The swarming of foreigners into the great industries occurred at considerable cost to the native workingmen, for the latter struggled in vain for higher wages or better conditions as long as the employers could command the services of an inexhaustible supply of foreign laborers. Thus, the new immigration has made it easier for the few to amass enormous fortunes at the expense of the many and has helped to create in this country for the first time yawning inequalities of wealth.
Most sociologists believe that the addition of hordes of foreigners to the population of the United States has caused a decline in the birth-rate of the old American stock, for the native laborer has been forced to avoid large families in order to be in a position to meet the growing severity of the economic competition forced upon him by the immigrant. This condition, joined to the tendency of immigrant laborers to crowd the native Americans farther and farther from the industrial centers of the country, has caused the great communities and commonwealths of the Atlantic seaboard, about whose names cluster the heroic traditions of revolutionary times, to change completely their original characters. Puritan New England is today the home of a population of whom two-thirds were born in foreign lands or else had parents who were. Boston is as cosmopolitan a city as Chicago; and Faneuil Hall is an anachronism, a curiosity of bygone days left stranded on the shores of the Italian quarter. In fifteen of the largest cities of the United States the foreign immigrants and their children outnumber the native whites; and by the same token alien racial elements are in the majority in thirteen of the states of the Union. When President Wilson was at the Peace Conference, he reminded the Italian delegates that there were more of their countrymen in New York than in any Italian city; and it is not beside the point to add here that New York is also the greatest Irish city in the world and the largest Jewish city.
Whatever of history may be made in the future in these parts of the country will not be the result primarily of an "Anglo-Saxon" heritage but will be the product of the interaction of these more recent racial elements upon each other and their joint reaction to the American scene. Unless the unanticipated should intervene, the stewardship of American ideals and culture is destined to pass to a new composite American type now in the process of making. [. . .]
To the immigrant must also be assigned the responsibility for the accelerated growth of political and industrial radicalism in this country. While most of the newcomers quietly accepted their humble place in American society, a minority of the immigrants consisted of political refugees and other extremists, embittered by their experiences in European countries and suspicious of constituted authority under whatever guise.
From an essay in which the half-Jewish child of immigrants helpfully explains "The Significance of Immigration in American History" (the inevitable conclusion, naturally, being that America is "a nation of immigrants" -- or something like that). More:
Politically the immigration of the last half-century has borne good fruit as well as evil. The intelligent thoughtful immigrant lacked the inherited prejudices of the native voter and was less likely to respond to ancient catchwords or be stirred by the revival of Civil War issues. The practice of "waving the bloody shirt" was abandoned by the politicians largely because of the growing strength of the naturalized voters, of which group Carl Schurz was, of course, the archtype. In place of this practice arose a new one, equally as reprehensible, by which the major parties used their appointments to office and their platform professions to angle for the support of naturalized groups among the voters. Racial groupings became important pawns in the political game as played by astute politicians. Blaine is said to have lost the Irish vote and with it the presidency because an indiscreet supporter prominently identified his name with opposition, to "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion"; and in the next presidential election both parties found it expedient to insert in their platforms forthright declarations in favor of home rule for Ireland! The so-called "hyphenated American" has become a familiar figure in the last few years merely because the Great War has made native-born citizens take serious cognizance of the polyglot political situation; and the activity of the German-American Alliance in the campaign of 1916 is an illustration of how dangerous to the national welfare the meddling of racial divisions among the voters may become.
To the immigrant must also be assigned the responsibility for the accelerated growth of political and industrial radicalism in this country. While most of the newcomers quietly accepted their humble place in American society, a minority of the immigrants consisted of political refugees and other extremists, embittered by their experiences in European countries and suspicious of constituted authority under whatever guise. These men represented the Left Wing in their revolt against political authority in Europe just as three centuries earlier the Pilgrims comprised the Left Wing in their struggle against ecclesiastical authority. [Similar motives to Moldbug here, in attempting to associate 20th-century radicals with 17th-century New Englanders; but at least greater honesty in not asserting the former are direct ideological descendants of the latter.]
Since radicalism is a cloak covering a multitude of dissents and affirmations, the influence of these men may be traced in a wide variety of programs of social reconstruction and movements for humanitarian reform. The first Socialist parties in the United States were organized by German-Americans in the years following the Civil War; and political Socialism, in its type of organization, terminology, and methods of discipline, can hardly yet be said to be fully acclimated to the New World. Violence and anarchism were first introduced into the American labor movement in the eighties by Johann Most and his associates, the greater number of whom, like Most himself, were of alien birth; and the contemporaneous I.W.W. movement finds its chief strength in the support of the migratory foreign-born laborer. Even the Non-partisan League may not be hailed, though some would so have it, as a product of an indigenous American Socialism, for this organization originated and has enjoyed its most spectacular successes in a western commonwealth in which 70 per cent of the people were natives of Europe or are the children of foreign-born parents.
The new immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, with its lower standard of living and characteristic racial differences has intensified many existing social problems and created a number of new ones, particularly in the centers of population. The modern programs for organized and scientific philanthropy had their origin very largely in the effort to cure these spreading social sores. Out of this situation has also grown a new anti-immigration or nativist movement, unrelated to similar phenomena of earlier times and indeed regarding with approval the very racial groups against which the earlier agitation had been directed. This new movement has functioned most effectively through non-partisan channels, particularly through that of organized labor, and has commanded strong support in both parties. Whereas immigrants had virtually all been admitted without let or hindrance down to i875, a number of laws have been passed since then with the primary purpose of removing the worst evils of indiscriminate immigration, the severest restriction being the literacy test affixed in 1917. This contemporary nativism cannot justify its existence by reason of the large proportion of aliens as compared with the native population, for, as Professor Max Farrand has recently shown, immigration was on a proportionately larger scale in colonial times than during the last fifty years. It owes its being, doubtless, to the tendency of the latter-day immigrants to settle in portions of the country that are already thickly populated and to the fact that the Americans of older stock can no longer find relief from industrial competition by taking up government land in the West.
No modern people is compounded of such heterogeneous elements as the American. It is not fantastic to believe that, during three centuries of history, these alien breeds have not only profoundly influenced American manners, culture, institutions, and material progress but have also been largely responsible for distilling that precious essence which we call American idealism. The bold man falters when asked to define American idealism, but three of its affirmative attributes are assuredly a lyric enthusiasm for government by the people, an unwavering toleration of all creeds and opinions, and, in more recent times, a deep abiding faith in pacific foreign relations. The great mass of immigrants came to the New World to attest their devotion to one or all of these ideals-they came as protestants against tyranny, intolerance, militarism, as well as against economic oppression. Nor is more concrete evidence lacking to show that neither they nor their sons rested until these great principles were firmly woven into the fabric of American thought and political practice.
During the last five years the United States has risen to a position of world-leadership in a sense never realized by any other country in history. Sober reflection convinces one that this was not an accident due to one man's personality; it grew out of the inevitable logic of a situation which found the United States an amalgam of all the peoples at war. Although the old stocks continued belligerent and apart in Europe, the warring nations instinctively turned for leadership to that western land where the same racial breeds met and mingled and dwelt in harmony with each other. Observers in Europe during the war testify to the willingness with which all classes of people in the various countries were ready to hearken to and follow the country whose liberal spirit they knew from the letters of their friends in America or from their own experiences there. In the great world-drama President Wilson played a predestined part; by reason of his position as spokesman of the American people he was the historic embodiment of the many national traditions inherent in a nation formed of many nations. This would seem to foreshadow the r6le which, for good or ill, the United States is fated to play in the future. Those who, in the discussions over the proposed League of Nations, are advocating the return of the United States to a position of isolation and irresponsibility have failed to grasp the significance of immigration in American history.