Copyright
Samuel P. Orth.

Our Foreigners A Chronicle of Americans in the Making online

. (page 12 of 14)
Online LibrarySamuel P. OrthOur Foreigners A Chronicle of Americans in the Making → online text (page 12 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


and Sedition laws of 1798, which extended to fourteen years the period
of probation before a foreigner could be naturalized and which
attempted to safeguard the Government against defamatory attacks. The
Jeffersonians, who came into power in 1801 largely upon the issue
raised by this attempt to curtail free speech, made short shrift of
this unpopular law and restored the term of residence to five years.
The second anti-foreign movement found expression in the Know-Nothing
party, which rose in the decade preceding the Civil War. The third
movement brought about a secret order called the American Protective
Association, popularly known as the A.P.A., which, like the
Know-Nothing hysteria, was aimed primarily at the Catholic Church. Its
platform stated that "the conditions growing out of our immigration
laws are such as to weaken our democratic institutions," and that "the
immigrant vote, under the direction of certain ecclesiastical
institutions," controlled politics. In 1896 the organization claimed
two and a half million adherents, and the air was vibrant with ominous
rumors of impending events. But nothing happened. The A.P.A.
disappeared suddenly and left no trace.

For over a century it was almost universally believed that the
prosperity of the country depended largely upon a copious influx of
population. This sentiment found expression in President Lincoln's
message to Congress on December 8, 1863, in which he called
immigration a "source of national wealth and strength" and urged
Congress to establish "a system for the encouragement of immigration."
In conformity with this suggestion, Congress passed a law designed to
aid the importation of labor under contract. But the measure was soon
repealed, so that it remains the only instance in American history in
which the Federal Government attempted the direct encouragement of
general immigration.[50]

It was in 1819 that the first Federal law pertaining to immigration
was passed. It was not prompted by any desire to regulate or restrict
immigration, but aimed rather to correct the terrible abuses to which
immigrants were subject on shipboard. So crowded and unwholesome were
these quarters that a substantial percentage of all the immigrants who
embarked for America perished during the voyage. The law provided that
ships could carry only two passengers for every five tons burden; it
enjoined a sufficient supply of water and food for crew and
passengers; and it required the captains of vessels to prepare lists
of their passengers giving age, sex, occupation, and the country
whence they came. The law, however good its intention, was loosely
drawn and indifferently enforced. Terrible abuses of steerage
passengers crowded into miserable quarters were constantly brought to
the public notice. From time to time the law was amended, and the
advent of steam navigation brought improved conditions without,
however, adequate provision for Federal inspection.

Indeed such supervision and care as immigrants received was provided
by the various States. Boston, New York, Baltimore, and other ports of
entry, found helpless hordes left at their doors. They were the prey
of loan sharks and land sharks, of fake employment agencies, and every
conceivable form of swindler. Private relief was organized, but it
could reach only a small portion of the needy. About three-fourths of
the immigrants disembarked at the port of New York, and upon the State
of New York was imposed the obligation of looking after the thousands
of strangers who landed weekly at the Battery. To cope with these
conditions the State devised a comprehensive system and entrusted its
enforcement to a Board of Commissioners of Immigration, erected
hospitals on Ward's Island for sick and needy immigrants, and in 1855
leased for a landing place Castle Garden, which at once became the
popular synonym for the nation's gateway. Here the Commissioners
examined and registered the immigrants, placed at their disposal
physicians, money changers, transportation agents, and advisers, and
extended to them a helping hand. The Federal Government was
represented only by the customs officers who ransacked their baggage.

In 1875 the Federal Supreme Court decided that it was unconstitutional
for a State to regulate immigration. "We are of the opinion," said the
Court, "that this whole subject has been confided to Congress by the
Constitution; that Congress can more appropriately and with more
acceptance exercise it than any other body known to our law, state or
national; that, by providing a system of laws in these matters
applicable to all ports and to all vessels, a serious question which
has long been a matter of contest and complaint may be effectively and
satisfactorily settled."[51] Congress dallied seven years with this
important question, and was finally forced to act when New York
threatened to close Castle Garden. In 1882 a Federal immigration law
assessed a head tax of fifty cents on every passenger, not a citizen,
coming to the United States, and provided that the States should share
with the Secretary of the Treasury the obligation of its enforcement.
This law inaugurated the policy of selective immigration, as it
excluded convicts, lunatics, idiots, and persons likely to become a
public charge. Three years later, contract laborers were also
excluded.

The unprecedented influx of immigrants now began to arouse public
discussion. Over 788,000 arrived in America during the first year the
new law was in operation. In 1889 both the Senate and the House
appointed standing committees on immigration. The several
investigations which were held culminated in the law of 1891, wherein
the list of ineligibles was extended to include persons suffering from
a loathsome or contagious disease, polygamists, and persons assisted
in coming by others, unless upon special inquiry they were found not
to belong to any of the excluded classes. Thus for the first time the
Federal Government assumed complete control of immigration. Now also
both the great political parties adopted planks in their national
platforms favoring the restriction of immigration. The Republicans
favored "the enactment of more stringent laws and regulations for the
restriction of criminal, pauper, and contract immigration." The
Democrats "heartily" approved "all legislative efforts to prevent the
United States from being used as a dumping ground for the known
criminals and professional paupers of Europe," and they favored the
exclusion of Chinese laborers. They favored, however, the admission of
"industrious and worthy" Europeans.

Selective immigration thus became a political issue in 1892, partly
under the stimulus of labor unions, which feared an over-supply of
labor, and partly because of the growing popular belief that many
undesirable foreigners were entering the country. No adequate and just
criteria for any process of selection have been discovered. In 1896
Senator Lodge introduced an immigration bill, which contained the
famous literacy test, excluding all persons between fourteen and sixty
years of age "who cannot both read and write the English language or
some other language." The bill was simultaneously introduced into the
House of Representatives by McCall of Massachusetts. The debate on
this measure marks a new departure in immigration policy. A senatorial
inquiry made among the States in the preceding year had disclosed a
universal preference for immigrants from northern Europe. Moreover, a
number of States through their governors, had declared that further
immigration was not desired immediately; and the opinion prevailed
that the great influx from southeastern Europe should be checked.
Fortified by such solidarity of sentiment, Congress passed the Lodge
bill with certain amendments. President Cleveland, however, returned
it with a strong veto message on March 2, 1897. He could not concur
in so radical a departure from the traditional liberal policy of the
Government; and he believed the literacy test so artificial that it
was more rational "to admit a hundred thousand immigrants who, though
unable to read and write, seek among us only a home and opportunity to
work, than to admit one of those unruly agitators and enemies of
governmental control who can not only read and write, but delights in
arousing by inflammatory speech the illiterate and peacefully inclined
to discontent and tumult." The House passed the bill over the
President's veto, but the Senate took no further action.

In 1898 the Industrial Commission was empowered "to investigate
questions pertaining to immigration" and presented a report which
prepared the way for the immigration law of 1903, approved on the 3rd
of March. This law, which was based upon a careful preliminary
inquiry, may be called the first comprehensive American immigration
statute. It perfected the administrative machinery, raised the head
tax, and multiplied the vigilance of the Government against evasions
by the excluded classes. Anarchists and prostitutes were added to the
list of excluded persons. The literacy test was inserted by the House
but was rejected by the Senate.

This law, however, did not allay the demand for a more stringent
restriction of immigration. A few persons believed in stopping
immigration entirely for a period of years. Others would limit the
number of immigrants that should be permitted to enter every year. But
it was felt throughout the country that such arbitrary checks would be
merely quantitative, not qualitative, and that undesirable foreigners
should be denied admission, no matter what country they hailed from. A
notable immigration conference which was called by the National Civic
Federation in December, 1905, and which represented all manner of
public bodies, recommended the "exclusion of persons of enfeebled
vitality" and proposed "a preliminary inspection of intending
immigrants before they embark." President Roosevelt laid the whole
matter before Congress in several vigorous messages in 1906 and 1907.
He pointed to the fact that

In the year ending June 30, 1905, there came to the United
States 1,026,000 alien immigrants. In other words, in the
single year ... there came ... a greater number of people
than came here during the one hundred and sixty-nine years of
our colonial life. ... It is clearly shown in the report of
the Commissioner General of Immigration that, while much of
this enormous immigration is undoubtedly healthy and natural
... a considerable proportion of it, probably a very large
proportion, including most of the undesirable class, does not
come here of its own initiative but because of the activity
of the agents of the great transportation companies.... The
prime need is to keep out all immigrants who will not make
good American citizens.

In consonance with this spirit, the law of 1907 was passed. It
increased the head tax to four dollars and provided rigid scrutiny
over the transportation companies. The excluded classes of immigrants
were minutely defined, and the powers and duties of the Commissioner
General of Immigration were very considerably enlarged. The act also
created the Immigration Commission, consisting of three Senators,
three members of the House, and three persons appointed by the
President, for making "full inquiry, examination, and investigation
... into the subject of immigration." Endowed with plenary power, this
commission made a comprehensive investigation of the whole question.
The President was authorized to "send special commissioners to any
foreign country for the purpose of regulating by international
agreement ... the immigration of aliens to the United States."

Here at last is congressional recognition of the fact that immigration
is no longer merely a domestic question, but that it has, through
modern economic conditions, become one of serious international
import. No treaties have been perfected under this authority. The
question, however, received serious attention in 1909 when Lieutenant
Joseph Petrosino of the New York police was murdered in Sicily by
banditti, whither he had pursued a Black Hand criminal from the East
Side.

In the meantime many measures for restricting immigration were
suggested in Congress. Of these, the literacy test met with the most
favor. Three times in recent years Congress enacted it into law, and
each time it was returned with executive disapproval: President Taft
vetoed the provision in 1913, and President Wilson vetoed the acts of
1915 and 1917. In his last veto message on January 29, 1917, President
Wilson said that "the literacy test ... is not a test of character, of
quality, or of personal fitness, but would operate in most cases
merely as a penalty for lack of opportunity in the country from which
the alien seeking admission came."

Congress, however, promptly passed the bill over the President's
objections, and so twenty years after President Cleveland's veto of
the Lodge Bill, the literacy test became the standard of fitness for
immigrant admission into the United States.[52] The law excludes all
aliens over sixteen years of age who are physically capable of reading
and yet who cannot read. They are required to read "not less than
thirty or more than eighty words in ordinary use" in the English
language or some other language or dialect. Aliens who seek admission
because of religious persecution, and certain relatives of citizens or
of admissible aliens, are exempted.

The debate upon this law disclosed the transformation that has come
over the nation in its attitude towards the alien. Exclusion was the
dominant word. Senator Reed of Missouri wished to exclude African
immigrants; the Pacific coast Representatives insisted upon exclusion
of Asiatics, in the face of serious admonitions of the Secretary of
State that such a course would cause international friction; the labor
members were scornful in their denunciation of "the pauper and
criminal classes" of Europe. The traditional liberal sympathies of the
American people found but few champions, so completely had the change
been wrought in the thirty years since the Federal Government assumed
control of immigration.

By these tokens the days of unlimited freedom in migration are
numbered. Nations are beginning to realize that immigration is but the
obverse of emigration. Its dual character constitutes a problem
requiring delicate international readjustments. Moreover, the
countries released to a new life and those quickened to a new
industrialism by the Great War will need to employ all their muscle
and talents at home.

It is an inspiring drama of colonization that has been enacted on this
continent in a relatively short period. Its like was never witnessed
before and can never be witnessed again. Thirty-three nationalities
were represented in the significant group of American pilgrims that
gathered at Mount Vernon on July 4, 1918, to place garlands of native
flowers upon the tomb of Washington and to pledge their honor and
loyalty to the nation of their adoption. This event is symbolic of the
great fact that the United States is, after all, a nation of
immigrants, among whom the word foreigner is descriptive of an
attitude of mind rather than of a place of birth.


FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 50: Congress has on several occasions granted aid for
specific colonies or groups of immigrants.]

[Footnote 51: Henderson et al. _vs_. The Mayor of New York City et al.
92 U.S., 259.]

[Footnote 52: The new act took effect May 1, 1917.]




BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE


GENERAL HISTORIES

EDWARD CHANNING, _History of the United States_, 4 vols. (1905). Vol.
II. Chapter XIV contains a fascinating account of "The Coming of the
Foreigner."

John Fiske, _Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America_, 2 vols. (1899).
The story of "The Migration of the Sects" is charmingly told.

John B. McMaster, _History of the People of the United States_, 8
vols. (1883-1913). Scattered throughout the eight volumes are copious
accounts of the coming of immigrants, from the year of American
independence to the Civil War. The great German and Irish inundations
are dealt with in volumes VI and VII.

J.H. Latané, _America as a World Power_ (1907). Chapter XVII gives a
concise summary of immigration for the years 1880-1907.


WORKS ON IMMIGRATION

_Reports of the Immigration Commission, appointed under the
Congressional Act of Feb. 20, 1907_. 42 vols. (1911). This is by far
the most exhaustive study that has been made of the immigration
question. It embraces a wide range of details, especially upon the
economic and sociological aspects of the problem.

Census Bureau, _A Century of Population Growth from the First Census
of the United States to the Twelfth, 1790-1900_ (1909). The best
analysis of the population of the United States. It contains a number
of chapters on the population at the time of the First Census in 1790.

John R. Commons, _Races and Immigrants in America_ (1907).

Prescott F. Hall, _Immigration and its Effects upon the United States_
(1906).

Henry P. Fairchild, _Immigration, a World Movement and its American
Significance_ (1913). A good historical survey of immigration as well
as a suggestive discussion of its sociological and economic bearings.

Jeremiah W. Jenks and W. Jett Lauck, _The Immigration Problem_ (1913).
A summary of the Report of the Immigration Commission.

Peter Roberts, _The New Immigration_ (1912). A discussion of the
recent influx from Southeastern Europe.

E.A. Ross, _The Old World in the New_ (1914) contains some refreshing
racial characteristics.

Richmond Mayo-Smith, _Emigration and Immigration_ (1890). This is one
of the oldest American works on the subject and remains the best
scientific discussion of the sociological and economic aspects of
immigration.

Edward A. Steiner, _On the Trail of the Immigrant_ (1906). A popular
and sympathetic account of the new immigration.


THE NEGRO

B.G. Brawley, _A Short History of the American Negro_ (1913).

W.E.B. Du Bois, _The Negro_ (1915). A small well-written volume, with
a useful bibliography and an illuminating chapter on the negro in the
United States; also, by the same author, _Suppression of the African
Slave Trade_ (1896).

Carter G. Woodson, _A Century of Negro Migration_ (1918).

J.R. Spears, _The American Slave Trade_ (1900).

A.H. Stone, _Studies in the American Race Problem_ (1908). Contains
several of Walter F. Wilcox's valuable statistical studies on this
subject.

J.A. Tillinghast, _The Negro in Africa and America_ (1902) contains a
suggestive comparison of negro life in Africa and America.


SPECIAL GROUPS

Kendrick C. Babcock, _The Scandinavian Element in the United States_
(1914). The best treatise on this subject.

Emily Greene Balch, _Our Slavic Fellow Citizens_ (1910). A
comprehensive study of the Slav in America.

J.M. Campbell, _A History of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick_ (1892).

Mary Roberts Coolidge, _Chinese Immigration_ (1909). A sympathetic and
detailed account of the Chinaman's experience in America.

A.B. Faust, _The German Element in the United States_ 2 vols. (1909).
Like some other books written to prove the vast influence of certain
elements of the population, this work is not modest in its claims.

Henry Jones Ford, _The Scotch-Irish in America_ (1915).

Lucian J. Fosdick, _The French Blood in America_ (1906). Devoted
principally to the Huguenot exiles and their descendants.

Charles A. Hanna, _The Scotch-Irish, or the Scot in North Britain,
North Ireland, and North America_. 2 vols. (1902).

Eliot Lord, John J.D. Trevor, and Samuel J. Barrows, _The Italian in
America_ (1905).

T. D'Arcy McGee, _History of the Irish Settlers in North America_
(1852).

O.N. Nelson, _History of the Scandinavians and Successful
Scandinavians in the United States_, 2 vols. (1900).

J.G. Rosengarten, _French Colonists and Exiles in the United States_
(1907). Contains an interesting bibliography of French writings on
early American conditions.


UTOPIAS

J.A. Bole, _The Harmony Society_ (1904). Besides a concise history of
the Rappists, this volume contains many letters and documents
illustrative of their customs and business methods.

W.A. Hinds, _American Communities and Cooperative Colonies_. (2d
revision 1908.) A useful summary based on personal observations.

G.B. Lockwood, _The New Harmony Communities_ (1902). It contains a
detailed description of Owen's experiment and interesting details of
the Rappists during their sojourn in Indiana.

M.A. Mikkelsen, _The Bishop Hill Colony, A Religious Communistic
Settlement in Henry County, Illinois_ (1892).

Charles Nordhoff, _The Communistic Societies of the United States_
(1875). A description of communities visited by the author.

J.H. Noyes, _History of American Socialisms_ (1870).

W.R. Perkins, _History of the Amana Society or Community of True
Inspiration_ (1891).

E.O. Randall, _History of the Zoar Society_ (2d ed. 1900).

Bertha M. Shambaugh, _Amana, the Community of True Inspiration_ (1908)
gives many interesting details.

Albert Shaw, _Icaria, a Chapter in the History of Communism_ (1884). A
brilliant account.




INDEX

A.P.A., _see_ American Protective Association

Acadia, French in, 18

Adams, J.Q., and Owen, 94

Afghans in United States, 207

Africans, Reed favors exclusion of, 232;
_see also_ Negroes

Alabama admitted as State (1819), 33

Albany, Shakers settle near, 91;
Irish in, 113

Alien and Sedition laws (1798), 221

Amana, 82-84

America, cosmopolitan character, 19-20;
American stock, 21 _et seq._;
origin of name, 21-22;
now applied to United States, 22;
Shakers confined to, 92;
"America for Americans," 114;
_see also_ United States

_American Celt_, McGee establishes, 120 (note)

American Missionary Association, work with negroes, 58

American party, 114;
_see also_ Know-Nothing party

American Protective Association, 221-22

Amish, 68 (note)

Anabaptists in Manhattan, 17

Ancient Order of Hibernians, 117

Angell, J.B., on commission to negotiate treaty with China, 198

Antwerp, German emigrants embark at, 134

Arkansas, frontiersmen in, 36;
chosen as site by Giessener Gesellschaft, 136;
Italians in, 211;
Slavs in, 213

Armenians, 184;
as laborers, 122;
at Granite City (Ill.), 217

Arthur, C.A., and Chinese exclusion act, 199

Asiatics, Pacific coast favors exclusion of, 232;
_see also_ Orientals

Australia deflects migration to United States, 150


Babcock, K.C., _The Scandinavian Element in the United States_, quoted, 158

Balch, E.G., _Our Slavic Fellow Citizens_, quoted, 164-65;
cited, 167 (note), 174

Baltimore, Ephrata draws pupils from, 71;
Irish immigrant association, 109;
Irish in, 113;
Germans in, 127;
Italians in, 180;
condition of immigrants landing in, 224

Bancroft, George, estimates number of slaves, 47

Barlow, Joel, 151

Bäumeler, _see_ Bimeler

Bayard, Nicholas, 16

Beissel, Conrad (or Beizel, or Peysel), 70, 71

Belgians in Charleroi (Penn.), 217

Berkshires, Germans in, 127

Bethlehem, communistic colony, 72

Bimeler, Joseph (or Bäumeler), 78-79

Bishop Hill Colony, 85-89

Black Hand, 182

"Boat Load of Knowledge," 94

Bogart, E.L., _Economic History of the United States_, cited, 52 (note)

Bohemians, in United States, 159-60, 165-66;
as North Slavs, 164;
on the prairies, 213;
on Pacific slope, 213

Boston, immigrants from Ireland (1714-20), 11;
French in, 16;
Irish in, 108, 113;
Germans in, 127;
Italians in, 180;
condition of immigrants landing in, 224

Boudinot, Elias, 16

Bowdoin, James, 16

Bremen, German emigrants embark at, 134

Bremer, Frederika, quoted, 155

Brisbane, Arthur, _Social Destiny of Man_, 96

Brook Farm, 97

Bryan, W.J., Secretary of State, and California Alien Land Act, 206

Bryan (Tex.) Italian colony, 211

Buffalo, Inspirationists near, 81;
Irish in, 113;
Germans in, 135;
Poles in, 167 (note)

Bulgarians, as South Slavs, 164;
in United States, 170;
in Granite City (Ill.), 170, 217

Burlingame, Anson, 195

Burlingame treaty, 195-96, 197

_Burschenschaften_, 131

Butler County (Penn.), Harmonists in, 73

Butte, Bulgarians in, 170


Cabet, Étienne, 97-98, 99, 100;
_Voyage en Icarie_, 98;
_Le Populaire_, 98

Cabinet, President's, majority of members from American stock, 42

Cabot, John, 2

Cabot, Sebastian, 2

Cahokia, French settlement, 152

California, frontiersmen in, 36, 37;
Icaria-Speranza community, 101;


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14

Online LibrarySamuel P. OrthOur Foreigners A Chronicle of Americans in the Making → online text (page 12 of 14)