National Geographic : 1905 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE OUR GOVERNMENT SHOULD ASSIST THE IMMIGRANTS TO DISTRIBUTE THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY ' The failure of the government to provide for the distribution of aliens through the United States, and the ex ertions of foreign countries combine,says Mr Sargent, to maintain alien colonies in this country. Such colonies are open to objection not merely on political grounds, but for social and sanitary rea sons in a far greater degree. It cannot, in justice to the interests of our coun try and to the preservation of its insti tutions, be too urgently or too fre quently repeated that in confining our treatment of the all-important immigra tion problem to the exclusion of such of certain enumerated classes as we can detect our policy is superficial. The practical and pressing question is, What shall be done with the annual arrivals of aliens, approximating now i ,ooo,ooo000? " The present immigrants throng to the states which now need them least, to overcrowded cities, and entirely neglect the western states, where there is a scarcity of laborers. FOREIGN COLONIES IN THE UNITED STATES All the political and social, and occa sionally religious, resources of some countries are being directed to one end, to maintain colonies of their own peo ple in this country, instructing them through various channels to maintain their allegiance to the country of their birth, to transmit their earnings here to the fatherland for the purchase of ulti mate homes there, and to avoid all in tercourse with the people of this coun try that would tend to the permanent adoption of American ideals. Thus emigration from certain foreign coun tries has become, in a much larger sense than the public imagines, a revenue re source to those countries, of immediate benefit to them to the extent of the aggregate remittances, of prospective benefit to them because it insures the return of the emigrant with his accumu lated savings. ABILITY TO READ AND WRITE An examination of the ability of the immigrants to read and write shows sur prising extremes, of which the following are specially noteworthy : Only 3 per cent of 10,077 Finns from Russia were illiterate ; 4 per cent of 40,526 Germans from the German Empire; 4 per cent of 22,507 Germans from Austria-Hungary; I per cent of 36,486 English; I per cent of 11,226 Scotch; 3 per cent of 36,747 Irish, and i per cent of 59,878 Scandinavians. On the other hand, as large a propor tion as 36 per cent of 32,577 Poles from Russia could not read or write, and the same illiteracy is true for the Poles from Germany ard Austria-Hungary; 23 per cent of 77,544 Hebrews from Russia could not read or write and 20,21 He brews from Austria-Hungary showed the same degree of illiteracy. The percentage of illiteracy among the north Italians is only 13, yet it is as high as 48 among the south Italians. We are receiving nearly six times as many south Italians as we are north Italians, and yet the latter are far more desirable immigrants than the former. AMBITIONS OF CERTAIN IMMIGRANTS One member of a large family from eastern Europe, composed of a father, mother, and six children all under ten years of age, with hardly any money, and bound for the tenement district of New York city, was recently asked at Ellis Island how he intended to provide a competent subsistence for his family if allowed to land. He answered: " What doIcare forabighouseifIcangetone room to sleep in. That is all we want ; that is the way we did in Russia." This particular family was excluded.