Littell's Living Age/Volume 154/Issue 1996/Immigration into the United States

The immigration returns of the United States Bureau of Statistics for the fiscal year ending the 30th June last show an enormous increase in the influx of foreign emigrants. In each of the past ten years the number of arrivals has been: —

Year. No. of
Year. No. of
1882 789,003 1877 141,857
1881 669,431 1876 169,986
1880 457,257 1875 227,498
1879 177,826 1874 313,339
1878 138,469 1873 459,803

Compared with the previous year, there was in 1881-2 an increase in the arrivals of 119,572, or about eighteen per cent., and the sources whence this increase were derived are shown in the following table: —

1882. 1883. Inc.
England and Wales 85,175 66,204 18,971
Ireland 76,432 72,342 4,090
Scotland 18,937 15,168 3,769
Austria 16,770 21,109 [1] 4,339
Germany 249,505 210,485 39,020
Norway 29,100 22,705 6,395
Sweden 64,607 49,760 14.847
Dominion of Canada 98,308 125,391 [1] 27,083
China 39,579 11,890 27,689
All other countries 110,590 74,377 36,213
------------ ------------ ------------
Total 789,003 669,431 119,572

The increasing flow of emigrants from Germany is a significant indication of the effects of Prince Bismarck's fiscal policy. To the enormous burdens imposed by the German military system have now been added the pressure of a protective tariff, which enhances the cost of living, while it has not had the anticipated effect of increasing wages; and it is no wonder, therefore, that large numbers of the people are finding life at home so little tolerable that they are eager to flock elsewhere. Whether the United States can continue to absorb such large masses of population is another question. So far as the influx is made up of persons following agricultural pursuits, it probably need excite no apprehension. For such persons there is a practically unlimited field. It is very different, however, with the industrial portion of the immigrants. The effect of the American tariff, it is to be remembered, is to restrict home producers to the home markets, and there are already indications of those markets becoming overstocked. It may be doubted, therefore, whether there is scope for an expansion of industrial activity sufficient to accommodate the great influx of new workers, so long, at least, as the present fiscal arrangements are maintained. This, however, only time will show.

  1. ^  Decrease.