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Aliens or Americans ? Forward Mission Study Course

Front Cover - Aliens or Americans ? Forward Mission Study Course

This is an unusual anti-immigration book packaged as a missionary course.  Published by the Young People's Missionary Movement, New York, 1906 , authored by Howard B. Grose. It is both a history of immigration in New York and a derogatory propaganda towards those coming from other countries, particularly eastern European countries.  The book has rare photos of immigrants, scenes of New York related to this and a couple of maps, one 9 3/4 by 10 3/4 which shows the amounts of immigrants from which countries.

Chapters include: Ellis Island, The Battery, Three types of immigrants (lots of judgment in this chapter) foreign peril of the city, illiteracy rates related to immigrants, national character, immigrants admitted and debarred, immigration laws and charts, tables of races admitted.  I especially was interested to see reasons for debarring included idiocy and insanity. The unpleasantness of arrival is chronicled in detail, including mistreatment.

For use in the Young People's Mission Study Courses, Mr. Grose has prepared this little volume. He shows who these immigrants are, whence they come, and what they are likely to become. Dr. Josiah Strong epitomizes the message as follows:

  • A million immigrants !
  • A million opportunities !
  • A million obligations !

At present our schools are doing more for them that our churches. We have not yet been aroused to the need of these foreign-speaking, foreign-thinking people. They are willing to make great sacrifices if only they can make progress. They begin as ditch diggers and end by being aldermen or professors or millionaires. They are sure to improve materially. They will drag down American ideals unless they are transformed spiritually. Mr. Grose gives us a logical, systematic, and clear presentation of this important study. Our young people will find it a theme of absorbing interest.

Aliens or Americans. By Howard B. Grose. Illustrated. The Young People's Missionary Movement, New York, 1906.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction, by Josiah Strong
  • I. The Alien Advance
  • II. Alien Admission and Restriction
  • III. Problems of Legislation and Distribution
  • IV The New Immigration
  • V. The Eastern Invasion
  • VI. The Foreign Peril of the City
  • VII. Immigration and the National Character
  • VIII. The Home Mission Opportunity


  • Tables of Immigrants Admitted and Debarred
  • The Immigration Laws
  • Work of Leading Denominations for the Foreign Population

Sampling of Illustrations Used in this Book

Chart of the Races of Immigrants for the Fiscal Year 1905

Chart of Races of Immigrants for Fiscal Year 1905

Immigrants Detained at Ellis Island for Special Examination

Immigrants Detained at Ellis Island for Special Examination

Immigrant Children Representing Twelve Nationalities

Immigrant Children Representing Twelve Nationalities

German Immigrant Family of Ten

German Immigrant Family of Ten

Italian and Swiss Immigrant Girls

Italian and Swiss Immigrant Girls

Group of New Immigrants Arriving at Ellis Island

Group of New Immigrants Arriving at Ellis Island

The Landing at the Battery in New York

The Landing at the Battery in New York

Aliens or American? A graphically written work by Howard G. Grose on the incoming multitudes.

There is a "newness" about the questions discussed in Howard B. Grose's new home mission book, "Aliens or American?" that is fascinating. The author believes that his subject is vital. He maintains that the problems involved in the Americanization and Christianization of the incoming multitudes are the most urgent and perplexing problems before the American people. "Immigration," to use his own words, "may be regarded as a peril or a providence, an ogre or an obligation -- according to the point of view." From his viewpoint immigration is an immense evangelistic opportunity.

In the pointed introduction written by Dr. Josiah Strong, the message of the book is briefly summarized thus: A million immigrants! A million opportunities! A million obligations!

Mr. Grose does not use figures drily. He vividly portrays his facts. He shows the immensity of the immigration problem by saying that enough illiterates came in 1905 to make a city as large as Kansas City or one larger than Indianapolis. If this city of illiterates were divided into wards would have 100,000 more than all others. That one ward would be as large as the city of Albany. The other large wards of illiterates would be populated as follows: Polish, 33,000; Hebrew, 22,000; Slav, 36,000; Magyar and Lithuanian, 12,000; Syrian and Turkish, 3,000.

A broad view is given of the present methods of immigration admission and restriction. That his readers may more adequately realize the significance of the processes at Ellis Island, Mr. Grose, in a series of word pictures, helps them to become imaginary immigrants.

Aiming to adhere closely to facts, he takes his readers, in fancy, on a journey with the immigrant from his European home, across the ocean in the steerage, and finally through the devious but essential ways at Ellis Island.

The present immigration laws are commended. Inherently, these laws are excellent; their weakness is that they can be evaded and violated. How this has been done, is shown. An illuminative survey is given of the attempts of the government to properly regulate and restrict immigration during the past century. This is followed by a description of the processes by which the unfit are debarred.

Inspectors meet many trickeries. Unless alert, they are chicaned. "Immigrants who belong to the excluded classes have been carefully coached by agents interested in getting them through the examination. Diseased eyes have been doctored up for the occasion; lame persons have been trained to avoid the fatal limp during the walk (previously described) between the two surgeon." A table is presented showing the numbers and classes excluded for the last twelve years.

The problems of legislation and distribution are generously discussed. It is evident that some of the existing laws should be strengthened. President Roosevelt, in his last annual message, recommended that immigration through Canada and Mexico be restricted; that the exclusion laws be made more stringent; the the restraints on the steamship companies be heavier; and the penalties for enticing immigrants be severer. Proposed legislation is dwelt on the chief immigration bills introduced in Congress during 1906 are summarized. One of the crucial points in modern immigration problems is that of distribution. This Mr. Grose discusses suggestively. He concludes that remedied congestion will mean increased assimilation and decreased danger.

One chapter deals with the new immigration. It is asserted that the change in the racial character of immigration in the last ten years has been so great as to make necessary the term "new immigration," to distinguish the present type from the former. The older type comprised largely aliens from northwestern Europe: The Germans, the English, the Irish, the Scotch and Welsh, the Swedes and Norwegians.

The newer prevailing type is from southeastern Europe and includes Italians, Hungarians, Slavs, Hebrews, Greeks and Syrians. In the section of this chapter given to the Italians such interesting questions are discussed as: What are the leading types at present? Are they desirable as a class? What is their record in this country as to work, citizenship, thrift, care for education? What is the opportunity of the Christian Church among them?

Referring to the eastern invasion Mr. Grose says that the Slavs are the least known, the least liked, and the least assimilable of all the alien races migrating to America. He quotes the striking utterance of a Ruthenian priest, Paul Tymkevich, who said: "My people do not olive in America. They live underneath America. America goes on over their heads." Over a million and a quarter of Slavs are now here, drawn chiefly by opportunities for work in the coal fields.

The foreign peril in the city is strikingly discussed. "You can kill a man with a tenement as easily as with an ax," Jacob Riis once said. Hence the means to e used for the improvement of the environment of the foreigner are worthy of careful consideration. There is a loud call for reform.

Other perils which he vividly describes are the sweat shop evil, the naturalization evil, and the evils of poverty, child labor and child neglect.

The effect of immigration on national character is discussed with vigor. The best way to assimilate sixty different nationalities is not easily discoverable. It is fundamentally important, the author believes, that this large problem be not minimized, derided or misunderstood. For its solution all the forces of the educational, social, political and evangelical life o the nation are required. And in that solution, he asserts, "is involved the destiny of ultimate America."

But the conditions that exist, through perplexing, afford an unparalleled opportunity to the nation. It is chiefly an opportunity for the Christian Church. On this point the author's convictions are firm. "The Christian Church must seize it or sink into deserved decadence and decay. Only a missionary church can save the world or justify its own existence.

The manner in which American Christianity deals with the religious problems of immigration will decide what part America is to play in the evangelization of the nations abroad." Missionary effort, broadly planned, marked by interdenominational comity and enlisting the best thought of Christian laymen, will bring about the assimilation of the incoming millions so that they shall become a part of a united American Christian nation.

Mr. Grose has assembled a mass of valuable information. He has presented it graphically and interestingly. He has written in a fair and generous spirit. He has produced what is likely to prove to the average general reader the most informing and useful book on the alien invasion.

Portions from: The Home Missionary, Volume LXXX, No. 6, November, 1906, Page 215-216

Library of Congress Catalog Listing

  • LC Control No.: 06029507
  • Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
  • Personal Name: Grose, Howard B. (Howard Benjamin), 1851-1939.
  • Main Title: Aliens or Americans? [By] Howard B. Grose; with introduction by Josiah Strong.
  • Published/Created: New York, Toronto Young People’s Missionary Movement [c1906]
  • Description: 337 p. front., illus. (maps, charts) plates, fold. chart. 19 cm.
  • Notes: Bibliography: p. 321-323.
  • Subjects: Aliens --United States. United States --Emigration and immigration.
  • Series: Forward mission study courses
  • LC Classification: JV6455 .G8
  • Other System No.: (OCoLC)743658
  • Quality Code: premarc
  • Electronic File Information: Table of contents only
  • Links: Table of contents only
  • CALL NUMBER: JV6455 .G8
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