Immigration Archives - The Human Side of Immigration - Italian Emigration to America
The study of race migrations has gone far enough to bring out the dominant fact that economic causes are at the heart of these movements. Adventure has played its part, and war (with plunder for its aim) a still greater part, but plunder was the economics of the barbarian, while the lode-star guiding the world's most romantic adventure was the glitter of precious metals. It is even a little chilling to learn how the most gallant of these explorers did not for a moment forget that they were out for "the dust of the gods."
If, for simplicity, we exclude the war element in migrations, we have the main fact that some millions of people yearly change their habitations on the planet wholly for economic reasons. They believe that they can raise the standards of living through migration, and, so far as our own immigration problem is concerned, this is too clear to require proof. If we look at the results of this migration into the United States, look at it strictly from the human or world point of view, who would question for an instant that it stands for results that enlarge opportunity and progress? The world has been the gainer. I find many willing to admit this, who still object to our present immigration,-who object to it as immigration and quite apart from specific abuses that we may learn to control.
They are restrictionists for the sake of restriction, as men are tariff men, not for revenue, but for the sake of keeping out competing products as a working policy. They say we must consider our own national welfare, and not that of the world.
In so far as our own national well-being does conflict with that of the world at large, the point may be granted. But all who maintain that the good of the United States does conflict (in respect of migration) with the good of Italy, Sweden, or any other country, ought to furnish far more definite proofs than have thus far been forthcoming. I notice that many opponents of immigration deliberately create the material for their objection. They imagine the devastation caused by the inrush of multitudinous Chinese, for example, but with no whit of knowledge as to whether such hordes would really come. A Chinese scholar long in this country tells me there are absolutely no grounds for these terrors.
It is almost too easy to show that these imagined evils of immigration have up to date been mistaken. But, before showing this, look one moment still at the problem from the possible good of the world (or at least of the nations) rather than from the supposed exclusive good of the United States.
Next year a possible 225,000 of these immigrants or children of immigrants may return to their native countries, most of them on visits, some to stay. A large part of these have been successful. They take back with them, on the whole, what the communities from which they came most need, the kind of courage, increased efficiency, the enlarged political and social outlook which are making themselves more and more felt. Our immigration not only lightens the struggle for existence steadily and permanently in those countries, but it tends as steadily to raise the standard of living there. As ocean transportation cheapens and develops, these reactions grow in such ratio that they are becoming the most powerful of world influences for good on this larger human side.
There are in Europe few more stimulating experiences than to see, as in scores of places in Italy, communities transformed and keyed to a higher standard wholly by the influence of returning emigrants. At thousands of points throughout Europe this influence steadily deepens.
In Eastern Europe there are multitudes of debt-burdened peasants set free every year by our immigrants. Mortgages are paid off, old debts cancelled, houses and lands restored. We will here waste no time on that shabby superstition that immigrants who -send their money out of the country are no good. Strictly from our own point of view, we get the full equivalent of every dollar they earn. That world-fact is surely to be kept in mind.
If it can be shown that this far-off good is won at the expense of our civilization, that our standards are lowered through and because of benefits to others, we must yield to the first law of self-preservation, hold fast to our own advantages, though outsiders be excluded.
Before defining my doubts upon this policy of exclusion, it should be said with precision that we are all in agreement on one point; namely, that the unfit should not come. I deal a little later with this term "unfit. “ Meantime, if it is to be maintained that, barring the unfit, immigration has been and is still immeasurably a greater good than are the evils attaching to it,-good for us as it is good for the world, to what proofs are we to point? Let me give first not proofs, but extremely suggestive evidence. How much earlier I do not know, but since 1787, we have had an unvarying succession of forebodings as to the coming evils of our immigration.
Almost never do they seem really to have come, as feared, but they are always lurking there in the future. I asked several genuine restrictionists among the delegates at the recent Immigration Conference in this city. They agreed that they could point to no observable evil that had arrived, but it certainly would arrive if we did not put up the bars. It was admitted that enormous undertakings were everywhere waiting for more labor and were quite dependent upon it. "But think of a million coming in a single year!
Here is the ghost that for a century and a quarter has worked on our imagination. Now my bits of history are certainly worth recalling. A long list of very able foreign observers, French and English, both report legal opinions upon immigration and give their own, T. Hamilton, Miss Martineau, Dickens, Tocqueville, Chevalier, Sir Charles Lyell, Marryat among the number.
When 20,000 were coming in a single year, many wise people were alarmed, and for precisely the same reason that people are now alarmed. How could we assimilate such masses?
How could the American standard be maintained in the face of these multitudes? Many of them came without their wives: they would send their money back to Europe. Bred under other political and religious systems, how could harmony be long preserved? And so on through the familiar list.
Before the nineteenth century came in, Washington and the Federalists generally were afraid of immigration. In 1812 at the Hartford Convention, many of the ablest men thought we had inhabitants enough of our own. Jefferson was pretty nearly hysterical in his fears of immigration.
Coming down to 1826, when the foreign observers I have mentioned begin to come, there is a successive chronic alarm reported among the most thoughtful people because of this swelling tide of foreigners. "What can we do with 55,000 people a year!" As we look back upon the tempest of savage prejudice in the middle of the century against the Irish and the Catholics,-riots, a convent and two churches burned to the ground,-we feel that the "Know-Nothing" fury was appropriately named.
What prejudice, too, against the Germans who flocked here after the revolution of '48! Would they not subvert the very principles of our government? What a light is thrown on the fears when we look to-day at the German city of Milwaukee and the American city of Philadelphia, not forgetting that such political shame as Milwaukee has had was under an American boss, and not under a German.
In all the earlier years, moreover, there was no effective attempt made to exclude the unfit in any sense. A steady stream of criminals and physically unfit poured into the country, and doubtless brought us much harm, yet the absorbing power of this country had been beyond the wildest calculation. Our immigration, taken as a whole, has been rapidly assimilated, and has probably raised the standard of living rather than lowered it. If exception be made of certain choked conditions in the larger cities, I do not believe that we assimilated our immigrants more easily in those earlier days than what are now doing, for the reason that the number and variety of industries has so enormously increased. Think of the assimilative power of 8,000 industries, as against 300 or 400 industries! Barring again exceptional centres, into which unskilled labor has dropped, our standard of living wages, hours, and conditions-has been improved by immigration to the present moment, again, for the plain reason that these new-comers have added so much to that general wealth from which wages are paid.
But, if a million a year are to come, can we continue to use them to the common good? One cannot answer this except by such experience as we have passed through. It should, however, be kept steadily in mind that ocean and railway transportation is so developing that it will more and more act to give automatic relief for congested periods and districts.
A half million can now easily leave this country in a single season. This steam traffic will more and more have the same motive to take them away as it has had to bring them. And inducements will be forthcoming. So that many agencies are now at work to strengthen the weakest links in this chain, and this leads us at once into the field where we should find the higher measure of this question,-I mean the whole realm .of ideal values that connect themselves with the free and friendly movement that brings foreign races long enough into constant relations to know each other and to tolerate differences.
The supreme world question is that of races learning the highest and most difficult art of civilization, that of living together with good will and intelligence, living together so that they may help each other rather than exploit or despoil each other, because of an outworn surface agriculture and market methods that condemn us to create armies and navies to get rid of surplus products. The United States is helping to solve that problem in the only conceivable way; namely, by giving the races a chance to live together and work together long enough to substitute human and social habits for mere clannish and tribal habits.
What is now the Mother Mischief in our race relationships? Obviously, the shadow· of an extremely vulgar ignorance and prejudice, one race against another. Maeterlinck has said it well; the essence of hell is this misunderstanding. That it raises and maintains hell upon earth, we have more illustrations than we know what to do with. Think of two nations as advanced as England and France living century after century hard by each other, and until the most recent years having merely contempt for each other, the average Englishman thinking that a Frenchman was a kind of monkey with clothes on, and that chiefly because he had a different manner and speech from the English.
By what plummet, then, are we likely to measure the depths of ignorance that separates the white from the yellow races? Japan has really done something to show us the density of our prejudice about a portion of the East. China has doubtless quite as startling surprises for us. An Australian prime minister, who knew the Chinese, opposed their admission into Australia, not because they were a low race, but because of their ability. They are a "superior set of people," he says, belonging "to an old and deep-rooted civilization. We know how wonderful are their powers of imagination, their endurance, and their patient labor." Wherever they have been fairly dealt with in this country, their standards of living very rapidly adjust themselves to those about them.
I am not here arguing for the removal of all race barriers to their incoming, but rather for the overcoming of the more primary evil of our own ignorance,-an ignorance that is probably the main obstacle to the world's civilizing.
As stubborn and unyielding as this race prejudice is, there is probably no agency for its slow removal like 'that of common work and contact which these migrations offer in the United States.
We are helped a good deal in discussing this problem by first stating and defining certain points of agreement. 'There is, for example, no dispute over the exclusion of the "unfit."
There is, however, not the least agreement as to what this word is to mean in its completer applications. The word now legally applies to idiots, insane, criminals, and epileptics.
In 1891 certain specific "diseases, like trachoma and favas, were added; but it is clear that the unfit will be made to include a far larger variety of infirmities, until some manageable standard of physical and mental qualifications has been determined upon.
If Syrians, Greeks, and Armenians, for instance, bring in a percentage of infirmity (as is true) many fold greater than northern races, that of itself will enlarge the category of the unfit, precisely as the term "sanitation" has been widened by the choking of city slums by low-class occupants. It is probably assumed by the student and administrator that the extension and defining of the unfit has still largely to be worked out.
It is probably further assumed that, in order to make this exclusion effective, agencies must be devised, like far heavier penalties upon steamship owners for bringing the unfit, and also a definite international understanding, so organized that migrations shall be brought under more conscious control and direction.
Professor von Philippovich, an authority on migration, has, indeed, already given this a kind of theoretic statement that so often antedates practical legislation.
The beginnings of this exist already in the act of 1903, under which our marine and hospital surgeons are applying much more careful tests in several Canadian towns, in Italy, Japan, and China; and in these latter countries, under definite arrangements with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, a large percentage of disease, like trachoma, has thus been detected at the point of departure.
If there be added to this, quite apart from disease, a fair physical test of size and strength, we shall be doing only what many physicians familiar with the work are now demanding.
It is thus easily conceivable that this form of restriction and selection might eventually exclude an immensely larger proportion of the anemic, under-sized, and devitalized, whom we do not wish as propagating types in this country.
Again, it is agreed that the possibilities of distribution away from cities into country areas may be greatly extended. This has passed the theoretic stage, having now a solid basis of experience at a score of promising centres in the South and among the Western fruit-growers.
The still bolder step, under international agreement and organization, of directing migrations with reference to geographic and economic conditions, demand for skilled or unskilled labor, has also its working model within national boundaries, as in the German dealing with Arbeitslosigkeit.
There is, indeed, a more sharply defined model still. Canadians, noting that immigrants arriving late in the autumn found difficulty in securing work, and that the Home of Industry and charitable institutions of Montreal were thus overcrowded, have agitated for legislation to restrict immigration between October and March.
To broaden the scope of this proposal, and give to it a statistical basis such as industrial bureaus will soon make possible, is the gist of Professor von Philippovich's scheme of a scientifically controlled A uswanderung from the world point of view.
On the whole speculative side of this question we are bound to allow for these two future possibilities: (I) an effective exclusion of the really unfit, so organized at selected points of departure, and with such a standard and such penalties as to check the evil at its sources; (2) an international control and direction of these migratory currents, with deliberate reference to local trade demands.
That physically and politically we are suffering from the slovenly neglect with which we have met this immigration is clear. This is seen in the whole humiliating history of our naturalization frauds, in staggering burdens of insanity, dependency, pauperism, and certain forms of crime. These are, however, largely traceable to avoidable causes,- to causes that should in future be brought under control, and constitute, indeed, the main problem for the future.
A world energy like that of race migration cannot be tested finally by merely attendant evils. The evils of trade or of democratic government are baffling enough; but we rightly accept the facts of trade and democracy, and understand that we have to cope with them plus a swarm of ills.
With these considerations in mind, what is to be our attitude toward the general subject under discussion? That the people on this small globe are to travel with increasing freedom from one part of it to another, we may safely take for granted. That nearly one thousand large ocean ships for human traffic are every moment in process of construction is pretty good evidence that they will be used.
The merely physical and pecuniary difficulties of forcing peoples to stay in places from which they wish to escape will every year become more embarrassing and more costly. The old Know Nothing cry of "America for the Americans," "Canada for the Canadians," is not only already seen to be unwise and impracticable, but, what is more, it is becoming ridiculous.
From the point of view of race education, this human or world side of the problem should have not only increasing attention, it should have the utmost practical weight consistent with safeguarding interests within national bounds.
In one of his final conversations with John Morley, Gladstone is reported to have said that in his sixty years of public service he had found no principle so safe to trust as the principle of an ever-enlarging social liberty for all.
COUNTESS CORA DI BRAZZA SAVORGAN.
I am asked by the President to speak on "The Italian side of the North American Immigration Problem."
Three weeks ago we sailed from Naples,- a dark, dusty, unrecognizable Naples. Beneath a brazen sky mottled with brown, purple, and dull red, men, women, and children hurried, refugees fleeing from the Vesuvian villages, still carrying on their heads blanket or pillows to defend themselves from the falling stones of the aroused volcano, and bearing about their persons the marks of suffering and of a hasty, awe-stricken flight.
Many were huddled upon village carts and the wagons of the rescuing artillery. They clung convulsively to some poor household chattel, the one remaining bond with the ruined home. In their ignorant fright they refused to be lodged within the barracks and fortresses; for had they not seen roofs crashing beneath the weight of ashes and heard the cries of their buried neighbors, and had not the very market in Naples fallen in, killing or wounding the tradespeople at their stalls? But they were willing to go to the royal palace, wide open to receive them.
That surely, like the churches, was under God's protection; and they knew the King loved them and wanted to help them, for with his beautiful Queen he had pressed forward into the hell of darkness and fire where all others feared to go, and together they had stood the rain of scorching stones, and had their blood drawn and their eyes burnt by the ashes and cinders.
We embarked on the ship "Romanic" of the White Star Line, which, the captain told me, was short of hands because many of his best sailors were from the Vesuvian shores, and had visited their homes while the ship was in port. At the appointed hour these men had returned, and, weeping, implored him to leave them, for their villages were buried, their families had disappeared, and they would seek for their own, alive or dead.
The full emigrant capacity of the "Romanic" is 1,700. We were 150 short, for that number of Greeks, owing to the ashes of Vesuvius reaching across the Mediterranean as far as Montenegro, had been landed at Leghorn and could not join the ship in time, as, the wind having veered, the railway had been buried.
About twenty-five years ago, crossing on a White Star ship to England, I had visited the miserable accommodations offered to the Irish emigrants, and now with the Italian emigration officer, a captain-doctor of the navy, who had touched at many ports in the interests of Italian emigration, I inspected the third-class or emigration quarters on the ship, and admired the improved accommodations, due to the wise laws enacted by foreign governments (especially that of Italy in 1901) for the protection of their -out-going citizens. The hospitals for both men and women were excellent.
Though too few, the baths and conveniences were sanitary. The employees explained that all this was required by law, as also that the ship should carry at least one doctor for every five hundred emigrants, and that the Steamship Company was held financially responsible for overcrowding, diminishing the number of cubic feet of "air, bedroom and deck space, required for each passenger. The food, which I tasted, was good, and the bill of fare subservient to the religious customs of the people.
Most of the passengers lay down or squatted on the deck, so that their clothes were grimy; and the commissioner explained that despite many expostulations, and the presentation of designs for practical folding steerage deck seats, the steamship companies would not introduce them because the law did not exact this, and that every improvement upon the ships is due to the emigration laws of one or another of the nations; for the cargo that brings in the greatest profit to all the lines is the third-class human cargo, and, consequently, the surest means to control emigration is by enacting enlightened laws on the transportation of second and third class passengers.
In emigration as in commercial interchange, reciprocity is necessary.
The United States laws now require that Europe shall furnish its physically and morally best for its immigration market, guaranteed by a passport and a medical certificate. The educational test can be added if desired.
But education requires patience, and such a law should only become active after allowing the necessary time to prepare for it. Thus no interruption of the building, digging, and delving which North America's present great period of development requires would occur, owing to a lack of the foreign laborers, men of iron muscle, willing to bear any discomfort and give all their strength for money, thrifty, sober young men, who may send the guerdon home to support their families, and, when enough besides has been accumulated, generally bring them hither, contributing a physically and morally sound, prolific though ignorant sub-soil upon which to found your national institutions.
The illiteracy and ignorance your school system is more than calculated to eliminate in the next generation; and, as the immigrant mass is composed chiefly of young married people and their offspring, what can a decade of ignorance in a one-hundred and fiftieth part of your population count for as against the solid qualities furnished by this stratum?
In these last twenty-five years, the exchange from American to Italian money has fallen from 30 per cent. premium to par, and we recognize that an equal percentage of Italy's prosperity is due to the American money earned by Italian emigrants as to American pleasure-seekers and art seekers who temporarily inhabit our Italy, and enjoy the same privileges as her citizens. But it is well to remember we treat here of percentages.
All nations travel in Italy, and the laborers in Italy emigrate to wherever they are called by scarcity of hands. What is the money you have given to us through the pleasure-seekers compared with the renewed health, the mental breadth, the art beauties, endowed with which these have returned home?
What, on the other hand. are the savings, almost the blood money, one might say, which have been wrested from the greed of boardinghouse keepers, padrone, and so-called bankers, and from the graft of contractors, by the fathers, brothers, or sons, and sent back to their families, as compared with the builder railroads which girdle your continent, the magnificent water-works which make your homes luxurious and salubrious, the public and educational institutions in which you take just pride?
Let us accept Mr. Graham Brooks's statement that this is a free country, and that the money which goes to Italy is a simple exchange for the Italian brawn and muscle which you have used up here, a just remuneration for that selection you have instituted by law, and any limitation on its use would betray the spirit of your Constitution.
If you imported steel to build your bridges. you would have to pay for that steel without requiring the manufacturer to leave its guerdon in the United States. As you have: steel, and require instead muscle to build your bridges, you must pay for the muscle, and let its earnings go where its possessor wishes.
You wish to learn why Italy allows its best laboring blood to come to
America, and protects, almost assists, it to do so?
The problem which weighs heaviest upon Southern Italy today is lack of regular work, further complicated by the rapid multiplication of its inhabitants, the earthquakes in Calabria, the eruption of Vesuvius, the oil fly (destructive of olives throughout the south), the suspension of the Sicilian fruit trade with Russia because of its political disturbances, and the political and financial corruption of Southern Italy, due to the ignorance of the masses resulting from governmental neglect and the indifference of the wealthy descendants of its feudal lords.
South Americans have studied the European emigration problem upon the ground, and, in consequence, have taken great pains to foster Italian Immigration of the best type, and have paid for it liberally, assisting financially and by contract their selected immigrants. All Europe has done the same. Nowhere that I know of, save in North America, is there an anti-contract-labor-immigration law.
In consequence of the above the pick of Italian emigrants go where encouraged, and you get the Neapolitans, Calabrians, Sicilians, and other Southerners who are not likely to receive offers of assistance in emigrating, yet are desirous of bettering their lot.
Two of the great economic forces in Italy, which you ignore, are the agricultural woman and child above the age of twelve. While 603,552 men emigrated from Italy in 1905, only 122,779 women and 76,371 children under fifteen years accompanied them, of which but few came to America. This was because as yet your customs do not furnish adequate convenience for the accommodation of foreign women and children of that class, and, as the Italian's family affections are intensely strong, even the most ignorant man will not expose his relatives to the physical discomforts and unhygienic perils which he is prepared to meet personally in obtaining their betterment.
Italy is a safe and economic refuge-for his dear ones until he can provide a comfortable home for them here. Should he die in the attempt, their relatives or neighbors (and, lacking both, the town council with the tax money) would save them from starvation, and see that they were clothed and educated at least as well as he had been.
Many of the temporary immigrants of whom American agitators complain only return for a short sojourn to visit their parents in Italy or to bring over their families, for Italians are of a jealous, protective disposition, and will deprive themselves of the barest necessities so as to save the wherewithal to fetch their women-folk and children. A further American fallacy disproved by Italian statistics is that the majority of our emigrants are simple laborers. Agriculturists, shepherds, foresters, artisans, and artists form the true majority.
Of the total population in Italy of thirty-three millions, over three millions of women pursue agriculture, and as many more are occupied in the factories. In the north there is average work to occupy the women for 287 days, in which they earn from 15 to 40 cents wages a day (in American money); while their livelihood, with their abstemious habits and neatness of person, requires from 6 to 8 cents a day expenditure.
The laws protect them morally and hygienically. They have properly ventilated houses, sufficient floor space, and the factories which employ girls are obliged to furnish dormitories and meals at cost price for those from a distance, a resting-place for all between working hours, and subsidies in certain cases of temporary disability to work.
In the extreme south, of the mainland, Calabria, which geographically reaches from the "toe" to the ·'heel" of Italy, the average working days of the year are 122, the average salary of a woman from 8 to IS cents, while her health is absolutely disregarded.
Her expenses, owing to the earthquakes, amount to 6 or 7 cents a day, so that it is impossible for her to assist any member of her family or even provide for her necessities.
By means of the industrial and agricultural schools and the household or cottage industries, for the introduction and development of which I am working, we hope to remedy this condition. And, train the Southern Italians, so that they may become better emigrants to the United States, and ameliorate their intellectual and financial condition not so much by increased wages as by augmenting their skills and the number of working days.
The booklet which we have compiled upon this Calabrian problem can be obtained from the doorkeeper gratis or by sending 24 cents to the Society for the Protection of Italian Immigrants at 17 Pearl Street, New York. So I will not detain you by speaking longer on this subject, nor will I propose the system of education for the preparation of emigrants, of which Mr. Brooks desires me to treat at another session.
Before closing, however, I will tell you, as he suggested, what are the results of a sojourn in America on the poor Italian who returns to Italy? The influence is, on the whole, beneficent and progressive. Through regular work, he gains confidence in his own ability, and a desire to learn the new trades and industries, which are better paid, and less exhausting.
The keen competition, which quickly lands the ignorant and indifferent in the hospital and workhouse, obliges him in self-defense to seek to understand and follow the laws and local customs.
Those who have opportunity to learn the language, for which they have facility, and come in contact with intelligent citizens, acquire frankness, open-handedness, and public-spirited ness, unless they are already in the hands of labor or political bosses.
In 1905, out of a total of 649,960 Italian male emigrants more than fifteen years of age, the laborers and hod-carriers, etc., numbered 195,361, or 30.06. per cent. of the entire emigration to all countries. The agriculturists numbered 232,108, equal to 35.7I per cent.; the masons, stonecutters, brick-makers, etc., 11.53 per cent; the artisans, tradesmen, musicians, artists, teachers, and other professionalists, 22.70 per cent.
In America they are generally free from the trammels of family and political feuds, excepting in the crowded foreign quarters of your cities or in such places as Paterson, where the ignorant are easily victimized and converted to pernicious doctrines, owing to the traditions of Austrian and Bourbon rule, under which spies were all-powerful, and honest men, when accused, were punished without appeal.
On the whole, when you give them the vote, they try conscientiously to learn Iwzt' to 110#8 in the best interests of their class. It would be wrong for foreigners to believe, despite the prominence given to it, that "Tammany" is the real type of politica1life in America, and I wish you to judge of possible Italian voters as you would have us judge of your politics.
Your night schools are most beneficent, and it would be well could you use special primers for the immigrants, so that, while teaching them the reading and writing and language which they desire, they might acquire also the knowledge of your laws and customs and of the punishment which the breaking of them entails.
Your enlightened influence produces a distinct expansion of knowledge and of views of life, and, naturally, your customs induce a better care of the person as rapidly as finances will allow. You are mistaken if you imagine that the Italian laborer in Italy always looks as untidy as in America.
Though he works in the field, on account of the climate, in the lightest and oldest of garments, and the farmer there dresses no better than his hired man, on Sundays and holidays self-respect and the vanity of appearing well among his peers cause him to clean up and dress neatly in the style of his community; while here on first arriving, as he knows no one, his whole object is to economize.
The home he has left in Southern Italy is often an unglazed hovel in which the only comfort may be the free circulation of air, while in Northern Italy you would be quite willing to sleep in the average Italian laborer's house.
Mr. Brooks desired me further to describe the "Americano"; namely your immigrant who has returned to Calabria or Sicily to stay there, and tell what he does for the community. He often teaches it to drink, and drink: deeply. This is due to your pernicious system of transacting business and hiring laborers in a barroom: whereas in Italy we have public markets and market places, where they can freely meet each other and wait for employment.
He may encourage gambling, as this is generally the only way he found for killing time in the congested lodging-houses of your northern towns during the winter months of enforced idleness, where also his self-respect and the virtues to which it leads may have been destroyed. A preventive measure against the above would be the opening: of agricultural schools, with industrial teaching in winter which would equip the masses with accessory crafts, so that the immigrant might occupy himself remuneratively during these months or when a strike obliges his craft to idleness.
Then, too, though limited, the remuneration for small industries would pay his living expenses and the earnings of the summer could all serve for the betterment of his family. The Italian has an active brain, and requires continuous occupation and development, as does the child; and his integrity gains or diminishes according to the character of his employer.
The Italian woman emigrating alone loses more than the man. "The cigar factory welcomes her, for this is a craft she has learned when at home, or the sweat-shop claims her, for the Italian woman is generally “schooled to hand sewing, and useful for "finishing."
You know the moral influence of the kind of small shop or factory in the foreign quarter, which would employ an immigrant without references. Italian men do not respect the women who work with them in the same room, and everywhere in Europe where Italian women work the sexes are kept separate and special accommodation provided for the girls. Here all are simply" hands," hence the great scarcity of Italian women in the United States. However, none return to Italy: marriage or death claims them quickly. Thus, you assimilate them all.
The successful “Americano" is a distinct gain to Italy unless morally or politically corrupted. Besides his savings, he brings the knowledge of allow to invest them. To his familiarity with the customs and products of his country has been added a knowledge of men, of his own ability, of a curtain amount of up-to-date commerce, and in following this he modernizes his community. He is easily elected town counselor, and his power is great for good or ill.
Lastly, Mr. Brooks wishes me to tell you how the government and patriotic Italians look upon emigration to the United States. They are seeking to abide by the Italian law of 1901 on this subject, and apply it through the Bureau of Emigration, the members of which are named by Parliament.
They consider that the stumbling block in the way of your getting our best people is your law against contract labor. Where those who need imported labor can send their representatives to treat with our authorities, we can both protect the foreign employer, and assist him in selecting his workmen, and protect our Italians against oppression on the part of the employer.
Reliable firms or contractors can come into our country and select the class of labor and quality of men or women they desire, provided always that they can prove that it is for legitimate, healthy work, properly remunerated and with proper accommodation for the employed.
In certain cases, they are required to give bond before they can enroll the workmen, and the bond is only returned when the employed have all declared themselves satisfied. The Bureau of Emigration publishes reports and suggestions whenever necessary.
These occupy an allotted portion of the daily papers, just as the public amusements have their particular place, and announce the conditions of the labor market, where labor is to be found, where certain industries or labor in general is over-supplied, what dangers are involved, etc., so as to inform not only the proper authorities who are detailed to look after the emigrants, but the would-be emigrants themselves, as to what opportunities, difficulties, or dangers, lie before them.
Wherever conditions are adverse to the laborers, either hygienically or politically, the government forbids and suppresses, if possible, emigration to that region. For instance, despite the offer of the Brazilian government to pay the journey for Italian emigrants to Santos, the Italian government will not allow the steamboat companies to take third-class passengers for that country.
Finally, I desire to impress upon you the fact that the many millions of money brought into Italy through the activity of emigrants are but in part from the United States, and that, even should North America close her doors to the illiterate, laboring Italians, they could find a vast field for their energies elsewhere.
Therefore, the immense inpouring of Italians cannot be due to the necessity for Italy to send them here, but is the result of the local propaganda in Italy of your own transportation companies which have established the current of emigration, and give every facility and inducement to the clannish Italians to follow, and rejoin their relatives who have already settled here.
As to the money sent back, statistics have proved that the greater part of it is spent on the transportation of fresh emigrants, and goes directly into the pockets of the stockholders of the transportation companies, who are nearly all Americans or Anglo-Saxons. The fulcrum of emigration is cheap transportation, and there you must seek for the defects and through your steamship companies initiate the remedies.
Source: Isaac Franklin Russell, Editor, John Graham Brooks, “The Human Side of Immigration.” In the Journal of Social Science, Containing the Proceedings of the American Association, Number XLIV, September 1906, Published for the American Social Science Association, Boston, Damrell & Upham, 1906.