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children have become Americans, indistinguishable from the general type. Hitherto the negro, and perhaps certain Oriental peoples like the Chinese, have seemed to be the only people whom the American nation has not been able to assimilate readily.
But in recent years the process of Americanizing even the European immigrants has come to be less rapid and less complete. There are now more numerous and larger groups of people speaking a foreign language in the United States than ever before; and these groups, under certain conditions, tend more and more to persist as groups apart, like the negro unassimilated to the general type, and like the negro regarded in some measure as economically servile and socially inferior. The negro problem is thus no isolated problem; it is a part, although no doubt the most difficult part, of a larger problem which confronts democracy in this country. This problem is the problem of Americanization of assimilating diverse racial and economic groups to a common type, with common interests and ideals.
is sometimes said that the Monroe Doctrine is the expression of a policy of selfish isolation. By insisting upon this policy, so it is claimed, the United States virtually says to Europe, “Since we have got, by our own efforts and the favor of Providence, a very fine country, we prefer to enjoy it ourselves; you will therefore kindly mind your own business and we will mind ours.” This is indeed the substance, put in very undiplomatic language, of what the United States has said to the governments of Europe, but it is the very opposite of what it has said to the people of Europe. To the people of Europe the United States has said: “We do not want your political system over here, but we do want you—the more the better.
To this generous invitation the people of Europe have responded. From colonial days they have come in ever-increasing numbers,
and in an ever greater diversity of language, of religion, and of nationality. In the year 1910 more than a million foreigners, excluding those from Canada and Mexico, came to this country. If they had all landed at the
of New York, as in fact most of them did, and if their arrival had been uniformly distributed throughout the year, one might picture them coming down an imaginary gang-plank at Ellis Island about 3,000 every day, 120 every hour, day and night, 2 every minute, a continuous stream of people of both sexes, of every race and language and religion of Europe, abandoning their native land to come to America. Why do they come? What do they seek?
The motives of the immigrants are of course many, varying with the country, the class, the race from which they come; but in a general way
be said that the people of Europe have come to the United States in such large numbers because it has been, or they have imagined it to be, a land of liberty, of opportunity, above all, of economic opportunity. What America was to the European peasant in the eighteenth century is indicated by St. John de Crèvecæur's description in his Letters of an American Farmer, printed before the Revolution. In America, he says, the rewards of a man's industry
follow with equal steps the progress of his labor; this labor is founded on the basis of self-interest. Can it want a stronger allurement? Wives and children, who before in vain demanded a morsel of bread, now fat and frolicksome, gladly help their father to clear those fields whence exuberant crops are to arise to feed them all; without any part being claimed either by a despotic prince, a rich abbot, or a mighty lord.
More than a century later the United States was still regarded as the land of economic opportunity. Mr. Warne, in his book entitled, The Immigrant Invasion, quotes the following statement from the United States consular reports:
It would be difficult to state any one particular reason why these plain, poor, hard-working people from the plains of Russia and the hills and valleys of Austria, should leave their Fatherlands, their humble homes, their friends and the traditions of their forefathers, and scramble for passage on a steamer bound for a far-off, strange country. It cannot be that their home country is overcrowded, for the majority of them crowd into our cities. Undoubtedly, in some cases they leave because they love peace and resent forced military service. Again, others forsake their old homes, impelled by the love of freedom. But of such idealists there are probably very few indeed. The vast majority go because our country is known to them as the land of promise, the land of opportunities greater than their country can offer. The great discontent among the laboring classes of Europe, stimulated by rumors of great prosperity in the United States, is the prime cause of this wonderful exodus.
For a hundred years the peasants of Europe have echoed the sentiment of Goethe “America, du hast es besser!” They have come to America because, in contrast with Europe, America has the best of it. What have they found in America ? Have they found the freedom, the economic opportunity which they sought? What have they contributed to America ? How have they modified the national character? Have they furthered or retarded the great experiment in democracy? These are questions of importance in any consideration of American ideals and institutions.
The average American is scarcely aware of the continuous influx of foreigners. He does not see them landing every day at Ellis Island. He rarely comes into any direct contact with them, either in the great industrial plants or in the slums of the great cities where they live together in comparative isolation. He does not even see many of them on the streets, because his streets are not their streets. If his attention is called to the question of immigration he is likely to take it as a matter of course, as something that has always been going on, and he will very likely dismiss the whole problem by saying, "Well, we absorb