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in certain sections of our great cities under conditions that are often worse, and rarely better, than those in which he lived in the Old World. He finds himself associating mainly or altogether with other foreigners like himself. Since they do not commonly meet or deal with native-born Americans, there is slight incentive and no necessity for learning the language, or for adopting American customs. They often remain foreigners, foreigners in appearance and foreigners at heart. Since America exploits them, they will, so far as they can, exploit America. Their aim too often is, not to become Americans, but to return to Europe when they have acquired
which many of them do acquire by good luck, or by dint of living the barest and most squalid lives. Since 1880, about 40 per cent. of the total number of immigrants have gone back to Europe, and of this 40 per cent. about two-thirds have remained there. These returning immigrants do not commonly tell their friends that America is the promised land, the land of freedom and of equal opportunity. They describe America as they have found it a country dominated by capitalists, a sordid bourgeois society without ideals, a land of “dollar-chasers" where wealth controls the government and exploits the people.
The average American would be somewhat surprised to learn all this; he would perhaps be a little skeptical, because he has always understood that the ease with which foreigners have been absorbed and Americanized is one of the seven wonders of the world. America has been called the “melting-pot”a con
‘-a tinuously bubbling sociological kettle into which we have grown accustomed to thinking you could throw no matter what number or variety of foreign elements, without materially modifying the resulting product; the end of the melting was supposed always to be the pure gold of Americanism. This, according to the average American, is what comes of having true democratic institutions.
It is true that for the most part the meltingpot has worked very well. Until recent years the successful transformation of the foreignborn population into "typical” Americans within a single generation has been one of the notable achievements of the United States. It is true also that this happy result has been due in some measure to the character of our institutions; but it has been due far more to the absence of those conditions which make Americanization difficult-it has been due to the dispersion of the immigrants among the mass of the people, to the relative excellence of the immigrant population, and to the opportunity of the immigrant to live the life and enjoy the rewards of the ordinary American. Generally speaking, these favorable conditions prevailed up to a period which may be roughly placed in the decade from 1880 to 1890. It will be noted that this is also the date which marks the end of the era of an abundance of free land, the end of strictly frontier conditions. The coincidence is not accidental; on the contrary, the problem of immigration and of the Americanization of the foreign-born is intimately connected with the disappearance of free land, and with the industrial transformation which has followed the disappearance of free land.
In the earlier period-using this term to designate roughly the period before 1880– the immigrant was most likely to be Irish or German, or if he was neither of these he was almost sure to be Scotch, Welsh, Canadian, or English. Not until the decade ending in 1870 did the Scandinavians begin to come; not until the next decade did the immigration from southeastern Europe begin. The great Irish migration of the period 1840–80 was largely due to intolerable conditions at home-to bad harvests and to bad laws; and it was, on the whole, the most intelligent and energetic of the Irish peasantry that came to America. The German migration to the United States has been pretty constant, but it reached its greatest extent between 1850 and 1890. In this period, powerful influences in driving Germans to America were the failure of the liberal political movements of 1848, the harsh military service imposed upon the people, the relative lack of industrial opportunity. Aside from the Germans, practically all of our immigrants spoke English as their native tongue; and among them, as among the Germans also, the percentage of illiterates was very low. In addition to this, the number of immigrants in this early period who returned to Europe was small; and while the fact that an immigrant remained permanently in the United States does not necessarily mean that he came with that intention, the presumption is that he did so; and therefore we may say probably that a great proportion of the early immigrants came to this country with minds favorably disposed to becoming American citizens. In all of these respects our early immigrants were generally, by virtue of their English speech, of their intelligence and character, and of the state of mind with which they contemplated their new home, a class of people whom it would not be difficult to Americanize.
The process of Americanization was greatly facilitated by the situation in which the immigrant was likely to find himself after he arrived. The Irishman was more disposed than any others to settle in the cities, but even in the cities opportunity was not lacking. Wages were high, and the industrious men soon enjoyed a way of life which would have been thought luxurious in old Ireland, while the clever ones found in local politics an open-. ing which no one has ever excelled the sons of Erin in making the most of. Nevertheless, a great many Irish, and the great proportion of other immigrants, avoided the cities. They either came with the intention of becoming farmers or the liberal pre-emption and homestead laws made them such after they arrived. Indeed, the striking aspect of immigration before 1890 is the steady flow of the new-comers into the great agricultural Northwest. In the decade between 1840 and 1850 the total foreign-born population of the North Central states was only 641,000, while that of the North Atlantic states was 1,304,000; whereas in the decade from 1870 to 1880 the number in the North Atlantic states was 2,815,000, while the number in the North Central states had risen to 2,917,000. Besides, in this early period the concentration in the cities was much less than it has since become; so that, generally speaking, a very