Immigration and Labor: The Economic Aspects of European Immigration to the United States

By Isaac A. Hourwich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
OLD AND NEW IMMIGRATION

IT has come to be accepted as an unquestionable truth so often has it been repeated--that the type of the old immigrant was superior to the recent immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe:

Fifty, even thirty years ago, [said Gen. F. A. Walker in 1896], there was a rightful presumption regarding the average immigrant, that he was among the most enterprising, thrifty, alert, adventurous, and courageous of the community from which he came. It required no small energy, prudence, forethought, and pains to conduct the inquiries relating to his migration, to accumulate the necessary means, and to find his way across the Atlantic.1

The immigrants of those happy days

did not come because they were assisted by others, they did not come because some one paid their passage to get them out of the old country, but they came because they wanted to be free. . . . They came not at the behest of the agents of the steamship lines or the agent of the large American industries, sent over to buy labor as by auction, in the market. ... No; they came at their own behest, and did not all settle down in the centers of American life to congest it, but struck out into the prairies and forest to build homes for themselves and families.2

"Those were skilled artisans or progressive farmers of the thrifty, self-reliant type."3

____________________
1
Francis A. Walker: Discussions in Economics and Statistics, p. 446.
2
Statement of Rev. M. D. Lichliter, chaplain of the Junior Order American Mechanics before the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Sixty first Congress. Hearings, p. 491.
3
Frank Tracy Carlton: The history and Problems of Organized labor, p. 328.

-61-

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