National Geographic : 1905 Nov
58 THE NATIONAL GE development societies. Every commer cial and industrial body acts also as an immigration society. In Louisiana alone there are more than one hundred; one of them has 7,000 acres of land for sale. The "colony" plan has. also brought desirable immigrants to the South. But the most potent factors in the immigration movement are the rail roads. Each important railroad com pany has hundreds of thousands of acres of land for sale and wishes to see in dustries developed along its lines. Until within the last few years the North and South lines have not offered special rates to homeseekers except in colonies. Now, on the first and third Tuesdays in each month special homeseekers' rates are offered on every road east of the Rockies that runs into the South or the Southwest. These excursions have proved a great success. The Union sta tion at St Louis is crowded every other Tuesday with men from the Northwest bound to the South and Southwest. On the night of September 15, 1903, the Iron Mountain road carried out of St Louis within two hours six special trains with three thousand homeseekers. The South does not want the lower class foreigners who have swarmed into the Northern states; it wants the same sort of people who settled so much of the West. The newcomers from the Western states and from western Europe are not mere laborers. They work for themselves on their own holdings. In those parts of the South, however where unskilled labor is wanted to supplement the work of the blacks, such immigra tion will not solve the problem. One planter complained that he had land sufficient to produce 1,ooo bales of cot ton, but labor enough for only 300. He thought that the exclusion laws could be repealed if the Southern states should advocate the policy. It is cer tain, however, that the South will not tolerate the introduction of large num bers of Chinese, for fear of possible race complications. OGRAPHIC MAGAZINE The solution seems to be to induce the Italians to come in as farm laborers, with the prospect of becoming land owners on a small scale. They have come in larger numbers than other for eigners, and, much to the surprise of all, they have proved successful farmers on the cotton and sugar plantations. The great lumbering companies also are employing them. The north Italian is preferred, but the principal immigration is from southern Italy, Sicily, and the old Papal states. The numbers are con stantly increasing. In Louisiana in 1900 there were 17,00ooo Italians; in 1904 there were 30,000. In 1904 it was es timated that more than 1oo,ooo Italian farm laborers were working in the Southern states of 'the Mississippi Val ley. Numbers come from Sicily or from the North to work during the cane cutting season, and then return to the North or to Sicily. Between New Or leans and Baton Rouge the Italian laborer has largely displaced the negro, and the same is true of many other lo calities. At Independence, Louisiana, in 1904, 275 car-loads of strawberries, valued at $500,000, were produced by Italian la borers. These colonists have begun to purchase little farms, have good homes, and money in the bank. The younger ones do not expect to return to Italy. A tract of I,600 acres of land in this community sold, in 1879, for $1,600; in 1904, 200 acres of the same tract sold for $10,400. In the same community other pieces of the land have risen in value from $i to $50 per acre within two years. Many planters have sub stituted Italians for negroes as tenants. The former are not criminal, are prompt to pay debts, and have improved mor ally as well as materially since they arrived in America. In conclusion, it may be said that im migration to the South seldom reaches the black belt. There seems to be a dislike of contact with the negro.