National Geographic : 1905 Jan
VOL. XVI, No. I WASHINGTON JANUARY, 1905 LJ ATIoNAIL D[II IEOGAIPIHIffI MAAZll]NBi THE CHARACTER OF OUR IMMIGRATION, PAST AND PRESENT* BY Z. F. MCSWEENY FORMERLY ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF IMMIGRATION THE subject of our immigration is perhaps the most discussed and least understood public question now before the people. On one side we find a portion of our citizens claiming that all kinds of economic and social evils are to be attributed to immigra tion. The supporters of the other side are equally positive that the nation's growth and progress are due to these alien races. The arguments pro and con are generally made to prove a special case, and as such are not always to be relied on. On one thing both will agree, that for the poor of Europe, America spells " opportunity." Previous to the past five decades of emigration the world has never witnessed such prodigious achievements, such wonderful enter prise and real progress in all the things that contribute to make a nation great. WORLD MIGRATIONS The causes of migration have been manifold. Now it was famine, again the taste for conquest, that caused a people to take up its household goods and push out into unknown lands. Ambition fired the soul of one ; religious persecu tion or political revolutions inflamed another; while the love of gold was always a potent factor. " Emigration" and " immigration," as we understand them, are phenomena of modern life. In prehistoric and his toric times, up to the discovery of America, men moved in tribes and on careers that were chiefly of conquest. In vain do we seek, in these migrations, for any parallel to the influx that is now pouring upon us. A new kind of migration began with the discovery of America and the new route to India around the Cape of Good Hope, and may be called "coloniza tion." Those who took part in this movement utilized the newly discovered countries, first, merely for the purpose of booty; afterward for the establish ment of trading posts. The beginning of this century dis closed a movement far different from *An address to the National Geographic Society.