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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/351

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347
ITALIAN AND OTHER LATIN IMMIGRANTS.

the Italian immigrant. In these colonies we see the Italian at his worst, physically and morally, but, as has been pointed out, he crowds the Italian quarter because there is no alternative for him, in his ignorance of our language and customs. Instead of being led into the country, where the labor is needed, he is induced to stay in the 'quarter' by his more fortunate countryman, padrone or banker, who expects to increase his profit thereby.

The philanthropists, Italians or Americans, who will direct the Italian to his proper place in the rural districts, will do a grand work for the Italian immigrant, for the states to which he will contribute his skill and labor and for humanity in general.

 

The Italians are the principal factor in our Latin immigration, but we also receive French, Spanish, Portuguese and Eoumans.

Immigrants from France rank high as desirable additions to our population, but the desirability of French-Canadian immigration has been the subject of much discussion. Much of the disfavor into which the French-Canadians have fallen is due to their effect upon labor conditions in New England. It is estimated that from fifty to seventy thousand of these French-Canadians come to the New England factory towns, for temporary employment, each year. When the price of labor rises they come in large numbers and when the wages decrease large numbers return. It is said that many French-Canadian farmers send their families to Fall River and other New England towns to earn money and return with their savings to Canada. Their standard of living is very low and, as they regard their sojourn as temporary, they make little attempt to better it, but subject themselves to hardship and self-denial m order to increase the amount of money which they hope to take back with them to their Canadian homes.

The enforcement of the child labor laws and the reduction of the number of working hours for women, by the state of Massachusetts, has had a marked effect upon the unfair competition of the cheap child labor and unlimited working-day, which were features of the French-Canadian invasion. Organization of the French-Canadians has been beyond the power of the labor unions, and they are a factor in depressing wages in the textile trades, although the influence in this direction of the competition of native labor in the south must not be overlooked.

The French-Canadians are among the best lumber men and river drivers in the world, and have been valuable in this industry in northern Michigan and other border states. They are not very thrifty, and usually spend their money freely. After the timber is stripped off, they have more inclination to follow the receding timber line and live in the lumber towns than to take up the cleared land for farming.

In New England more of these people are becoming permanent