A Stake in the Land
by Peter Alexander Speek
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3. Municipalization or communalization; land owned by cities and communities in the rural districts.

4. Nobody's ownership; free to all, except that the public takes the ground value (irrespective of improvements) through the single tax, from the land users, which practically means a disguised form of public ownership, or at least a condition very near it.

C. Methods of use:

1. Parceling the public land into homesteads of one-family size, and reselling these to the cultivators on the basis of individual fee simple.

2. Giving the homesteads to cultivators on the basis of perpetual leasehold.

3. Public cultivation, either direct or through communes or co-operative associations.

Comparing these programs one with another and with the existing conditions, one reaches the following conclusions: All the programs tend to treat the land problem merely as a question of ownership. Each favors a specific form of ownership almost as an all-inclusive remedy for defects in social relations so far as they depend upon land cultivation and land use. The argument is based upon reasoning, a mere logical calculation, and on what the authors of the program desire. The existing conditions and tendencies are much more varied and complex than they seem to appear to the land reformers.

First, there is nothing new or untried in these programs, for almost all the advocated forms of land ownership are already existing side by side. It seems that no one single form is able to remedy the defects in the land situation. We have in this country national (Federal), provincial (state), and municipal or communal ownership, with small-scale private ownership predominating. We also have special land taxation, as, for instance, in certain cities that tax unimproved land higher than improved land. These existing forms of land ownership are competing with one another. The forms which allow more efficient cultivation, result in greater social stability, and are based on social justice will be the winners in the march of the economic and social progress of the country.

The bold claim of Marxian or German Socialism that large private land ownership, erroneously identified with cultivation on a large scale, is going to prevail through absorption of small private land ownership is rapidly losing ground. The small landowners are able to enjoy, through co-operation, all the technical advantages of large-scale cultivation, retaining as well the advantages resulting from individual initiative and efficiency. There is a marked movement toward co-operation among the small farmers the world over. In Denmark it has developed to the highest degree.

Second, mere land ownership is only a part, though a vital part, of the problem. Many other important things have to be considered.

If a man has land, but lacks capital or credit, he is unable to make economic use of his land. If he has both land and capital, or credit, or in other terms purchasing power, but lacks access to sources of supply in which to buy seeds, breeding stock, and implements, he still is unable to make use of his land. If he has at hand all the needed implements, seeds, and stock, but lacks knowledge and experience in farming, he might entirely fail in his enterprise. Even if he possesses the necessary knowledge and produces grain, milk, beef, and other agricultural products, he must have a market for his products, be it a domestic or an international market. This involves transportation facilities, trade organization and regulation, tariff, and other forms of organized international relationships, economic and political.

Moreover, land cultivation requires social stability, security, and order, for an investment in land improvements must wait long for its returns. If a man does not know who is going to harvest his fields, or who is going to get the product of his toil, he will be disinclined to sow anything. A striking illustration of such a state is the case of the western provinces of the Russian Empire, where the battle lines for several years were surging back and forth. First the Russian monarchy collected the farm products, then came the Germans, then came the civil warfare. When there is no security for a land cultivator, neither for his products nor his very life itself, there can be no production. There is land enough and there are cultivators enough, but the population starves because of unsettled political and international conditions.


In considering the land situation as it exists, it is true that the ownership of land or, rather, the access to land, is of primary importance. The question arises, Is there enough land in the United States for all citizens who desire to become cultivators?

The Secretary of the Interior, Mr. Lane, states[17] that more than 15,000,000 acres of irrigable lands remain in the hands of the United States government. There are between 70,000,000 and 80,000,000 acres of swamp and overflowed lands in the United States of which about 60,000,000 acres can be reclaimed for agricultural purposes, and there are about 200,000,000 acres of cut-over or logged-off lands which are suitable for agricultural development.

Although it might be questioned how much of these unused lands are economically available under normal conditions—for no rigid investigation has been made—still the fact remains that unused lands—swamps and deserts, cut-over and burned-over lands—are being continually improved and taken under cultivation by private and public effort. Not one land improvement and colonization company visited by the writer complained of lack of land. All the companies seemed to want more settlers and more credit. This fact indicates that there is economically available land in our country, and probably plenty of it, for a normal process of reclamation and colonization.


In the field investigation, the main questions of immigrants desiring to settle on land seemed to be where to find land of the "right kind," and how, in acquiring it, to avoid being cheated by private land sellers. The questions as to whether there was land available and what its price was were of minor importance. In many cases the immigrants had been employed in war industries and had saved money enough to buy a farm, but they were unable to decide where to settle and what kind of land to buy because they feared land sellers. Their experience with these agents had awakened an almost universal fear of private land dealers.

To facilitate the access to land, the private land-dealing trade must be put upon a higher level. There must be Federal legislation regulating land dealers doing business in two or more states, state legislation for dealers doing business within one state only, and municipal legislation for the land dealers doing business within the city limits only. Through co-operation of these governments uniformity of such legislation can be secured and maintained so far as various local conditions and peculiarities allow.

Such regulative legislation should aim at doing away with misrepresentation and frauds in land dealing. As an effective assistance in the enforcement of the laws all private land dealers should be licensed, interstate dealers by the Federal, state dealers by the state, and city dealers by the city governments. By refusing or recalling licenses a considerable number of land sharks—get-rich-quick charlatans in the real-estate business—can be sifted out of the trade and the necessary confidence on the part of land seekers can be secured.

According to a report made in 1916 by the Committee on State Legislation of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, a sentiment was then growing in most parts of the country favoring the enactment of laws for the regulation of real-estate brokerages under state authority. This sentiment is still growing, and the secretary of the association says that realtors in several states continue to introduce bills in their legislatures with the belief that it will be possible to pass them.

In only one state has such a law passed. The state of Wisconsin enacted a law in 1919[18] which provides for the establishment of a state real-estate brokers' board consisting of three members, at least two of whom are real-estate brokers in the state, appointed by the Governor. The Director of Immigration, Department of Agriculture, acts as secretary to the board. The latter issues licenses to the real-estate brokers and salesmen doing business in the state. An annual license fee of ten dollars from a broker and five dollars from a salesman is required. License may be refused or revoked by the board for misstatement in application, for fraud or fraudulent practices, for untrustworthiness or incompetence in real-estate business.

The board receives complaints against any real-estate broker or salesman. It may conduct hearings and investigations, subpoena and compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and production of documents, books and papers. The board shall, from time to time, publish the names of licensed real-estate brokers and salesmen, with information as to when each license expires. The publication shall include the names of those real-estate brokers and salesmen whose licenses have been revoked at any time within one year prior to the time of the issue of publication.

This Wisconsin Real Estate Licensing law has been in operation a year. Mr. B. G. Packer, Director of Immigration, and secretary to the Real Estate Brokers' Board, gave to the writer the following information in regard to the results of the operation of the law so far.

This law requires registration of all real-estate brokers and salesmen doing business in the state. In the past there was no way to tell who they were or where located. The license is good for one year, and thereupon a new application must be made. This gives the board a check on the dealer's operations the preceding year. The board requires him to cite all legal actions arising out of his real-estate business whether he was plaintiff or defendant.

It is a common practice with some dealers to take a judgment note for commission which can be entered up without process and execution levied against the property of the defendants. The defendant can open up the judgment and put in a defense if he can show misrepresentation and fraud. This year, when several applicants applied for new licenses, the board found this condition and the licenses were refused.

The applicant for license must show affirmatively that he is trustworthy and competent. In the past the state took no pains to find this out. The licensing board operates as a poor man's court of redress in transactions arising out of the land business. In the past the purchaser's remedy was a more or less satisfactory suit at law.

The licensing board can make investigations and hold hearings on its own motion. In the past the initiative had to be taken by the party claiming deception.

Last year the board granted licenses to 4,600 brokers and salesmen, denied 20 applications, revoked 2 licenses, and has at present 60 hearings pending on applications for licenses in 1921.

The Wisconsin license law does not reach the owner who has worthless land to unload upon an unsophisticated purchaser. Besides this, the law has other limitations. But nevertheless it is a step ahead.

Pennsylvania, the Southern states, and cities in many parts of the country have required a license fee or an occupation tax from real-estate men, but such laws do not regulate, because, as the above-mentioned report states, "no matter how high the fee, the usual run of licensing or prosecuting official will not use his authority to establish moral standards." Furthermore, "in New York and most Northern and Western states, even the slight check of the occupation tax is absent and there is no formality to be observed in entering our profession by any person, no matter how unreliable, irresponsible, or incapable, and whatever his record."

After agitation covering a period of twelve years, the real-estate brokers of California succeeded in 1917 in having enacted a law for the regulation of real-estate brokerage. In 1918 this law was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, on the ground that insurance men were exempted by the wording of the act and that such exemption made the law discriminatory.

The Real Estate Commissioner of the state gives the following synopsis of the law:

The act "provides for the issuance of licenses to two classes of persons—the broker himself, who, in addition to taking out a license, is required to put up a bond running to the state of California, and the salesman, who is defined as one in the employ of a licensed broker and ... is not required to put up a bond." The act is administered by a Real Estate Commissioner appointed by the Governor. Upon petition to the Real Estate Commissioner appointed by those aggrieved in their dealings with brokers or salesmen, a hearing is provided before the commissioner, and upon proper showing the petitioner may be granted the privilege of suing the broker on his bond.... There is also a provision for the filing of complaints against brokers and salesmen concerning their conduct and, upon investigation, if found guilty, the commissioner is empowered to revoke their licenses. The law provides a heavy penalty for a broker—a fine of $2,000 or a prison sentence of two years—and in the case of corporations, a maximum fine of $5,000. The fees for licenses are, for brokers, $10 per annum, and for salesmen, $2 per annum.

The operation of the law appears to have been extremely successful and to have been heartily indorsed by the public generally and by all the reliable real-estate dealers and salesmen in the state. The Real Estate Commissioner gives the following picture of the results of the law during the eight months it was in force:

1. It gave the realtors faith in each other, each being under bond and licensed by the commissioner with power of revocation in case of violation of the law.

2. It increased the confidence of the public generally in the realty business, for the law afforded the public a ready and inexpensive means of redress in case of wrongdoing.

3. During the eight months, some sixty complaints were filed with the commissioner, and all were adjusted without even a formal hearing up to the time the law was thrown out, March, 1918. Some twenty-five hundred dollars was returned to defrauded purchasers through appeals to the commissioner.

4. The deterrent effect of the law on wrongdoers will never be known, but must have been far-reaching.

5. So satisfactory was the law that the public, the bankers, and especially the realtors, are preparing again to present to the legislature during the winter of 1918-19 a more carefully worded law governing the realty business.

One of the services rendered by the Department of the Real Estate Commissioner was the issue of a directory of licensed real-estate brokers and salesmen in the state. The first copy was published October 1, 1917, and contained about four thousand names, as well as other material such as maps, laws, and legal opinions, designed to be of practical value to all realtors. It was intended that this directory be issued quarterly and be distributed to licensed brokers, with a subscription price to others of one dollar a year. The commissioner regarded this directory bulletin which bound together in fraternalism the real-estate men of the state, as only one of the many possibilities of extending valuable aids through his department to the real-estate profession, and so indirectly to the agricultural industry.

Although there have been attempts in other states to secure legislation, so far they have been unsuccessful. In essentials they have resembled the California law, although differing in details, such as amounts of bonds, fees, and penalties. In Minnesota, several years ago, the State Immigration Commission was instrumental in introducing a land-regulation bill which was killed by the efforts of the land dealers.

In 1914 the Executive Committee of the Real Estate Association of New York submitted for the consideration of the association a bill for the licensing of real-estate brokers and the creation of a real-estate commission. In 1916 a bill similar to this one was introduced in the legislature of the state of New York, but failed of passage. In Texas a bill was approved by the Texas Realty Association, but was not enacted into law. In addition to efforts for legislation in the states there have been national recommendations.

The Committee on State Legislation of the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges in 1913 reported on a bill for the regulation of the real-estate business. The main provisions are as follows:

A State Board on Real Estate Licenses shall be established, consisting of five members, all real-estate men, appointed by the Governor, and having its headquarters in the state capitol. Every person engaged in the real-estate business shall apply for a license to the board. The applicant shall present proof that his standing is above reproach and that his record for honesty and fair dealing is clear. The applicant shall file a satisfactory bond in the amount of $1,000, conditioned on the faithful performance of any undertaking as a real-estate broker, the bond to be renewed with each renewal of the annual license. The fee for the license shall be $10 for each dealer, firm, or corporation, and $2.50 for each salesman, the fees to be, respectively, $5 and $1 after the first year. Licenses shall expire each year. The board shall have power to revoke at any time any license where the holder thereof is guilty of gross misrepresentation in making sales, etc., or of any other conduct which, in the opinion of the board, is opposed to good business morals. The board shall investigate all complaints; it shall have power to subpoena witnesses. Any person violating the act shall be fined not less than the compensation or profit received or agreed to, and not more than four times that amount, or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

The Legislative Committee of the Interstate Realty Association of the Pacific Northwest has proposed a real-estate license law for the state of Washington, the main provisions of which are similar to the others already quoted.

Although there has been no successful state-wide provision, in Portland, Oregon, an ordinance licensing real-estate brokers was approved in 1912, including the salient features of the proposed state laws. Application is made to the city auditors, with proof of the applicant's good standing and square dealing. The Council Committee on licenses has power to revoke or withhold, and penalties are provided for.

As an example of the occupational tax law applying to the real-estate business, the law of the District of Columbia may be mentioned. The District of Columbia (1914) has a law imposing a license tax of $50 per annum on real-estate brokers or agents. The assessor of the District said that the fee was not large enough to restrict character of trade, and that the payment of the fee was the only qualification for a license.


In addition to the need for honest dealing there is everywhere felt the need of bringing farm sellers and buyers together through a public agency. Certain states, in co-operation with the Federal Department of Agriculture, have made provision for doing this. For this purpose an office is created similar to a public employment office. It aims to provide the farm sellers and buyers with more or less reliable information without cost to either side.

In the state of Maryland the Extension Service of the state college, in co-operation with the Federal Department of Agriculture, has worked out a farm-description blank for farm sellers. The blank contains questions in regard to the location of the farm, its size, distance from communication lines, and inhabited places of various sizes and market facilities, its soil, its fences, buildings, water supply, ownership, price, and other points intended to show the condition and value of the farm for sale. The office distributes these blanks among the county agents, from whom the farm sellers secure the blanks. The county agents forward the completed forms to the main state office, which periodically publishes the collected information for farm buyers.

This information is available to farm buyers for the mere asking. Anyone can see, in the state office or in the published volume, the blanks describing in detail the farms for sale. In this way they can be directly connected with the seller of the selected farm, without agents or advertising cost to either side. Thus misrepresentation can be avoided to a certain degree. The Extension Service, however, does not enter into any financial arrangement or give any guaranties. Aside from the information contained in the filled forms, it gives information of a general character concerning the agricultural possibilities of the state and of various sections and localities in it. At present the Service is particularly interested in locating the returned soldiers.

As such a public agency system is of comparatively recent origin and has not had time to develop, it is impossible to judge with certainty its future possibilities. In theory the operation of the system seems to be an easy matter, but in practice it is complicated. The farmers who intend to sell their holdings have to be informed of the work of the office, and equally the farm buyers have to be acquainted with the plan. This involves education of the farmers by an extensive advertising campaign, which requires time and expenditure of public money. However, there is a real need for such a public agency and the results of the attempts to establish and develop it have been encouraging.

It would be desirable that the states which have already established or will establish such public agencies should co-operate with one another through the Federal Department of Agriculture and, with the assistance of the latter, should organize a central office as a clearing house. Nation-wide advertisement should be made by the central office for all the states in co-operation. In this way the farm advertisements would be made more effective—unnecessary repetitions, and the expenses connected with these, would be avoided. Through interchange of experiences a uniform system might be established. Such a central office, in co-operation with the Immigration Bureau, Department of Labor, should inform immigrants who desire to establish rural homes of the various farm opportunities.


Up to this time both public and private efforts have been applied to the reclaiming of unused lands, rendering valuable service to the progress of the country. There ought, however, to be no question whether reclamation work should be a public or a private enterprise. If a number, and even a large number, of the private land-development companies have hitherto mined in the pockets of their land buyers instead of in the land itself, this has been largely because of the lack of any public regulation of private land-improvement companies. However, a number, perhaps a majority, of the companies have improved their land and have secured settlers who have made a success in the cultivation of the improved land. Therefore it would be a grave mistake to abandon or even to repress private enterprise in land-development work. It should be encouraged by the extension of public credit through the land companies and by putting their business under public supervision.

Where considerable areas have to be reclaimed, involving large expenditures and a long period of waiting for returns, public reclamation is preferable.

Although reclamation and colonization work are closely connected and dependent upon each other, still there is a marked difference. It is one thing to plan and irrigate a desert area and quite a different thing successfully to populate the irrigated land. The first is mainly a technical enterprise, while the other deals mainly with human beings. The people who direct and prosecute reclamation works—civil engineers and other technical experts—might not be good colonizers. The duties of the latter consist in selecting suitable settlers, directing their land-cultivation work, and organizing and directing the community life of the settlers. On the other hand, colonizers, trained agriculturists, and community workers might not be able successfully to conduct reclamation works. Therefore these two fields ought to be recognized as distinct and provided for separately.

Almost all the proposed plans of land settlement fail to make such a distinction. They propose that the same public agency should acquire land, improve it, and colonize it. The same is true in regard to most of the private land-improvement and colonization projects. They plan to improve land and at the same time colonize it, which too often consists merely in securing land buyers and leaving the latter, after they have made their initial payment, entirely to their own fate.

Private land-improvement companies doing business in two or more states should be brought under the jurisdiction of the Federal Reclamation Service. They should be licensed, their projects approved, and their general methods of business regulated. Private companies doing business within state or city limits should be regulated by state irrigation or drainage district authorities, with whom the Federal Reclamation Service should co-operate in every possible way.

In order that the Federal Reclamation Service may be extended and expanded to meet the growing demands, further legislation must be passed by Congress. Liberal appropriations are needed both for the acquisition and reclamation of unused lands of different classes, as well as for the increase of the staff and working forces of the Service. The bills under consideration were discussed in Chapter VI. The bill introduced by Representative Mondell of Wyoming effectively provides for this service.


The word "colonization" suggests the following: populating a given unused area of land suitable for cultivation, according to a plan covering the selection of people, the cultivation of the land, providing credit and markets, instruction in land cultivation, planning, organizing, and directing of community life in its numerous branches, such as co-operation for various purposes, education, recreation. Colonization work in the modern sense is a new, delicate, and complex field, for it affects all sides of human life.

There is a wide difference of opinion the country over as to whether colonization should be a public affair or be left to private initiative and effort. Those who favor private colonization claim that public colonization is wasteful, uneconomical, that it puts a new burden on the taxpayers, and savors of Socialism. Those who favor public colonization maintain that private colonization companies in the very nature of their endeavors work for their own profit, considering the settlers' interests and public welfare of secondary importance. Colonization results must not be counted only in the terms of money, but also in the terms of social value to the community and to the country.

Again the writer has to call attention to the fact that both public and private colonization is going on side by side all over the world. In certain foreign countries public colonization is predominant, while in this country the reverse is true. Only the state of California has undertaken public colonization as an experiment on a small scale, and so far with success.

It would be advisable that both public and private colonization go on, one competing with the other and learning from the other's experience. Private companies must be regulated and licensed by public authorities, and public credit should be extended to them. All this requires that the colonization work be organized on a nation-wide scale.

To meet the national need there should be established an interdepartmental Federal colonization board with the following duties:

(1) To make community plans. This would involve the location of settlements, their roads and building sites; plans for division of land into farms; plans for erection of farm buildings; plans for town sites and buildings as colony centers, parks as playgrounds, etc., all to be surveyed and put in working shape by the Reclamation Service, Department of the Interior.

(2) To select suitable people for settlement on the lands acquired and improved by the Reclamation Service, with the preference to be given to former soldiers.

(3) To distribute the selected immigrant settlers of non-English mother tongue, including soldiers, having in mind the need of mixing different races with the native settlers so as to facilitate the process of incorporating all into American life.

(4) To plan and organize the economic life of the colonies. This means the introduction of, and instruction in, farming and methods of cultivation suitable to the land, climate, and other conditions surrounding the colony, the organization of buying and selling co-operation in the colonies, provision of markets, etc.

(5) To plan and organize the educational, recreational, and general community life of the colonies—schools, libraries, lectures, games, etc.

(6) To regulate and license or charter private colonization companies.

Among the policies of the Colonization Board a very prominent one should be a proper distribution of the immigrant settlers. Owing to the lack of any public plan or measures for the distribution of the immigrants in the country in the past the results have been astonishing. The Little Polands, Italies, ghettos, Germanies, and others in our great industrial centers are well known, though the word "Little" is not applicable in every case. It is especially inapplicable where the compact immigrant settlements exceed in numbers the largest cities of their home countries. For instance, according to the last census figures, there were in the city of New York more Italians (including their children) than the population of Rome, more Germans than in Cologne, about as many Irish as the population of Dublin and Belfast together, and about three times as many Jews as there were in the British Empire.

All this is already known to the public at large. What is not popularly known is the fact that there are foreign provinces in the agricultural sections of the country. There whole counties and even a number of neighboring counties are populated by immigrants of the same race and nationality. Such provinces have become self-sufficient; they have their own towns, their own schools, churches, industries, stores, select local public officials of their own nationality, speak their own tongue, and live according to the traditions and spirit of their home country. These traditions and this spirit are kept alive by their schools, churches, and libraries, and by the absence of any direct contact with American customs and traditions. From such localities came a considerable number of the American-born drafted men who could not speak, write, or even understand English.

Such foreign provinces in the rural sections of the country are principally found in the North Middle Western states and Western states. When the writer, during his field investigation, arrived in such localities—for instance, in the southwestern part of North Dakota—he found that the townspeople, business men, and public officials, as a rule, understood English, but spoke German or Scandinavian among themselves. In talking with any man in the street the writer had to resort to the man's mother tongue, while the farmers back in the country, as a rule, did not speak English at all. Yet many of them were born in this country.

On the whole, the impression of the writer was that the larger the rural immigrant colony, the less it showed evidences of American influences. This was quite apparent in regard to the Slavic and especially the Polish colonies visited by the writer in a number of states.

The immigrants already settled in large colonies of one nationality cannot be redistributed, but they can be reached by other means, one of which is an efficient public-school system, which is dealt with in later chapters.

Measures should be undertaken for the distribution of the new immigrant settlers so as to avoid their congregation in large colonies of only one nationality. The experience of private land dealers and colonization companies shows that it is not wise to settle a single immigrant family among native settlers or the settlers of another nationality. Such a family becomes lonesome and sooner or later leaves the settlement. Therefore the immigrants must be settled in groups according to their nationalities.

The question is, how large such national groups must be in order to keep the settlers in the colony and at the same time to avoid their becoming clannish and remaining untouched by American influences for a generation or a number of generations. The observation of the writer and his interviews on this question with the people engaged in colonization have led him to the conclusion that such groups ought to be of from five to fifteen families each, settled in the same neighborhood among either groups of other nationalities or native settlers.

Such distribution of the immigrant settlers in smaller groups is favored by the immigrants themselves. As a rule, they are eager to learn American ways as soon as possible, and usually accede with alacrity to distribution, provided no violent compulsion is used and they are directed to land where they are able to make a success by their investment and toil, without being cheated or exploited. The writer discussed the size of a rural immigrant group of the same nationality in a number of the immigrant colonies. The settlers, even the Russian sectarian peasants, believed that if there were not less than five families in one group no loneliness would be experienced. If there were no more than ten or fifteen families there would be no danger of their becoming clannish and self-sufficient, for they would of necessity have to deal with other groups and intermingle with them for both business and social purposes.

A rigid selection of settlers on the basis of their ability to farm and to stay on the farm is of prime importance. Among the applicants for farms in new colonies there are three main classes of people, each distinct from the others: (1) those who have experience, knowledge, and otherwise ability for land cultivation and the capacity for sticking to a job. These should be selected and will contribute to the success of the colony, which ultimately depends upon the settlers themselves; (2) those who are hunters for easy pickings in the way of a piece of property or for an opportunity for safe investment or for speculation. These should be avoided as the plague; and (3) those who are not suited for rural life and heavy toil on the land, mostly city people who dream of changing their life for improvement of their health in the country, for an independent life, or for an easy-going life, of fresh air, sunshine, flowers, and birds. Such people are not able to make a success of farming and should be avoided. These classes of applicants are found among immigrants as well as among natives, soldiers, and civilians.

How important the selection of settlers is for the success of colonization and settlement on land is shown by the close scrutiny of prospective settlers made by the agents of modern private colonization companies and also by certain state immigration officials. They ask an applicant about his supply of money or credit, about his experience, about his past in detail, his habits, his inclinations, and his aspirations. They judge him by his appearance, his physique, and his health. He is also questioned about his family life; special attention is given to the attitude of his wife toward rural life, her past experience, the probability of her being satisfied and able to stay permanently on the farm and carry the heavy burdens of a farmer's wife. Finally, the prospective settler is warned of the existing conditions in the colony, of the heavy toil and the difficulties, and of the long period of waiting which must elapse before he can enjoy the results of his investment and labors. Selection made in this way will guarantee the success of a colonization enterprise, be it public or private.


A last measure which is extremely important and must not be overlooked in any planning for land settlement is the extension of public credit to settlers through the Federal Farm Loan Board. This, of course, applies not only to the settlers in the colonies established by the Federal Colonization Board, but also to those of private colonization companies regulated and chartered by the Colonization Board, and to individual settlers. There must be certain safeguards against loss. To accomplish this there could be established a settlers' credit division in the Federal Farm Loan Bureau, with a special land colonization credit fund. A similar plan was proposed in the bill introduced by Representative Knutson, May 27, 1919.[19]

Some such provision is indispensable in any comprehensive land policy, and should secure a place in legislative enactment.


No amount of legislation or smooth-running administrative machinery can provide, however, for one of the most fundamental factors in modern small-farm production.

Every colony of small farmers nowadays needs to provide for co-operation among its members. There is no other way for them to enjoy the technical advantages of large-scale farming in the buying of seeds, stock, fertilizers, tools, machinery, and other necessities at wholesale prices, in the selling of farm products at the best prices; in the establishment of creameries, etc. The buying of necessary costly machines, such as stumping machines, tractors, threshers, headers, is beyond the financial power of an individual settler. Even should he be able to acquire them, he cannot use such machines to their full capacity on his small piece of land. But in co-operation settlers are able to buy the heavy machinery and to use it to its fullest capacity. Mutual insurance and credit established through co-operation are another substantial assistance to the success of the settlers.

The co-operative buying and selling organization of a Finnish farming colony in upper Michigan which the writer investigated in detail proved to be a great money saver to the settlers. The enterprise has grown from a small undertaking into the largest business organization in the town, with its great warehouse overshadowing the railroad station. In the beginning the surrounding native farmers and townspeople were hostile toward it. They both feared the competition as well as the broader results of an undertaking of "foreigners," led by their "demagogic leaders." Its former opponents have radically changed their attitude, and many are joining the organization. They find that co-operation means voluntary, concerted, and co-ordinated action for the common advantage, and that it is not contrary to the American spirit.

One of the leaders of the Finnish co-operative association explained that the defects of the local private stores served as the first inducement for the settlers to establish a co-operative store.

The private stores usually set arbitrary and high prices on the goods, which are often of poor quality and limited variety. As a result, a co-operative store among our settlers was established. We found that the association, in its meetings and activities, served as a school for the development of mutual understanding and fellow-feeling among its members. In the direction of Americanization our co-operative movement has done much good already. Its success has made the native farmers respect us. A number of them have already joined our association. Should our enterprise grow wider it may be expected to unite the farmers of different nationalities, immigrants and natives, into one community.

The interviews of the writer with the native farmers fully substantiated these statements of the Finns. One of them said that when the Finnish settlers came the native-born people did not expect much good from them. They were looked upon as strange intruders, entirely ignorant in farming. But as time went on they made good not only as farmers, but also as business men in their co-operative buying and selling association. They were found to be good, sober, and industrious people.

The co-operative movement was apparent in northern Wisconsin, where numerous co-operative creameries have been organized among the settlers of various nationalities. The carrying of milk to the creamery results in the regular meeting of settlers every day; business meetings and other activities of the association afford opportunities for the settlers to get together and work together. In addition to this the immigrant settler, as a member of the co-operative association, comes face to face with the wider business world—banks, railways, commission merchants, manufacturers, market conditions, price fluctuations, etc. As an individual producer he comes to know the larger problems involved in marketing his product and his vision and understanding broaden.

Almost all immigrant settlers interviewed on the subject of co-operation were in favor of it. "Co-operation helps us!" were words often used in answer to the question why they favor co-operation. This "help" should not be understood in the material sense only. Co-operative action, though it begins in economics, extends to and ends in the creation of ideal, socio-psychological values. The co-operator works and fights in the spirit of solidarity. He satisfies his wants through concerted action. His psychology is more complex and his aims become higher than those of a private individual.

Co-operation is a child of necessity. It cannot be created by outside suggestion or mere preaching. When there is a need and conditions are favorable the co-operative movement comes into being. Unquestionably the need for co-operation is greater in the rural districts than in the cities, and yet the rural conditions in many respects make the development of co-operation more difficult. The main obstacles, according to the rural co-operators themselves, consist in the lack of business connections and markets, in the absence of knowledge of efficient business methods, and in credit difficulties. It is hard to find an able and trustworthy business manager for a co-operative store in a village.

Notwithstanding all difficulties, the co-operative movement among farmers and especially among immigrant settlers has lately begun to grow with extreme rapidity. For instance, in 1917 in the state of Wisconsin there were agricultural co-operative associations in the following numbers: 380 creameries, 718 cheese factories, 98 feed and produce associations, and 124 live-stock concerns.[20]

One of the first difficulties in the way of establishing a co-operative association is its incorporation proceeding. Most of the states up to this time have had no special laws covering co-operative associations. In such cases they have to be incorporated under the laws relating to private companies or those covering charity and public-welfare associations.

A number of states have enacted laws for the promotion and protection of co-operation among farmers. The Wisconsin law, Chapter 368, Laws of 1911, makes provision for the establishment of organizations conducting business on the co-operative plan. No member is allowed to own shares of a greater par value than one thousand dollars. No member is entitled to more than one vote. Dividends on the paid-up shares are allowed to be no more than 6 per cent per annum; 10 per cent on the net profits has to be set aside as a reserve fund. When this has accumulated up to 30 per cent of the paid-up shares, 5 per cent goes to the educational fund to be used for teaching co-operation. One half of the remainder of the profits has to be paid as a uniform dividend upon the amount of purchases of shareholders and upon the wages and salaries of the employees, while the other half has to be paid to the nonshareholders on the amount of their purchases.

In case of productive associations, such as co-operative creameries, or elevators, dividends have to be paid on raw materials delivered. In case an association is both a selling and productive enterprise, the dividends may be divided on both goods purchased and material delivered. All concerns which do not comply with the provisions of the above law are prohibited to use the term "co-operative" as a part of their corporate name or the designation of their business.

According to the Nebraska law, Senate File No. 88,

the words "co-operative company, corporation, or association" are defined to mean a company, corporation, or association which authorizes the distribution of its earnings in part or wholly on the basis of, or in proportion to, the amount of property bought from or sold to members, or of labor performed, or other service rendered to the corporation. A co-operative concern has the power "to regulate and limit the right of stockholders to transfer their stock, and to make by-laws for the management of its affairs, and to provide thereon the term and limitation of stock ownership, and for the distribution of its earnings."

The California law, Civil Code, Secs. 653M to 653S, provides for organization of agricultural, viticultural, and horticultural co-operative associations which shall not have a capital stock and shall not be working for profit. Each such association shall determine by its by-laws the amount of membership fee, the number and qualifications of members, conditions of voting, the methods of business, and the division of earnings.

There is no question that every state must have special legislation for co-operative associations quite distinct from that relating to private business concerns. A co-operative association must have the legal power to regulate and limit the right of shareholders to transfer their shares, to make by-laws for the management of business, to limit the share ownership, to decide on the proportion and method of distribution of its surplus earnings. It must limit dividends on shares to the prevailing rate of interest and provide a certain percentage for a reserve fund until the latter has accumulated up to a certain proportion of the capital invested. A part of the remainder should be retained for educational and other social-welfare purposes, the rest proportioned to the amounts of goods purchased, products contributed, or services rendered. The co-operative law should provide for one-member-one-vote. Irrespective of the number of shares owned, or the goods purchased, or the products contributed, or the services rendered, only one vote should be granted to each member.

Aside from such legislation, each state, as in New York, should have a special office with adequate forces for the advice and direction of farmers and settlers who desire to organize a co-operative association, as well as for those who have already established such an association and are meeting with difficulties.

[17] Reclamation Record, Department of the Interior, Washington, D. C., July, 1918, p. 306.

[18] Wisconsin Statutes, Chap. 656, Laws of 1919, Sect. 1636-225.

[19] See chap. vi.

[20] Bulletin No. 182, May, 1917, Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Wisconsin.




The term "Americanization" is used in two senses. In the narrower one it applies to our immigrant population only, and in a broader sense it applies to everybody, natives and immigrants alike. This means the Americanization of America. This broader meaning embraces the whole national life in all its conditions, tendencies, and forms of expression.

When the writer accepted the invitation of the Study of Methods of Americanization to make a field investigation of rural developments from the viewpoint of Americanization, he was certain that the study must be conducted in relation to the immigrant colonies only. The study of the Americanization of America would lead us nowhere, especially in view of the smallness of available forces and the shortness of time. The study must be confined, therefore, to the immigrant elements of the population, and even then it could only be a preliminary survey to reveal the problems to be studied later in detail.


But the first observations in the field study soon convinced him that a broader scope is inevitable. For instance, inquiry into the conditions of the immigrants in relation to the acquisition of land for cultivation necessarily led him to the general land question in the country, land policies, land laws, land-dealing methods. In even a more striking way did the field study of immigrant education in the rural districts lead to the question of general public education in rural communities regardless of their racial composition.

Education has always been more of a problem in rural districts than urban. Evidence of this is found in the 1910 Census, which shows that for every illiterate person living in an urban community there are approximately two living in rural communities. The higher per cent of illiteracy in the rural districts is even more marked in the states where immigrants are settling than in the country as a whole. In New Mexico, Arizona, and California the ratio is about 250 illiterates in the country to every 100 in the city. Among the foreign born in rural districts in three of these states an exceptionally high per cent of illiteracy prevails. For Texas 35 per cent, New Mexico 34 per cent, and Arizona 37 per cent, of the rural foreign born are illiterate—in contrast to 13 per cent for the United States. With the exception of Louisiana these per cents are the highest in the country and presage a problem that cannot be overlooked in a consideration of land settlement for the foreign born.

Equally significant are the 1910 comparisons of the figures for immigrants' inability to speak English in urban and rural communities. Although the contrast for the country as a whole is not so striking, being 21.9 per cent in cities as compared with 25.2 per cent in rural districts, the differences in the four states where new immigrants are settling on farms are considerable.


PER CENT UNABLE TO SPEAK ENGLISH, OF TOTAL FOREIGN BORN, TEN YEARS OF AGE AND OVER, IN URBAN AND RURAL COMMUNITIES[21] ================================================ Per Cent - - Ratio of Urban Rural Rural to Urban - - - Texas 41.8 64.0 153.1 New Mexico 28.5 61.7 216.5 Arizona 48.2 62.6 129.9 California 10.5 22.4 213.3 - - United States 21.9 25.2 115.0 ================================================

Over 60 per cent of the foreign born in rural communities in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona are unable to speak English. The principal foreign group is composed of Mexicans who come from a non-English-speaking country which has a high per cent of illiteracy. They go into the rural communities of these border states, where there is practically no schooling opportunity either for learning the English language or for learning to read and write. While only 22.4 per cent are not able to speak English in California rural districts, this is more than twice as many as are unable to speak it in California cities. This is a high ratio in the one state in the country which provides public settlement projects. While these situations are perhaps extreme, their existence is manifestly inexcusable in a land which prides itself on educational opportunity for all. There is virtually never equality of opportunity in rural and urban communities, for either native or foreign born, and the immigrant who lives on the land is especially handicapped.

In another report[22] of this study there is evidence which points to lack of educational and social opportunities in rural districts. The average length of time after arrival in the country before petitions for naturalization papers are filed is tabulated by occupation for more than twenty thousand cases. These figures show that, for all occupational groups of any size, agricultural workers take the longest time, about fourteen years, before petitioning. The average length of time for workers of all occupations is about ten and a half years. Back from the currents of life, with fewer opportunities to overcome disqualifications, the farm worker does not become a citizen as quickly as his city brother.

The term "education" as applied especially to the rural population is a very broad one. It comprises everything which helps to elevate the people materially as well as mentally and spiritually. In this direction various educational agencies are working. The most important of them might be classified as follows:

1. Schools:

A. Public:

(1) general.

(2) evening.

(3) home teacher.

(4) vocational (training in agriculture).

B. Private:

(1) general.

(2) church or parochial.

2. Churches:

A. American, service in English.

B. Immigrant, service in foreign tongue.

3. Libraries:

A. Public:

(1) community or town.

(2) traveling.

(3) package.

(4) school.

B. Private:

(1) church.

(2) school.

Among these agencies the public school is the foremost in the Americanization process. It directly influences the children and through them their parents—the adult immigrants.


An observer of the home life of immigrant families finds a marked difference between the parents and the children who attend American schools, as well as between the American-schooled children and their European-schooled brothers and sisters. These differences lead often to friction and dissension in the families, and though each difference may be concerned with a trivial matter, yet in their entirety they represent the variation of the American from the immigrant.

The writer once entered the home of a large Russian immigrant family just when a quarrel between two sets of children was going on. The European-trained children wanted the window shades rolled entirely up, for the sake of more light, while their American-bred brothers and sisters insisted that the shades be left halfway up, as the Americans have them.

Another illustration of these differences is found in the fact that the immigrants are conservative in clinging to their old-country diet. The first breach is usually occasioned by pie—the American national dessert. The immigrant children learn about it and taste it in the school cooking classes and also in the neighboring American families, insisting that their mothers make it also. As a result the pie appears on the immigrant table, though in the poorer families only on holidays.

In the case of language, the parents and their European-schooled children continue to speak at home their old-country tongue and read newspapers and books in the same language. The American-schooled children prefer to speak English and read American newspapers and books, taking a special pride in this. They answer their parents in English, although the latter do not always understand English. They call themselves Americans, in distinction from their European parents and older brothers and sisters. "My father, mother, and older sisters are Poles, but I am an American!" answered an American-born Polish boy of about twelve years when asked about his nationality.

"How do you know that you are an American?"

"I was born here and I speak the American language."

In the Italian colony at Vineland, New Jersey, to give only one instance, there was marked conflict between the children who went to the public schools and their parents over the use of the Italian language. The children wanted to speak English and some even refused to talk Italian, though their parents wanted them to and tried to teach them. The children commonly acted as interpreters between Americans and their parents, especially their mothers. Unfortunately, they did not conceal their contempt for the latter for failing to understand and use English.

Often such differences are so pronounced that the immigrant parents are greatly grieved over the "estrangement" caused by the influence of the American public schools. This dissatisfaction takes an especially acute form among the sectarian immigrants. In San Francisco there are over four hundred families of Russian sectarian peasants—Molochans, Jumpers, etc. Their religion opposes war and military service, and on that account they were exempted from the draft. Notwithstanding this, four or five of their young boys volunteered, in spite of the opposition of their parents and of the whole colony. When the writer visited the colony last year the colonists were much agitated and upset. They openly cursed the American schools and the city streets for ruining their boys spiritually. "If we can't settle on land in the rural districts, then we have to get out of America!" exclaimed the aged leader. In rural districts, they think, they would be able to keep their children from going "astray." The street influence is absent and the school-attendance law is not so severely enforced as in the city, the immigrant leader believed.

In the Polish farming colony centered at South Deerfield, Massachusetts, where the Polish children all attend the American public schools, the children learn English quickly and prefer everything American to everything Polish. The parents are very much distressed over losing their children as Polish people. For this reason the parents stated that they were extremely eager to establish their own Polish school where they could teach their children the Polish language and Polish history. Only lack of money has so far prevented the founding of such a parochial school.


When an immigrant group is planning either a parochial or some other type of private school of its own, one of its arguments is always that this school will keep the children in its own group, racially and religiously.

The North Middle Western states—Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas, Nebraska—have large immigrant groups. In the rural districts of those states it is a fact that where there exists a private or parochial school, the public school is neglected, poorly equipped, and has a very small attendance.

A county superintendent of schools in Minnesota reports:

One of our greatest drawbacks in attendance is the parochial schools. These retard the attendance and keep the school terms down.[23]

A county superintendent in South Dakota writes:

In a number of districts the attendance is so small, owing to the fact that many attend the parochial school, that interest and enthusiasm are lacking.[24]

Another report from Minnesota states that,

the poorest schools in the country are in communities where there are private schools in connection with a church.

The children attend these for years at a time, and when they return to the public schools find themselves behind their former companions.[25]

In 1915-16 there were in the state of Wisconsin 78 rural public schools enrolling five or fewer children, and 445 rural public schools enrolling six to ten children. The state school authorities explained to the writer that the small enrollment in certain public schools does not always indicate that there are not enough children of school age in the district or that the children do not enroll. Very often in the same district there is a well-developed parochial or private school attended by immigrant children. The parents prefer these schools to the public schools for racial and religious reasons, and contribute liberally to their development and maintenance.

In a number of cases where there are public and private schools in immigrant localities, the writer observed an active and intentional neglect of the public schools by the local school authorities. For instance, in some cases where the state gives a certain sum of money for the support of the public schools, the money is deposited in the bank instead of being used for the development of the public schools. Such deliberate neglect of the public schools by the immigrant local school leaders was quite conspicuous in the state of Wisconsin.

[21] Thirteenth Census of United States, 1910, vol. i, p. 1279.

[22] John P. Gavit, Americans by Choice (in preparation).

[23] Minnesota Department of Education, Nineteenth Biennial Report, 1915-16, p. 84.

[24] Superintendent of Public Instruction, South Dakota, Report, 1916. Report of Superintendent of Hanson County.

[25] Minnesota Department of Education, Nineteenth Biennial Report, 1915-16, p. 85.



One of the greatest negative agencies, and in a large number of cases consciously negative agencies, affecting the Americanization of immigrants in our rural districts has been private schools. Among these—the writer wishes to be entirely outspoken—the most conspicuous have been immigrant Catholic and Lutheran parochial schools and Hebrew schools.

Many of them are run in the spirit of preference for the old country and for the immigrant race or nationality to America and the American nationality. Furthermore, the very spirit and aim of their methods are foreign to America. In their training of children they lay special stress on discipline, obedience, on the form of things, on punctuality, on memory, and on mechanism. All these qualities have been desirable in the "subjects" and in the small "subject nations," from the point of view of the monarchical and aristocratic European regimes, with which Catholicism and Lutheranism have been identified, or of the Talmud, upon which extreme Hebrew nationalism is based.

The authorities of parochial schools, especially the higher authorities, such as bishops, allow themselves to criticize sternly the American public schools for looseness, too much freedom, lack of moral teachings, etc. A prominent German Catholic bishop, who has been for thirty years in America and who can hardly speak English, stated to the writer that the American colleges, high schools, and even public schools are no good, that their aim is to prepare children and students to get easier jobs, to get along in life without labor and effort. Religious and moral teachings are entirely lacking in his opinion and the schools work against these teachings. Especially, the training of girls in America is entirely wrong. They are not educated to be good housewives, but are just reared for an easy and joyful life; in fact, girls are too lazy to do family work or any work. The severely nationalistic churchman was unable to approve the democratic spirit of the American public school with the stress which it lays upon freedom of action, self-reliance, initiative, and imagination in children. He looked upon children as if they were somebody's property or tools, not human beings with individual destinies.

How important the parochial schools are considered to be by certain immigrant nationalistic leaders and high clergy is shown by the speeches delivered at the southeastern Wisconsin district conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Joint Synod of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and other states, held in the summer of 1918. Prof. A. Piper stated that,

we must concentrate all our powers upon keeping our hands on our schools. To hold our schools we must compete with the public schools, must hold classes five days a week, and must work with all the strength that is in us. The most important part of all of our missionary work is the work in our schools.

The importance of concentrating effort on the parochial schools was further emphasized by W. Grabner, Milwaukee, who asked:

What has made Chicago the greatest Lutheran city in the world? [and replied] I say it was the Lutheran parochial school. It has served as a nucleus for all Lutheran families to settle about. Round it all life and activity centered. Our Lutheran forefathers nourished the little Lutheran schools with all the powers they possessed.

The situation in the rural districts of various states in regard to the private and especially the parochial schools in connection with the Americanization of the children of immigrants born here and abroad is shown by the following field notes and material collected by the writer.


The Nebraska State Council of Defense made a report on the foreign-language schools in Nebraska, dated January 14, 1917. The data were secured through the personal investigation of Miss Sarka Hrbkova, chairman of the Woman's Committee, aided by Miss Alice Florer of the State Superintendent's office, and through the efforts of the county chairmen of educational propaganda of the Woman's Committee. Professors Link and Weller and other representatives of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod co-operated with Miss Hrbkova. The following facts indicate the extent of parochial schools in Nebraska.[26]

Foreign-language schools are located in 59 counties of Nebraska. There is a total of 262 schools in which it is estimated that 10,000 children receive instruction in foreign languages, chiefly the German. In these 262 schools 379 teachers are employed. Five thousand five hundred and fifty-four children are attending the schools of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod, this number including those in the summer sessions as well. About 20 teachers give instructions in their homes or in church buildings. Of these 379 teachers in private schools, 2 give instruction in Danish, 6 in Polish, 14 in Swedish, and 357 in German. Less than 2 per cent of the teachers of these schools are certified. About 120 of the German teachers are likewise ministers in the German Lutheran parish where the school is located. The county superintendents of the 59 counties in which the foreign-language schools are located reported that in only a few cases do these schools give the equivalent of the eighth-grade public school. For the most part, the eight years' attendance at such a school fits pupils for the sixth grade of the public schools.

In certain schools in Fillmore, Cass, Franklin, Gosper, Jefferson, Pawnee, and Wayne Counties the instruction is given entirely in the German language. In about 200 of the schools three hours daily is devoted to instruction in the German language.

In Deuel, Fillmore, and Jefferson Counties the superintendents report that the German national hymn is sung in certain foreign-language schools. In Nance and Washington Counties they report that it was formerly sung, but not this year. In Cedar Creek District No. 88, Cass County, Reverend Kunzendorf, teacher, states that they do not sing the American hymn because they do not sing any hymns at all. The American national hymn is not sung in about 100 of the German-language schools. Over 100 foreign-language schools lack an American flag. One minister, Rev. J. Aron, from Wayne County, writes, "We have no flag, but will see to it that one be put up, if requested to do so." In Madison the minister declared foreign-language and parochial schools are not required by law to have an American flag, and therefore he does not display one.

Public schools have been closed and forced out by German parochial schools in Cedar County, Cheyenne County, Clay County, Colfax County (No. 36), Gage County (No. 103), 2 in Johnson County, 5 in Platte County, District No. 99 in Saline County, 8 in Seward County, No. 38 in Stanton County and Wayne County. In Cedar County the Bow Valley, Constance, and Fordyce schools are taught by Sisters. In the following counties there are public schools with only four or five pupils, because the German-language schools absorb the pupils: Clay, Cedar, Cuming, Dixon, Howard, Nuckolis, Platte, Polk, Seward, Stanton, Wayne, and Webster.

The following statement was made by Prof. C. F. Brommer, Hampton, Nebraska, president of the Lutheran Synod of Missouri, at the hearing before the state Americanization Committee held in Lincoln in September, 1918:

I think we have more parochial schools than any other Protestant body in this state; between 150 and 160, with about 5,000 children in these schools.

In answer to a question by a member of the committee, Professor Brommer said:

I know of one [public school] district where there is no public school. There is no need of one, as the children all go to parochial school. There are a few such cases.

George Weller, of Seward, Nebraska, stated to the same committee:

German has never been taught in our schools [German Lutheran] as an end, but as a means to an end. We could not teach the old folks English, and in order to allow the children and the parents to worship together we taught the children the German language.

J. W. Robb of Lincoln informed the commission that in one district the Germans control the public-school board and they closed the public school two months in a year, and the children are deprived of two months in English schools or must go to a German parochial school during that time.


The situation in regard to parochial schools in North Dakota has been and still is, perhaps, more serious than in Nebraska. The writer in his field study in North Dakota was impressed that the public officials were afraid to do anything more than recommend certain desirable changes in these schools; some were even afraid to visit the German counties or sections on public business, such as Liberty Bond or Red Cross drives. Several reasons were given, such as politics, ignorance of the German language, and even care for their own safety. Therefore an English-speaking German woman was engaged to speak for Liberty Bonds in North Dakota German sections. She was successful only because in her German public speeches she praised the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty and condemned the Czechoslovaks in Russia. "Well, she brings home the bacon. For what else do we care!" ironically exclaimed a North Dakota man to the writer.

The State Superintendent of Public Education made the following statement to the writer when he asked for data on the foreign-language schools in the state:

The State Department of Public Education has no authority whatever over the private and parochial schools in the state. There is no legal ground for collecting information in regard to them.... There have been cases when children of immigrant groups, attending a private or parochial school, had to learn the foreign tongue of other groups.

A Catholic bishop stated:

The first grades in the parochial schools use German because the children who enter the schools do not know English, and it is far better and more successful to start work with them in their mother tongue as a teaching language. At the same time, they teach them English. As their knowledge of English gradually grows, the teaching in the higher grades is transferred to the English language.

To the writer's question whether the non-German children in their parochial schools—for instance, Bohemians and Hungarians—have also to start in German, the bishop said that in some cases this is true, for they are not able to find teachers for each language.

In the bishops diocese there are 37,000 Catholic families. Among these are 2,000 Indian families, about 2,000 Bohemian families, and between 300 and 400 Hungarian families. The rest are German families, over 100 of whom are from Germany; about 2,000 were born in America, and the rest are Germans from Russia.

An American church head made the following statement, in reply to an inquiry about the schools:

Strasburg, Emmons County, has a large parochial school where German is the only language both for teaching and speaking. The public school there has only a handful of children. There are plenty of parochial schools in which German is taught exclusively in McIntosh and Emmons Counties, and in the western counties (in the town of New Salem, etc.). Some of the teachers, of whom a goodly number are Sisters, cannot speak English at all. Children of other nationalities would also be under German influences. There is undoubtedly German propaganda in these schools, and American or other children become Germanized. Every graded school, private and public, should be conducted in English exclusively. Every teacher need not be American born; many foreign-born people are better citizens than some native Americans. But every teacher should have to understand and speak the English language. No one should teach, preach, or hold public office who cannot speak English.

The editor of an English daily in Bismarck, North Dakota, said:

The Americanization work is weakest in North Dakota, and yet it is more needed here than anywhere else, for the population is mainly composed of foreign elements. Foreign-language churches, parochial and other private schools, and certain American public schools in which, as it is in a number of places, the teaching language is a foreign language, very often German—are keeping the old country alive in the state. We have a large number of the second generation, grown-up people born here of foreign-born parents, who do not know how to write or read English, who do not know anything about America, but know well the history of Hohenzollern and Hapsburg dynasties in Europe.

A leader of the Women's Organization, North Dakota Council of Defense, made the following statement:

The Red Cross work, food-conservation work, and child-welfare work are organized in every county, a wide-awake woman being chosen as county head. Great difficulty is experienced in reaching the foreigner. A large number of them, especially women, do not understand English, and do not know enough about the country, its traditions, and spirit. Aside from remaining foreigners, they are in many cases unbelievably ignorant. For instance, the organization undertook a baby census, which included weighing the babies. The baby of a German housewife was underweight—that is, below normal. When its mother learned of this she began to cry hysterically. After the other people succeeded in quieting her she expressed the fear that the American government would kill her baby for being below normal weight.


The statistical data on parochial and other private schools in the state of Minnesota for 1918, compiled by the Department of Public Instruction, are as follows:


ENROLLMENT AND LANGUAGE USED IN PAROCHIAL AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN MINNESOTA, 1918 ============================================================= Number of parochial and private schools 307 Number of pupils enrolled 38,853 Number of teachers 1,359 Number of schools using English only 94 Number of bilingual schools in which the teaching is in English and German 195 English and Bohemian 1 English and Dutch 1 English and French 4 English and Norwegian 1 English and Polish 10 English and Danish 1 _ Total 213 =============================================================

The Isanti County school superintendent reports for 1915-16:[27]

The poorest schools in the county are in communities where there are private schools in connection with a church. The children attend these for years at a time, and when they return to the public schools find themselves behind their former companions. We wish arrangements might be made so that these schools could not teach the branches unless the teachers were as well equipped as the public-school teachers and that the children could be sent to them only at the confirmation age for two years.

The Martin County superintendent reports:[28]

Parochial schools should be required to report to the county superintendent the names of their teachers, length of term, etc. The teachers should be required to make monthly reports and be subject to the same supervision of inspection as those of public schools. Their certification should also be subject to state approval. Failing this, the pupils should be required to attend the public schools for at least eight full years, or until they complete the regular eighth-grade work.

Near St. Cloud, Minnesota, there is a Slovenian colony of about fifty to sixty families. Near by there is a much smaller German colony with a German parochial school in which the teacher, at the time of the writer's visit, was a German and the teaching language was German. Quite a number of the Slovenian families sent their children to this school, where they were Germanized instead of Americanized. A Slovenian family head explained to the writer that those Slovenians who are sending their children to the German school do it for a practical reason. They expect some time to visit their native Austria, where German is the state language. The man claimed that about one tenth of the settlers do not understand English, and that only about one fifth of them can speak and write English, although the colony was founded in America about fifty years ago.


The following statement made by the Superintendent of Public Instruction in the state of Michigan to the writer, September 11, 1918, shows the situation in regard to the private schools in that state. Parochial schools exist as follows:

One hundred and sixty-six Catholic; 124 German Lutheran; 19 Adventists; 22 Christian Reform. There is a total of 331. Of these, 190 maintain as many as eight grades, and 62 maintain more than eight grades. In the grades below the high school there is an attendance of 43,836, and in the high schools, 2,813. There are employed about 1,200 teachers. Eighty-six schools use German as a medium of instruction, German partly; sixteen use Polish; 5 use French. Only 2 schools in the state give no time to the teaching of the English branches. Seventy per cent of all the schools use the English language only as a medium of instruction. The census of the state contains 892,787 children of school age, five to nineteen years, inclusive. There are enrolled in the public schools of the state, 635,020. We regret that we have not yet the data from Saginaw and Detroit. The city of Detroit alone would perhaps show a parochial-school attendance as large as the parochial-school attendance of all the rest of the state.

In a Finnish colony in upper Michigan the writer found three one-month religious summer schools, well attended. One of the leaders of the colony stated that they have only Finnish teachers in these schools and the teaching is in Finnish. The program contains mainly religious instruction and a limited amount of Finnish history. The expenses are paid by the church treasury. The people want these schools for maintaining their religion among the children as well as for sentimental nationalistic reasons. The schools are conducted in the public-school rooms during summer vacations.

In the same section of the state the writer visited an old and comparatively large Polish colony, located at Posen. His field notes supply the following information: There is at the church a four-room parochial school, housed in a substantial brick building, with five teachers, including the priest. The school year lasts ten months. Teaching is in English, except that an hour each day is devoted to the Polish language and Polish history. The priest admitted that the teaching of religion is in Polish. The school program is the same as in the standard public schools of eight grades. The same textbooks are used. Although the law does not require examination of the children, nevertheless to appease the county officials and show the efficiency and value of their school they send the children to the county board of education for examination, and the county board has always expressed great satisfaction with the advancement in education of the children of the Polish school. The teachers are all Poles, appointed by the bishop, candidates being presented by the priest.

The need of this school the priest explained as follows: It Americanizes the children more quickly than the American school—that is, it is more efficient in teaching the children the American ways of life and American history than the American public schools, for the teachers are all Poles, know their people and their psychology better than do the teachers in the public schools. During a later discussion the priest admitted that the church service is in the Polish language and that the Polish school exists rather for sentimental reasons of a racial character than for practical reasons. The settlers also claimed that the Polish school and the church service in the Polish language are needed, for the reason that they like this better; they complained that the expenses are too high; they would have the county or state help them. Sometimes a few adults come to the school, but they are irregular in attendance.

The priest explained that the issue of the immigrant schools in the state has become practically a political issue, and to his mind it ought not to be, at least not in such a sharp form. Prohibition of these schools would have a bad effect on the foreign-born population. The schools might be modified and reformed and the state might exercise some sort of control and supervision over them, but only so far as it is agreeable to the colonies themselves. In this way the schools would be a valuable asset to the education of the people. They would work toward Americanization, better than the ordinary public schools, for they can reach the depths of the soul more easily than the American schools. He believed that his school would be an ideal means to this end.

The writer observed in this colony that the majority of the colonists are of the second and third generations. Not many families are foreign born. The colony is on the way to Americanization. The main causes holding it back are as follows: the colony is to a large degree isolated from the outside world; the Catholic Church and its schools are keeping the Polish language and the racial characteristics very much alive. The writer heard in the town grown-up people talking Polish. All the people the writer met spoke English fluently. In the street he noticed several groups of children playing; some spoke Polish, some English. Two boys were talking together, one speaking Polish, the other English. In watching and hearing the boys, the writer felt the influence of the Polish church and school over them. The faces and build of the people have a specific Slavic character. Otherwise their appearance is American.

At Holland, Ottawa County, Michigan, there is a large long-established Dutch colony, the vast majority of the settlers being already of the second and third generations. The colony is far advanced on the way to Americanization. The writer found the town and farming districts surrounding it almost the same as any native rural district. He did not hear any Dutch spoken in the streets, stores, or public offices. Yet the Dutch language was the language of the service in the churches and the teaching language in the parochial schools up to recent years. In regard to this fact the local church head explained to the writer:

Aside from a number of lower parochial schools, there is one parochial high school and one parochial college, Hope College. The high school is a preparatory school for the college. The college prepares ministers for the village churches. The language used in the high school and college was formerly Dutch. They taught Dutch history, literature, and mainly religion—Bible study. But during late years English has become the teaching language, and the Dutch language has remained only as a subject of study. Up to this time the leaders of the colony have been working toward Americanization unconsciously, but now they have awakened to the fact that the Dutch are rapidly Americanizing. They accept this fact as a desirable one, and are now working consciously toward the end of Americanization. They realize that even if they would like to keep the Dutch nationality alive in the colony, they would not be able to do it, so that they yield to the inevitable. The activities in the church and parochial schools have now to be turned more toward Americanization.

In a German colony at Au Gres, Michigan, the writer learned that the colonists have a parochial school in which the teaching is in German. They teach the German language, the Lutheran religion, and the rudiments of sciences. The church is composed entirely of Germans. Both ministers are appointed by the German Synod. The Congregational church has Saturday and Sunday school. The Saturday school lasts from nine until twelve in the morning, and the Sunday school from nine until ten in the morning. The teaching is in German; the subject is Bible study, and also the learning of the German language and the singing of hymns. The meaning of these schools was explained to the writer by the settlers as follows: The parents would like to have their children know the German language, be able to read and write German, and be instructed in religious matters, for neither German nor religion is taught in the American schools. The local native settlers stated to the writer that the German parochial school ought not to be there. It is a Germanizing school, opposed to America and Americanization, they argued.


The Superintendent of Public Education of the State of Wisconsin told the writer that there is no law enabling the public authorities to supervise or inspect the private schools or even to collect information in regard to them, except in a roundabout way. There is a law requiring that the county boards keep records of school attendance and this law enables the county boards to learn the attendance of every school in each county. The enrollment in private and parochial schools in Wisconsin was as follows:


ENROLLMENT AND TEACHING FORCE OF PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS IN WISCONSIN, 1914-15 AND 1915-16[29] ========================================================= 1914-15 1915-16 - - - Number attending private or parochial schools only counties 24,370 25,373 Number attending private or parochial schools only cities 21,736 18,556 Number attending both public and private, or parochial schools counties 34,335 34,958 Number attending both public and private, or parochial schools cities 1,441 3,276 Teaching force of private and parochial schools in counties: Men 288 Women 600 Total 888 909 =========================================================

There was a case in Wisconsin in 1918 of a German father sentenced to five years in the penitentiary for persuading his son to evade the draft. An editorial commenting on the case said:

This man, though German in every sense of the word, was born in America. Yet when he was on trial he had great difficulty in understanding questions put to him in English. Born in America, educated in American schools, nearly fifty years old, yet "he had great difficulty in understanding questions put in English!" Why? Because in the German—not American—community in which he was raised the education of American citizens was conducted in German.

A rural postmaster of German descent in a small backwoods town in Wisconsin, who claimed to have lost long ago his faith in "the Kaiser's Fatherland," as he put it, stated that there are thousands and thousands of such victims of the German parochial schools in the state, who, though born and brought up here, are unable to converse freely in English. This is especially true among those who live on farms in a German colony and go only to a German school and church.

Now these people suffer and are ashamed of themselves. But who is responsible? I think both the German clergy and other leaders for victimizing these people, as well as the American public for allowing such mischief.

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