They Who Knock At Our Gates: A Complete Gospel of Immigration

Front Cover - They Who Knock At Our Gate: A Complete Gospel of Immigration

They Who Knock at Our Gates: A Complete Gospel of Immigration By Mary Antin With Illustrations By Joseph Stella. Boston And New York: Houghton Mifflin Company 1914

The Author is more emothional than scientific. The Declaration of Independence is accepted as our “fundamental law“—taken literally. All immigrants, a million as much as one, have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Economic facts are disregarded. It is stated that there is still an unlimited supply of free land; that Texas alone could support the whole world’s population with a homestead of an acre or so for every man. No qualification is made to the effect that a third of these acres produce only mesquite and chaparral. It is a pity that the publishers should see fit to advertise such a book as “a powerful presentation of the immigrant problem. " -- The American economic review, March 1915, p.126.

Published May I914


  • Introduction
  • I. The Law of the Fathers
  • II. Judges IN the Gate
  • III. The Fiery Furnace

Three Main Questions May Be Asked with Reference To Immigration

  • First: A question of principle: Have we any right to regulate immigration ?
  • Second: A question of fact: What is the nature of our present immigration ?
  • Third: A question of interpretation: Is immigration good for us ?

The difficulty with the first question is to get its existence recognized. In a matter that has such obvious material aspects as the immigration problem the abstract principles involved are likely to be overlooked. But as there can be no sound conclusions without a foundation in underlying principles, this dis-cussion must begin by seeking an answer to the ethical question involved.

The second question is not easy to answer for the reason that men are always poor judges of their contemporaries, especially of those whose interests appear to clash with their own. We suffer here, too, from a bewildering multiplicity of testimony. Every sort of expert whose specialty in any way touches the immigrant has diagnosed the subject according to the’formulae of his own special science — and our doctors disagree! One is forced to give up the luxury of a second-hand opinion on this subject, and to attempt a little investigation of one’s own, checking off the dicta oi the specialists as well as an amateur may.

The third question, while not wholly sepa-rable from the second, is nevertheless an in-quiry of another sort. Whether immigration is good for us depends partly on the intrinsic nature of the immigrant and partly on our reactions to his presence. The effects of im-migration, produced by the immigrant in partnership with ourselves, some men will ap-prove and some deplore, according to their notions of good and bad. That thing is good for me which leads to my ultimate happiness; and we do not all delight in the same things. The third question, therefore, more than either of the others, each man has to answer for himself.

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