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

By Isaac A. Hourwich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXI
THE COAL MINERS

THE Immigration Commission considered the coalmining industry as typical of the conditions created by immigration, and gave it accordingly the most prominent place in its report. Two volumes are devoted to bituminous coal, and a portion of a third to anthracite. The findings of the Commission may be briefly summed up as follows: the English-speaking mine workers do not desire to associate with the immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, consequently those immigrants are undesirable. There are in the reports some valuable data on the economic side of the question, but they have had no part in shaping the conclusions of the Commission. It views the conditions in the coal-mining industry with the eyes of the English-speaking trade-union officials, who apprehend in the multitudes of Slav and Italian mine workers a growing menace to their influence in the organization.

To follow the Commission's summary historical review of the coal-mining industry, the conflict between the English- speaking and non-English-speaking races began in the 80's, when a series of unsuccessful strikes forced "a greater or less number of natives, English, Irish, Scotch, and Germans," to leave "Pennsylvania in search of better working conditions in the Middle West or the localities in the Southwest or West to which the recent immigrants had not penetrated in important numbers." The same situation was repeated in the 90's in West Virginia. The "constantly growing number of Southern and Eastern Europeans . . . completly inundated the older employees," with the result

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