Our Immigration During 1904 - Commissioner General of Immigration

NO one can read the report for 1904 of the Commissioner General of Immigration, Frank P. Sargent, without being seriously impressed with the laxity of our present immigration laws and the urgent need of more stringent regulation of our immigration. The number of immigrants for 1905 bids fair to reach the one million mark. Only a few less than 10,000 landed at New York in two days in November, the least popular season of the year for newcomers. The following facts are taken from Mr. Sargent's report :

The striking and significant feature of the table of immigrants for 1904 is that the chief diminution is shown in the arrivals from Austria-Hungary, amounting to 28,855, and from Italy, to 37,326, these two countries aggregating 66,181, or twenty-odd thousand more than the total net decrease for the fiscal year 1904.

The countries of northern and western Europe, with one notable exception, show increases, Great Britain's increase being 18,643. The one exception to the foregoing statement is shown by the decrease of 18,265 in the arrivals from Sweden.

The only other figures in this table to which attention need be directed are those showing an increase of nearly too percent in the arrivals from China, and a decrease of 5,704 in those from Japan, the latter easily traceable to the pending war in the East.

Of the 812,870 aliens arriving in 1904, 549,100 were males and 263,770 were females—an increase in the females as compared with last year of 19,870 and a decrease in males of 64,046. As respects age, 109,150 were under 14 years, 657,155 were between 14 and 45, and 46,565 were 45 0r over; 3,953 could read but not write, 168,903 could neither read nor write, and, it is presumed, the remainder, 640,014, could both read and write.

It also appears that 103,750 of these aliens had already been to this country, and that 95,575 brought with them $50 or more each, while 501,53o brought each less than $50. The total amount of money shown to officers by these 812,87o aliens was $20,894,383, Or $4,776.870 more than was brought by the 857,046 arrivals of the last year.

This fact, taken in connection with the circumstances already referred to as to countries from which the increases of the year under consideration came, furnishes assurance of a marked improvement in the character and thrift of the more recent immigration.

The 28,451 English immigrants brought with them in the fiscal year 1903 $1,405,365; this year the 41,479 of the same race brought $2,736,182; the 35,366 Irish last year had $796,082, while the 37,076 Irish this year showed $1,092,781: 71,782 German immigrants last year had $2,480,634, this year 74,790 possessed in hand $3,622,675.

Comparative Statement Showing the Number of Aliens Arrived in the ended States, by Countries, during the Fiscal Years ended June 30,1903 and 1904, respectively, Showing Increase and Decrease for Each Country.

Comparison of Immigration FY 1903 and 1904
Country 1903 1904 Increase Decrease
Austria-Hungary 206,011 177,156   28,855
Belgium 3,450 3,976 526  
Denmark 7,158 8,525 1367  
France, including Corsica 5,578 9,406 3,828  
German Empire 40,086 46,380 6,294  
Greece 14,090 11,343   2,747
Italy, including Sicily and Sardinia 230,622 193,296   37,326
Netherlands 3,998 4,916 918  
Norway 24,461 23,808   653
Portugal, including Cape Verde and Asore Islands 6,317 6,715   2,602
Roumania 9,310 7,087   2,223
Russian Empire and Finland 136,093 145,141 9,048  
Servia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro 1,761 1,325   436
Spain, including Canary and Balearic Islands 2,080 3,996 1,916  
Sweden 46,028 27,763   18,265
Switzerland 3,983 5,023 1,040  
Turkey in Europe 1,529 4,344 2,815  
United Kingdom:        
- England 26,219 38,626 12,407  
- Ireland 35,310 36,142 832  
- Scotland 6,143 11,092 4,949  
- Wales 1,275 1,730 455  
Europe, not specified 5 143 138  
Total for Europe 814,507 767,933   46,574
China 2,209 4,309 2,100  
Japan 19,968 14,264   5,704
India 94 261 167  
Turkey, In Asia 7,118 5,235   1,883
Other Asia 577 2,117 1,540  
Total Asia 29,966 26,186   3,780
Africa 176 686 510  
Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand 1,150 1,460 311  
Philippine Islands 132 52   80
Pacific Islands, not specified 67 42   25
British North America 1,038 2,837 1,779  
British Honduras 81 109 28  
Other Central America 597 605 8  
Mexico 528 1,009 481  
South America 589 1,667 1,078  
West Indies 8,170 10,193 2,023  
All Other Countries 25 90 65  
Total 857,046 812,870   44,176
Aliens In Transit 64,269 27,844   36,425
Total Alien Passengers 921,315 810,714   80,601


" The failure of the government to provide for the distribution of aliens through the United States, and the exertions of foreign countries combine, says Mr Sargent, to maintain alien colonies in this country, Such colonies are open to objection not merely on political grounds, but for social and sanitary reasons in a far greater degree. It cannot, in justice to the interests of our country and to the preservation of its institutions, be too urgently or too frequently repeated that in confining our treatment of the all-important immigration problem to the exclusion of such of certain enumerated classes as we can detect our policy is superficial.

The practical and pressing question is, What shall be done with the annual arrivals of aliens, approximating now 1,000,000 ? " The present immigrants throng to the states which now need them least, to overcrowded cities, and entirely neglect the western states, where there is a scarcity of laborers.


All the political and social, and occasionally religious, resources of some countries are being directed to one end, to maintain colonies of their own people, in this country, instructing them through various channels to maintain their allegiance to the country of their birth, to transmit their earnings here to the fatherland for the purchase of ultimate homes there, and to avoid all intercourse with the people of this country that would tend to the permanent adoption of American ideals.

Thus emigration from certain foreign countries has become, in a much larger sense than the public imagines, a revenue resource to those countries, of immediate benefit to them to the extent of the aggregate remittances, of prospective benefit to them because it insures the return of the emigrant with lets accumulated savings.


An examination of the ability of the immigrants to read and write shows surprising extremes, of which the following are specially noteworthy;

  • Only 3 percent of 10,077 Finns from Russia were illiterate;
  • 4 percent of 40,52.6 Germans from the German Empire;
  • 4 percent of 22,507 Germans from Austria. Hungary;
  • 1 percent of 36,486 English;
  • 1 percent of 11,226 Scotch;
  • 3 percent of 36,747 Irish, and
  • 1 percent of 39,878 Scandinavians.

On the other hand, as large a proportion as 36 percent of 32,577 Poles from Russia could not read or write, and the same illiteracy is true for the Poles from Germany and Austria-Hungary; 23 percent of 77,544 Hebrews from Russia could not read or write and 20,211 Hebrews from Austria-Hungary showed the same degree of illiteracy.

The percentage of illiteracy among the north Italians is only 13, yet it is as high as 48 among the south Italians. We are receiving nearly six times as many south Italians as we are north Italians, and yet the latter are far more desirable immigrants than the former.


One member of a large family from eastern Europe, composed of a father, mother, and six children all under ten years of age, with hardly any money, and bound for the tenement district of New York city, was recently asked at Ellis Island how he intended to provide a competent subsistence for his family if allowed to land. He answered: " What do I care for a big house if I can get one room to sleep in. That is all we want; that is the way we did in Russia."

This particular family was excluded..

This chart shows the ratio of criminality of the four principal grand divisions, viz. : Keltic, Teutonic, Slavic, and lberic. The Iberic division leads in criminality, with Slavic second, Teutonic third, and Keltic fourth. The Iberic ratio of 39 percent is thought not to show the true condition, as it was found impracticable in the compilation of these figures to exclude the Italian (north) who belong with the Iberic grand division from the Italian (south) who belong with the lberic grand division:

In this connection it is pointed out that there were 809 aliens confined in the institutions of the United States proper for murder, 253 of whom were Italians there were 373 confined for attempts to kill, 139 of whom were Italians. This is a ratio of one Italian to two aliens of all other races, From this diagram it will be seen that the racial divisions that have the largest percentages of recent arrivals detained are the ones that have the highest ratio of criminality. (Sec pages 26 and 27.)

But we are receiving many other families of a similar character bound for the tenement districts of our large cities, and with aspirations as narrow as those above described, whom it is not possible to exclude under existing law, for it does not necessarily follow that they are likely to become public charges from the fact that they will go to an overcrowded tenement district and occupy inadequate quarters.

Of the so-called "Americans " who have obtained their citizenship by rushing to the United States, living here long enough to take out papers, and then hurrying back to their native land, Inspector Marcus Brown gives the following illustration :

" The conditions I found to exist there (Jerusalem) are even worse, if such be possible, than in Syria. In the city of Jerusalem alone I found over 1,000 'American citizens,' the vast majority of whom, being Hebrews, live there ostensibly for religious reasons. A number of them are engaged in some business pursuits.

These, however, are in the minority, the prevailing majority living on charity, mostly on the so-called 'chaluka ' (the biblical one-tenth ) , which they obtain from all over the world, either through organized charitable organizations or from private individuals. These people send out thousands upon thousands of letters annually begging charitable contributions, and they cause Dr Merrill, the United States consul, and his dragoman no end of trouble.

" These alleged 'American citizens,' although they enjoy and avail themselves of the high privilege and protection of American citizenship, are, in truth and in fact, not Americans at all, and quite a number of them have become naturalized by fraud."


Although each year several hundred aliens have been returned to the countries whence they came because they were public charges. and several thousand others were originally refused admission to the United States because likely to become public charges, the recent investigation of the charitable institutions of the country conducted by the Bureau of Immigration actually found about 30,000 alien paupers, including insane, in the public institutions and another 5,000 in the charitable institutions under private control.

About 10,000 alien criminals were found in the penal institutions, making altogether a grand total of 45,000, 40,000 of whom are supported exclusively at public expense. In addition thereto, there are probably 65.000 naturalized foreigners in these institutions.

The states in which are located the large cities have the largest proportions of aliens detained in their institutions. For instance. out of 44,985 aliens in all the institutions of the United States. 12,440. or 28 per cent, are in the State of New York; 5,601 or 12 1/2 per cent, in Pennsylvania; 5,490, or 12 per cent, in Massachusetts, and 3,359, or 7 1/2 per cent, in Illinois, making a total of 26,890 in the four states mentioned, which is 60 percent of the entire number in the United States.

The enormous proportion of aliens taken care of in the insane and charitable institutions of the United Slates is shown by the fact that the proportion of alien population to citizens in the whole United States is 1 to 75, while within the insane and charitable institutions the proportion is 1 alien to 6 United States citizens. The proportion in penal institutions has not yet been determined, but is undoubtedly even greater than 1 to 6.


Increasing proportions of immigrants are going to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, while the percentage for the neighboring State of New York has gradually decreased front 42 percent in 1892 to 32 percent in 1904. The far Western States are attracting increasing proportions and the Middle West and South decreasing percentages year by year.

It is of interest to note in this connection the uniformity of the fluctuation of immigration to the New England States, each of them having attracted increasing proportions from 1892 to 1895 or 1896, with decreased percentages since (leaving out of consideration the increase for Vermont during the past three or four years ). Iberic and Slavic divisions :* About 70 percent of the immigration going to the seven states, New York, Pennsylvania, New jersey, Ohio, Delaware, Maryland, and West Virginia, which group receives 6o percent of the entire immigration to the United States, belong to the Iberic races of southern Europe (principally south Italian) and Slavic races of eastern Europe, including Magyars from Hungary.

Of the great bulk of immigration going to New York 34 percent is south Italian and 23 percent Hebrew. Other Eastern and Southern States and Indiana Illinois, and Missouri get large percentages of immigrants belonging to the Iberic and Slavic divisions. Louisiana is conspicuous because of heavy percentage of south Italians.

Teutonic division: The Northwestern States get heavy percentages of immigrants of Teutonic blood from northern Europe, the States of Michigan, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah each receiving front 65 to go percent of immigrants of this class.

Celtic division : New England and some of the Southern States show moderate proportions of immigrants of the Celtic division. This class of immigrants, however, is most conspicuously represented in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions.

Mongolic division: Most of the immigrants of the Mongolic division, principally Japanese. go to Hawaii and the Pacific coast. Of all the immigrants going to Hawaii 82 percent are Japanese.

The Mongolic division has also been added, to Include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, East Indian, Pacific Islander, and Filipino.

Under "all others " have been included Magyar, Turkish. Armenian, African (black), and subdivisions native to the Western Hemisphere

By reason of blood mixture this classification is somewhat arbitrary, especially with regard to Finnish, Scotch, and southern Germans.

* The different races or peoples or, more properly, subdivisions of race coming from Europe have been grouped by Mr Sargent into four grand divisions, as follows :

  • Teutonic division, from northern Europe : German, Scandinavian, English, Dutch, Flemish, and Finnish.
  • Iberic divisiion, from southern Europe: South Italian, Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish; also Syrian from Turkey in Asia,
  • Celtic division, from western Europe: Irish, Welsh, Scotch. French, and north Italian.
  • Slavic division, from eastern Europe : Bohemian, Moravian, Bulgarian, Servian, Montenegrin, Croatian, Slovenian, Dalmatian. Bosnian, Herzegovinian, Hebrew, Lithuanian, Polish, Roumanian, Russian, Ruthenian, and Slovak.


Examination shows that immigration to the mining regions of the Alleghenies, Lake Superior, and Rocky Mountains is composed of comparatively few families and a very large proportion of laborers, while that to the agricultural districts of the Middle West and South is composed of comparatively few laborers and large proportions of families.

The latter fact is conspicuously the case with regard to the tier of seven prairie states and territories from North Dakota to Texas, where nearly half the immigration consists of women and children classed under the head " no occupation, ' with a corresponding decrease in the proportion of laborers. It is notable also that the Teutonic element in the immigration to this tier of states greatly predominates.


Grand Division of Race Proportion of Alien Inmates Who Are Criminals Proportion of Alien Inmates Arrived Within 5 Year
Keltic 15% 7%
Teutonic 17% 15%
Slavic 28% 40%
Iberic 39% 47%
Average of All Races 22% 21%

From F. P. Sargent. Commissioner General of Immigration


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