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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/228

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE IMMIGRANT, PAST AND PRESENT.
By Dr. ALLAN MCLAUGHLIN,

U. S. PUBLIC HEALTH AND MARINE HOSPITAL SERVICE.

AFTER the Peace of Paris in 1783, and the birth of a new nation on the American continent, home-seekers arriving at ports of the United States were called immigrants. Previous to the revolutionary war they were known as colonists. The distinction is one of political allegiance. The colonist was an immigrant who desired to make a home in the new country, but to retain his allegiance to his native land. On the other hand, the immigrant, in a majority of instances, expected and desired to change his political allegiance. Even at the present time the government of Italy regards as Italian colonists all Italians in America who have not been naturalized. If we except the question of political allegiance there was little difference between the colonist and the early immigrant. There were no large centers of population such as exist to-day to invite the parasitic class, nor were there large factories, mines or mills, to demand a supply of unskilled laborers. The country, except a narrow strip along the Atlantic seaboard, stretched in an almost unbroken wilderness far to the west. The type of immigrant willing and able to brave the dangers and hardships of the new country, and hew out a home in the heart of the forest, was necessarily brave of heart, and strong of hand, the very best type of an immigrant—the pioneer. The immigrant of those days was not allured by the promise of high wages, nor by the desire to better his financial condition, but was actuated chiefly by the desire to create a home, and free himself from the trammels and persecutions of the old world. He was at once a pioneer, a woodsman and a farmer. He left behind him many evils, coercion, compulsory military service, religious or racial persecution, grinding taxation, wars in which he had no interest, and prohibitive systems of land tenure. He found in this country, land for all, absolute freedom from racial or religious persecution, personal liberty, and respect for the rights of the individual, regardless of social position. The many advantages offered to the home-seeker who was brave, willing and strong, in the new United States, attracted many thousand immigrants, and it is estimated that one hundred and fifty thousand settled in the country between 1783 and 1810. These early immigrants were mostly from the British Isles, with a few Germans, French and Scandinavians.