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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, September 17, 1916, Image 30

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1916-09-17/ed-1/seq-30/

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Millions of women have
been made widows by the
war, many of them in the
first days of their mar
riage: millions of others,
who eon hi have expeeteil
marriage in normal times,
have lost their future hus
bands on the battlefields.
Will these, turn to Ameri
ca? Will we be flooded tvith
immigrants after the tear?
Photograph by Brown Ilrothcrs.
Shall We be Flooded
with Immigrants?
By BURTON J. HENDRICK
HOW will the European War af
fect immigration to the United
Slulcs'.' Will the disbanded sol
diers return peacefully to their
former vocations, or will thousands of
them seek new fortunes in the United
States? Will all of them start to rebuild
their ruined homes, or will a large propor
tion prefer to establish new domestic
establishments in a new country? Thou
sands of women have lost their husbands,
i and thousands of young men and women
their fathers. Are they not likely to turn
from the scene of their miseries and begin
life anew with us? Should the war end at
the present, moment, the combatant na
tions have already piled up indebtedness
that will mean annual interest charges of
at least $2,(KK),(KK),(K)0. The hard-earned
money of the working classes must pay
this enormous tribute, which means taxa
tion on a scale that, the world has not
hitherto known. There is only one way
the harassed workingmen can escape this
frightful burden; that is, by settling in
the United States. Is it, not likely that
many millions will seize this opportunity?
The extent, to which the war will ac
celerate immigration depends entirely
upon the effect that, it produces in Kurope.
Students generally agree that the greatest
stimulus to immigration is economic.
Religious and political persecutions
have done their part in sending alien
peoples to these shores. The coming of t he
I'uritans and the exodus to America of tier
mans from the devastated Palatinate in
the eighteenth century are cases in point.
Political considerations played a large
part in sending multitudes of South Her
mans to the United States in the ' 10's and
'50's of the nineteenth century. Religious
persecution explains, to a great extent,
the more recent influx of Russian and
Rumanian Jews.
Even in these cases, however, economic
motives have so mingled with the others
that wo can not exclusively assign religion
and polities as the impelling causes. In
Russia religious intolerance has found ils
expression in economic persecution; con
sequently the average Jew comes here,
not primarily to worship (lod in ways of
his own, but to find work.
Depends oil Our Prosperity
VO; a glance at immigration figures
1 makes one point clear. A period of dis
tress in Kurope, and a corresponding pe
riod of prosperity in the United States,
mean a large influx to these shores. A
statistician's "curve," showing these eco
nomic facts, will correspond identically
with the "curve" of immigration through
a hundred years. Our greatest period of
prosperity comprises the fifteen years
from l'.HJU to 11)16. Likewise our greatest
period of immigration is found in that
same era. The year 1!M)7 brought more
immigrants than any other in our history;
but there was a great drop in 190S, the
reasons being the financial panic of 1?M)7
and the depression that followed.
To decide, therefore, how tho war will
affect immigration, we must first an
swer two questions: How will if, affect,
economic conditions in this country? Wo
sliall get some light upon the problem by
studying the effects of other great wur
periods. Only twice in the nineteenth
century did Europe undergo experiences
comparable to the present cataclysm.
The Napoleonic Wars, extending from
1797 to 1815, essentially duplicated tho
present European situation. Tho period
from 1804 to 1870, though not so con
clusive a? that in which wo aro now
living, was a time of great wars. In that
period (icrmany fought tho three great
campaigns?that against Denmark in
1SC4, that against Austria in 18(50, and
that against Franco in 1870?that made
her an empire. What then were the reac
tions of these two struggles, so far as
peopling the United States is concerned?
The Napoleonic Wars, while thoy were
being fought, wore a timo of prosperity
for England, ller position then was not
unlike ours at the present time. As Eng
land was not invaded, English agriculture
largely fed the European armies; Trafal
gar gave her the mastery of the seas and
established her as tho great carrying
nation. As industrial enterprise could
not thrive on thodevastatedContinent,?
any more than it can thrive in Poland to
day,?England secured her position as the
world's greatest workshop.
This Napoleonic prosperity blinded tho
eyes of politicians and people. Every ono
thought that it was permanent; that tho
cessation of war, far from stemming it,
would make tho nation even inoro pros
perous. In tho last two or three years of
tho war "Peace and Plenty" became tho
great popular "slogan."
Tho period that followed Waterloo,
however, gavo Englishmen a rudo re
awakening. It ushered in ono of tho
greatest industrial and social crises in
English history. Tho Continent began
cultivating its own acres and feeding
itself. Thousands of agricultural laborers,
who had been fighting in tho war, returned
to their peaceful employments. Shipping
in the United States grew at such a rapid
pace that the old-time colonies proved a
close second as a carrying nation, and
even threatened to displace the old coun
try. Continental manufacturing plants
began producing tho things that, in war
time, they had been obliged to buy from
England.
This great falling off in agriculture and
industry, combined with the huge war
debt, immediately plunged the United
Kingdom into great industrial distress.
There was a lessened demand for labor,
and prices everywhere fell. Tho Irish
members could not come to Parliament in
181G because their pecuniary embarrass
ments were so great. Farms all over Eng
land and Ireland suddenly fell out of cul
tivation; tenants would not till the soil
rent-free. "The number of bankruptcies,"
said Lord Brougham in Parliament in
1816, "is daily increasing; the home trade
is at a standstill; the landlord receives no
rent; the tenant can sell no corn."
The rich gave up their luxuries, while
the poor had difficulty in saving them
selves from starvation. "The distress in
Yorkshire," wrote one observer, "was un
precedented; there was total stagnation
in what little trade they had." In Bir
mingham, whose population then was
SO,(XX), more than 30,(XX) were receiving
poor relief.
Distress of England's Poor After
Napoleonic Wars
T N the next five years Coxoy's armies pa
raded from one end of England to the
othor. Riots, on a large scale, terrorized
the people nearly every day. Mobs gath
ered at the docks and forcibly prevented
tho exportation of potatoes; they broke
into baker and butcher shops and appro
priated the food; they burned down the
houses of the gentry and stoned tho Prince
ltegont in the streets of London. Hay
ricks, farm-houses, barns, and business
premises were burning all over England.
There were even organized attempts
made at rebellion. 1 n many places troops
were called out to quel! therioters. "Death
now would be a relief to millions," was tho
general cry. Starvation actually prevailed
in cortain districts, and peasants consid
ered themselves fortunate who could get
cabbage stalks as food. English states
men fearod a general insurrection and a
wholesale plundering of property. Eng
lish mines closed down, blast furnaces
were cold, factories were going to ruin,
while workmen were parading the streets
wrapped in blankets, demanding free
distribution of food, and vowing ven
goance upon the upper classes and Par
liament. In 1817 tho habeas corpus act
was suspended.
For twenty-five years succeeding the
war, England now and then had a spurt
of prosperity; in tho main, however,
these disturbed conditions prevailed until
the repeal of the corn laws and the rise of
modorn English industrialism. Students
of American immigration always note one
fact. Until tho years 1810 and 1817, the
figures show, almost no aliens arrived in
this country. For the first thirty years
of our national life our population stow
rapidly; but it was the high birth rate of
the nativo born, not immigration, that in
creased it. Wars always stop the inflow,
as the falling off in immigration this year
shows, and the long period of the Napo
leonic Wars cheeked any tendency Euro
peans might have felt to migrate.
Here, as in Europe, hard times followed
that conflict, but they were not so dis
tressing as in Europe, and were quickly
forgotten in the great sweep of our popula
tion to the West, in the tremendous activ
ity in canal and railroad building, and in
the development of manufactures and the
American mercantile marine. Almost im
mediately after Waterloo, therefore, the
westward movement of population began.
"Two things, groat things," wrote Car
lyle, "dwell, for the last ten years, in all
thinking heads in England, and are hov
ering, of late, even on the tongues of not
a few. Universal education is the tirst
great thing we mean; general immigra
tion is the second."
"The distress which followed the paci
fication of Europe," says MacMaster,
"the disbanding of the armies and the
navies, the enormous war taxes, and the
general depression of trade and agricul
ture, sent the middle classes of England,
Ireland, and Germany to our shores by
the thousands."
Meetings were held in British towns to
facilitate the migration of the suffering
masses to America. The press demanded
parliamentary action to stop the "ruinous
drain of the most useful part of the United
Kingdom." All kinds of falsehoods were
spread, in the hope of checking the move
ment.
The onslaughts of English writers on
America, which filled the newspapers
and the magazines, evon those like the
Edinburgh Review, and finally culminated
in such works as those of Mrs. Trollope
and Dickens, had their original inspira
tion in an attempt to keep Englishmen
from emigrating. Parliament passed laws
the purposo of which was to send English
and Irish immigrants to Canada and the
("ape of Good Hope and steer them away
from the United States.
Useful Additions to the United Stnles
^LL those efforts failed. Compared to the
hordes which the trans-Atlantic lines
have brought in recent years, the numbers
wero few. When one considers the small
population of Great Britain a hundred
years ago and the difficulties of transpor
tation?a sailing-vessel that had one hun
dred emigrants created a greater stir
then than one that has a thousand now?
the movement was a substantial one. In
the ten years ending in 1829, 12(1,(XX) im
migrants left England for Canada and
72,(XX) for the United States, the greater
majority of the former crossing the border
almost immediately to this country.
These English and Irish immigrants
represented valuable additions to our
country. Many joined the movement
to the West and settled on government
lands in Ohio and Indiana; others secured
employment in building the canals and,

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