Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/406

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plain of "the ruinous drain of the most useful part of the population of the United Kingdom," and that universal panacea for all ills, social and otherwise—parliamentary action—was demanded. The skilled craftsman upon his arrival found positions of responsibility awaiting him; the native inhabitants did not have any considerable knowledge of the mechanical arts, and it therefore devolved upon the foreigner to take the position which the American was incapable of filling. The school teachers were largely recruited from the ranks of the alien; early in the century all the booksellers but two in Philadelphia were foreigners, and of the five newspapers in that city two were owned by Englishmen and two by Irishmen. With these desirable immigrants, however, began to come another class, poor and ignorant, having neither trade nor money; they became stranded in the seaboard towns, being without the means to proceed farther; some became laborers, others earned a precarious livelihood by doing a little work at intervals, but many finally became dependent upon public charity. Then it was that the delinquent classes, paupers, and petty criminals, arose and multiplied rapidly for the first time in the history of the country.

This evil might have then been almost eliminated from the population, or at least materially abated, but unfortunately the great city of Philadelphia at that time, when it most demanded prompt suppression, fostered it by well-meant but indiscriminate charity, which of course resulted in the rapid growth of a dependent and semi-criminal class. It is almost needless to point out that social evils may spread as rapidly as diseases of the flesh, and that the moral contagion is much more difficult to eradicate than the physical; and it will therefore occasion no surprise to find that pauperism and crime communicated themselves to the native element. Yet in no community exhibiting the complex organization that did this country at the beginning of the nineteenth century would an escape from this evil have been possible; the hour of its arrival might have been somewhat postponed, but the very fact of the rapid spread of the contagion is an indication of the unhealthful condition of the social fabric; of this, too, we have further evidence in the incipient rebellions which began almost immediately after the Revolution was over, and manifested a restlessness and impatience, largely on the part of the native American element, and a dissatisfaction with constituted authority.

Here a distinction is to be drawn between the development of the North and the South, and, as the latter presents few complex features and can not occupy much of the space of this article, it may as well be dealt with here. Of the original colonies, those south of the thirty-seventh parallel seem to have never attracted many aliens,