Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/352

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
348
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

settlers than formerly, and among those who show an inclination to permanence, the standard of living is improving, in imitation of their English, Irish and American neighbors.

Portuguese immigration in 1903 amounted to over eight thousand souls. They have the highest proportion of illiterates of any European race, their percentage of illiteracy being about 70 per cent. They also bring less money per capita than most other races. In spite of these facts, a study of Portuguese immigration reveals many excellent qualities, and chief among these are their permanency, peaceable disposition, thrift and skill in fruit growing and truck farming. The behavior of Portuguese immigrants undergoing inspection at Ellis Island is characterized by extreme gravity and almost absolute silence. They present a striking contrast to the animated vivacious Frenchman or jabbering Italian, and after landing make quiet, law-abiding citizens. About 38 per cent, of the number landed last year were females, and nearly 25 per cent, were children, indicating the large number of families and their evident intention to settle permanently. Their distribution here is peculiar, and 93 per cent, of the total landed last year went to three states, Massachusetts, California and Ehode Island. They are practically the only race from southern, central or eastern Europe which does not send the majority of its immigrants to New York or Pennsylvania. The following table indicates the number and geographical distribution of Portuguese landed in 1903:

State. Number Landed. Ratio to Total Number Landed.
Massachusetts 5,691 68 per cent
California 1,057 12 .5"
Rhode Island 1,029 12 .5"
New York 475 5 "
Connecticut 114 1 .5"
All other states 67 1 "
Total 8,433 100 per cent

The Portuguese in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are engaged in fishing, market-gardening and fruit growing. They have taken up abandoned farms in those states, particularly in the Cape Cod district, and have been successful in agriculture where others have been discouraged. In California they have been very successful as fruit and vine growers. Their skill in intensive farming enables them to establish themselves upon tracts of land which are unproductive to ordinary agricultural crops and methods, and by truck farming and fruit growing they make a living upon farms neglected by native farmers.

Physically they are undersized, but are remarkably free from disease and physical defects. Seventy per cent, of the males are unskilled laborers, and their natural trend, unlike other southern Europeans, is toward the agricultural districts. Even the Portuguese fishermen