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PRESENT PROBLEMS OF UNION
(1) Race problems
HE present problems of union arise in part from
our inheritance and in part from new tasks with
which the country is confronted. These are (1) union between different races, (2) union between different classes, (3) union for the great tasks of conservation of resources, improving health, and protecting the individual. In short, the need of union is to do together what we cannot do separately. In early times this meant chiefly defense against enemies; now it means chiefly control over nature, defense against disease, and finally defense against harsh or unfair treatment of one class by another.
It is hard to say whether the most difficult problem of our country today is the race problem or the labor problem. The race problem is probably as old as the human race itself. At any rate, as far back as we can go in history we find people of different tribes and races fighting with one another. We have seen that in savage society all of the same tribe or group stood closely by one another and practised blood revenge upon any other group in case of injury by some one of that group. When certain tribes or races, such as the Assyrians or Romans, grew strong, they set out to conquer all other peoples. In some cases they even exterminated those whom they conquered. In other cases they made slaves. In our country it was the desire of men to gain wealth and property which led
to the bringing in of negroes for slaves. So long as the
negroes were in slavery there does not seem to have been so much race feeling against them. They acted as nurses, and housekeepers, and personal servants. In many cases they were greatly attached to those whom they served and, on the other hand, the whites felt strong affection for them. Many illustrations have been given of the devotion of each to the other. It has frequently been noted that during the Civil War the men of the South were almost as a rule away from their homes. The negro servants were left in charge of property and families, and were faithful to the trust. Moreover, it is an interesting fact that the negroes themselves owned slaves. No less than eighteen thousand slaves were the property of negro masters. There was no competition between white and black. Each had his separate sphere and remained within it. After emancipation the whole situation was changed. By the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution the negro was granted civil rights; then, by the Fifteenth Amendment, the right to vote. In many states there were more negro voters than white voters. Governments elected by the negro majorities were often extravagant and plunged the states into debt. Naturally those who had been for centuries slaves and without any training or education in self-government could not be expected to become at once intelligent citizens. Various other occasions for conflict arose. The habit of steady labor has been acquired by the white races through long development and under the influence of many motives—gain, reputation for thrift, and industry. The white man of today has very largely come to feel that labor is honorable, although large numbers of white men still regard any kind of manual labor as dishonorable and
beneath a gentleman. The negro associated work with slavery just as the earlier gentlemen of the white race had associated manual work with slavery. Hence when he was freed, he in many cases thought it would be a disgrace to work as he had done. This made it very difficult for the Southern farmers to obtain help. Or again, the colored man might work for a time but leave just as the crop needed his attention, and thus cause great loss. For these and various other reasons there has been an unhappy condition of discord.
In the North the race problems have been of another kind. The early settlers in the country were very largely English. A considerable number of Scotch and Irish settled in the interior of Pennsylvania and along the upland and mountainous ridges extending southwest through Virginia and the Carolinas. There was also a German population in Pennsylvania which for many years used the German language and had little to do with the English-speaking neighbors. But the British stock in 1790 composed a little more than ninety per cent. of all the white population, the Germans less than six per cent., and the Dutch two per cent. English and Dutch had some race feeling. The New England phrase for something very outlandish or extraordinary
66 That beats the Dutch." Better acquaintance soon overcame the trivial differences between these
The great streams of immigration which have come to the country since 1840 have raised problems not so much of social unity as of industrial competition or political organization. The Irish began the great movement, driven from home by famine. A great German immigration was caused by efforts at revolution in Germany which were severely put down by the government. In recent years immigration has largely ceased
from Northern Europe, and great numbers are coming from Italy, from Greece, and from the Slavic races in the southeast of Europe. Numerous Jews have come from Germany and more recently from Russia. The earlier immigrants scattered widely through the country, the Germans, Scandinavians, and British very largely taking up farming land. The Slavs, Italians, Greeks, and Jews stay much more largely in the cities, except that the Slavs have gone in great numbers to the mining regions.
The following table of the nationalities in New York City, in 1910, shows from how many strains our immigrants now come. The wonder is that so many different races and groups can get on together at all.
THIRTEENTH CENSUS, POPULATION 1910
Born in Austria .190,237 Roumania
33,584 Denmark 7,989 Russia
.484,189 England 78,135 Scotland
23,115 Finland 7,409 Sweden
34,950 France 18,265 Switzerland
10,540 Germany .278,114 Turkey in Asia
4,191 Other foreign countries. 14,788 Hungary 76,625 Canada-French
2,844 Ireland .252,662 Canada-other
.340,765 Cuba and the West Norway 22,280 Indies
Other Races than White:
343 All other 4,614
On the Pacific coast there has been little immigration from Europe, but after Chinese laborers had been brought over to aid in building the railroads, vio
On the Pacific coast
Different standards of living
lent agitation arose against further coming of the Chinese. In recent years Japanese have come in considerable numbers, but at present, by agreement with Japan, Japanese laborers are not permitted to come to the country.
The present problems which are created by immigrants are very largely those of the standard of living. Most of those who have come in recent years have been accustomed to very meager expenditure. The Chinese who lives upon simple, inexpensive food is willing to do work for very low wages. The same is true of the newly arrived Italian, or Greek, or Pole. In the cotton mills of New England the native Americans were succeeded first by Irish, then by French, and still later by Poles, Syrians, and others. In New York and some other large cities, great numbers of Jews have found employment in the garment trades. The fact that many recent immigrants do not speak English makes it more difficult to organize them into labor unions. They tend to crowd together in their houses and thus lower their expense for rent. All this keeps wages down.
Politically the different nationalities have naturally tended to keep together. Men of the same nationality are very apt to vote for the same candidates and to belong to the same political party. The Irish have very largely belonged to the Democratic Party, the Germans and Scandinavians to the Republican Party. As newcomers in a strange country, they are often influenced much more by their feelings of sympathy with others of the same race than by the principles of the party, or by the question of which is the best man for the position.
What is likely to be the future of these race con