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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/350

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346
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

Instances are recorded where Italians have arrived in America as immigrants, who admitted having been here six or seven times before. It is certain, however, that the Italian laborer, in a majority of instances, gradually gets accustomed to American ways and finds things at home more strange on each succeeding visit, and eventually loses all desire to live permanently in his native land. He goes back and forth to see his old parents, to escape destitution in a New York tenement when out of work, or to arrange, if he is prosperous enough, to bring his family here.

Nothing illustrates the growing permanency of our Italian immigrants with greater force than the ever increasing proportion of women and children now recorded among Italian immigrants. Whenever the Italian is able to shift for himself, when he is independent of the padrone and Italian banker, he is likely to be a permanent and useful citizen. The sums alleged to have been sent to Italy by Italian laborers here have been grossly exaggerated, and it is doubtful if any Italian, successful enough here to acquire a competence, could escape Americanization, or have any desire to live in Italy after having adopted American ideas of living. The Italian laborer sends money to Italy to his aged parents or to his wife, to help pay rent, taxes and other burdens at home. He does this from a high sense of filial or marital duty, for the Italian never forgets his duty to either parent or wife, and surely this devotion is commendable; but his desire in many instances is really to establish a home and bring his dependent ones here to live with him.

The Italian is gradually becoming independent of the padrone. He is also beginning to learn the splendid possibilities for independent effort in agricultural pursuits. That there is a great field for him is shown by his success wherever he has been led in the right direction. To make the Italian uniformly successful it is only necessary to lead him out into the country, away from the vitiated atmosphere of the tenement and slum. No place is better fitted for him than our southern states, and no immigrant is better fitted for playing a part in the development of those states than the Italian. He requires the pure air of the country and the geniality of the southern winter, and by his skill and industry in intensive farming, he can make the sandy soil of the pine land productive or reclaim the swamps and lowlands, which have lain fallow for years. He can give the southern planter his reliable thrifty labor to replace the erratic improvident negro, and can introduce and carry to perfection the vine growing and wine making, which have made southern, California famous. These are some of the possibilities of the Italian immigrant, if properly directed, but his mode of life in the great cities, where the vast majority of Italians lives, presents quite a different picture. Here we find the 'Italian quarter,' which is responsible for most of the prejudice against