Page images
PDF
EPUB

immigrant may be illustrated by the following stanzas, by Bryant and Aldrich respectively:

“There's freedom at thy gates and rest
For earth's down-trodden and opprest,
A shelter for the hunted head,
For the starved laborer toil and bread."

“O Liberty, white Goddess! is it well
To leave the gates unguarded? On thy breast
Fold Sorrow's children, soothe the hurts of fate,
Lift the down-trodden, but with hands of steel
Stay those who to thy sacred portals come
To waste the gifts of freedom.”

Neither of these attitudes, however, is very largely pertinent to our present problem. The European countries are now, for the most part, as democratic as ours; there is little oppression from which we need to succor them. There is poverty, partly the result of ignorance, largely now the result of the War. But there is much work to be done over there, hands are needed; to bring millions of the ablest-bodied over here is to rob Europe of the strength that she needs just now more than we.

On the other hand, there are few who come to these shores with any destructive or anti-social intent. Almost all of our immigrants come eagerly, ready to love and serve America, happy at the prospect of being Americans. All they need is the right treatment to make them patriotic and useful citizens. If other results accrue it is more apt to be our fault than theirs.

The plan of restricting the number of immigrants to be admitted from any race or people annually to a small percentage of the people of that race already here, is an excellent plan. It rests on the sound observation that immigrants are for the most part received into an environment of their own former compatriots. Too many newcomers cannot be assimilated; they remain foreigners in our midst and produce, temporarily, the sort of undesirable social situation that the presence of unassimilable races permanently produces. Moreover, this plan, without discriminating against any particular race, and so offending national susceptibilities, automatically checks the immigration from those peoples that are most alien to our existing American stock.

But in addition to our immigration laws, we must cultivate the temper of fair-mindedness and hospitality toward newcomers. Aliens in our land should be regarded as guests of the nation, and should be treated as courteously as we wish our own compatriots to be treated when they reside abroad. Nothing is more offensively un-American than the epithets such as “dago," "sheeny," and the like that are so commonly applied to these foreigners. To any who still have a contemptuous attitude such as is expressed by these words we should recommend the reading of Robert Haven Schauffler's noble poem, entitled Scum oʻthe Earth. Or the words which a school-principal used in rebuking some pupils for discourtesy to foreigners: "I want you boys and girls, especially those that go to the Catholic Church, always to remember that the Pope is a dago; and you who don't go to the Catholic Church might bear in mind that America was discovered by a dago. And I don't want any one of you to forget that Jesus himself was a sheeny.” An Irish believer in Equality used to say, "One man

“ is as good as another-if not better!" The true American spirit is to say that these immigrants who come to us to live with us, work for us, share our common life, are as good as weif not better. America has been made by such as they-men who were poor, ignorant, hard-working, but full of energy and hope. Our fathers were probably such as theyof another race and speech, perhaps, with other ideas and traditions behind them, but essentially the same in their belief in progress and democracy, in liberty and equality for all. The glory and hope of America lies in the fusion of races here going on; from that blending of types, if accelerated by mutual kindness and forbearance and understanding, there may spring a race, the American race of the future, with a destiny beyond that of any race the world has yet known.

SUGGESTED READINGS

Booker Washington, Up from Slavery.
W. E. B. Du Bois, Darkwater; The Souls of Black Folk.
P. L. Haworth, America in Ferment, Chap. V.
J. M. Mecklin, Democracy and Race Friction.
H. J. Seligmann, The Negro Faces America.
Stephen Graham, The Soul of John Brown.
H. M. F. H. Jackson, A Century of Dishonor.
Frances Kellor, Immigration and the Future.
H. G. Wells, The Future in America, Chap. IX.
Mary Antin, They Who Knock at Our Gates.
T. S. Adams and H. L. Sumner, Labor Problems, Chap. III.
Jenks and Lauck, The Immigration Problem.
H. P. Fairchild, Immigration.
E. A. Steiner, The Immigrant Tide; On the Trail of the

Immigrant.
F. J. Warne, The Immigrant Invasion.
C. S. Cooper, American Ideals, Chap. VIII.
D. S. Lescohier, in Atlantic Monthly, vol. 123, p. 483.
W. E. Weyl, in Harper's Magazine, vol. 129, p. 615. (Reprinted,

abridged, in Fulton, op. cit., p. 47.)

CHAPTER X

EDUCATION FOR ALL

Of all the aspects of equality in America there is none in which we have taken more pride than in our universal free education. Our educational system is crude as yet, and only in the making. But America has always believed passionately in education. Our rich men have vied with one another in founding colleges and universities, poor men have sacrificed much that their children might have schooling. Nearly a century ago Cobden wrote, “The universality of education in the United States is probably more calculated than all other things to accelerate their progress towards a superior rank of civilization and power.”

It has been said that the typical American phrase is, “I want to know!" Certainly the typical Ameri- . can does want to know, believes, indeed, in what a recent essayist has called “the moral obligation to be intelligent.” He believes in the educability of common men, and in the importance for the common welfare that the common man be educated. Washington, in his Farewell Address, bade his countrymen promote, "as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."

It is, indeed, true that the mistakes of democracy have always been due, essentially, to the ignorance of the people, the lack of a widespread enlightenment on political and social matters. The one source of fear for the Republic is the apprehension lest our people are not intelligent and well-informed enough to meet successfully the exigencies that may arise. The answer of America to these fears must be, "we will make the people intelligent and well-informed.” The motto graven on the exterior of the Boston Public Library should be stamped upon our hearts: "The Commonwealth requires the education of the people as the safeguard of order and liberty."

In purely financial terms, education pays. The boy who stays in school until he is eighteen has received, on the average, by the time he is twenty-five, two thousand dollars more than the boy who left school at fourteen, and is earning at twenty-five, nearly a thousand dollars a year more. From this age onward his salary is likely to rise still more rapidly, while that of the boy who left school at fourteen is likely to rise but little.

A similar ratio holds between community-earnings and the general education. Where education is longest and most widespread, there is industrial efficiency and national wealth. The backwardness of Russia, of Turkey, of Mexico is fundamentally due to lack of education. In our own country the productivity and wealth of our several States is in a pretty constant ratio to the amount of schooling of their inhabitants. For example, the average schooling given, some years ago, in Massachusetts was about seven years, and the average daily productiveness of the citizens of that State was eighty-five cents. For Tennessee in the same year the average schooling was

« PreviousContinue »