Page images
PDF
EPUB

war may have on its extent and character. The war has had little or no apparent effect on the situation so far as immigration from the Orient is concerned, but this subject is nevertheless a very interesting one, and accordingiy the development and present status of the movement from China, Japan, and other parts of Asia are discussed at some length. Immigration from Canada, Mexico, and other countries also is considered.

THE EUROPEAN SITUATION.

During the century for which records of our immigration are available approximately 89 per cent of the movement came from Europe; 2.4 per cent from Asia, and somewhat less than 9 per cent from other sources. The proportion of Europeans varied somewhat at different periods, but as a rule it was more than 90 per cent of the total. Numerically, therefore, Europe was, up to the outbreak of the war, by far the most prolific source of our immigration, and undoubtedly its preponderance in that respect will be resumed when normal conditions are again established.

The history of European immigration is a familiar one, but as a basis for what follows, a brief review of the extent and character of that unprecedented movement will not be out of place here.

As already stated, nearly 90 per cent of all our immigration has come from Europe, which means in round numbers approximately 30,000,000 souls during the past century. The United Kingdom furnished the largest number, approximately 8,200,000, of whom nearly 4,350,000 came from Ireland. Germany followed with nearly 5,500,000 immigrants, and then come Italy, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries in the order named. Prior to 1870 nearly all our European immigrants came from northern and western nations, which is to say, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. I'p to that time, in fact, approximately 6,648,000 came from such sources, compared with less than 70,000 from other European countries, comprising Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, Russia, Spain, and Turkey in Europe. Immigration from Asiatic Turkey is also included with the latter, as the peoples coming from that source are racially more closely related to some of the southeastern Europeans than they are to other Asiatic races who have come to this country from the Far East. In what follows, therefore, immigration from Turkey in Asia is included in southern and eastern European immigration without so specifying in

In the decade 1871-1880, when in round_numbers 2,071,000 immigrants came from northern and western Europe, the number from southern and eastern countries had increased to about 201,000. In the next decade, 1881-1890, the numbers admitted from these sources were 3,779,000 and 960,000, respectively. This is the last decade in which immigration from the older sources was in the majority, for in the 10 years 1891-1900, the northern and western countries sent 1,644,000 compared with a southern and eastern European contribution of 1,942,000. A much greater change, however, is shown in the records of the next decade (1901-1910) when

each case.

6,300,000 came from the new sources and only 1,911,000 from the old, and these proportions continued up to the outbreak of the war in 1914.

It is a commonly known fact that during the years when this change was taking place in the immigrant tide the industrial life of the United States was also revolutionized, and that southern and eastern European immigrants played an important part in that unparalleled development. In fact, the new stream of immigration from its beginning has been essentially a more or less temporary movement to industrial centers and the cities, and although the immigrants came mostly from the farms of Europe, comparatively few of them have shown an inclination to go to the land here, either on arrival or afterwards. On the contrary, the old immigration came during a period when agricultural development was in the ascendency; was distributed to nearly every part of the country; went into all branches of industry, and as a rule the immigrants became permanent home makers.

In another section of this report there is a brief review of our immigration during the past 100 years, and in that connection the development of our laws upon the subject is explained. It is there pointed out that about 30 more or less distinct classes of aliens are now debarred from the country. This list includes all classes of physical and mental defectives, moral delinquents, anarchists, laborers coming under contract, and finally, under the new act, illiterates; but the law does not limit the number who can come provided they meet the prescribed tests. Therefore, unless immigration is actually restricted by the United States or emigration restricted or forbidden by European countries, the extent of the movement in the future, as in the past, will depend very largely on whether the drawing power of this country continues to be greater than the holding power of Europe.

How the situation will be affected as a result of war is problematical, and the history of our past immigration affords no really substantial criterion as a basis for speculation. We have no statistical data prior to 1820 which would make possible a survey of the effect the Napoleonic wars and our second war with England may have had on immigration, but it is said that following 1815 there was a sudden influx which reached the then unprecedented total of 17,000 in 1817, and it is worthy of note that most of these came from a nation with which we had just been at war. On the other hand, immigration decreased following the Crimean War, but this is readily attributable to conditions in the United States rather than to any influence that that far-away war may have had on the sources from which we were then drawing immigrants.

The Prussian and Austrian war against Denmark and the strife between Prussia and Austria which followed were of brief duration, but these, with the subsequent Franco-Prussian war, and the final events in Italy's struggle for national unification created a disturbed condition in Europe which affords at least some grounds for comparison with the present situation. The events alluded to occurred during the period 1864-1871, so that the time covered was somewhat longer than in the case of the present war. The countries directly affected were Austria, Germany, France, Italy, and Denmark, and the following compilation will show the trend of immigration from such sources during the disturbed period and following it:

Immigration from countries named, by years.

[blocks in formation]

It must be confessed that there is comparatively little in the foregoing figures which can be confidently pointed to as indicating the effect the wars of 1864-1871 may have had on immigration. In the first place, the period began toward the close of our own war between the States, which had stemmed the tide of European immigration for several years, and a subsequent increase in the influx from former sources was only natural. It is also true that during the financial and industrial crisis of the seventies, immigration from all of the countries, except Austria-Hungary, fell away, and, except in the case of France, increased sharply when favorable conditions prevailed again in the United States. However, the figures reveal some interesting and possibly significant facts.

Immigration from Germany, or rather from the loosely confederated States then called Germany, had assumed great proportions following the revolution of 1848, reaching a total of 215,000 in 1854; but it feil to 72,000 in the following year and was even much smaller until the close of our Civil War. It reached a total of 131,000 in 1869 and of 118,000 in 1870; dropped to 82,500 in the war year of 1871 but immediately rose to 140,000 in the following year and to 150,000 in 1873. Turning to France, it will be noted that from an average of 3,600 immigrants in the three years 1869–1871 the influx rose to an annual average of 11,250 in the three years following the conflict. These figures suggest that, in this instance at least, war, regardless of victory or defeat, may have been an actual incentive to immigration.

Previous to the period under consideration the Italian States had never sent us more than a handful of immigrants in any year, but it may be noted that as soon as the unity of Italy was fully accomplished the flow from that country began to increase, and this increase continued, until at the outbreak of the war it was one of the chief sources of our immigration. Thus, Italy affords another example where victory was followed by a great exodus of the victors. But it will also be noted that Austria, which had suffered a severe defeat at the hands of Prussia in 1866 and lost Venezia to Italy, as she had lost other Provinces a few years previously, followed the example of victorious Italy in the matter of emigration, for the close of the disturbed period under consideration witnessed the beginning of a mighty stream of overseas emigration from the dual empire which continued undiminished up to the beginning of the world conflict.

The movement from Denmark increased during the late sixties and early seventies, declined during our period of depression, and rose again in the eighties, but this was true of all Scandinavian immigration, and presumably it was little influenced by the war with Prussia and Austria in 1864.

Coming now to the present situation, it may be stated that at the outbreak of the World War our immigration from Italy, AustriaHungary, and Russia, not to mention Greece, the Balkans, and Asiatic "Turkey, had reached a stage which closely corresponded with the influx from Germany in 1871. That is to say, the movement from those countries was at flood tide and promised so to continue for years to come. Consequently, if history repeats itself, we may reasonably expect a repetition of the German experience unless, of course, artificial barriers are erected either by the countries themselves or by the United States. There is, however, a highly important factor which presumably affected German immigration only to alimited degree, but now which must be taken into account, and that is the political state in which central and eastern Europe finds itself as a result of the war. This factor may have a powerful influence on future immigration from such sources, including even Germany itself.

Economic pressure and political unrest and oppression are all potent promotors of emigration. The first, of course, accounts for the greater part of the enormous movement from Europe to the New World, but the effect of the German revolution of 1848, and other political disturbances, in this regard must not be overlooked, nor can we forget that oppression, as well as economic causes, was behind the great Jewish influx from Russia and Roumania. At the present time disturbed economic and political conditions both prevail in intensified form over a great part of Europe, instead of only locally as in the past.

The situation in the various countries of Europe, as the bureau views it, may be briefly stated.

As already pointed out, the first extensive immigration from Germany was largely due to political causes, while the great overseas movement from that country following the Franco-Prussian War was essentially economic, and practically ceased with the stabilization of conditions in that respect. But the close of the war finds the former empire in the midst of a crisis which involves both of these factors, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that they will operate to reestablish Germany in the category of immigrant furnishing nations. On the other hand, Germany lost upward of 2,000,000 men in the war, a loss which has appreciably decimated the age and occupational groups from which most immigration springs. Moreover, it is not impossible that the classes which are most prone to emigrate may see hope for themselves and their children in the changed political status of the Fatherland and willingly endure the incidental hardships of reconstruction on that account. But it is just as reasonable to suppose that there are many, perhaps a multitude, of another class in Germany, including army and

[ocr errors]

navy officers, landowners, small capitalists, and others, upon whom the burden of changed conditions will fall so heavily that they will resort to emigration for relief, while still others will be similarly influenced by the new political status in the country. The lastmentioned classes may be deterred from emigrating by reason of inability to transfer material possessions from Germany, but on the whole the bureau believes there will be an increased, and perhaps a greatly increased, emigration from that source, and it also believes that the tide will largely set toward the United States, just as it did in earlier days.

The situation in what was once Austria-Hungary is bewilderingly complicated, and it is difficult to estimate what the effect on immigration may be. In 1914—and that year was fairly typical of immigration from Austria-Hungary in previous years—as many as 10 races or peoples each contributed largely to the 244,000 who came from that Empire. These included, in round numbers, 49,000 Poles, 43,700 Magyars, 35,000 Croatians and Slovenians, 32,000 Ruthenians, 29,000 Germans, 25,300 Slovaks, 22,000 Roumanians, 20,400 Hebrews, and 9,300 Bohemians and Moravians. Now the former Polish population, and the Jews as well, are mostly in reconstructed Poland; the Bohemians, Moravians, and Slovaks are in Czecho-Slovakia; the Croatians and Slovenians are largely transferred to other countries, and presumably most of the Roumanians in Hungary and the Ruthenians will also come under changed sovereignty. Therefore the population of the two countries is largely reduced to Germans and Magyars, the latter being the native race of Hungary proper. There are still a good many Jews in both countries, as well as remnants of other peoples, but in Austria the Germans and in Hungary the Magyars are overwhelmingly predominant. There is a considerable German element in Hungary's population, however, and in fact the Germans in our Austro-Hungarian immigration have come largely from Hungary in recent years—86,000 out of a total of 122,000 in the five years 1910–1914.

Although the boundaries of the Austria of the future are not definitely determined at this writing, population, as already stated, will be predominantly German, and the above figures indicate that they, like the Germans of the Fatherland, have not emigrated to the United States in large numbers in recent years. If current reports may be accepted, however, the war has left Austria in a most distressing economic condition, and a people so placed almost invariably seeks relief through emigration. * On the other hand, a large part of the population of Austria is now in the single city of Vienna, and, as a rule, the dwellers in great cities have not emigrated. As a matter of fact, the population of such cities is made up largely of people who went there from the country or smaller towns in preference to emigrating to another land. However, if Vienna, under the new order of things, is to be deprived of its former commanding commercial position in central and southeastern Europe, it may be expected that its population in large numbers will seek refuge elsewhere, but whether the drift will be toward the United States or to other European countries is uncertain; although it seems reasonable to expect that, in common with the rural peoples, these city dwellers may turn to the New World as a refuge. Political developments may also have an important effect on emigration

« PreviousContinue »