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The Wall Street Journal Argues for Immigration "Distribution, Not Prevention"

This Wall St. Journal article acknowledges some of the problems that accompanied early-twentieth-century immigration—urban overcrowding, the strain on local resources, threats posed by foreign anarchists—but argues that immigrants should be encouraged to settle outside of U.S. cities and provide needed labor for farms, factories, and mines.

....The country has not yet reached the point where it can afford to close its doors against immigration. Our population is, by no means, so large, and the conditions of life are by no means so severe in the United States that it is necessary, as an act of self-protection, that we should limit the number of those who may be allowed to make homes within our territory....

The point has been made that the character of immigration is degenerating, but this has not been clearly proven....the fact that the 600,000 immigrants who come to our shores in a year of prosperity bring upwards of $20,000,000 in actual money with them, is a fact testifying to their thrift and industry. Many of the recent immigrants have come to this country on account of religious persecution, and a man who will pull up stakes, abandon the place of birth, and seek a new country, on account of his beliefs, must have within him some of the stuff of which good American citizens can be made.

The great evil is that so vast a proportion of the immigrants remain within the already over-crowded large cities....It increases the difficulty of city administration, and it throws an immense burden upon the Board of Education. It is a fact, that is hardly known to the great bulk of even our intelligent citizens, that a large staff of teachers in the public schools are now devoting all of their time to teaching the immigrants the language of this countrythat is the first step in their admission as American citizens. When teaching them the language of the country, the teachers are told, also, to give them a little insight into the theory of our government, instructing them that while the United States safeguards its citizens in their right of speech, of religion and the pursuit of happiness, it still insists upon their respect for and obedience to law.

But, in spite of all that can be done, there is no doubt that this crowding of immigrants into cities, constitutes the worst feature of the immigration problem. It provides an opportunity for the demagogue and the agitator to spread their creed of hatred of wealth and their doctrines of anarchy. It would be far better politically, morally and industrially, if the immigration could be more widely distributed throughout the country. There is a need of more farm laborers and less tailors. There is need of more workers in the fields and shops and the mines and fewer street peddlers.

Source | "Distribution, Not Prevention," Wall Street Journal, 13 April 1904, 1.
Creator | Wall Street Journal
Item Type | Newspaper/Magazine
Cite This document | Wall Street Journal, “The Wall Street Journal Argues for Immigration "Distribution, Not Prevention",” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed February 23, 2024,

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