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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/169

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IMMIGRATION.

And then there is the restless emigrant who desires simply to better his financial condition. He recognizes no patriotic obligation to the new country which treats him kindly, and has no quarrel with the country of his birth, but intends returning to his native land when he has acquired a competence in the United States.

Many of the existing conditions in Europe act strongly as contributing causes of emigration—the price of land in many countries is prohibitive, especially when the poverty of the mass of the people is considered. In other countries, systems of land tenure obtain which make it impossible for the tenant to become an owner.

In parts of Europe discrimination against certain races or religions is carried to the extent of debarring any one of the proscribed race or religion from owning land. This same discrimination against race or religion imposes educational barriers in some countries which prevent the elevation of the poor because of their race or religion in the social scale.

Many emigrants, therefore, leave Europe because they know that in the United States their children will enjoy educational advantages denied them at home, and without which they can not hope to better their condition.

Great density of population and the accompanying excessive competition in the struggle for existence explain emigration from some parts of Europe, and emigration is further stimulated in many of these congested areas by the pressure of militarism.

When some of the contributing causes originating in Europe are accentuated, when militarism exists with its concomitant evils of grinding taxation and compulsory military service, when persecution and over-crowding make the struggle for existence hopeless, emigration becomes the alternative of starvation, and the instinct of self-preservation forces these unfortunate creatures to flee at the first opportunity to some new country.

Convicts, paupers, cripples and diseased persons have many times been shipped to America 'to be rid of them,' by individuals, societies, municipal corporations or even by government agents.

Of the third class of extraneous causes operating from America or other countries, the most important is the prosperity of the United States.

During periods of great prosperity the wave of immigration attains its greatest height, and reaches its lowest ebb during periods of industrial and commercial depression. Thus during 1882 and 1903, the total of our immigration reached its maximum, while following 1873 and 1893 a rapid falling off is noticeable. The people in Europe are informed of our wonderful industrial growth and general prosperity by letters from friends and relatives in this country. These letters contrast conditions of life in America with the poverty or oppression of the