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agitation against Chinese that President Cleveland was impelled to
send to Congress two special messages on the question, detailing the
facts and requesting Congress to pay the Chinese claims for indemnity
which Wyoming refused to honor. The remonstrances of the Chinese
Government led to the drafting of a new treaty in 1888. But while
China was deliberating over this treaty, Congress summarily shut off
any hope for immediate agreement by passing the Scott Act prohibiting
the return of any Chinese laborer after the passage of the act,
stopping the issue of any more certificates of identification, and
declaring void all certificates previously issued. It is difficult to
avoid the conclusion that this brutal political measure was passed
with an eye to the Pacific electoral vote in the pending election. In
the next presidential year the climax of harshness was reached in the
Geary law, which required, within an unreasonably short time, the
registration of all Chinese in the United States. The Chinese, under
legal advice, refused to register until the Federal Supreme Court had
declared the law constitutional. Subsequently the time for
registration was extended.

The anti-Chinese fanaticism had now reached its highest point. While
the Government maintained its policy of exclusion, it modified the
drastic details of the law. In 1894 a new treaty provided for the
exclusion of laborers for ten years, excepting registered laborers who
had either parent, wife, or child in the United States, or who
possessed property or debts to the amount of one thousand dollars. It
required all resident Chinese laborers to register, and the Chinese
Government was similarly entitled to require the registration of all
American laborers resident in China. The treaty made optional the
clause requiring merchants, travelers, and other classes privileged to
come to the United States, to secure a certificate from their
Government vised by the American representative at the port of

In 1898 General Otis extended the exclusion acts to the Philippines by
military order, owing to the fact that the country was in a state of
war, and Congress extended them to the Hawaiian Islands. In 1904 China
refused to continue the treaty of 1894, and Congress substantially
reenacted the existing laws "in so far as not inconsistent with treaty
obligations." Thus the legal _status quo_ has been maintained, and the
Chinese population in America is gradually decreasing. No new
laborers are permitted to come and those now here go home as old age
overtakes them. But the public has come to recognize that diplomatic
circumlocution cannot conceal the crude and harsh treatment which the
Chinaman has received; that the earlier laws were based upon reports
that greatly exaggerated the evils and were silent upon the virtues of
the Oriental; and that a policy which had its conception in frontier
fears and in race prejudice was sustained by politicians and
perpetuated by demagogues.

Rather suddenly the whole drama of discrimination was re-opened by the
arrival of a considerable number of Japanese laborers in America. In
1900, there were some twenty-four thousand in the United States and a
decade later this number had increased threefold. About one-half of
them lived in California, and the rest were to be found throughout the
West, especially in Washington, Colorado, and Oregon. They were nearly
all unmarried young men of the peasant class. Unlike the Chinese, they
manifested a readiness to conform to American customs and an eagerness
to learn the language and to adopt American dress. The racial gulf,
however, is not bridged by a similarity in externals. The Japanese
possess all the deep and subtle contrasts of mentality and ideality
which differentiate the Orient from the Occident. A few are not averse
to adopting Christianity; many more are free-thinkers; but the bulk
remain loyal to Buddhism. They have reproduced here the compact trade
guilds of Japan. The persistent aggressiveness of the Japanese, their
cunning, their aptitude in taking advantage of critical circumstances
in making bargains, have by contrast partially restored to popular
favor the patient, reliable Chinaman.

At first the Japanese were welcomed as unskilled laborers. They found
employment on the railroads, in lumber mills and salmon canneries, in
mines and on farms, and in domestic service. But they soon showed a
keen propensity for owning or leasing land. The Immigration Commission
found that in 1909 they owned over sixteen thousand acres in
California and leased over one hundred and thirty-seven thousand.
Nearly all of this land they had acquired in the preceding five years.
In Colorado they controlled over twenty thousand acres, and in Idaho
and Washington over seven thousand acres each. This acreage represents
small holdings devoted to intensive agriculture, especially to the
raising of sugar beets, vegetables, and small fruits.

The hostility which began to manifest itself against the Japanese
especially in California brought that State into sharp contact with
the Federal Government. In 1906 the San Francisco authorities excluded
the Japanese from the public schools. This act was immediately and
vigorously protested by the Japanese Government. After due
investigation, the matter was finally adjusted at a conference held in
Washington between President Roosevelt and a delegation from
California. This incident served to re-awaken the ghost of Mongolian
domination on the Pacific coast, for it occurred during the notorious
regime of Mayor Schmitz. Labor politics were rampant. Isolated
instances of violence against Japanese occurred, and hoodlums, without
fear of police interference, attacked a number of Japanese
restaurants. Political candidates were pledged to an anti-Japanese

In 1907 the two governments reached an agreement whereby the details
of issuing passports to Japanese laborers who desired to return to the
United States was virtually left in the hands of the Japanese
Government, which was opposed to the emigration of its laboring
population. As a consequence of this agreement, passports are granted
only to laborers who had previously been residents of the United
States or to parents, wives, and children of Japanese laborers
resident in America. Under authority of the immigration law of 1907,
the President issued an order (March 14, 1907) denying admission to
"Japanese and Korean laborers, skilled or unskilled, who have received
passports to go to Mexico, Canada, Hawaii and come therefrom" to the
United States.

Anti-Japanese feeling was crystallized into the alien land bill of
California in 1913. So serious was the international situation that
President Wilson sent Mr. Bryan, then Secretary of State, across the
continent to confer with the California legislature and to determine
upon some action that would at the same time meet the needs of the
State and "leave untouched the international obligations of the United
States." The law subsequently passed was thought by the Californians
to appease both of these demands.[49] But the Japanese Government made
no less than five vigorous formal protests and filled a lengthy brief
which characterized the law as unfair and intentionally discriminating
and in violation of the treaty of Commerce and Navigation entered into
in 1911. While anti-Japanese demonstrations were taking place in
Washington, there was a corresponding outbreak of anti-American
feeling in the streets of Tokyo. On February 2, 1914, during the
debate on a new immigration bill, an amendment was proposed in the
House of Representatives, at the instigation of members from the
Pacific coast, excluding all Asiatics, except such as had their entry
right established by treaty. But this drastic proposal was defeated by
a decisive vote.

The oriental question in America is further complicated by the fact
that since 1905 some five thousand East Indians have come to the
United States. Of these the majority are Hindoos, the remainder being
chiefly Afghans. How these people who have lived under British rule
will adapt themselves to American life and institutions remains to be


[Footnote 45: _Chinese Immigration_, p. 402.]

[Footnote 46: _Chinese Immigration_, p. 265.]

[Footnote 47: So intense was the feeling in the West that at this time
a letter purporting to have been written by James A. Garfield, the
Republican candidate, favoring unrestricted immigration, was published
on the eve of the Presidential election (1880). Though the letter was
shown to be a forgery, yet it was not without influence. In California
Garfield received only one of the six electoral votes; and in Nevada
he received none. In Denver, where only four hundred Chinese lived,
race riots occurred which cost one Chinaman his life and destroyed
Chinese property to the amount of $50,000.]

[Footnote 48: Wong Wing _vs_. U.S., 163 U.S. 235.]

[Footnote 49: The Alien Land Act of May 19, 1913, confers upon all
aliens eligible to citizenship the same rights as citizens in the
owning and leasing of real property; but in the case of other aliens
(_i.e._ Asiatics) it limits leases of land for agricultural purposes
to terms not exceeding three years and permits ownership "to the
extent and for the purposes prescribed by any treaty."]



With the free land gone and the cities crowded to overflowing, the
door of immigration, though guarded, nevertheless remains open and the
pressure of the old-world peoples continues. Where can they go? They
are filling in the vacant spots of the older States, the abandoned
farms, stagnant half-empty villages, undrained swamps, uninviting
rocky hillsides. This infiltration of foreigners possessing themselves
of rejected and abandoned land, which has only recently begun, shows
that the peasant's instinct for the soil will reassert itself when the
means are available and the way opens. It is surprising, indeed, how
many are the ways that are opening for this movement. Transportation
companies are responsible for a number of colonies planted bodily in
cut-over timber regions of the South. The journals and the real estate
agents of the different races are always alert to spy out
opportunities. Dealing in second-hand farms has become a considerable
industry. The advertising columns of Chicago papers announce hundreds
of farms for sale in northern Michigan and Wisconsin. In all the older
States there are for sale thousands of acres of tillable land which
have been left by the restless shiftings of the American population.
In New England the abandoned farm has long been an institution.
Throughout the East there are depleted and dying villages, their
solidly built cottages hidden in the matting of trees and shrubs which
neglect has woven about them. One can see paralysis creeping over them
as the vines creep over their deserted thresholds and they surrender
one by one the little industries that gave them life. These are the
opportunities of the immigrant peasant. Wherever the new migration
swarms, there the receding tide leaves a few energetic individuals who
have made for themselves a permanent home. In the wake of construction
gangs and along the lines of railways and canals one discovers these
immigrant families taking root in the soil. In the smaller cities, an
immigrant day laborer will often invest his savings in a tumble-down
house and an acre of land, and almost at once he becomes the nucleus
for a gathering of his kind. The market gardens that surround the
large cities offer work to the children of the factory operatives, and
there they swarm over beet and onion fields like huge insects with an
unerring instinct for weeds. Now and then a family finds a forgotten
acre, builds a shack, and starts a small independent market garden.
Within a few years a whole settlement of shacks grows up around it,
and soon the trucking of the neighborhood is in foreign hands.
Seasonal agricultural work often carries the immigrant into distant
canning centers, hop fields, cranberry marshes, orchards, and
vineyards. Every time a migration of this sort occurs, some settlers
remain on land previously thought unfit for cultivation - perhaps a
swamp which they drain or a sand-hill which they fertilize and nurture
into surprising fertility by constant toil. This racial seepage is
confined almost wholly to the Italian and the Slav.

There is a vast acreage of unoccupied good land in the South, which
the negro, usually satisfied with a bare living, has neither the
enterprise nor the thrift to cultivate. The prejudice of the former
slave owner against the foreign immigration for many years retarded
the development of this land. About 1880, however, groups of Italians,
attracted by the sunny climate and the opportunities for making a
livelihood, began to seep into Louisiana. By 1900 they numbered over
seventeen thousand. When direct sailings between the Mediterranean and
the Gulf of Mexico were established, their numbers increased rapidly
and New Orleans became one of the leading Italian centers in the
United States. From the city they soon spread into the adjoining
region. Today they grow cotton, sugar-cane, and rice in nearly all the
Southern States. In the deep black loam of the Yazoo Delta they
prosper as cotton growers. They have transformed the neglected slopes
of the Ozarks into apple and peach orchards. New Orleans, Dallas,
Galveston, Houston, San Antonio, and other Southern cities are
supplied with vegetables from the Italian truck farms. At
Independence, Louisiana, a colony raises strawberries. In the black
belt of Arkansas they established Sunnyside in 1895, a colony which
has survived many vicissitudes and has been the parent of other
similar enterprises. In Texas there are a number of such colonies, of
which the largest, at Bryan, numbers nearly two thousand persons. In
California the Italian owns farms, orchards, vineyards, market
gardens, and even ranches. Here he finds the cloudless sky and mild
air of his native land. The sunny slopes invite vine culture.

In the North and the East the alert Italian has found many
opportunities to buy land. In the environs of nearly every city
northward from Norfolk, Virginia, are to be found his truck patches.
At Vineland and Hammonton, New Jersey, large colonies have flourished
for many years. In New York and Pennsylvania, many a hill farm that
was too rocky for its Yankee owner, and many a back-breaking clay
moraine in Ohio and Indiana has been purchased for a small cash
payment and, under the stimulus of the family's coaxing, now yields
paying crops, while the father himself also earns a daily wage in the
neighboring town. Where one such Italian family is to be found, there
are sure to be found at least two or three others in the neighborhood,
for the Italians hate isolation more than hunger. Often they are
clustered in colonies, as at Genoa and Cumberland in Wisconsin, where
most of them are railroad workmen paying for the land out of their

The Slavs, too, wedge into the most surprising spaces. Their colonies
and settlements are to be found in considerable numbers in every part
of the Union except the far South. They are on the cut-over timber
lands of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, usually engaged in
dairying or raising vegetables for canning. On the great prairies in
Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and the Dakotas, the Bohemians and the Poles
have learned to raise wheat and corn, and in Texas, Oklahoma, and
Arkansas, they have shown themselves skillful in cotton raising.
Wherever fruit is grown on the Pacific slope, there are Bohemians,
Slavonians, and Dalmatians. In New England, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana,
and Maryland, the Poles have become pioneers in the neglected corners
of the land. For instance in Orange County, New York, a thriving
settlement from old Poland now flourishes where a quarter of a century
ago there was only a mosquito breeding swamp. The drained area
produces the most surprising crops of onions, lettuce, and celery.
Many of these immigrants own their little farms. Others work on shares
in anticipation of ownership, and still others labor merely for the
season, transients who spend the winter either in American factories
or flit back to their native land.

In Pennsylvania it is the mining towns which furnished recruits for
this landward movement. In some of the counties an exchange of
population has been taking place for a decade or more. The land
dwelling Americans are moving into the towns and cities. The farms
are offered for sale. Enterprising Slavic real estate dealers are not
slow in persuading their fellow countrymen to invest their savings in

The Slavonic infiltration has been most marked in New England,
especially in the Connecticut Valley. From manufacturing centers like
Chicopee, Worcester, Ware, Westfield, and Fitchburg, areas of Polish
settlements radiate in every direction, alien spokes from American
hubs. Here are little farming villages ready made in attractive
settings whose vacant houses invite the alien peasant. A Polish family
moves into a sedate colonial house; often a second family shares the
place, sometimes a third or a fourth, each with a brood of children
and often a boarder or two. The American families left in the
neighborhood are scandalized by this promiscuity, by the bare feet and
bare heads, by the unspeakable fare, the superstition and credulity,
and illiteracy and disregard for sanitary measures, and by the
ant-like industry from starlight to starlight. Old Hadley has become a
prototype of what may become general if this racial infiltration is
not soon checked. In 1906 the Poles numbered one-fifth of the
population in that town, owned one-twentieth of the land, and
produced two-thirds of the babies. Dignified old streets that
formerly echoed with the tread of patriots now resound to the din of
Polish weddings and christenings, and the town that sheltered William
Goffe, one of the judges before whom Charles I was tried, now houses
Polish transients at twenty-five cents a bed weekly.

The transient usually returns to Europe, but the landowner remains.
His kind is increasing yearly. It is even probable that in a
generation he will be the chief landowner of the Connecticut Valley.
It will take more than an association of old families, determined on
keeping the ancient homes in their own hands, to check this

The process of racial replacement is most rapid in the smaller
manufacturing towns. In the New England mills the Yankee gave way to
the Irish, the Irish gave way to the French Canadian, and the French
Canadian has been largely superseded by the Slav and the Italian.
Every one of the older industrial towns has been encrusted in layer
upon layer of foreign accretions, until it is difficult to discover
the American core. Everywhere are the physiognomy, the chatter, and
the aroma of the modern steerage. Lawrence, Massachusetts, is typical
of this change. In 1848 it had 5923 inhabitants, of whom 63.3 per cent
were Americans, 36 per cent were Irish, and about forty white persons
belonged to other nationalities. In 1910 the same city had 85,000
inhabitants, of whom only about 14 per cent were Americans, and the
rest foreigners, two-thirds of the old and one-third of the new

A like transformation has taken place in the manufacturing towns of
New York, New Jersey, and Delaware and in the iron and steel towns of
Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and the Middle West. For forty years
after the establishment of the first iron furnace in Johnstown,
Pennsylvania, in 1842, the mills were manned exclusively by Americans,
English, Welsh, Irish, and Germans. In 1880 Slavic names began to
appear on the pay rolls. Soon thereafter Italians and Syrians were
brought into the town, and today sixty per cent of the population is
of foreign birth, largely from southeastern Europe. The native
Americans and Welsh live in two wards, and clustered around them are
settlements of Italians, Slovaks, and Croatians.

The new manufacturing towns which are dependent upon some single
industry are almost wholly composed of recent immigrants. Gary,
Indiana, built by the United States Steel Corporation, and Whiting,
Indiana, established by the Standard Oil Company for its refining
industry, are examples of new American towns of exotic populations. At
a glass factory built in 1890 in the village of Charleroi,
Pennsylvania, over ten thousand Belgians, French, Slavs, and Italians
now labor. An example of lightning-like displacement of population is
afforded by the steel and iron center at Granite City and Madison,
Illinois. The two towns are practically one industrial community,
although they have separate municipal organizations. A steel mill was
erected in 1892 upon the open prairies, and in it American, Welsh,
Irish, English, German, and Polish workmen were employed. In 1900
Slovaks were brought in, and two years later there came large numbers
of Magyars, followed by Croatians. In 1905 Bulgarians began to arrive,
and within two years over eight thousand had assembled. Armenians,
Servians, Greeks, Magyars, every ethnic faction found in the racial
welter of southeastern Europe, is represented among the twenty
thousand inhabitants that dwell in this new industrial town. In
"Hungary Hollow" these race fragments isolate themselves, effectively
insulated against the currents of American influence.

The mining communities reveal this relative displacement of races in
its most disheartening form. As early as 1820 coal was taken from the
anthracite veins of northeastern Pennsylvania, but until 1880 the
industry was dominated by Americans and north Europeans. In 1870 out
of 108,000 foreign born in this region, 105,000 or over ninety-seven
per cent came from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Germany. In
1880 a change began and continued until in 1910 less than one-third of
the 267,000 foreign born were of northern European extraction. In 1870
there were only 306 Slavs and Italians in the entire region; in 1890
there were 43,000; in 1909 there were 89,000; and in 1910 the number
increased to 178,000.

Today these immigrants from the south of Europe have virtually
displaced the miner from the north. They have rooted out the decencies
and comforts of the earlier operatives and have supplanted them with
the promiscuity, the filth, and the low economic standards of the
medieval peasant. There are no more desolate and distressing places in
America than the miserable mining "patches" clinging like lichens to
the steep hill sides or secluded in the valleys of Pennsylvania In the
bituminous fields conditions are no better. In the town of Windber in
western Pennsylvania, for example, some two thousand experienced
English and American miners were engaged in opening the veins in 1897.
No sooner were the mines in operation than the south European began to
drift in. Today he outnumbers and underbids the American and the north
European. He lives in isolated sections, reeking with everything that
keeps him a "foreigner" in the heart of America. The coal regions of
Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois and the ore
regions of northern Michigan and Minnesota are rapidly passing under
the same influence.

Every mining and manufacturing community is thus an ethnic pool,
whence little streams of foreigners trickle over the land. These
isolated miners and tillers of the soil are more immune to American
ideals than are their city dwelling brethren. They are not jostled and
shaken by other races; no mental contagion of democracy reaches them.

But within the towns and cities another process of replacement is
going on. Its index is written large in the signs over shops and
stores and clearly in the lists of professional men in the city
directories and in the pay roll of the public school teachers. The
unpronounceable Slavic combinations of consonants and polysyllabic
Jewish patronymics are plentiful, while here and there an Italian name
makes its appearance. The second generation is arriving. The sons and
daughters are leaving the factory and the construction gang for the
counter, the office, and the schoolroom.

American ideals and institutions have borne and can bear a great deal
of foreign infiltration. But can they withstand saturation?



"Whosoever will may come" was the generous welcome which America
extended to all the world for over a century. Many alarms, indeed,
there were and several well-defined movements to save America from the
foreigner. The first of these attempts resulted in the ill-fated Alien

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Online LibrarySamuel P. OrthOur Foreigners A Chronicle of Americans in the Making → online text (page 11 of 14)