Let us now look at this conglomerate immigration a little more in detail, and no longer class these peoples indiscriminately as "barbarian Huns."
I. The Bohemians
[Sidenote: The Czechs and their History]
We may well begin with the Bohemians, who are among the most skilled, least illiterate, and, to Protestants, most interesting of the Slavs. In studying any group of "strangers within our gates," it is necessary to know its preemigration history. These people, who call themselves Czechs, are a principal branch of the Slav family and one of the large constituents of the Austria-Hungarian empire, numbering 6,318,697 in 1901. At home they are chiefly agriculturists. In 1900 there were in this country 325,400 persons of Bohemian parentage, of whom 156,991 were born in Bohemia. Since 1900 above 50,000 more have come. Three fourths of them all are in the north central states of the Mississippi Valley, with Chicago as their great center. Cleveland has about 15,000, New York about the same number; while in agriculture there are in round numbers 16,000 in Nebraska, 14,000 in Wisconsin, 11,000 in Iowa, and 9,000 in Texas.
[Sidenote: Stormy National Struggle]
As to their history in the old world, the Bohemians have had such a stormy national struggle, and the bitterness of it has so entered into their lives, that it is impossible rightly to judge them apart from it. It has some instructive lessons for us. These are the conditions, as Mr. Nan Mashek, himself a Bohemian, states them:
[Sidenote: John Huss and Jerome of Prague]
"For two hundred and fifty years they have been oppressed by a pitilessly despotic rule. In the day of their independence, before 1620, they were Protestants, and the most glorious and memorable events of their history are connected with their struggle for the faith. The history of their Church is the history of their nation, for on the one hand was Protestantism and independence, on the other, Catholicism and political subjection. For two centuries Bohemia was a bloody battleground of Protestant reform. Under the spiritual and military leadership of such men as Jerome of Prague, John Huss, and Ziska, the Bohemians fought their good fight and lost. After the battle of White Mountains, in 1620, national independence was completely lost, and Catholicism was forcibly imposed upon the country. All Protestant Bibles, books, and songs were burned, thus depriving the nation of a large and rich literature. Those who still clung to their faith publicly were banished, their property becoming forfeited to the state. After 150 years, when Emperor Joseph II. of Austria gave back to the Protestants some measure of their former freedom, many of the churches were reestablished; but Protestantism had lost much of its strength. The political revolution of 1848 led to new subjugation, and emigration was the result. Large numbers left the country in quest of freedom, and some of these found their way to America."
[Sidenote: Farmer Settlers in the West]
The first Bohemian settlers were of the most intelligent and more prosperous classes. They went West, chiefly to Wisconsin, where their farms are among the finest in the state. In Kewaunee County they constitute over one third of the population, or 6,000 out of 17,000. They have developed into an excellent type of American citizenship, have looked well after the education of their children, many of whom have gone to college, and are in every way progressive. Read thoughtfully what Mr. Mashek says:
[Sidenote: Easy Assimilation Through Religion]
"In the country the assimilation of Bohemians is not a problem which offers difficulties. The public school is everywhere so potent an Americanizer that it alone is adequate. There is, however, one other influence which if brought to bear, especially in the large communities, would be helpful. I refer to the Protestant faith. For the most part Bohemians conversant with their history as a people are naturally hostile to the Catholic Church, and when the restraints which held them in their own country are removed by emigration, many of the more enlightened quietly drop their allegiance, and, through lack of desire or opportunity, fail to ally themselves with any other. So strong is this non-religious tendency among the Bohemians—especially in the cities—that it has resulted in active unbelief, and hostility to Church influence. This spiritual isolation, with its resultant social separation, is doing great harm in retarding assimilation. Aside from this matter of religion, the Bohemian falls into American customs with surprising readiness."
[Sidenote: Protestant Opportunity]
Thus a member of this race points out to Protestants their opportunity. Here is a people with inherited Protestant tendencies. They have been driven in Bohemia by an enforced Roman Catholicism into antagonism to the Church as they know it.
[Sidenote: Freethinkers' Society]
In Chicago, where over 100,000 of them make of that city the third largest Bohemian center in the world, they have a strongly organized Freethinkers' Society, with three hundred branches, which issues an atheistic catechism, and has it taught in its numerous Sunday-schools, as they are called. But there are thousands who do not belong to this cult, and who are open to the gospel. The same is true of the Bohemians in New York, Cleveland, and elsewhere who have not advanced to the Chicago infidel standpoint. Their character has not been well understood. They possess excellent qualities for the making of good Americans. Christianity in pure and true form is all they need.
[Sidenote: A Home-loving and Musical People]
The Bohemians are a home people, social, and fond of organizations of every kind. Music is their passion, and their clubs, mutual benefit societies, and loan associations, successfully run, show large capacity for management. They have forty-two papers, seven of them religious, two Protestant. Their freethinking is not all of it by any means of the dogmatic sort which has its catechism of atheism. There is another class, represented by an old woman with a broad brow over which the silvery hair is smoothly parted, who says to the missionary, "I have my God in my heart, I shall deal with him. I do not want any priest to step between us." That is the class which the gospel can reach and ought to reach speedily.
[Sidenote: Where Located]
About seventy-five per cent, of the Bohemians live in the northwest. In Cleveland they have entered into various industries. In New York they are largely employed in cigar-making, at which the women and girls work under conditions not calculated to inspire them with regard for God or man. The home life cannot be what it should when the mothers are compelled to work in the factories, besides having all the home cares and work. The testimony of the tenement inspectors is that the Bohemians are perhaps the cleanest of the poor people in the city, and are struggling heroically against the pitiful conditions of the tenement-houses in which they are compelled to exist.
II. The Poles
[Sidenote: A Large Element]
The Poles form one of the oldest and largest elements of the Slav immigration. In 1900 the census gave 668,536 persons whose parents were born in Poland, and of these 383,510 were themselves born there. Nearly a quarter of a million of the latter came to this country between 1890 and 1900, and in the five years following, 1900-5, about 350,000 more arrived. A third of a million Poles now in America do not understand English. The Polish strength is indicated by the Polish National Alliance, with 50,000 members, and by a list of fifty newspapers published in the Polish tongue, four of them dailies, printed in Chicago, Buffalo, and Milwaukee, the largest centers.
[Sidenote: Religious Tolerance]
"The higher classes of Poland were touched by the pre-Reformation movement of Huss at Prague, where they were generally educated. Reformation ideas did not gain as great currency as in Bohemia, but both Calvin and Luther were interested in their progress in Poland. A Jesuit authority complained that two thousand Romanist churches had become Protestant. A Union Synod was formed and consensus of doctrine adopted. Poland is described as the most tolerant country of Europe in the sixteenth century. It became an asylum for the persecuted Protestants of other lands, notably the Bohemian brethren. Later on, under the influence of Protestantism, literature and education were stimulated. But under succeeding Swedish and Saxon dynasties, and through Jesuit instrumentality, religious liberty and national independence were lost, and Poland disappeared from the map of Europe. As a race the Poles boast such names as Copernicus the astronomer, Kosciusko the patriot warrior, and Chopin the composer."
The distribution in America in 1904 was as follows: Illinois, 123,887, of whom 107,669 were in the vicinity of the Chicago stockyards; Pennsylvania, 118,203, mainly in the anthracite coal regions and about Pittsburg, with 11,000 in Philadelphia; New York, 115,046, 50,000 of them in New York City and 35,000 in Buffalo; Wisconsin, 70,000, 36,000 in Milwaukee; Michigan, 59,075, 26,869 in Detroit; Ohio, 31,136, 15,000 in Cleveland and 9,000 in Toledo; in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey, between 20,000 and 30,000 each; in Connecticut and Indiana, over 10,000 each; and in smaller numbers widely distributed. Their preference for the larger cities is shown by these figures. Recent immigrants are going more into the New England States. Already there is a second generation of them in the cities and the farming country of the Middle West, and they have their own teachers and doctors. In New England they are spreading in the factory towns, and Chicopee, Massachusetts, has six thousand of them; while in the tobacco belt of Connecticut they furnish a majority of the farm hands. Ten years ago Hartford had only three or four hundred Polish families; to-day there is a parish of a thousand people, and they have built a Catholic church and given $20,000 toward a school.
[Sidenote: Independent in Spirit; Open to the Gospel]
Like most of the Slavs, the Poles who come here are commonly poor, and of the peasant class; about one third of them are illiterate. They are clannish, and clash with the Lithuanians and other races. Lovers of liberty, they clash also with the Catholic authorities, going so far even as organized rebellion to obtain control of their church properties and freedom in the choice of priests. They have a superstitious dread of Protestantism, which has been misrepresented to them as extremely difficult. "Polish priests about Pittsburg are said to boast of the number of Bibles, distributed by Protestants, which they gather from the people and burn." If once Protestantism gets a grip upon them, rapid defection from ecclesiastical tyranny will follow. Dr. H. K. Carroll figures that the Polish Catholics as distinct from Roman Catholics, have forty-three churches and 42,859 communicants, with thirty-three priests—this representing the extent of revolt against the Romish Church. It must be granted that comparatively little has been done to reach this people, and it is not strange that as yet the number of Protestant Poles is small. It takes a larger and more imposing movement to make a definite impression upon those accustomed to the size and strength of the Catholic organizations.
III. The Slovaks
[Sidenote: A Farming People]
The Slovaks of northern Hungary number about two millions, and are closely akin to the Bohemians and Moravians. According to Mr. Rovinanek, editor of the Pittsburg Slovak Daily, they constitute the trunk of the great Slavonic national tree, from which have branched so many of the Slav people, at the head of whom now stands the powerful Russian empire. From prehistoric time they were celebrated as a peaceful, industrious people, fond of agricultural and pastoral life. The immigration has been from the agricultural class, and at first settlement was made in the mining regions of Pennsylvania. Farming had its inherited attractions, however, and there are hundreds of Slovak farmers in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Ohio; while in Minnesota, Arkansas, Virginia, and Wisconsin there are colonies of them, where for many miles on every side the land is entirely in their possession. Kossuth was a Slovak, to their lasting pride. Over 100,000 of them have come to America since 1900, one fourth of them illiterates. They had little opportunity to be otherwise at home, but since coming here their advancement educationally has been marked.
[Sidenote: Religious in Spirit]
"This is due," says Mr. Rovinanek, "largely to the intensely religious spirit which prevails among the Slavic peoples, and to the fact that here they have been able to combine schools with their churches." The total number now in the country is estimated at 250,000, of whom 150,000 are in Pennsylvania. Two thirds of the immigrants are men.
[Sidenote: Industrial Enterprise]
They live usually in very poor and crowded quarters, one family having sometimes from fifteen to twenty boarders, and under conditions far from cleanly or sanitary. There are nearly as many newspapers in the United States in the Slovak language as in Hungary, with a much larger total circulation. This press has stimulated industrial and business enterprises in the Slovak communities. There are numerous small mercantile establishments. In Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago, wire and tinware factories established with Slovak capital and conducted with Slovak labor are securing the cream of this trade in the country. For centuries the tinware of Europe was made largely by the Slovaks. They have a high position also for electrical designs and other skilled work.
They are a great people for organization. The National Slavonic Society was organized in Pittsburg in 1890, with 250 members; it now has 20,000 active members and 512 lodges. It is primarily a beneficial organization, but has done a valuable work in educating its members and inducing them to become American citizens. The society requires its members, after a reasonable time, to obtain naturalization papers and thus promotes Americanization. It has paid out nearly a million dollars in death benefits, and much more in sick benefits; has aided students in this country and Hungary, and national literary and patriotic workers as well, besides coming to the rescue of Slavs in Hungary persecuted by the government. Many other societies have sprung from this parent organization, including a Presbyterian Slavistic Union, and hundreds of literary, benevolent, and political clubs, so that there are between 100,000 and 125,000 organized Slovaks in the United States.
IV. The Magyars or Hungarians
[Sidenote: Conquerors of Hungary]
The Magyars belong properly in a division by themselves. These people, who are Hungarians proper, do not class strictly with the Germans and Slavs of Hungary. They drove out their Slavic predecessors or subjugated them in the ninth century, and became masters of the Danubian plains. Roman Catholicism became the state religion about the year 1000, but during the Reformation period the Lutheran and Reformed types of Protestantism gained a large following and were granted liberty. This was afterward denied them, and bloody struggles followed, as in Bohemia. Protestants were again placed on equal footing with Roman Catholics in 1791. The Magyars number over eight millions and comprise a little more than one half the population of Hungary.
[Sidenote: Good and Bad Qualities]
There are at present between 250,000 and 300,000 Hungarians in America. They have a fair degree of education, are generally reputed to be honest, and as compared with the Slavs (with whom they are commonly confused) are more intelligent and less industrious, "more agile in limb and temper." Many are addicted to drink and quarreling. It is noticeable that the Protestants are morally and intellectually superior to the Catholics. The bulk of the Magyars (eighty-six per cent.) are in the Pennsylvania mining regions, in New York, New Jersey, and Ohio. At home chiefly agriculturists, here they work mostly in mines, mills, and factories. The Roman Catholic Hungarians are said to lapse easily from the Church, going into indifferentism and nothingism. This gives opening for Protestant mission work.
[Sidenote: The City Colony]
A writer who has made special investigations, in the line of social settlement studies, says that eighty per cent. of the Magyars arriving in New York go at once to the farms and mines. The New York colony numbers 50,000 to 60,000, including the Hungarian Jews, who are scarcely distinguishable from the Gentiles. The life of their quarter is one continuous whirl of excitement. Pleasure seems the chief end. The cafe is their club room. Intensely social, fond of conviviality and gaiety, bright, polished, graceful, the Magyar soon learns English, and adapts himself to his new surroundings. The newspaper, literary society, and charitable organization are the only institutions he cares to support. Pride, independence, fertility of resource, lack of perseverance, love of ease rather than of a strenuous life—these are his qualities. Tailoring is the chief occupation in New York, though Hungarians are also furriers, workers in hotels and restaurants and various kinds of light factories, and some are shopkeepers and merchants. Those who speak from close knowledge call them excellent "citizen-material." In one of these typical East Side Hungarian cafes, as a guest of the Hungarian Republican Club, President Roosevelt spent the evening and made a noteworthy address on February 14, 1905. Among other things, he told them that "Americanism is not a matter of birthplace or race, but of the spirit that is in the man."
V. The Lithuanians and Letts
[Sidenote: Mine and Mill Workers]
The Lithuanians in Russia number about two millions. They began to come in 1868, driven out by famine at home, and the first comers went to the northern Pennsylvania mines. At present there are about 200,000 in America; 50,000 of them in the anthracite coal fields of Pennsylvania, 25,000 in the soft coal mines of western Pennsylvania and West Virginia; 10,000 in Philadelphia and Baltimore; 15,000 in New York; 25,000 in New England; mainly in Boston, Worcester, Brockton, Hartford, and Bridgeport; 10,000 in Ohio and Michigan; 50,000 in Illinois and Wisconsin; while several thousand are scattered over the western states. Though nearly all raised on farms, they do not take to farming here, nor do they like open air work, preferring the mines, factories, foundries, and closed shops. In the cities many of them are tailors, and many are found in packing-houses, steel plants, hat and shoe factories, and mills. Their chief curse is intemperance, and they are not of strong character, having little of the quality of leadership. Generally they are devout Roman Catholics; when not they are apt to become freethinkers, and a freethinkers' alliance has been formed among them. They are described as commonly peaceable, well dressed, and good-natured. Their children are mostly in public schools. Little Protestant work has been done among them.
[Sidenote: Less Favorable Repute]
The Lettish people, like the Lithuanians, their neighbors and kinsmen, are among the oldest races of Europe. They are clearly distinguished from the southern Slavs, being tall and fair, like the Swede, in complexion. The Letts at home number about a million and a half. Since 1900 nearly 35,000 of them have come to America, settling mostly in the anthracite coal regions. They are also found in New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, and New Jersey. About one half are illiterate, and in the coal fields both Lithuanians and Letts have a poor reputation. In Boston, however, there is an encouraging mission work among the Lettish people.
VI. The Ruthenians
[Sidenote: From a Poor Environment]
The Ruthenians, or Ukrainians, called also the Little Russians, at home occupy the southern part of Russia, eastern and southwestern Galicia, and part of Bukovina in Austria-Hungary. Their number in Europe is computed at over 30,000,000. They are darker and smaller than the typical Slav. Roman Catholic in religion, they are generally poor, illiterate, backward in civilization, and oppressed. Immigration began perhaps thirty years ago, but not in appreciable numbers until recent years. In the four years ending in June, 1903, there were 26,496 arrivals, two thirds men, nearly all unskilled laborers, and one half unable to read or write. The number in 1905 was 14,473. Pennsylvania is their common destination. Estimates as to their present numbers in the country vary from 160,000 to 350,000, the latter figures given by Ivan Ardan, editor of their paper, Svoboda, at Scranton. He says there are 60,000 more in Canada, and as many in Brazil and other South American republics, or about half a million altogether in the new world. Probably there are 90,000 of them in Pennsylvania. They are said to be accessible to missionary influences, but their ignorance and crowded conditions of living make work difficult.
[Sidenote: Mostly Laborers]
About eight tenths of the Ruthenians here are laborers, chiefly in the mines; and about one tenth are farmers. The young women work in shops and factories, but prefer domestic service, and are efficient. The people are very saving, and scarcely one but has from $50 to $200 at least saved and put away in some hidden corner or in a bank. They buy lots and build houses, or take up farming. They have beneficial societies for sickness, injury, and death, including wife and mother as well as husband and father. Mr. Ardan says Ruthenian men and women drink, "farmers and Protestants being exceptions." What a notable exception and testimony that is.
[Sidenote: Greek Catholics]
Superstitious, devout, attached to their churches, the majority are Greek Catholics, with a few Protestants from Russian Ukraine, where Protestants are bitterly persecuted. There are 108 Ruthenian churches, composed of eighty Greek Catholic, twenty-six Greek Orthodox (Russian State Church), and two Protestant, besides several Protestant missions.
[Sidenote: Hopeful Features]
The people are as a rule very eager to learn both their native and the English language. They have their adult schools for this purpose. Their children go to the public schools. There are four Ruthenian weeklies and one monthly published in this country, and some books. Education is prompted by reading circles, lectures, and societies for self-improvement. The race has a fine physique, with great physical endurance. Individuality is more marked in it than in many Slavonic races, and assimilation is comparatively rapid. In this country they rapidly wake up to a new life and promise to make a worthy addition to citizenship. Such missionary opportunities should move our Christian churches to active efforts.
VII. Other Nationalities
[Sidenote: Croatians and Dalmatians]
We can only mention the remaining nationalities of the Slavic group. The Croatians and Dalmatians, unable to make a living at home, are fleeing from starvation and mismanagement, and seeking work in America. Croatia is a kingdom of Austria-Hungary. Dalmatia is the seacoast province of Austria.
The Slovenians come from the provinces northwest of Croatia. The three nationalities have probably sent between 200,000 and 300,000 persons to America. Dalmatians are oyster fishermen at New Orleans, make staves in Mississippi, are wine dealers in San Francisco, and vine growers and miners in other parts of California. The Slovenians are chiefly found in the Pennsylvania mines and other mining regions. The Croatians are mostly in the same regions and work, although in New York there are about 15,000 of them engaged as longshoremen and mechanics, and a small number are farmers out West. They are Roman Catholic, largely illiterate and unskilled. The Catholics do little for them, and the Protestant denominations have undertaken no specific work in their behalf.
[Sidenote: A Needy Group]
The Bosnians, Herzegovinians, Bulgarians, Servians, and Montenegrins are just beginning to come in appreciable numbers. They represent much the same home conditions as the nationalities mentioned more in detail. Catholicism, Greek or Roman, has cast them pretty much in the same mold. Ignorant, semi-civilized many of them, they have everything to get and learn in their new home, and afford still larger opportunity for Protestant Christianity in its mighty work of making and keeping America the land of righteousness and progress.
[Sidenote: A Hopeful View]
An interesting series of articles appeared in 1906 in a magazine devoted to social betterment, the writer having spent a year in studying conditions in the Slav districts of Austria-Hungary. Living among the people, she has become profoundly interested in them, and takes a most hopeful view of their possibilities in America. She says the life from which the peasants mostly come to us is the old peasant life, but a little way removed from feudalism and serfdom. Each little village is a tiny world in itself, with its own traditions and ways, its own dress, perhaps even its own dialect. The amazing gift of the Slav for color and music permeates the whole home life with poetry. The Slav immigrants have the virtues and faults of their primitive world. They come to America to make money. The majority come with intent to earn money to take back home, rather than with expectation to settle here permanently. Unenterprising, unlettered, they are at the same time hardy, thrifty and shrewd, honest and pious. They are undoubtedly highly endowed with gifts of imagination and artistic expression for which in their American conditions they find little or no outlet.
[Sidenote: Necessity of Christian Environment]
And here again is the point we are constantly having impressed upon us. What the immigrant shall become, for good or ill, depends chiefly upon what conditions are made for him, and whether he is given a chance to express his best self in this country. Grinding monopoly, harsh treatment, prejudice that drives into clannishness and race hatred—these will make of the Slavs a peril. A genuinely Christian environment and treatment will find them receptive and ready for Americanization through evangelization.
VIII. The Russian Jews
[Sidenote: An Interesting Group]
In some respects the most interesting immigrants from the Slav countries are the Jews from Russia and Roumania. The German Jew and the Russian Jew must not be confounded; they are as distinct as any two races in the entire immigrant group. The German Jew came to America to make more money, and is making it. The Russian Jew, who comes from persecution, is rigidly orthodox, and regards the commercial German class as apostate. He forms a picturesque, vigorous, sui generis member of the alien procession.
[Sidenote: Coming Rapidly]
Since the year 1881 not less than 750,000 Jewish immigrants have arrived at the port of New York alone. On Manhattan Island more than every fourth person you meet is a Jew. The Jews admitted at Ellis Island during the past five years outnumbered all the communicants in the Protestant churches in Greater New York.
[Sidenote: Where they Come from]
Of the 106,000 Jews admitted in 1904, a large proportion of whom settled in New York, 77,000 came from the Russian Empire, 20,000 from Austria-Hungary, and 6,000 from Roumania. Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe are all one people.
They show a larger proportion with skilled, professional and commercial training and experience than do any of the other newer immigrants except the Finns. Nearly twenty per cent. of the Hebrew immigrants are tailors, nearly five per cent. mechanics, merchants, or clerks, and almost one per cent. follow the professions. Of the remainder a very considerable proportion, though not a majority, are skilled workers such as bakers, tobacco workers, carpenters, painters, and butchers. The garment trades, to which they find themselves adapted, and for which New York is the world center, engages perhaps 100,000 of them, men, women, and children, many of them in the sweat-shops, which they created. For the first time in their history, the Jews have built up a great industrial class, this being an American development. According to a Jewish authority, the "unspeakable evils of the tenements and sweat-shops" of the ghetto are undermining their physical and moral health.
The newly arrived Russian Jew is kept in the ghetto of the larger cities—New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston—not only by his poverty and ignorance but by his orthodoxy. In this district the rules of his religion can more certainly be followed. Here can be found the lawful food, here the orthodox places of worship, here neighbors and friends can be visited within "a sabbath day's journey." The young people, however, rapidly shake off such trammels, and in the endeavor to be like Americans urge their parents to move away from this "foreign" district. When they succeed, the Americanizing process may be considered well under way. Concerning the religious change that comes over the young Jew after he reaches this country, a writer says:
[Sidenote: Become Estranged from Judaism]
"Many a young man, who was firm in his religious convictions in his native village, having heard of the religious laxity prevalent in America, had fully made up his mind not to be misled by the temptation and allurements of the free country, but he succumbed in his struggle and renounced his Judaism when first submitting his chin to the barber's razor, at the entreaties and persuasions of his Americanized friends and relatives. Religion then appeared to him not only distinct from life, but antagonistic to it, and since it was life, a free, full, undisturbed life he sought in coming here, he felt compelled to divorce himself from all the religious ties that had hitherto encompassed him. Thus it is that the immigrant Jewish youth, even those faithful and loyal to the institutions of old and who desired to conduct their lives in accordance with the precepts of their religion, became estranged from Judaism and suffered themselves to be swept along by the tide. Thus the immigrant Jew in America has frequently become callous and indifferent, and sometimes cynical and antagonistic to everything pertaining to Judaism." While they are thus lost to Judaism they are not won to Christianity, but they ought to be. The older people become reconciled with difficulty to this irreligious attitude and "the old Jewess still curses Columbus for his great transgression in discovering America, where her children have lost their religion."
[Sidenote: Ambitious for Wealth and Education]
The Russian Jews usually come in great poverty, but do not stay poor very long. In New York's East Side many tenements in Jewish quarters are owned by persons who formerly lived in crowded corners of others like them; and from this population comes many a Broadway merchant, and professional men in plenty. It is certain that the adult Hebrew immigrant has definite aspirations toward social, economic, and educational advancement. The poorest among them will make all possible sacrifices to keep his children in school; and one of the most striking social phenomena in New York City is the way in which the Jews have taken possession of the public schools, in the highest as well as lowest grades. The city college is practically filled with Jewish pupils. In the lower schools Jewish children are the delight of their teachers for cleverness at their books, obedience, and general good conduct; and the vacation schools, night schools, social settlements, libraries, bathing places, parks, and playgrounds of the East Side are fairly besieged with Jewish children. Jewish boys are especially ambitious to enter professions or go into business. For example, the head of one of the largest institutions of the East Side tells a story of a long interview with a class of boys in which all spoke of the work they intended to do. Law, medicine, journalism, and teaching came first. There were even some who intended to become engineers. A smaller number were going into business, and not one intended to learn any manual trade. Some were going in for music, and occasionally one is found who intends to make his living by art. But above all, the young Jew is ambitious and intends to rise. This is true in all cities.
[Sidenote: Worthy Qualities]
The strong good qualities of the Jews are absence of the drink evil, love of home, desire to preserve the purity of the family, and remarkable eagerness for self-improvement. They easily adapt themselves to the new environment and assimilate the customs and language of the new country. This leads to the danger of readily falling in with the vices found in the tenement districts—the children showing this in the large numbers of them that appear in the Juvenile Court. The remedy is removal, and this the Jewish parents seek as soon as they are able.
[Sidenote: Good Citizens, but Poor Americans]
With decent environment and a fair chance, the Russian Jew promises to become a good citizen, intellectually keen, commercially shrewd, professionally bound to shine. But that he will ever, except in rare instances, imbibe the real American spirit or understand the American ideals is a question. At the same time, the Jews are believers in the principle of democracy, and in case of an issue arising on the separation of Church and State, would be found standing with American Protestantism for the religious liberties of the American people.
QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTER V
AIM: TO CONSIDER THE DESIRABILITY OF THE SLAVS AS IMMIGRANTS.
I. The Slavic People as a Whole.
1. What nationalities are generally included under the term Slavs? Are they numerous in population? Are they strictly of one race?
2. What grounds are there to justify popular prejudice against them? Or to show it to be ill founded?
3. When did they begin to come in large numbers?
4. Where have they largely settled, and with what results?
II. Racial Divisions of the Slavic Immigrants.
5. What can you tell about the Bohemians, as to their religious history, political sufferings, and coming to America? What are their conditions here? Their accessibility? Their location?
6. Tell about the Poles in the same way.
7. Tell about the Slovaks in the same way.
8. Tell about the Magyars in the same way.
9. Who and what are the Lithuanians?
10. Who and what are the Ruthenians?
III. Slavic Elements of Strength and American Outlook.
11. Mention some encouraging features with reference to the above-named and other Slavs.
12. * If you had been born a Slav in Europe, would you be likely to prefer America to Europe? Protestantism to Roman Catholicism? The country or the city?
IV. Social, Moral, and Religious Aspects of the Jewish and Slavic Population.
13. How many Jews are there in New York City?
14. What keeps the new arrivals in the larger cities?
15. Are they religious, quick to learn, temperate?
16. Mention some form of Christian work for Slavs or Jews about which you know.
REFERENCES FOR ADVANCED STUDY.—CHAPTER V
I. Further Study as to Race Origin and Inter-relationship of the Slavs.
Warne: The Slav Invasion, III. McLanahan: Our People of Foreign Speech, IV.
II. National Conditions in Europe which the Slavs Seek to Escape.
Hall: Immigration, 60-65.
III. Social and Moral Effects Produced by the Slav Invasion of the Anthracite Regions.
Warne: The Slav Invasion, IV, VII.
IV. Factors in Slavic History and Conditions Favoring and Hindering the Access of the Gospel.
McLanahan: Our People of Foreign Speech, 34-58. Charities and Commons, issues 1905-06.
V. Conditions Among Russian Jews.
Statements of Jewish authors as to conditions among Russian Jews in their native lands and in America.
Bernheimer: The Russian Jew in the United States, I (B), IV (A), VI (A).
The city is the nerve center of our civilization. It is also the storm center. The city has a peculiar attraction for the immigrant. Here is heaped the social dynamite; here the dangerous elements are multiplied and concentered.—Josiah Strong.
THE FOREIGN PERIL OF THE CITY
The city is the most difficult and perplexing problem of modern times.—Francis Lieber.
We must save the city if we would save the nation. Municipal government and city evangelization together constitute the distinctive problem of the city, for this generation at least.—Josiah Strong.
Talk of Dante's Hell, and all the horrors and cruelties of the torture chamber of the lost! The man who walks with open eyes and bleeding heart through the shambles of our civilization needs no such fantastic images of the poet to teach him horror.—General Booth.
With the influx of a large foreign population into the great cities, there have come also foreign customs and institutions, laxity and license—those phases of evil which are the most insidious foes of the purity and strength of a people. The slums of our large cities are but the stagnant pools of illiteracy, vice, pauperism, and crime, annually fed by this floodtide of immigration.—R. M. Atchison.
You can kill a man with a tenement as easily as with an ax.—Jacob Riis.
Our foreign colonies are to a large extent in the cities of our own country. To live in one of these foreign communities is actually to live on foreign soil. The thoughts, feelings, and traditions which belong to the mental life of the colony are often entirely alien to an American.—Robert Hunter.
The vastness of the problem of the city slum, and the impossibility, even with unlimited resources of men and money, of permanently raising the standards of living of many of our immigrants as long as they are crowded together, and as long as the stream of newer immigrants pours into these same slums, has naturally forced itself upon the minds of thinking persons.—Robert D. Ward.
THE FOREIGN PERIL OF THE CITY
I. The Evils of Environment
[Sidenote: Tendency Toward the Cities]
As is the city, so will the nation be. The tendencies all seem to be toward steady concentration in great centers. The evils of congestion do not deter the thronging multitudes. The attractions of the city are irresistible, even to those who exist in the most wretched conditions. The tenement districts baffle description, yet nothing is more difficult than to get their miserable occupants to leave their fetid and squalid surroundings for the country. To the immigrants the city is a magnet. Here they find colonies of their own people, and prize companionship more than comfort. "Folks is more company than stumps," said an old woman in the slums to Dr. Schauffler. In the great cities the immigrants are massed, and this constitutes a most perplexing problem. If tens of thousands of foreigners could somehow be gotten out of New York, Boston, Chicago, and other cities, and be distributed where they are needed and could find work and homes, immigration would cause far less anxiety. But when the immigrant prefers New York or Chicago, what authority shall remove him to Louisiana or Oklahoma?
[Sidenote: Perils Due to Environment]
The foreigner is in the city; he will chiefly stay there; and the question is what can be done to improve his city environment; for the perils to which we refer are primarily due not to the foreigner himself but to the evil and vice-breeding conditions in which he has to exist. These imperil him and make him a peril in turn. The overcrowded tenements and slums, the infection of long-entrenched corruption, the absence of light, fresh air, and playgrounds for the children, the unsanitary conditions and exorbitant rents, the political heelers teaching civic corruption, the saloons with their attendant temptations to vice and crime, the fraudulent naturalization—these work together upon the immigrant, for his undoing and thus to the detriment of the nation. When we permit such an environment to exist, and practically force the immigrant into it because we do not want him for a next-door neighbor, we can hardly condemn him for forming foreign colonies which maintain foreign customs and are impervious to American influences. It has too long been the common practice to lay everything to the foreigner. Would it not be fairer and more Christian to distribute the blame, and assume that part of it which belongs to us. In the study of the facts contained in this chapter, put yourself persistently in the place of the immigrant, suddenly introduced into the conditions here pictured, and ask yourself what you would probably be and become in like circumstances.
[Sidenote: A Call for Reform]
How the other half lives is not the only mystery. How little the so-called upper-ten know how the lower-ninety live. And how little you and I, who are fortunate to count ourselves in the next upper-twenty, perhaps, know how the under-seventy exist and think and do. If only the more fortunate thirty per cent. knew of the exact conditions under which a large proportion of men, women, and children carry on the pitiful struggle for mere existence, there would be an irresistible demand for betterment. Every Christian ought to know the wrongs of our civilization, in order that he may help to right them. This glimpse beneath the surface of the city should stir us out of comfortable complacency and give birth in us to the impulse that leads to settlement and city mission work, and to civic reform movements. The young men and women of America must create a public sentiment that will demolish the slums, and erect in their places model tenements; that will tear down the rookeries, root out the saloons and dens of vice, and provide the children with playgrounds and breathing space. And this work will be directly in the line of Americanizing and evangelizing the immigrants, for they are chiefly the occupants and victims of the tenements and the slums.
[Sidenote: Vanishing Americanism]
New York is a city in America but is hardly an American city. Nor is any other of our great cities, except perhaps Philadelphia. Boston is an Irish city, Chicago is a German-Scandinavian-Polish city, Saint Louis is a German city, and New York is a Hebrew-German-Irish-Italian-Bohemian-Hungarian city—a cosmopolitan race conglomeration. Eighteen languages are spoken in a single block. In Public School No. 29 no less than twenty-six nationalities are represented. This indicates the complicated problem.
[Sidenote: A Jewish City]
New York is the chief Jewish capital. Of the 760,000 Jews on Manhattan, about 450,000 are Russian, and they overcrowd the East Side ghetto. In that quarter the signs are in Hebrew, the streets are markets, the shops are European, the men, women, and children speak in Yiddish, and all faces bear the foreign and Hebrew mark plainly upon them.
[Sidenote: An Italian City]
Go on a little further and you find that you are in Little Italy, quite distinct from Jewry, but not less foreign. Here the names on the signs are Italian, and the atmosphere is redolent with the fumes of Italy. The hurdy-gurdy vies with the push-cart, the streets are full of children and women, and you are as a stranger in a strange land. You would not be in a more distinctively Italian section if you were by magic transplanted to Naples or Genoa.
[Sidenote: A Foreign City]
[Sidenote: Other Foreign Cities]
Nor is it simply the East Side in lower New York that is so manifestly foreign. Go where you will on Manhattan Island and you will see few names on business signs that do not betray their foreign derivation. Two out of every three persons you meet will be foreign. You will see the Italian gangs cleaning the streets, the Irish will control the motor of your trolley-car and collect your fares, the policeman will be Irish or German, the waiters where you dine will be French or German, Italian or English, the clerks in the vast majority of the shopping places will be foreign, the people you meet will constantly remind you of the rarity of the native American stock. You are ready to believe the statement that there are in New York more persons of German descent than of native descent, and more Germans than in any city of Germany except Berlin. Here are nearly twice as many Irish as in Dublin, about as many Jews as in Warsaw, and more Italians than in Naples or Venice. In government, in sentiment, in practice, as in population (thirty-seven per cent. foreign-born and eighty per cent. of foreign birth or parentage), the metropolis is predominantly foreign, and in elections the foreign vote, shrewdly manipulated for the most part, controls. Nor is this true of New York alone. In thirty-three of our largest cities the foreign population is larger than the native; in Milwaukee and Fall River the foreign percentage rises as high as eighty-five per cent. In all these cities the foreign colonies are as distinct and practically as isolated socially as though they were in Russia or Poland, Italy or Hungary. Foreign in language, customs, habits, and institutions, these colonies are separated from each other, as well as from the American population, by race, customs, and religion.
[Sidenote: Failure in City Government]
To believe that this makes no particular difference so far as the development of our national life is concerned is to shut one's eyes to obvious facts. As such an impartial and intelligent student of our institutions as Mr. James Bryce has pointed out, the conspicuous failure of democracy in America thus far is seen in the bad government of our great cities. And it is in these centers that the mass of the immigrants learn their first and often last lessons of American life.
[Sidenote: Where the Newcomers First Go]
The strong tendency of immigrants is to settle in or near the ports of entry. Where in the great cities do these newcomers find a dwelling place? What will their first lessons in American life be? If we deal largely with New York, it is simply because here are the typical conditions and here the larger proportion of arrivals. Once admitted at Ellis Island, the alien is free to go where he will; or rather, where he can, for his place of residence is restricted, after all. If he is an Italian, he will naturally and almost of necessity go to one of the Little Italies; if a Jew, to the ghetto of the East Side; if a Bohemian, to Little Bohemia; and so on. In other words, he will go, naturally and almost inevitably, to the colonies which tend to perpetuate race customs and prejudices, and to prevent assimilation. Worse yet, these colonies are in the tenement and slum districts, the last environment of all conceivable in which this raw material of American citizenship should be placed.
II. Tenement-House Life
[Sidenote: Vice-Breeding Conditions]
To those who have not made personal investigation, the present conditions, in spite of laws and efforts to ameliorate the worst evils, are well nigh unbelievable. The cellar population, the blind alley population, the swarming masses in buildings that are little better than rat-traps, the herding of whole families in single rooms, in which the miserable beings sleep, eat, cook, and make clothing for contractors, or cigars that would never go into men's mouths if the men saw where they were made—these things seem almost impossible in a civilized and Christian land. It is horrible to be obliged to think of the human misery and hopelessness and grind to which hundreds of thousands are subjected in the city of New York day in and out, without rest or change. It is no wonder that criminals and degenerates come from these districts; it is a marvel, rather, that so few result, and that so much of human kindness and goodness exists in spite of crushing conditions. There is a bright as well as dark side even to the most disgraceful districts; but there is no denying that the dark vastly predominates, and that the struggle for righteousness is too hard for the average human being. Nearly everything is against the peasant immigrant thrust into the throng which has no welcome for him, no decent room, and yet from which he has little chance to get away. He is commonly cleaner morally when he lands than after six months of the life here. Why should he not be? What has American Christianity done to safeguard or help him?
[Sidenote: Immigrants Not Responsible]
The existence of the tenement-house evils, it must be borne in mind, is chargeable primarily to the owner and landlord, not to the foreign occupant. The landlords are especially to blame for the ill consequences. The immigrant cannot dictate terms or conditions. He has to go where he can. The prices charged for rent are exorbitant, and should secure decency and healthful quarters. No property is so remunerative. This rent money is literally blood money in thousands of instances, and yet every effort to improve things is bitterly fought. Why should not socialism and anarchism grow in such environment? Of course many of the immigrants are familiar with poor surroundings and do not apparently object to dirt and crowding. But that does not make these conditions less perilous to American life. Self-respect has a hard struggle for survival in these sections, and if the immigrant does not possess or loses that, he is of the undesirable class. Mr. Robert Hunter makes the statement that no other city in the world has so many dark and windowless rooms, or so many persons crowded on the acre, or so many families deprived of light and air as New York. He says there are 360,000 dark rooms in Greater New York. And these are almost entirely occupied by the foreigners. But unsanitary conditions prevail also in all the cities, large and small, and especially in the mine and mill and factory towns, wherever large masses of the poorest workers live.
[Sidenote: Legal Remedies Possible]
Concerning possible legislation to correct these city evils of environment, Mr. Sargent says: "So far as the overcrowding in city tenements is concerned, municipal ordinances in our large cities prescribing the amount of space which rapacious landlords should, under penalties sufficiently heavy to enforce obedience, be required to give each tenant, would go far toward attaining the object in view. Whether such a plan could be brought into existence through the efforts of our general government, or whether the Congress could itself legislate directly, upon sanitary and moral grounds, against the notorious practice of housing aliens with less regard for health and comfort than is shown in placing brute animals in pens, the Bureau is unprepared to say.
[Sidenote: Demands Immediate Remedy]
It is, however, convinced that no feature of the immigration question so insistently demands public attention and effective action. The evil to be removed is one that is steadily and rapidly on the increase, and its removal will strike at the root of fraudulent elections, poverty, disease, and crime in our large cities, and on the other hand largely supply that increasing demand for labor to develop the natural resources of our country."
[Sidenote: Little Italy]
Not to draw the picture all in the darker shades, let us look at the best type of Italian tenement life. We are not left to guesswork in the matter. Settlement workers and students of social questions are actually living in the tenement and slum sections, so as to know by experience and not hearsay. One of these investigators, Mrs. Lillian W. Betts, author of two enlightening books, has lived for a year in one of the most crowded tenements in one of the most densely populated sections of the Italian quarter. We condense some of her statements, which reveal the foreign life of to-day in New York's Little Italy, with its 400,000 souls.
[Sidenote: Immigrant Isolation]
"A year's residence in an Italian tenement taught me first of all the isolation of a foreign quarter; how completely cut off one may be from everything that makes New York New York. The necessities of life can be bought without leaving the square that is your home. After a little it occasioned no surprise to meet grandparents whose own children were born in New York, who had never crossed to the east side of the Bowery, never seen Broadway, nor ever been south of Houston Street. There was no reason why they should go. Every interest in their life centered within four blocks. I went with a neighbor to Saint Vincent's Hospital, where her husband had been taken. I had to hold her hand in the cars, she was so terrified. She had lived sixteen years in this ward and never been on a street-car before. Of a family of five sons and two daughters, besides the parents, in this country fifteen years, none spoke English but the youngest, born here, and she indifferently. Little Italy was all of America they knew, and of curiosity they had none.
[Sidenote: Children American in Spirit]
"The house in which we lived was built for twenty-eight families and occupied by fifty-six. One man who had been in the country twenty-eight years could not speak or understand a word of English. Nothing but compulsion made his children use Italian, and the result was pathetic. The eldest child was an enthusiastic American, and the two civilizations were always at war. This boy knew more of American history, its heroes and poetry, than anyone of his age I ever met. This boy had never been five blocks from the house in which we lived. He removed his hat and shoes when he went to bed in winter; in summer he took off his coat. A brother and two sisters shared the folding bed with him. His father hired the three rooms and sublet to a man with a wife and three children. The women quarreled all the time, but worked in the same room, finishing trousers and earning about forty-five cents a day each.
[Sidenote: Evils of Overcrowding]
"How do they live? One widow, with three in her own family, took nine men boarders in her three rooms. A nephew and his wife also kept house there, the rent being $18 a month. Another neighbor, whose family consisted of four adults and two children, had seven lodgers or boarders at one time. These men owned mattresses, rolled up by day, spread on the floor at night. One of them had a bride coming from Italy. Two men with their mattresses were ejected and space made for the ornate brass and green bedstead. The wedding was the occasion of great rejoicing. Next day the bride was put to work sewing 'pants.' At the end of a month I found she had not left those rooms from the moment she entered them, and that she worked, Sundays included, fourteen hours a day. She was a mere child, at that. The Italian woman is not a good housekeeper, but she is a homemaker; she does not fret; dirt, disorder, noise, company, never disturb her. She must share everything with those about her. She cooks one meal a day and that at night. Pot or pan may be placed in the middle of the table and each may help himself from it, but the food is what her husband wants.
[Sidenote: Family Cooeperation]
"Together they will wash the dishes or he will take the baby out. The mother, who has sewed all day, will wash till midnight, while the husband sits dozing, smoking, talking. But he hangs out the clothes. They work together, these Italian husbands and wives. Their wants are the barren necessaries of life; shelter, food, clothing to cover nakedness. The children's clothes are washed when they go to bed. Life is reduced to its lowest terms. They can move as silently as do the Arabs and do so in the night watches. But they are rarely penniless; they have a little fund always in the bank. They put their young children in institutions from weaning-time until they are old enough to work, then bring them home to swell the family income. Recently a father, whose children had thus been cared for by the state, bought a three-story tenement. This is typical thrift. There was never a day when all the children of school age were in school. School was a prison house to most of them. There was not room for them, even if they wanted to go.
[Sidenote: City Neglect]
"The streets in which the Italians live are the most neglected. It is claimed that cleanliness is impossible where the Italian lives. The truth is that preparation for cleanliness in our foreign colonies is wholly inadequate. The police despise the Italian except for his voting power. He feels the contempt, but with the wisdom of his race he keeps his crimes foreign, and defies this department more successfully than the public generally knows. He is a peaceable citizen in spite of the peculiar race crimes which startle the public. The criminals are as one to a thousand of these people. On Sundays watch these colonies. The streets are literally packed with crowds from house line to house line, as far as the eye can see, but not a policeman in sight, nor occasion for one. Laughter, song, discussion, exchange of epithet, but no disturbance. They mind their own business as no other nation, and carry it to the point of crime when they protect the criminal."
[Sidenote: Possibilities of Uplifting]
This is testimony directly from life and has especial value. It reveals the difficulties, and at the same time the possibilities, of reaching and Americanizing these immigrants, who are better than their surroundings, and promising if properly cared for.
[Sidenote: Sources of Degradation]
The impression that steadily deepens with observation and study is that of the evil and degrading surroundings. Not only are there the evil moral influences of overcrowding, but also the contact with elements of population already deteriorated by a generation of tenement house life. The fresh arrivals are thrown into contact with the corrupt remnants of Irish immigration which now make up the beggars, drunkards, thugs, and thieves of those quarters. The results can easily be predicted. The Italian laboring population is temperate when it comes to this country; but under the evil conditions and influences of the tenement district disorderly resorts have been opened, and drinking and other vices are spreading. The Hebrews show tendencies to vices from which formerly they were free. The law does not protect these immigrants, and it is charged that the city permits every kind of inducement for the extension of immorality, drunkenness, and crime. Thus the immigrant is likely to deteriorate and degenerate in the process of Americanization, instead of becoming better in this new world. He has indeed little chance. If he does not become a pauper or criminal or drunkard, it will be because he is superior to his environment.
III. The Sweat-shop Peril
[Sidenote: An Awful Peril]
An immigrant peril is the sweat-shop labor which this class performs. "Sweating" is the system of sub-contract wherein the work is let out to contractors to be done in small shops or at home. According to the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics, "in practice sweating consists of the farming out by competing manufacturers to competing contractors of the material for garments, which in turn is distributed among competing men and women to be made up." This system is opposed to the factory system, where the manufacturer employs his own workmen, sees the goods made, and knows the conditions. The sweating system is one of the iniquities of commercial greed, and the helpless foreigner of certain classes is its victim. The contractor or sweater in our cities is an organizer and employer of immigrants. His success depends upon getting the cheapest help, and life is of no account to him, nor apparently to the man above him. The clothing may be made in foul and damp and consumption or fever-infested cellars and tenement-styes, by men, women and children sick or uncleanly, but the only care of the sweater is that it be made cheaply and thus his returns be secured. It is a standing reproach to our Christian civilization that the sweating system and the slums are still existing sores in American centers of population. So far the law has been unable to control or check greed, and the plague spots grow worse. Here is a typical case, taken from the report of the Industrial Commission:
[Sidenote: A Striking Example]
"A Polish Jew in Chicago, at a time when very few of the Poles were tailors, opened a shop in a Polish neighborhood. He lost money during the time he was teaching the people the trade, but finally was a gainer. Before he opened the shop he studied the neighborhood; he found the very poorest quarters where most of the immigrant Poles lived. He took no one to work except the newly arrived Polish women and girls. The more helpless and dependent they were, the more sure of getting work from him. In speaking about his plans he said: 'It will take these girls years to learn English and to learn how to go about and find work. In that way I will be able to get their labor very cheap.' His theory turned out to be practical. He has since built several tenement-houses."
[Sidenote: A Foreign Importation]
The cheap tailor business is divided among the Italians, Russians, Poles, and Swedes, Germans and Bohemians. The women and children are made to work, and hours are not carefully counted. Long work, poor food, poor light, foul air, bad sanitation—all make this kind of life far worse than any life which the immigrants knew in Europe. Better physical starvation there than the mental and spiritual blight of these modern conditions here. That so much of hopeful humanity is found in these unwholesome and congested wards proves the quality worth saving and elevating.
[Sidenote: Story of a Sweat-shop Girl]
Here is an illustration of the resolute spirit which conditions cannot crush. A young Polish girl was brought by her widowed mother to America, in hope of bettering their condition. The mother died soon afterward, leaving the orphan dependent. Then came the disappointments, one after another, and finally, the almost inevitable result in such cases, the fall into the slums and the sweat-shops. By hard work six days in the week, fourteen or more hours a day, this girl of tender age could make $4 a week! She had to get up at half past five every morning and make herself a cup of coffee, which with a bit of bread and sometimes fruit made her breakfast. Listen to her story:
[Sidenote: Her Own Story]
"The machines go like mad all day, because the faster you work the more money you get. Sometimes in my haste the finger gets caught and the needle goes right through it. We all have accidents like that. Sometimes a finger has to come off.... For the last two winters I have been going to night school. I have learned reading, writing, and arithmetic. I can read quite well in English now, and I look at the newspapers every day. I am going back to night school again this winter. Some of the women in my class are more than forty years of age. Like me, they did not have a chance to learn anything in the old country. It is good to have an education; it makes you feel higher. Ignorant people are all low. People say now that I am clever and fine in conversation. There is a little expense for charity, too. If any worker is injured or sick we all give money to help."
Surely this is good material. A changed and Christian environment would make shining lights out of these poor immigrants, who are kept in the subways of American life, instead of being given a fair chance out in the open air and sunlight of decently paid service.
[Sidenote: A Foreign System]
Practically all of the work in tenements is carried on by foreign-born men and women, and more than that, by the latest arrivals and the lowest conditioned of the foreign-born. Tenement-house legislation has been practically forced upon New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, whose ports of entry receive the first impact of immigration, by two of the races that have been crowding into the cities—the Italian and Hebrew. The Italian woman, working in her close tenement, has by her cheap labor almost driven out all other nationalities from that class of work still done in the home, the hand sewing on coats and trousers. Of the 20,000 licenses granted by the New York factory inspector for "home finishing" in New York City, ninety-five per cent. are held by Italians. This work has to be done because the husband is not making enough to support the family. These men work mostly as street laborers, hucksters, and peddlers. To make both ends meet not only the wife but children have to work.
[Sidenote: A Typical Case]
Here is a typical case of this class of worker and the earnings, from an inspector's note-book: "Antonia Scarafino, 235 Mulberry Street; finisher; gets five cents per pair pants, bastes bottoms, puts linings on; one hour to make; two years at this business; four in this country; married, with baby; sister works with her; can both together make $4 per week; husband peddles fish and makes only $1 to $2 a week; got married here; two rooms, $8.50 rent; kitchen 10 x 12; bedroom 8 x 10; gets all the work she wants. No sunlight falls into her squalid rooms, and there is no stopping, from early morning till late at night."
IV. Three Constant Perils
[Sidenote: The Naturalization Evil]
Illegal and fraudulent naturalization is another evil to which the foreigner in the city becomes a party, although the blame belongs chiefly to the ward politicians who make him a particeps criminis. The recognized managers of the foreign vote of various nationalities—almost always saloonkeepers—hold citizenship cheap, perjury undiscovered as good as truth, and every vote a clear gain for the party and themselves. So the naturalization mills are kept running night and day preceding a national or municipal election. Describing this process, ex-United States Senator Chandler says that in New York during a single month just before election about seven thousand naturalization papers were issued, nearly all by one judge, who examined each applicant and witnesses to his satisfaction, and signed his orders at the rate of two per minute, and as many as 618 in one day. Many classes of frauds were committed. Witnesses were professional perjurers, each swearing in hundreds of cases, testifying to a five years' residence when they had first met the applicants only a few hours before. During the past year some of these professional perjurers and political manipulators were tried and sent to the penitentiary; but the frauds will go on. Here is an illustration:
[Sidenote: Making Citizens]
"Patrick Hefferman, of a given street in New York, was twenty-one years old September 2, 1891, and came to this country August 1, 1888. He was naturalized October 20, 1891. On that day he was introduced by Thomas Keeler to a stranger, who went with him to court and signed a paper; they both went before the judge, who asked the stranger something. Hefferman signed nothing, said nothing, but kissed a book and came out a citizen, having taken no oath except that of renunciation and allegiance."
[Sidenote: Fraud Abundant]
Thus are the sacred rights of citizenship obtained by thousands upon thousands, not in New York alone, but in all our cities. More than that, fraudulent use is freely made of naturalization papers. The Italian immigrant, for example, finds his vote is wanted, and obtains a false paper. He returns to Italy to spend his earnings, and there is offered a sum of money for the use of his papers. These are given to an emigrant who probably could not pass the examination at Ellis Island, but who as a naturalized citizen, if he is not detected in the fraud, cannot be shut out. Then he sends the papers back to Italy. It is admitted that there is a regular traffic in naturalization papers. In every way the alien is put on the wrong track, and his American experiences are such as would naturally make him lawless and criminal rather than a good citizen. He needs nothing more than protection against corrupting and venal agencies, which find their origin in politics and the saloon.
[Sidenote: The Saloon and the Immigrant]
The foreign element furnishes the saloons with victims. In his graphic book describing tenement life in New York Mr. Riis shows the rapid multiplication of the saloons in the slums where the foreigners are crowded into tenements, nine per cent. more densely packed than the most densely populated districts of London. In the chapter, "The Reign of Rum," he says:
[Sidenote: Testimony of Riis]
"'Where God builds a church the devil builds next door a saloon' is an old saying that has lost its point in New York. Either the devil was on the ground first, or he has been doing a good deal more in the way of building. I tried once to find out how the account stood, and counted to 111 Protestant churches, chapels, and places of worship of every kind below Fourteenth Street, 4,065 saloons. The worst half of the tenement population lives down there, and it has to this day the worst half of the saloons. Up town the account stands a little better, but there are easily ten saloons to every church to-day.
[Sidenote: Hunting for an American]
"As to the motley character of the tenement population, when I asked the agent of a notorious Fourth Ward alley how many people might be living in it, I was told: One hundred and forty families—one hundred Irish, thirty-eight Italian, and two that spoke the German tongue. Barring the agent herself, there was not a native-born individual in the court. The answer was characteristic of the cosmopolitan character of lower New York, very nearly so of the whole of it, wherever it runs to alleys and courts. One may find for the asking an Italian, German, French, African, Spanish, Bohemian, Russian, Scandinavian, Jewish, and Chinese colony. The one thing you shall ask for in vain in the chief city of America is a distinctively American community."
[Sidenote: The Peril of Poverty]
The immigrant is nearly always poor, and is thrust into the poverty of the city. We must distinguish between pauperism and poverty. As Mr. Hunter points out, in his stirring chapter on this subject, "pauperism is dependence without shame, poverty is to live miserable we know not why, to have the dread of hunger, to work sore and yet gain nothing." Fear of pauperism, of the necessity of accepting charity, drives the self-respecting poor insane and to suicide. It is to be said that the majority of the immigrants are not paupers, but self-respecting poor. Moreover, the new immigration is not nearly so ready to accept pauperism as are the Irish, who make up the largest percentage of this class, as already shown. But the poor immigrants are compelled, by circumstances, to come in contact with, if not to dwell directly among this pauper element, lost to sense of degradation. The paupers make up the slums. And because the rents are cheaper in the miserable old rookeries that still defy public decency, the Italians especially crowd into these pestilential quarters, which are the hotbeds of disease, physical and moral filth, drunkenness, and crime. Thus pauperism and poverty dwell too closely together.
[Sidenote: Some Causes of Poverty]
Upon the unskilled masses the weight of want is constantly pressing. Unemployment, sickness, the least stoppage of the scant income, means distress. It is estimated that in our country not less than 4,000,000 persons are dependents or paupers, and not less than 10,000,000 are in poverty. This means that they cannot earn enough regularly to maintain the standard of life that means the highest efficiency, and that at some time they are liable to need aid. Mr. Riis has shown that about one third of the people of New York City were dependent upon charity at some time during the eight years previous to 1890. The report of the United Hebrew Charities for 1901 shows similar conditions existing among the Jewish population of New York. Pauperism is a peril, and poverty is a source of apathy and despair. The unskilled immigrant tends to increase the poverty by creating a surplus of cheap labor, and also falls under the blight of the evil he increases.
[Sidenote: Pauperism and Immigration]
Treating of this subject, the Charities Association of Boston reports that it is hopeless to attempt to relieve pauperism so long as its ranks are increased by the great hosts coming into the country, with only a few dollars to depend upon, and no certain work. The statistics of the public almshouses show that the proportion of foreign-born is greatly in excess of the native-born. The pathetic feature of this condition is that what is wanted is not charity but employment at living wages. Greatly is it to the credit of the immigrants from southeastern Europe that they are eager for work and reluctant to accept charity. The danger is that, if allowed to come and then left without opportunity to work, they will of necessity fall into the careless, shiftless, vicious class, already so large and dangerous.
[Sidenote: Peril of the "Great White Plague"]
The immigrants in the city tenements are especially exposed to consumption, that "Great White Plague" which yearly kills its tens of thousands. In New York City alone ten thousand die annually of tuberculosis; and this is the result largely of tenement conditions. Statisticians estimate that the annual money loss in the United States from tuberculosis, counting the cost of nursing, food, medicines, and attendance, as well as the loss of productive labor, is $330,000,000. Mr. Hunter instances a case where an entire family was wiped out by this disease within two years and a half. In spite of his efforts to get the father, who was the first one infected with the disease, to go to a hospital, he refused, saying that as he had to die, he was going to die with his family. The Health Board said it had no authority forcibly to compel the man to go to a hospital; and the result was that the whole family died with him. This plague "is the result of our weakness, our ignorance, our selfishness, and our vices; there is no need of its existence, and it is the duty of the state to stamp it out." That is Mr. Hunter's conclusion, with which we heartily agree.
V. The Cry of the Children
[Sidenote: Peril of Child Neglect]
Another peril of the city, and of the entire country as well, that comes through the foreigners is child neglect and labor; which means illiteracy, stunted body and mind, and often wreckage of life. Every foreign neighborhood is full of children, and sad enough is the average child of poverty. What makes the tenement district of the great city so terrible to you as you go into it is the sight of the throngs of children, who know little of home as you know it, have irregular and scanty meals, and surroundings of intemperance, dirt, foul atmosphere and speech, disease and vice. No wonder the police in these districts say that their worst trouble arises from the boys and the gangs of young "toughs." There is every reason for this unwholesome product. Mr. Hunter says there are not less than half a million children in Greater New York whose only playground is the street. Result, the street gang; and this gang is the really vital influence in the life of most boys in the large cities. It is this life, which develops, as Mr. Riis says, "dislike of regular work, physical incapability of sustained effort, gambling propensities, absence of energy, and carelessness of the happiness of others." The great homeless, yardless tenement, where the children of the immigrants are condemned to live, is the nursery of sickness and crime. The child is left for good influence to the school, the settlement, or the mission. For the enormous amount of juvenile crime in the city, which it requires a special court to deal with, the conditions are more responsible than the children, or even than the parents, who are unable to maintain home life, and who, through the pinch of poverty or the impulse of avarice, give over the education of the children to school or street. Here is a picture of the life on its darker side:
[Sidenote: Street Life of Children]
"Crowded in the tenements where the bedrooms are small and often dark, where the living room is also a kitchen, a laundry, and often a garment-making shop, are the growing children whose bodies cry out for exercise and play. They are often an irritant to the busy mother, and likely as not the object of her carping and scolding. The teeming tenements open their doors, and out into the dark passageways and courts, through foul alleys and over broken sidewalks, flow ever renewed streams of playing children. Under the feet of passing horses, under the wheels of passing street-cars, jostled about by the pedestrian, driven on by the policeman, they annoy everyone. They crowd about the music or drunken brawls in the saloons, they play hide-and-seek about the garbage boxes, they shoot 'craps' in the alleys, they seek always and everywhere activity, movement, life."
[Sidenote: Imprisoned Childhood]
But worse than this picture is that of childhood in the sweat-shop, the factory, the mine, and other places of employment. Mr. Hunter has written a chapter on "The Child" that should be studied by every lover of humanity. Its facts ring out a clarion call for reform. This touches our subject most closely because, as he says, "These evils of child life are doubly dangerous and serious because the mass of people in poverty in our cities are immigrants. The children of immigrants are a remarkable race of little ones."
[Sidenote: Happy Childhood]
Indeed they are, and they give you the bright side of the picture, in spite of all the evil conditions in which they live. The present writer stood recently opposite the entrance to a public school in the congested East Side, where not one of all the thousand or more of scholars was of native stock. As the crowds of little girls poured out at noontime their faces made a fascinating study. The conspicuous thing about them was the smile and fun and brightness. The dress was of every description, and one of the merriest-faced of all had on one shoe and one rubber in place of the second shoe; but from the faces you would never suspect into what kind of places these children were about to go for all they know of home. The hope lies in the children, and the schools are their great blessing and outlet, even if as Mrs. Betts says, many of them of certain classes do not think so. Mr. Hunter says:
[Sidenote: What Kind of Americans?]
"They are to become Americans, and through them, more than through any other agency, their own parents are being led into a knowledge of American ways and customs. All the statistics available prove that vice and crime are far more common among the children of immigrants than among the children of native parentage, and this is due no less to the yardless tenement and street playground than to widespread poverty. In a mass of cases the father and mother both work in that feverish, restless way of the new arrival, ambitious to get ahead. To overcome poverty they must neglect their children. Turned out of the small tenement into the street, the child learns the street. Nothing escapes his sharp eyes, and almost in the briefest conceivable time, he is an American ready to make his way by every known means, good and bad. To the child everything American is good and right. There comes a time when the parents cannot guide him or instruct him; he knows more than they; he looks upon their advice as of no value. If ever there was a self-made man, that man is the son of the immigrant. But the street and the street gang have a great responsibility; they are making the children of a hundred various languages from every part of the world into American citizens."
[Sidenote: A Plain Duty]
How long will American Christianity allow this process of degeneracy to go on, before realizing the peril of it, and providing the counteracting agencies of good? That is the question the young people ought to consider and help answer.
[Sidenote: Child Labor]
But far worse than all else, "the nation is engaged in a traffic for the labor of children." In this country over 1,700,000 children under fifteen are compelled to work in the factories, mines, workshops, and fields. These figures may mean little, for as Margaret McMillan has said, "You cannot put tired eyes, pallid cheeks, and languid little limbs into statistics." But we believe that if our Christian people could be brought for one moment to realize what the inhumanity of this child labor is, there would be such an avalanche of public opinion as would put a stop to it. This evil is a new one in America, begotten of greed for money. This greed is shared jointly by the capitalist employer and the parents, but the greater responsibility rests upon the former, who creates the possibility and fosters the evil.
[Sidenote: Alien Victims]
The immigrants furnish the parents willing to sell their children into child slavery in the factory, or the worse mill or mine—prisons all, and for the innocent. Into these prisons gather "tens of thousands of children, strong and happy, or weak, underfed, and miserable. Stop their play once for all, and put them out to labor for so many cents a day or night, and pace them with a tireless, lifeless piece of mechanism, for ten or twelve hours at a stretch, and you will have a present-day picture of child labor." But there is yet one thing which must be added to the picture. Give the child-slave worker a tenement for a home in the filthy streets of an ordinary factory city, with open spaces covered with tin cans, bottles, old shoes, garbage, and other waste, the gutters running sewers, and the air foul with odors and black with factory smoke, and the picture is fairly complete. It is a dark picture, but hardly so dark as the reality, and if one were to describe "back of the yards" in Chicago, or certain mill towns or mining districts, the picture would be even darker than the one given.