service. In this way considerable
labor trouble would also possibly be averted”. True, for the
Chicago special order tailoring unions charge the combine with boldly
violating its trade agreements, and refusing to submit the point
to arbitration, because uncontrolled immigration permitted it to
look out its Scandinavians, Germans and naturalized Hebrews having
$100 apiece, and lock in Bohemians, Poles, Italians, and greenhorn
Hebrews possessed of $13 apiece, less immigrant fare to Chicago.
|Nathan Bijur, President State Conference of Charities
||J.W. Sullivan, Editor Weekly Bulletin of the Clothing
Can the Ellis Island officials guarantee that the incoming hosts
booked for the suburbs will not stray to the cities? The federal
inspectors, obeying the recent reform laws relating to pauper, insane
criminal, diseased and contract labor immigrants, last year deported
the largest proportion ever known- and that was less than 1 per
cent. The law’s guarantee to protect us from these classes
is plainly worthless. There’s hardly a skilled trade in America,
there’s no industrial center employing highly specialized
labor- from wood working to chemistry, from musician to cloth dyer-
that can not bear overwhelming testimony to violations of the contract
labor law. The Federal Census Bureau reports that while the native
born inmates of American insane and charitable institutions are
3 to 1,000. Dr. Shively has estimated that 23,000 tuberculosis immigrants
were landed in New York in 1902. The State of New York alone has
6,000 aliens in its public insane asylums. Of the 44,985 aliens
in the insane, penal and charitable institutions of the United States,
19,764 are insane. Goodwin Brown, a specialist in lunacy statistics,
predicts that in ten years the insane will cost the United States
$50,000,000 a year. A writer in the Brooklyn Eagle has recently
estimated that the cost to New York State of its foreign born poor
is annually $12,000,000. Of 2,595 cases cared for by the New York
Lying-in Society only 315 patients were native born. Multitudinous
are the phenomena that government inspectors cannot either see or
foresee. And astonishing are the things they are unable to do. The
New York State Free Employment Bureau, with a million job seekers
to experiment on, found places last year for about 7,000. The State
Commissioner of Labor, when his inspectors last January captured
in Elizabeth street tenements numerous bundles of men’s clothing
being finished in unlicensed dwellings contrary to law, refusing
to make public the names of the manufacturers owning the goods,
since the statue gave them that discretion.
Good reasons, and many of them, in all the facts just mentioned
for not enlarging the powers of labor bureau officials over Europe’s
impoverished millions thrown overboard in New York Harbor.
The second mode within sight of dealing with the immigration question
is exclusion. As President Roosevelt said in his message, let us
welcome the desirable and reject the undesirable. I submit that
every immigrant who cannot pass an illiteracy test and prepay an
insurance of $50 against becoming a burden to this country, to be
used for his deportation if necessary, is undesirable.
I also hold that a period of total suspension may become a necessity.
This is conservative as compared with a decision of the United States
Supreme Court, rendered in May, 1895. This was: “The power
of Congress to exclude aliens altogether from the United States,
or to prescribe the terms and conditions upon which they may come
to this country, and to have its declared policy in that regard
enforced exclusively through executive officers, without judicial
intervention, is settled by our previous adjudications.
The illiterate among the immigrants over fourteen years of age,
coming from Eastern and Southern Europe, were in 1900, 38.8 per
cent; in 1901, 46; in 1902, 44.3; in 1903, 40; in 1904, 43. The
State Department of Labor reports that “the two countries
having more than 50 per cent of illiterates furnish one-fourth of
the whole number of New York’s aliens”.
Reject the illiterates, require the fulfillment of the obvious
obligation insisted on in wise New Zealand, that the foreigner shall
not become a public burden, and the results will stagger the imagination.
The colossal European marine leeches will no longer get drunk on
both foreign and domestic blood; the discontented democratic hosts
of Europe will be strengthened through the retention of their brothers
at home: the working men of America will soon begin to pour out
money to our business men, for their advancing wages will at once
absorb a fair share of the enormously increasing product of the
country. An authority in the New York building trades equal to the
best recently told me that with immigration suspended common labor
in this city would be $3 a day within one year. The clothing trade
unions would quickly proceed to enlist every garment worker. Hebrew
or Gentile, in Greater New York, and their label would insure the
well attired classes that no consumption sputum infected their coats.
Have no fear that the foreign born wage workers now here will not,
after a brief campaign of education, favor exclusion. Why is only
one immigrant in eighty a Frenchman, on in forty a Englishman, and
one in several hundred a Swiss? It is because the masses of those
intelligent nationalities are already educated in the fact that,
all things considered, the economic level of the American wage earner
is but a bare notch or two above that of their own land. The 10
per cent of immigrants returning disgusted to Europe teach them
that point. The immigrants now in this country can on humanitarian
grounds repel the charge of selfishness in voting for exclusion.
As one of the speakers said when the United Hebrew Trades voted
for suspension of immigration for five years, “We are in a
trap here; let our brothers at home keep out of it”. When
the unions of the State of New York voted, two hundred to two, for
suspension, it was avowedly done without prejudice of nationality
or race, but purely for economic causes, and in the belief that
governments owe it to themselves to work out their special problems
of poverty within their own boundaries.
The Chairman-Gentlemen, this is what the Governor of the State of
North Carolina says to you here in a Letter:
State of North Carolina
Raleigh, June 17. 1903
Charles A. Moors, President New York Civic Federation
It is with deep regret that I have to write you that it is impossible
for me to be with you on June 10 to attend the immigration meeting.
Our State at this time is offering the very highest inducements
to immigrants who will make good laborers and also to farmers. Our
farmers are willing to furnish the land, the stock, the necessary
working tools, and give the party furnishing labor half of all that
is made. I wish it was so I could be with you and extend an earnest
and open-armed invitation to all to come to our State, but am compelled
to send my regrets.
Yours very truly,
(Signed) R. B. Glenn, Governor.
The Chairman-The next speaker will be Dr. Joseph H. Senner, ex-Commissioner
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, we do not propose here to have a college
debate dealing in generalities of all kinds. We propose to fall
back on the specific points mentioned in the two circular letters
received. The second letter I want to mention first, because it
contains the stupendous statement that the great majority of the
arrivals, which is more than two-thirds of a million, are from the
jails, asylums and poorhouses of Europe. I wish, gentlemen, that
statements of this kind would be entirely dropped from the discussion
of the immigration question. There may have been some isolated cases
in immigration of persons coming from poorhouses or jails, but I
can positively state that no number of such cases has been or is
among the arrivals at Ellis Island. And further I can state that
if they exist they are not among the steerage passengers, but they
are among the first and second cabin passengers. (Applause).
We have here to consider the question of what is the net annual
gain in the population of the United States from immigration, and
what is its character?
The net annual gain in figures has been treated of by the first
speaker, but the gain in numbers, gentlemen, is very little as compared
to the gain in wealth to this country by any immigrant arriving
If wish me you pride yourselves upon the fact that we have the greatest
home market of any empire in the world, you must not forget the
fact that it is no doubt due to immigration. It is immigration that
has made possible the immense development of our industries.
Having had the opportunity to witness in tens of thousands of cases
and with my own eyes to see the immigrant arriving upon this shore,
poor, destitute, more than simple in all his make-up, and a year
after to have seen the same immigrant, whether a man or a woman,
come to Ellis Island again to call for her sweetheart or her husband
or for children or for a friend, the difference, gentlemen, between
the parties as they arrived and the parties as the appeared within
the few months is simply wonderful. They have entirely changed;
all their clothes are American and their new make-up is quite respectable.
It is absolutely wonderful to any one who remember their condition
when they arrived. Our great home market, with its feeding of millions
and millions of skilled laborers, was only made possible by immigration.
In the same way it was only by immigration that we could build up
such a wonderful network of railroads, many of whom had to go into
the hands of receivers every time immigration came to a standstill,
or because the constructors of such railroads had been rather visionary
as to the time which would be necessary to fill up their country.
There is the net gain for our country which has been secured from
immigration, not to speak of the fact that without immigration the
number of our population would be immeasurably smaller than it is
now, because our immigrants do not believe in race suicide.
Is there any practicable and desirable plan for distributing the
immigrants throughout the country?
When I was Commissioner of Immigration at this port I conceived
first the idea that the problem of immigration will in time be solved
only by the proper distribution of immigrants all over the country
into those places where they can be of the most good to themselves
and to the country they live in. I then suggested in the immigration
investigation report of 1895 that a clearing house should be established
in Ellis Island for that purpose. I am very glad indeed that the
present Commissioner General about two years ago took up the very
same idea. I admit it appears rather impracticable for sometime,
but only because our laws forbid instructions to immigrants about
the benefits and advantages of sections of this country by any kind
of advertisements or educational work abroad. This clause of the
law would have to fall first. But then, with the previous education
of emigrants given to them partly in their own homes before they
make up their minds as to where to go, party on board of the steamship
and finally on Ellis Island itself, such education I believe would
be practicable and would finally lead to the point that immigrants
could settle in places for their own welfare and for the welfare
of the country, instead of being allured as today by all kinds of
incidents or by the glowing accounts of some interested person.
A great deal is also said about the inducement of emigration by
the steamship companies. I have no reason, whatever, as you know-
I suppose most of you know- to be in any way interested, directly
or indirectly, in or for the steamship companies. But do you believe
that the zeal of the steamship companies or of their European agents
to induce emigration has been smaller during my term of office,
when only 250,000 to 400,000 immigrants used to land annually, than
it is now, when 1,000,000 immigrants land? Just the opposite. You
may rest assured that at least at that time when immigration was
only 250,000 to 400,000 a year they worked much harder than they
do now when immigration, so to speak, falls into their lap. It is
the hundred million dollars spent right here in the neighborhood
of New York on tunnels, it is the agency of all those people who
prosper and write about it to their friends abroad, which would
be actually helpless in the case of dull times such as we had in
the middle of the nineties.
The first thing we have to do under all circumstances is to exclude
all and every undesirable immigrant. But in speaking about a desirable
or undesirable immigrant I beg to differ from the first speaker,
who classified them according to races or origin. Every immigrant
in himself, his individuality, his personality, has to be judged
and appraised in order to determine whether he or she is desirable
or not. (Applause).
Every one who, for any reason whatsoever may appear to be undesirable
is to be rigidly excluded. And I am glad to state that under the
present regime this is absolutely and conscientiously done.
Now this is the first axiom of treating the immigration problem.
Don’t place any unnecessary hardships or obstructions in the
way of any desirable immigrant that desires to come to the land
of the free. And the third axiom is this: When they are found desirable
endeavor to place them by government assistance and by the assistance
of all private associations and corporations, in such localities,
in such environments, where they will find a good future for themselves
and where they will benefit the country to which they have come.
I thank you for y our attention. (Applause).
The Chairman: The next gentlemen- I do not want to make a set speech.
I simply want to mention a few figures and correct impressions that
have gone abroad for a long time.
It is said, first, that this country annually increases by immigration
from 700,000 to 1,000,000. But first of all, sight is lost of the
fact of how many leave every year. Now, in this city alone, in the
City of New York, we had last year 571,000 arrivals in the steerage,
but 323,000 left in the steerage. So there was an actual increase
of only 56 per cent. And so it is in the other ports, so that in
the four ports of the North Atlantic, were 693,000 arrivals, but
359,000 departed in the steerage. So that there was an actual increase
of one-half of this number. Now, I want you not to forget this whenever
the newspapers or any persons speak of the enormous increase. Sight
should not be lost of the fact that half of the number go out of
A Voice: Do they take back any money with them?
Mr. Boss: I do not know. They do their work during their stay here
and have actually earned whatever they take back. (Applause).
Besides, I wish to call attention to the fact that one of the speakers
has said that the poverty stricken hordes of Europe come over here.
Now, according to the figures of the Commissioner General of Immigration
the immigrants that arrived last year were first of all thriftier
than ever before; they showed up no less than twenty millions of
dollars in coming over (Applause), and that was four million dollars
more than the larger number that arrived the year before. So they
are not a poverty stricken horde.
Mr. Sullivan: The figure was $25.78 per head.
Mr. Boss: That is only what they are showing up on the request
of the Commissioner.
The Commissioner’s official report states that the immigrants
showed up the amount mentioned, and if this is only $25 per head,
and if that were all that they possessed upon arrival, it must not
be forgotten that it costs them something to break up their homes,
that they have to pay the railroad fare to the port of departure,
Hamburg, Bremen, Antwerp, Rotterdam, etc., and the steamship fare
from the continental port to the American port which is at present
at least $36 per head, so that adding up all the traveling expenses
alone, they must have between $60 to $70 for each person, which,
the $25 upon arrival, makes $85 to $95 each. A family with six must,
therefore, have had before starting over $500 for a rainy day as
belonging to the “scum” and to “poverty stricken
The money which these immigrants bring is, however, by no means
their whole addition to the wealth of this country, for it has been
computed by political economists that the economic value of every
able bodied male immigrant over twenty years of age represents on
average the sum of $1,125 actually added to our working capital;
in that way the wealth of this country is annually increased by
hundreds of millions of dollars.
|L. Boas, General Manager Hamburg-American Line
||James P. Archibald, Secretary New York Civic Federation
I only wish to remark again that the steamship lines are not scouring
Europe to bring over immigrants. I want to refer to the very able
article written by Mr. Whelpley in the North American Review of
this month, in which he makes the statement that the laws of European
governments are made with the view to retaining the population there.
They don’t want to lose it. And the steamship lines are not
allowed to scour Europe and distribute circulars that point in glowing
colors to the advantages of America. All they are allowed to do
is to announce their sailings, and if they do anything else they
are severely punished. The greatest emigration agent is the United
States mail, the letters that are sent from here, the letters sent
home from this country, that say what a man makes when he works,
that is the immigration agent that brings the people to this country.
These letters bring information upon which implicit reliance is
placed, and cause the people in the old home to sever their connection
with that which is dear to them and go to the strange country beyond
the sea. An emigration agent could talk till doomsday before he
would have the same effect. These conditions will never change as
long as the advantages are greater in this country than in Europe.
There is no better barometer of the business conditions than the
number of immigrants that come to this country. If times are good
they will come.
Mr. Sullivan: May I interrupt to ask one question? May I ask you
whether it is correct, as Prof. Devine says, that in the Bremen
and in numerous other quarters about Europe there are insurance
companies which will insure the coming emigrant that he will be
landed here, and if not landed here that he will be brought back?
A gentleman of the Treasury Department says today there are 7,000
agents, and that even the priests are among the agents. I very much
regret to interrupt you.
Mr. Boss: I cannot possibly speak for the numbers of people who
consider themselves emigration agents in Europe, and those are figures
that are assumed. I cannot controvert them. Anybody can make a statement
of that sort, that priests are emigration agents or that there are
7,000 agents, or any other number. I speak for the steamship line
that has been charged with scouring Europe to bring the poverty
stricken hordes over here. That is absolutely untrue. It is not
allowed by laws, and I wish to say the steamship companies and their
agents are law abiding citizens. We abide by the law here and abroad.
Here is the Commissioner of Immigration, he can say what we do to
conform to the American law.
One of the speakers referred to $10 immigrants. The steamship lines
had a war last year and the rates went down to a very low basis,
and the newspapers announced that in consequence of these low rates
hordes, thousands, hundreds of thousands would come over here. Statistics
have shown that last year during the lower rates fewer arrived than
the year before, and fewer this year when the rates are high. That
only shows that the passage money has absolutely no influence on
immigration at all. (Applause). There is another point I wish to
make: It is again the same old story, if times are better here the
immigrants are bound to come, and who comes? It is the energetic
man who has the courage to break away from the ties that bind him,
it is the intelligent man who can appreciate that his condition
will be better here than on the other side and who can cut loose
from his ties and come across to the unknown country, and it is
the man with savings who can afford to go- that is the man who comes,
and the poor, the ignorant, the scum, the people who are not energetic,
they stay behind. They do not come to America. So I wish to contradict
again the statement that it is the poor, the uneducated, the criminal
horde that come over here. We have laws that restrain the criminal
from coming to this country. Here is the Commissioner of Immigration;
it is his business to exclude every one that is undesirable. The
steamship lines do not bring the undesirable here, and if any should
slip in there is the man to keep them out, and he does keep them
out, too. He observes the law, and so do we. That is all I wish
to say, gentlemen. (Applause).
The Chairman: Permit the Chair to suggest this, that any gentleman
present who is interested, and I presume every one here present
is interested in this great question of immigration- if any one
has not visited Ellis Island and observed the immigrants landing,
I ask him to take the opportunity of doing it at the first available
moment. It will be the greatest education to him as to these “hordes”,
these “pauperized people”. You will see as bright, intelligent
figures, capable looking people, as you will find in the same number
of their class anywhere in the world. I think this is a subject
that should interest every thoughtful American, whether a property
owner to a little or a great extent, who employs labor. And if he
will go over there and take the courtesy of the Commission of Immigration,
he will be surprised as to the people who come here as immigrants,
and at the manner of handling immigrants.
In the last few days a prominent railroad man told me it would
be impossible for the West to have kept its tracks in condition
to run over them if it had not been for immigrants, absolutely impossible.
The man who is going to speak next is the man who in my judgment
and from my observation, is the best qualified to tell us the truth
as to the character of the immigrants, and to answer any questions
I am going to call on the Hon. Robert Watchorn, Commissioner of
Immigration at Ellis Island. (Applause).
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: When I assumed charge of Ellis Island
I stated to a committee that called on me to participate in some
meeting of this or similar character, that I did not believe that
a Commission of Immigration had any business to participate in the
discussion of questions of immigration; that I believe it was his
business to enforce the law as it now stands and leave it to the
good judgment of the people of this country and Congress to alter
the law when it ceased to be satisfactory. I have concluded since
I sat here this afternoon, that not withstanding the very handsome
manner in which the invitation to be present here this afternoon
was framed and delivered to me, that I made a mistake in departing
from that conclusion.
I am quite sure from what I have heard this afternoon that the subject
is very thoroughly understood without any information from the Commissioner
of Immigration, and I am not quite sure in my own mind that there
are not some people who know more about the practical enforcement
of the law than I know.
It is not for me this afternoon to say to you whether I believe
the law as it stands today is satisfactory or not. There is just
one thing that prompted me to come here this afternoon more than
any other, and that was that I might be able to state to you on
my honor that at the present time the law, as it is, being rigidly
and honestly enforced. I have been told and have seen quoted in
the newspapers that there is very great room for improvement, and
I have no doubt that some people might improve on conditions at
Ellis Island from their own point of view, but I do not believe
that a man who stands for a wide open policy, who would let everybody
in because his sympathetic feelings get the better of him would
be the proper man to enforce the law; nor do I believe that a man
who has concluded, for reasons best known to himself, that there
are already enough people in this country, and for that reason and
that only, no more should come, that he would be a fit and proper
person to administer the law.
I do not agree with some of the speakers here this afternoon that
the law as it now stands is all that it ought to be. I think there
are some people coming into this country today who ought not to
come in. But I think the law is inadequate to keep them out as it
now stands. I do not undertake to say to you how far this tendency
to exclude should be extended, but I will give you one or two points
for your consideration, and I leave it to you to judge whether what
I suggest ought to be given serious consideration.
I have heard a great deal about the term “undesirable”.
Now, what constitutes an undesirable person? When you being to discuss
that one phase and turn it over in your mind you will follow the
process of elimination until you get down to a point where the number
will be very small comparatively and somebody will be apt to dispose
of the whole question for you by still further reducing it; and
if you leave it to all those who are actively interested in this
question, there will not be many that will fall under the ban of
undesirable. What is needed, in my opinion, is a drastic law which
shall state specifically what is desirable and what is not desirable.
Now, let us take a case in point; An immigrant steps off the boat
and the doctor takes him in hand, looks him over as to his mental
capacity and as to his prospective physical endurance, what he is
likely to stand, at what point of pressure will he break down and
become a burden to somebody who will support him voluntarily or
otherwise, and the doctor says he will probably break down very
soon, and for that reason he should not be allowed to come in; and
the inspectors, acting upon their best judgment under the law will
decide that he should be deported; then there will come forward
some of the very best citizens of this land who will undertake to
prove to the government that it is utterly impossible for such a
person to become a burden on the community, and they will bring
such pressure to bear and file such proofs with the authorities
at Washington that even such a person will be admitted, no matter
what the inspectors may do in the premises. Now, I would like to
point out, so far as I am concerned, that when a certain standard
of test has been established and it is proven by all the tests that
may be applied that the person is liable to break down at a certain
point and somebody will have to support him, whether that somebody
be public or private, there should be very good reason assigned
why such a person should be admitted, and Congress ought to stipulate
that he ought not to come in.
One of the speakers representing the steamship lines said that
they were obeying the law. I believe they are, but it is because
they are compelled to. (Applause). If you were to relax the rules
and leave it to their good judgment and patriotic sentiment, undesirable
immigration would increase in contrastive proportion to said relaxation.
The power to exclude and the power to deport is, just in proportion
to the power to find or punish for violating the law. Now, I have
no fault to find with the steamship companies as such. I think they
are endeavoring to obey the law. Not because they have any special
scruples about violating it, perhaps, but because they do not like
the punishment that is meted out to them for not observing it. This
is probably rather a serious stricture to make on some of them,
but my good friend, Dr. Senner, who preceded me, knows that since
his term as Commissioner the power to punish has been very largely
increased, and in proportion to that power to punish, an increased
respect for the law has been demonstrated.
|Dr. Joseph H. Senner, Ex-Commissioner of Immigration
||M.V. Richards, Land and Industrial Agent, Southern
Now, gentlemen, I should like to ask you all to come to Ellis Island.
What concerns me now most is this: I want you all to know, and I
want you all to believe, that just as the law stands and is interpreted
by the courts and other competent authorities, it is being rigidly
and honestly enforced, and if, after you have discussed this matter
to your satisfaction, you believe that the law can be improved,
as I believe it ought to be, all you have to do is to make that
known to Congress. Get the law amended, and I assure you that the
government has ample machinery and satisfactory facilities for enforcing
Whether the great number that are coming in are a detriment to this
country or a benefit is not for me to say. My chief function at
the present time is to see that the quality is just what the department
and the courts have decided it should be. As to the quantity, I
do not think that you will expect me to deal with that. I do not
think it would be proper for me to deal with it. But I do hope that
those of you who wish to be more thoroughly informed of the difficulties
encountered by the Bureau of Immigration in enforcing the law, would
come to Ellis Island and exchange views with those officers with
a view to getting the law intelligently amended in order that we
may still further eliminate those from the incomers that are likely
to be a detriment to this country in part or in whole.
I am quite sure that from the Chairman down, there are those here,
as I stated before, who are amply qualified and able to discuss
that feature. So far as getting acquainted with the practical end
of it is concerned, none of you will need a pass to come to Ellis
Island. You will all be welcome, and if you can point out to me
where the present system of enforcing the law can be improved, I
shall most cheerfully welcome your suggestion. (Applause).
The Chairman: We have here this afternoon with us Mr. M. V. Richards,
Land and Industrial Agent of the Southern Railway Company, who has
done a great deal to build up the Industrial South. I was at Washington
a short time ago and the president of the road pointed to a map,
and speaking of the change that had occurred since he came in charge,
showed that on three hundred miles of that system three hundred
cotton mills have been erected.
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen-:I come to you today quite in sympathy
with the foreign immigrant; I mean the immigrant who comes to our
shores for the purpose of bettering his condition and is willing
and competent to avail himself of the great opportunities our country
affords those seeking a competency and desiring to conform to the
splendid rules and regulations which go to make this the leading
nation in the world. I have no sympathy with the immigrant who is
not capable of appreciating the privileges extended to the home
seeker. I would uphold a most rigid investigation of immigrants
before they are permitted even to purchase tickets to the United
States. We can, in my opinion, well afford to strengthen immediately
the Department of Commerce and Labor, so that it can organize its
forces in Europe sufficiently to carefully investigate immigrants
seeking admission into this country. It is our duty as Americans
to throw safeguards around our shores, and while we welcome the
thrifty progressive and substantial newcomer, we should strongly
fortify ourselves against the undesirable class.
The trend of immigration to this country has been to the West through
the ports of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Until
within the last few years foreign immigration into the Southern
States was limited. The last census shows that the States of Virginia,
Kentucky, Tennessee, and Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and
Mississippi, all of which I have the honor to represent by reason
of the railroad I am connected with, having lines running through
or to those States, had only 1 ½ percent of the total foreign-born
population of the United States, or 156,284. These States occupy
a very peculiar position in reference to immigration. Since the
Civil War the South sent about two and one-half million of white
people into the North and West and received from all sources less
than one-half that number of immigrants. One state alone sent out
to other sections 415,000 people and received only 190,000 showing
a net loss of about 230,000. Massachusetts sent 300,000 people to
other states, but received 845,000 from Europe alone.
The reason for this movement from the South to the West and North
is well established. It will be interesting to note that no section
of the United States has advanced more rapidly during the past ten
years in agriculture, manufacturing, and commerce than the Southern
States. This advancement has been made under many disadvantages.
It is well known that not many years ago the South was without money,
without credit, and- as has been shown- immigration was pouring
out, rather than coming in. The results accomplished by the South
under these conditions have at last attracted the attention of the
outside world. The South is now recognized as one of the desirable
fields for people with limited means and for the employment of capital.
A few years ago the railroads, state authorities, manufactures and
farmers in the South found that their country could be best advanced
through increased immigration. A systematic campaign has been carried
on, and to those who have labored earnestly, seriously and persistently
in promulgating information concerning the South, it is very gratifying
to observe that the South today is in the minds of people throughout
the North, Canada, and many parts of Europe, as a field for settlement
We have established numerous factories throughout the Southern
country. You will be interested to know that over 2,500 manufacturing
enterprises were located within the last three years upon the line
of the Southern Railway. These factories each give employment to
anywhere from five people to 2,000 people. A large percentage of
the employees in these factories were drawn from the farming sections.
The immigration into the South has not been equal to the migration
of people from the farms of the South to the factories. While we
have progressed remarkably well in our agricultural development,
if we could have kept all of our farmers on the farms, induced immigrants
to come in, open up and develop more farms and accept employment
in our factories, our agricultural development would have been far
greater and our factories would be larger today than they are.
We have appeals to us from farmers and manufacturers in all parts
of the South for laborers. We can accommodate several million people.
They can be provided with pleasant homes and profitable employment.
The future of the immigrants locating with us, I do not for a moment
doubt, will be in line with their desires and necessities.
We have systematically laid the foundation for the introduction
of a foreign population by securing Germans, Scandinavians, Italians,
French, Bohemians, and Polanders from the Northern States. We are
now ready to receive the raw immigrant from Europe. We can place
him in neighborhoods in which are successfully established people
of his own nationality. We do not doubt but what we will be successful.
Not many years ago I remember we established the first settlement
of Germans in a State on our line. The forerunners of this settlement
were brought from the congested sections of your city, New York.
They were followed by German-speaking people, friends of friends
and acquaintances of acquaintances. There are now several hundred
German families in that section and more are wanted, and as they
come, properly establishing themselves, they will be successful.
In the same section we have colonies of Bohemians, Hungarians, and
some Scandinavians, all of whom are being joined by friends from
the North and Europe. Recently we established a colony of French-Canadians.
These people came from Canada to the United States, and after working
around the mills in New England for a time found that they would
be better satisfied if engaged in agricultural pursuits. They purchased
farms in the South, at practically their own terms. They are satisfied
and are being joined by other French people. We now have French
colonists coming to us from Europe. True, the number is limited,
but the foundation for an increased immigration is being laid. We
have many Scandinavian farmers and business men located with us,
and more are coming annually.
Recently, I had the pleasure of making an extended trip through
the South with the Italian Ambassador, Baron May des Planches, at
which time he studied several of the Italian colonies located on
our system. These colonies were found most prosperous and contented.
There is abundant room for many thousand Italian families on Southern
farms and in Southern mills. We have to-day applications from not
only farmers, but manufacturers as well, for Italian laborers. They
will be given steady employment, and those desiring to own homes
of their own will have no difficulty in being accommodated. We visited
one settlement of Italians number about 175 families. Each family
works from 20 to 30 acres of land for which they pay rental. They
are furnished equipment, seed and supplies, as well as houses to
live in. The statement of their net earnings shows that no farmer-earned
less than $350- some of them as much as $1735. This was accomplished
without any capital, and no investment whatever on the part of the
Italian family, excepting the labor. I note this to show that the
family without capital can succeed in the South.
It would seem appropriate for me to make the following suggestion
as an aid to the solution of the problem:
Of the many thousands of immigrants now domiciled in your city,
a considerable proportion come from farms in Europe. They come to
this country to better their condition, to secure a home in free
America. They are without any knowledge of the country beyond your
city limits. They are not assimilating with out people, and I question
whether they will; at least not as rapidly as they would, if placed
in the rural districts. To distribute and establish these people
we must have a location and money. With land, some money and people
much can be accomplished. We have these three factors:
1. Desirable lands in the South at low prices.
2. Capitalists in the City of New York, in the North, and some in
3. The people in congested districts.
Let us bring these three together.
The Commissioner of Immigration of the United States has, in my
opinion, wisely recommended, that he be authorized to permit the
various States to establish on Ellis Island, bureaus of information,
the purpose being to reach the immigrants before they are permitted
to enter the United States, and direct them to suitable homes, sending
them direct thereto from Ellis Island. We are anxious to have many
of these people in the South, and are ready to consider taking them;
we believe we could aim materially in relieving the situation here
in New York if we were permitted to go among these immigrants, making
our investigation and selection, that is, giving the immigrant reliable
information concerning the advantages we offer, the opportunities
existing in the South, so that he can intelligently consider the
proposition we would make. This done in advance of the immigrant
having an opportunity to taste metropolitan life would, we believe,
send more people away from the city than are going at this time.
I would further suggest that the various organizations in your city
interested in the caring for and protection of these immigrants
be given sufficient support to properly connect themselves with
people throughout the United States, likely to be interested in
securing immigrants, thereby enabling these societies to do considerable
more good work in directing people to suitable homes.
The Chairman: Gentlemen, this is a national subject, and time will
not permit of much further present discussion to-night. We have
some gentlemen from the West here whom I would like to invite to
show the immigrants the advantages of the West. Somebody is evidently
getting men who want to work, for I can’t get farm hands out
on my farm twenty-five miles away. There is a scarcity of labor
in the country, and I do not know whether they go South or where
they go, but I can’t get them.
Mr. James P. Archibald:
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: It was my intention to read a paper
here to-day from the labor standpoint and to endeavor to express
the feelings of the working people in regard to the question of
immigration. I feel that it would have settled some of the assertions
that have been made here to-day in regard to unlimited desirable
I will detain you but a few moments, Mr. Chairman, but I want to
get square with you because I could not read my paper, but I will
endeavor to have it printed in the proceedings of this meeting.
It is a paper that I prepared ten years ago. When I was invited
to address this meeting, I read over this old paper and found that
it expressed my views now just as if I had written it yesterday.
Way back in 1892 the Central Labor Union of New York interested
itself very much in immigration, and I was one of the committee
that was then selected to investigate and report to the Central
Labor Union. We did so, and our conclusion at that time was that
no desirable man should be prevented from landing in this country.
That is my opinion. I am amply satisfied that the interests of the
labor people will be conserved, at this port to-day is a man in
whom ass of us who have the pleasure of his acquaintance have unqualified
As this question is likely to give rise to discussion all over
the country, and perhaps compel the attention not only of our State
Legislature, but of our National Government, I believe it behooves
the Civic Federation to be in a position to put itself on record
as to its attitude towards this great question, the principal part
of which I believe is the distribution of the immigrants in the
country. Mr. Chairman, I move you that the Civic Federation of New
York and Vicinity request the National Civic Federation to appoint
a committee composed of men of national standing to investigate
this question of immigration and report to the National Civic Federation
at as early a date as possible.
The resolution offered by Mr. Archibald was adopted unanimously
and the Chairman declared the meeting adjourned.
The Following is the paper submitted by Mr. Archibald:
It should be clear, in our opinion, to every thinking man that
a course of public policy which would diffuse labor all over the
country is the great necessity of our times. Every year, and is
their tens of thousands, there come to us men and women whose life
experiences have been wholly connected with farming. They come from
countries where militarism and landlordism eat the substance of
the people, where taxation and rents have reduced them to an almost
entirely impoverished condition. Hence, when they reach our ports,
they have little or no money; they are ignorant of our resources;
they do not know where to go; and if they did they would not have
the means to defray the cost of transportation.
The result is that they remain just where they first land. They
crowd the districts which are already over crowded. Want and misery,
filth and disease are the inevitable concomitants of such unnatural
conditions. Hunger must be at least partly appeased. The “sweater”
comes to offer something for its appeasement, or the employer of
“scab” labor is at hand to give work for starvation
pay, or the employer of union labor is besieged with applicants
for work until, even where he a philanthropist, he could not find
places for all. The remainder, go to the wall. They go down and
down. Public and private charity, are next taxed to the last degree
of endurance. A standing army of paupers is created. Trampdom is
filled to repletion. The criminal classes are increased by many,
at first, unwilling recruits. Public health is endangered. Public
appreciation of man’s inherent dignity is lessened. Public
morality is assailed in a vital part, while the multiplication of
suffering by tens of thousands of able-bodied men and women tends
to destroy the finer feelings of humanity and to create a brutal
hard-heartedness in the stead of Christian love and fraternal sympathy.
Meanwhile the South and West are calling loudly for the very class
of labor which most abundantly discharges itself on our shores.
But there is no organized means to supply it. The poor immigrant
is unable to help himself of place himself within the reach of fair
opportunity for work.
Now, why is this not remedied? And is it not apparent as the noonday
sun that the means of our remedy are in the hands of our Governments,
both national and state?
And is it not equally clear that the whole country would be improved
and the condition of workers everywhere be ameliorated if an effective
remedy were applied? So far as our State Governments are concerned,
it seems to be wholly within their power and entirely within their
province to maintain labor commissioners at this port, whose duty
it would be to hold constant communication with the national officials
of immigration, and take concurrent action with such officials to
take charge of the immigrants in directing, divesting and transporting
them to a place where labor is required. If credence is to be given,
as no doubt it should, to the press of the South, they are more
in lack of labor than of capital of those fertile States. The want
of farm labor fetters the farmers, who cannot increase the areas
of improved and cultivated lands because they cannot find laborers
to do the work. Good pay awaits the sober, industrious laborer.
Plenty awaits the able-bodied workers if they only get there. But
unadvised and unaided, our European immigrants cannot and do not
get there. Vast treasures of national wealth poverty are made with
each new influx of what might be manipulated to public and private
Nor is it in farming alone that the South, Southwest, and West
are calling for more workers. Alabama and Georgia cry out for more
mechanical labor every day. Tennessee is rich in mineral wealth,
while her soil has but to be scratched for abundant results. Florida
calls for fruit growers. Louisiana offers great sugar opportunities.
Arizona, the Dakotas, Nebraska, the wonderful State of Washington,
Montana, Texas- but why further enumerate?- All these states require
the industry (and have ample opportunities for its exercise) of
millions yet to come; and it only remains for us to distribute and
transport our immigrants where they are most needed. Such action
would stop overcrowding. The general good would be promoted, and
in the general advantage of the States the whole country would share.
The organs of plutocracy may shriek “paternalism” as
much as they may when dealing with this feature of the labor problem;
they may desire to the top of the bent that there shall be yet more
overcrowding in our already congested districts, so that concentration
of capital may find a defenseless, impoverished concentration of
mere human machinery at hand to be dealt with according to the dictates
of soulless greed; but to this great policy of adequate, intelligent
and well-directed distribution of labor the country must come.
Nor are we without example and precedent, in a limited degree,
in this matter. One of the greatest governors of Massachusetts,
the long-headed, far-seeing, wise and patriotic Andrews, once sent
one hundred respectable, well-educated daughters of that State to
the extreme West. They had been educated to an employment then crowded.
There was nothing before them but starvation or the indescribable
infamy of the streets. At the expense of Massachusetts they were
saved from either of these awful alternatives. Provided with suitable
escort, they were removed to a part of the country where their education,
labor, and thrift were most needed. They were placed where they
could be of efficient help to themselves, and to those about them.
The result proved the wisdom of great Andrews, and what he caused
to be done for those one hundred young women can be done by our
National and State Governments if they but rise to the height of
the occasion in behalf of our immigrants.
It may and will be objected that the State has no right to interfere
with individual liberty, and that such direction and transportation
of immigrants would infringe on their individual rights; that they
have a right to further congest the labor supply in our large cities
if they choose; that they have a right to increase the fierce competition
for means of mere existence and further add to the burdens of labor
in places where its superabundance is the super inducing cause of
cheap wages and consequent hardship to the community. But such objection
cannot stand the test of logical examination. It is self-evident
that the State has the inherent right to protect itself against
pauperism and its consequence, heavy taxation. It is not upon the
barons of monopoly the burdens of taxation fall. It is the industrious
poor of New York, with outrageously high rents flowing into pockets
of the landlord class, whose evicting propensities out-Herod the
Herod’s of Ireland, who bear the burden of taxation for alms
houses, houses of correction, penitentiaries, city hospitals and
prisons. When trouble comes in financial circles thousands are thrown
out of employment, and when the unemployed are brought to utter
destitution the State or the municipality must come to their relief.
The idle and profligate are among us, but what shall be done with
those who are only anxious for work, and the morality of whose lives
under the most wretched conditions excites the admiration of every
Christian or philanthropic observer, be he in religious belief or
what he may? If the State has the right to organize for punishment,
it must have an equal right to organize for guardianship. To prevent
further overcrowding in this and other large cities would seem to
be one of the highest forms of guardianship the State can exercise;
and we hope that in due season, before the evil becomes unbearable,
our statesmen and legislators will cease for a season their selfish
scramble for place and power and give to the question of labor distribution
their best thought and action. By doing so they will urge forward
the car of American progress, create tens of thousands of American
homes, cause civilization to bloom over trackless prairies, build
up a citizenship that shall be a tower of strength to the Republic
and invoke on our statesmanship the benedictions of Him before whose
all-seeing eye the humblest working man stands the equal of the