m_topn picture
Atlantic Monthly Sidebar

December 1908

Races in the United States

by William Z. Ripley

THE population of Europe may, in a rough way, be divided into an East and a West. The contrast between the two may be best illustrated, perhaps, in geological terms. Everywhere these populations have been laid down originally in more or less distinct strata. In the Balkan States and Austria-Hungary, this stratification is recent and still distinct; while in western Europe the several layers have become metamorphosed by the fusing heat of nationality and the pressure of civilization. But in both instances these populations are what the geologist would term sedimentary. In the United States, an entirely distinct formation occurs; which, in continuation of our geological figure, may best be characterized by the term *eruptive*. We have to do, not with the slow processes of growth by deposit or accretion, but with violent and volcanic dislocation. We are called upon to survey a lava-flow of population, suddenly cast forth from Europe and spread indiscriminately over a new continent. In Europe the populations have grown up from the soil. They are still imbedded in it, a part of it. They are the product of their environments: dark in the southern half, blonde at the north, stunted where conditions are harsh, well developed where the land is fat. Even as between city and country, conditions have been so long fixed that one may trace the results in the physical traits of the inhabitants. It was my endeavor some years ago, in *The Races of Europe*, to describe these conditions in detail. But in America the people, one may almost say, have dropped from the sky. They are in the land, but not yet an integral part of it. The population product is artificial and exotic. It is as yet unrelated to its physical environment. A human phenomenon unique in the history of the world is the result.

Judged solely from the standpoint of numbers, the phenomenon of American immigration is stupendous. We have become so accustomed to it in the United States that we often lost sight of its numerical magnitude. About 25,000,000 people have come to the United States from all over Europe since 1820. This is about equal to the entire population of the United Kingdom only fifty years ago, at the time of our Civil War. It is, again, more than the population of Italy in the time of Garibaldi. Otherwise stated, this army of people would populate, as it stands to-day, all that most densely settled section of the United States north of Maryland and east of the Great Lakes,--all New England, new York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, in fact.

This horde of immigrants has mainly come since the Irish potato famine of the middle of the last century. The rapid increase year by year has taken the form, not of a steady growth, but of an intermittent flow. First came the people of the British Isles after the downfall of Napoleon, 2000 in 1815 and 35,000 in 1819. Thereafter the numbers remain about 75,000 yearly, until the Irish famine, when, in 1852, 368,000 immigrants from the British Isles landed on our shores. These were succeeded by the Germans, largely moved at first by the political events of 1848. By 1854 a million and a half Teutons, mainly from northern Germany, had settled in America. So many were there that ambitious plans for the foundation of a German state in the new country were actually set on foot. The later German immigrants were recruited largely from the Rhine provinces, and have settled further to the northwest, in Wisconsin and Iowa; the earliest wave having come from northern Germany to Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri. The Swedes began to come after the Civil War. Their immigration culminated in 1882 with the influx of about 50,000 in that year. More recent still are the Italians, beginning with a modest 20,000 in 1876, rising to over 200,000 arrivals in 1888, and constituting an army of 300,000 in the single year of 1907: and accompanying the Italian has come the great horde of Slavs, Huns, and Jews.

Wave has followed wave, each higher than the last,--the ebb and flow being dependent upon economic conditions in large measure. It is the last great wave, ebbing since last fall, which has most alarmed us in America. This gathered force on the revival of prosperity about 1897, but it did not attain full measure until 1900. Since that year over six million people have landed on our shores--one-quarter of the total immigration since the beginning. The newcomers of these eight years alone would repopulate all the five older New England States as they stand to-day; or, if properly disseminated over the newer parts of the country, they would serve to populate no less than nineteen states of the Union as they stand. The new-comers of the last eight years could, if suitably seated in the land, elect thirty-eight out of the present ninety-two Senators of the United States. Is it any wonder that thoughtful political students stand somewhat aghast? In the last of these eight years--1907--there were one and one quarter million arrivals. This number would entirely populate both New Hampshire and Maine, two of our oldest states, with an aggregate territory approximately equal to Ireland and Wales. The arrivals of this one year would found a state with more inhabitants than any one of twenty-one of our other existing commonwealths which could be named.

Fortunately, the commercial depression of 1908 has for the moment put a stop to this inflow. Some considerable emigration back to Europe has in fact ensued. But this can be nothing more than a breathing space. On the resumption of prosperity, the tide will rise higher than before. Each immigrant, staying or returning, will influence his friends, his entire village; and so it will be, until an economic equilibrium has been finally established between one continent where labor is dearer than land, and the other where land is worth more than labor; between governments where freedom, in theory at least, takes precedence over privilege, and states where vested political and social rights are still paramount.

It is not alone the rapid increase in our immigration which merits attention. It is also the radical change in its character, in the source from whence it comes. Whereas, until about twenty years ago, our immigrants were drawn from the Anglo-Saxon or Teutonic populations of northwestern Europe, they have swarmed over here in rapidly growing proportions since that time from Mediterranean, Slavic, and Oriental sources. A quarter of a century ago, two-thirds of our immigration was truly Teutonic or Anglo-Saxon in origin. At the present time, less than one-sixth comes from this source. The British Isles, Germany, Scandinavia, and Canada unitedly sent us 90 per cent of our immigrants in the decade to 1870; 82.8 per cent in 1870-90; and only 41.8 per cent in 1890-1900. since then, the proportion has been very much smaller still. Germany used to contribute one-third of our new-comers. In 1907 it sent barely one-seventh. On the other hand, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Italy, which produced about 1 per cent of the total in 1860-70, jointly contributed 50.1 per cent in 1890-1900. Of the million and a quarter arrivals in 1907, almost 900,000 came from these three countries alone. I have been at some pains to reclassify the immigration for 1907, in conformity with the racial grouping of the *Races of Europe*; disregarding, that is to say, mere linguistic affiliations, and dividing on the basis of physical types. The total of about one and one-quarter million arrivals was distributed as follows:--

330,000 Mediterranean Race (one-quarter)

194,000 Alpine Race (one-sixth)

330,000 Slavic " (one-quarter)

194,000 Teutonic (one-sixth)

146,000 Jewish (mainly Russian) (one-eighth)

In that year, 330,000 South Italians took the place of the 250,000 Germans who came in 1882, when the Teutonic immigration was at its flood. One and one-half million Italians have come since 1900; over one million Russians; and a million and a half natives of Austria-Hungary. We have even tapped the political sinks of Europe, and are now drawing large numbers of Greeks, Armenians, and Syrians. No people is too mean or lowly to seek an asylum on our shores.

The net result of this immigration has been to produce a congeries of human beings, unparalleled for ethnic diversity anywhere else on the face of the earth. The most complex populations of Europe, such as those of the British Isles, Northern France, or even the Balkan States, seem ethnically pure by contrast. In some of these places the soothing hand of time has softened the racial contrasts. There are certain water holes, of course, like Gibraltar, Singapore, or Hong Kong, to which every type of human animal is attracted, and a notably mongrel population is the result. But for ethnic diversity on a large scale, the United States is certainly unique.

Our people have been diverse in origin from the start to a greater degree than is ordinarily supposed. Virginia and New England, to be sure, were for a long time Anglo-Saxon undefiled; but in the other colonies there was much intermixture, such as the German in Pennsylvania, the Swedish along the Delaware, the Dutch in New York, and the Scotch Highlander and Huguenot in the Carolinas. Little centres of foreign inoculation in the early days are discoverable everywhere. On a vacation trip recently, in the extreme northeastern corner of Pennsylvania, my wife and a friend remarked the frequency of French names of persons, and then of villages, of French physical types, and of French cookery. On inquiry it turned out that many settlements had been made by French, migrating after the battle of Waterloo. Their descendants still give a Gallic tone to the district. Many such colonies could be named,--the Dutch along the lake shore of western Michigan, the Germans in Texas, and the Swiss villages in Wisconsin,--none of them recent, but constituting long-established and permanent elements in the population.

Concerning New York City, Father Jognes states that the Director-General told him of eighteen languages spoken there in 1644. For the entire thirteen colonies at the time of the Revolution, we have it on good authority that one-fifth of the population could not speak English; and that one-half at least was not Anglo-Saxon by descent. Upon such a stock, it is little wonder that the grafting of these twenty-five million immigrants promises to produce an extraordinary human product.

For over half a century more than one-seventh of our aggregate population has been of actually foreign birth. This proportion of actual foreigners of all sorts varies greatly, however, as between the different states. In Minnesota and New York, for example, at the present time, the foreign-born, as we denote them statistically, constitute about a fourth of the whole population; in Massachusetts, the proportion is about one-third; occasionally, as in North Dakota in 1890, it approaches on-half (42 per cent). It is in cities, of course, that this proportion of actual foreigners rises highest. In New York City there are over two million people born in Europe, who have come there hoping to better their lots in life. Boston has an even higher proportion of actual foreigners, but the relatively larger numbers of those speaking English, such as the Irish, renders the phenomenon less striking. Nevertheless, within a few blocks, in a colony of 28,000 inhabitants, only 1500 in 1895 had parents born in the United States.

The full measure of our ethnic diversity is revealed only when one aggregates the actually foreign-born with their children born in America,--totalizing, as we call it, the foreign-born and the native-born of foreign parentage. This group thus includes only the first generation of American descent. Oftentimes even the second generation may remain ethnically as undefiled as the first; but our positive statistical data carry us no further. This group of foreign-born with its children constitutes to-day upwards of one-third of our total population; and, excluding the negroes, it equals almost one half (46 per cent) of the whole white population. This is for the country as a whole. Considered by states or cities, the proportion is, of course, much higher. Baltimore, one of our purest American cities, had 40 per cent of foreigners with their children in 1900. In Boston, the proportion leaps to 70 per cent; in New York to 80 per cent; and it reached a maximum in Milwaukee, with 86 per cent thus constituted. Imagine an English city of the size of Edinburgh with only about one person in eight English by descent through only a modest two generations. To this condition must be added the probability that not over one-half of that remnant of a rear-guard can trace its descent on American soil as far back as a third generation. Were we to eliminate these foreigners and their children from our city populations, it has been estimated that Chicago, with to-day a population of over two millions, would dwindle to a city of not much over one hundred thousand inhabitants.

One may select great industries practically given over to foreigners. Over ninety per cent of the tailors of New York City are Jews, mainly Russian and Polish. In Massachusetts, the centre of our staple cotton manufacture, out of ninety-eight thousand employees, one finds that only thirty-nine hundred, or about four per cent, are native-born Americans; and most of those are of Irish or Scotch-Irish descent two generations back. All of our day labor, once Irish, is now Italian; our fruit-venders, once Italian are now becoming Greek; and our coal mines, once manned by people from the British Isles, are now worked by Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, or Finns.

A special study of the linguistic conditions in Chicago well illustrates our racial heterogeneity. Among the people of that great city,--the second in size in the United States,--fourteen languages are spoken by groups of not less than ten thousand persons each. Newspapers are regularly published in ten languages; and church services are conducted in twenty different tongues. Measured by the size of its foreign linguistic colonies, Chicago is the second Bohemian city in the world, the third Swedish, the fourth Polish, and the fifth German (New York being the fourth). There is one large factory in Chicago employing over four thousand people, representing twenty-four distinct nationalities. Rules of the establishment are regularly printed in eight languages. In one block in New York, where friends of mine are engaged in college settlement work, there are fourteen hundred people of twenty distinct nationalities. There are more than two-thirds as many native-born Irish in Boston as in the capital city, Dublin. With their children, mainly of pure Irish blood, they make Boston indubitably the leading Irish city in the world. New York is a larger Italian city to-day than Rome, having five hundred thousand Italian colonists. It contains no less than eight hundred thousand Jews, mainly from Russia. Thus it is also the foremost Jewish city in the world. Pittsburgh, the centre of our iron and steel industry, is another tower of Babel. It is said to contain more of that out-of-the-way people, the Servians, than the capital of Servia itself.

Such being the ethnic diversity of our population, the primary and fundamental physical question is, whether these racial groups are to coalesce to form ultimately a more or less uniform American type; or whether they are to continue their separate existences within the confines of one political unit. Will the progress of time bring about intermixture of these diverse types? or will they remain separate, distinct, and perhaps discordant, elements for an indefinite period, like the warring Balkan States? An answer may best be pursued by a serial discussion, first, of those factors which tend to favor intermixture, and thereafter, of those forces which operate to prevent it.

The extreme and ever-increasing mobility of our American population is evidently a solvent force from which powerful results may well be expected in the course of time. This is rendered peculiarly potent by the usual concomitant, that this mobility is largely confined to the male sex. The census of 1900 showed that nearly one-quarter of our native born whites were then living in other states than those of their birth. Kansas and Oklahoma are probably the most extreme examples of such colonization. Almost their entire population has been transplanted, often many times, moving by stages from state to state. The last census showed that only 53 per cent of the population of the former commonwealth were actually natives of Kansas. An analysis of the membership of its legislature, some years ago, revealed that only 9 per cent were born within the confines of the state. Even in the staid commonwealth of Iowa, only about one-third of the American-born population is native to the state.

Restlessness has always been characteristic of our original stock. Even the farmers, in other countries more or less yoked to the soil, are here still on the move: traveling first westward, and now southward, seeking new outlets for their activities. And from the same rural class also is drawn the steady influx to the great cities and industrial centres, which is so marked a feature of our time. Rural New England has been depopulated by this two-fold migration, westward and cityward, leaving almost whole counties in which the inhabitants to-day number less than a century ago. By the same process during the ten years prior to 1890, the little state of Vermont parted with more than one-half of her population by migration; Maine sent forth one-third, and other states as far away as Virginia and Ohio, parted with almost as many. It has been estimated of the city of Boston, an industrial centre of over half a million inhabitants, that the old, native-born Bostonians of twenty years ago now number less than sixty-four thousand.

Our immigrants at first do not feel the full measure of this American restlessness. The great inflowing streams of human beings at New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, like rivers reaching the ocean, tend to deposit their sediment at once touching our shores. At the outset the foreigners are immobile elements of population, congesting the slums of the great cities. But with the men particularly,--the Jews alone excepted,--the end is not there. As among the Italians, Greeks, and Scandinavians, they are apt to return shortly to the fatherland and then to come back, this time with a wider appreciation of their real opportunities. After this second arrival they scatter far more widely. Instead of bunching near the steamship landing-stages, they range afield. With their children this mobility may become even more marked. Cheap railroad fares, the demand for harvest labor on railways and irrigation works, all tend to stimulate this movement. It is the mobility of our older Anglo-Saxon population which has kept the nation unified over a vast and highly varied area until the present time; and it will be such mobility, kept alive by the exigencies of our changing economic life, which will help to stir up and mix together the various ingredients of our population as they arrive in future.

A second influence making for racial intermixture is the ever-present inequality of the sexes among these foreigners. This is most apparent when they first arrive, about 70 per cent of them being males. Few nationalities in these days bring hither whole families, as did the Anglo-Saxon and German people a generation ago. The Bohemians, indeed, seem to do so, as well as many of the immigrants practically driven out form Europe by political persecution. Thus, in 1905, Russia sent fifty thousand women-folk,--more than came from England, Sweden, and Germany combined; and Austria-Hungary sent seventy-eight thousand, or thrice the number of women contributed by England, Ireland, and Germany. But of the main body, the large majority are men. This vanguard of males tends generally to be followed by more women later, after an initial period of trial and exploration. Among the Italians the proportion of men to women, once six to one, has now fallen to about three to one. Having established themselves in America, what are these men to do for wives? In all classes matrimony is man's natural estate. These migrant males may write home or go home and find brides among their own people; or they may seek their wives in America. This, probably, the majority of them do; and, of course, the large majority naturally prefer to marry within their own colony of fellow countrymen. But suppose, in the first place, this colony is predominantly male, or constitutes a small outpost, isolated among a population alien or semi-alien to its member; what it to be done except to choose a wife where one is to be had?

An odd consequence of the ambition of these foreign-born men to rise, tending inevitably to break down racial barriers, is that they covet an American-born wife. The woman always is the conservative element in society, and tends to cling to old ways long after they have been discarded by the men. The result is that, in the intermixture of various peoples, it is commonly the man who marries *up* in the social scale. Being the active agent, he inclines to choose from a social station higher than his own. There were in the United States, in 1900, about fifteen million people born of foreign-born parents, wholly or in part. About five million of these had one parent foreign-born and one native-born, that is to say with one parent drawn from the second generation of the immigrant stream. And in two-thirds of these mixed marriages, it was the father who was foreign-born, the mother being native-born. This law has been verified by many concrete investigations, as well as by means of general statistical data. It is the same law which, contrary to general belief, leads most of the infrequent marriages across the color line to take the form of a negro husband and a white wife.

For certain states, as Michigan for instance, registration statistics are reliable. These again show that over two-thirds of the mixed marriages have foreign-born grooms and native-born brides. At the United Hebrew Charities in New York City many thousand cases of destitution among foreign-born women arise from the desertion of the wife with her old-fashioned European ways by the husband who has out-distanced her in adaptation to the new life. This law is well borne out in the growing intermarriage between the Irish and the Italians. The Irish, from their longer residence in America, are obviously of a higher social grade. The ambitious young Italian fruit-vender, or the Jewish merchant who has "made good," being denied a wife among his own people (there being too few to go around), then wooes and wins and Hibernian bride. Religion in this instance is no bar, both being Catholics.

In a similar fashion in New England, where Germans are scarce and where Irish abound, it is usually the German man who marries into an Irish family. The same thing seems to be true even in New York, where the German colony is very large. When intermarriage between two peoples occurs, six times out of seven it is the Irish woman who bears the children. In this connection, the important role in ethnic intermixture played by the Irish women deserves mention. One reason is surely their relative abundance. In our Boston foreign colony, with every other nationality largely represented by men, there is a surplus of fifteen hundred Irish females. But a second reason, also, is the superior adaptability and spirit of comradeship of the Irish woman. The Irish everywhere are good "mixers." Thus endowed, with her democratic spirit and lack of notion of caste, the Irish or Irish-American woman bids fair to be a potent physical mediator between the other peoples of the earth. One may picture this process of racial intermixture going further, especially in those parts of the country where the more ambitious native-born males have emigrated to the West or to the large cities. The incoming foreigners, steadily working upward in the economic and social scale, and the stranded, downward-tending American families, perhaps themselves of Irish or Scotch-Irish descent, may in time meet on an even plane.

The subtle effects of change of environment, religious, linguistic, political and social, is another powerful influence in breaking down ethnic barriers. The spirit of the new surroundings, in fact, is so different as to prove too powerfully disintegrating an influence. In the moral and religious fields this is plainly noticeable and often pathetic in its results. The religious bonds are often entirely snapped. This is discernible among the Jews everywhere. As one observer put it to me, "Religion is supplanted by socialism and the yellow journal." Large numbers, more often of the young men, break loose entirely and become agnostics or free-thinkers. The Bohemians are notorious in this regard. This is accompanied by a breakdown of patriarchal authority in the family; and with it, in the close contacts of city life, the barriers of religion against intermarriage visibly weaken.

Differences of language are also less powerful dividing influences than one would think, especially in the great cities. One not infrequently hears of bride and groom not being on speaking terms with one another. A friend of mine tells me of a pathetic instance of a Czech-German marriage, in which the man rather late in life painfully acquired some knowledge of German, but as he grew old it slipped away from him; so that, at last the aged couple were driven to the use of signs for daily intercourse.

Despite the best efforts of parents to keep alive an acquaintance with the mother tongue, it tends to disappear in the second generation. To be sure, at the present time, no less than about one in every sixteen of our entire population, according to the Census of 1900, cannot even speak the English language. Such ignorance of English of course tends more strongly to persist in isolated rural communities. The Pennsylvania German who, after over two hundred years of residence in America, can say, "Ich habe mein Haus *ge-painted* and *ge-whitewashed*," is a case in point. It is averred that, in some of the Polish colonies in Texas, even the Negroes speak Polish; as Swedish is used in Minnesota and the Dakotas, German in the long-standing Swiss colonies in Wisconsin, and French among the French Canadians in New England. On Cape Cod in Massachusetts, many rural schools are forced to have a separate room for the non-English-speaking pupils. But the desire, and even the economic necessity of learning English, is overwhelming in its potency.

In the transitional period of acquiring English, the dependence of the parents upon the children entirely reverses the customary relationship. Even young children, having learned to speak English in the public schools, are indispensable go-betweens for all intercourse with the public; and as a result they relegate the parents to a subordinate position before the world. Census enumerators and college-settlement workers agree in citing instances where the old people are commanded to "shut up," not to interfere in official conversations; or in the familiar admonition "not to speak until spoken to." The decadence of family authority and coherence due to this cause is indubitable. Thus it comes about that, already in the second generation, the barriers of language and religion against ethnic intermixture are everywhere breaking down. The English tongue readily comes into service; but, unfortunately, in respect of religion the traditional props and safeguards are knocked from under, without as yet, in too many instances, suitable substitutes of any sort being provided. From this fact arises the insistence of the problem of criminality among the descendants of our foreign-born. This is a topic of vital importance, but somewhat foreign to the immediate subject of this paper.

Among the influences tending to hinder ethnic intermixture, there remains to be mentioned the effect of concentration or segregation of the immigrants in compact colonies, which remain to all intents and purposes as truly outposts of the mother civilization as was Carthage or Treves. This phenomenon of concentration of our foreign-born, not only in the large cities but in the northeastern quarter of the United States, has become increasingly noticeable with the descending scale of nationality among the more recent immigrants. The Teutonic peoples have scattered widely, taking up land in the West. They have indeed populated the wilderness. But the Mediterranean, Slavic and Oriental peoples heap up in the great cities; and with the exception of settlers in Chicago, seldom penetrate far inland. Literally four-fifths of all our foreign-born citizens now abide in the twelve principal cities of the country, which are mainly in the East. We thought it a menace in 1890 that 40 per cent of our immigrants were to be found in the North Atlantic States. But in the decade to 1900, four-fifths of the new-comers were settled there; the result being, in the latter year, not 40 but actually 80 per cent of the foreign-born of the United States residing in this already densely populated area. Four-fifths of the foreign-born of New York State, and two-thirds of those in Illinois, are now packed into the large towns.

To be sure, this phenomenon of urban congestion is not confined to the foreigner. Within a nineteen-mile radius of the City Hall in New York dwells 51 per cent of the population of the great state of New York together with 58 per cent of the population of the adjoining state of New Jersey. But the consequences of congestion are more serious among the foreign-born, heaped up as they are in the slums and purlieus. On the other hand, in the middle and far West the proportion of actual foreign-born has been steadily declining since 1890. Cities like Cincinnati or Milwaukee, once largely German, have now become Americanized. In the second and third generations, not recruited as actively as before by constant arrivals, the parent stock has become visibly diluted; and in the rural northwest, as the older Scandinavians die off, their places are being supplied by their American-born descendants, with an admixture, but to a lesser degree than before, of raw recruits from the old countries.

This phenomenon of concentration obviously tends to promote the survival of racial stocks in purity. In a dense colony of ten or fifty thousand Italians or Russian Jews, there need be little contact with other nationalities. The English language may intrude, and the old established religion may lose its potency; but so far as physical contacts are concerned, the colony may be self-sufficient. Professor Buck found in the Czech colony in Chicago that, while forty-eight thousand children had both parents Bohemian, there were only seven hundred and ninety-nine who had only one parent of that nationality. Had there been only a small colony, the number of mixed marriages would have greatly increased. Thus the Irish in New York, according to the Census of 1885, preponderantly took Irish women to wife; but in Baltimore at the same time, where the Irish colony was small, about one in eight married native-born wives.

These facts illustrate the force of the influences to be overcome in the process of racial intermixture. Call it what you please,--"consciousness of kind," or "race instinct,"--there will always be, as among animals, a disposition of distinct types to keep separate and apart. Among men, however, this seldom assumes concrete form in respect of physical type. Marriage appears to be rather a matter of social concern. There is no physical antipathy between different peoples. Oftentimes the attraction of a contrasted physical type is plainly discernible. The barriers to intermarriage between ethnic groups are more often based upon differences in economic status. The Italian "Dago" is looked down upon by the Irish, as in turn the Irishman used to be characterized by the Americans as a "Mick," or "Paddy." Any such social distinctions constitute serious handicaps in the matrimonial race; but on the other hand, as they are in consequence largely artificial, they tend to disappear with the demonstration of economic and social efficiency.

Our attention heretofore has been directed to a discussion of the influences making for or against a physical merger of these diverse peoples. It may now be proper to inquire how much of this intermixture there really is. Does it afford evidence of tendencies at work, which may in time achieve momentous results?

The first cursory view of the field would lead one to deny that the phenomenon was yet of importance. The potency of the forces tending to restrict intermarriage seems too great. But on the other hand, from such concrete statistical data as are obtainable, it would seem that a fair beginning has already been made, considering the recency of the phenomenon. The general figures of the Federal Census are valueless in this connection. Although they indicate much intermarriage of the foreign-born with the native-born of foreign parentage, the overwhelming preponderance of this is, of course, confined to the same ethnic group. The immigrant Russian Jew or young Italian is merely mating with another of the same people, born in America of parents who were direct immigrants. The bride in such a case is as truly Jewish or Italian by blood as the groom, although her social status and economic condition may be appreciably higher. But evidence of true intermixture across ethnic lines is not entirely lacking. No less than 56,000 persons are enumerated in the Federal Census as being of mixed Irish and German parentage; and of these 13,400 were in New York State alone. German-English intermarriages are about as frequent, numbering 47,6000. Irish and French Canadian marriages numbered 12,300, according to the same authority. Three times out of five, it is the French-Canadian man who aspires to an Irish bride. In the Northwest, the Irish and Swedes are said to be evincing a growing fondness for one another. For the newer nationalities, the numbers are, of course, smaller.

Some idea of the prevalence of mixed marriages is afforded by the specialized census data of 1900. Take one nationality, the Italians, for example. There were 484,207, in all, in the United States. Of these nearly one-half, or 218,810, had both parents Italian. Marriages of Italian mothers and American-born fathers produced 2747; while, conformably to the law already set forth, no less than 23,076 had Italian fathers and native-born mothers. There still remained 12,523 with Italian fathers, and mothers of some other non-American nationality; and 3911 with Italian mothers, and fathers neither American nor Italian-born. Thus of the 484,000 Italian contingent, nearly one-tenth proved to be of mixed descent. For the city of Boston, special inquiry showed that 236 Italians in a colony of 7900 were of mixed parentage, with predominantly Irish tendencies.

Mixed marriages are, of course, relatively infrequent; but at all events, as in these cases, they constitute a beginning. Sometimes they occur oftener, especially in the great centres of population where all are herded together in close order. Thus in a census, made by the Federation of Churches in New York, of the oldest part of the city south of Wall and Pine streets to the Battery, out of three hundred and seven families completely canvassed, it appeared that forty-nine were characterized by mixed marriages. This proportion of one in six is certainly too high for an average; but it is nearly equaled by the rather unreliable data afforded by the mortality statistics of Old New York for 1906, showing the parentage of decedents. This gave a proportion of one to eight as of mixed descent. How many of those called mixed were only offspring of unions of first and second generations of the same people is not, however, made clear. Some good authorities, such as Dr. Maurice Fischberg, do not hesitate to affirm that, even for the Jews, as a people, there is far more intermarriage with the Gentile population than is commonly supposed. In Boston, the most frequent form of intermarriage perhaps is between Jewish men and Irish or Irish-American women.

A few general observations upon the subject of racial intermixture may now be permitted. Is the result likely to be superior or an inferior type? Will the future American two hundred years hence be better or worse, as a physical being, because of his mongrel origin? The greatest confusion of thinking exists upon this topic. Evidence to support both sides of the argument is to had for the seeking.

For the continent of Europe, it is indubitable that the highly mixed populations of the British Isles, of Northern France, of the Valley of the Po, and of Southern Germany, are superior in many ways to those of outlying or inaccessible regions where greater purity of type prevails. But the mere statement of these facts carries proof of the partial weakness of the reasoning. Why should not the people of the British Isles, of Northern France, and of the Po Valley be the best in Europe? Have they not enjoyed every advantage which salubrity of climate and fertility of soil can afford? Was it not, indeed, the very existence of these advantages which rendered these garden spots of the earth very Meccas of pilgrimage? Viewed in a still larger way, is it not indeed the very beneficence of Nature in these regards which has induced, or permitted, a higher evolution of the human species in Europe than in any of the other continents? The races certainly began even. Why then are the results for Europe as a whole so superior to-day? Alfred Russel Wallace, I am sure, would have been ready with a cogent reason. What right have we to dissociate these concomitantly operative influences of race and environment, and ascribe the superiority of physical type to the effect of intermixture alone? Yet, on the other hand, does not the whole evolutionary hypothesis compel us to accept some such favorable conclusion? What leads to the survival of the fittest, unless there be the opportunity for variation of type, from which effective choice by selection may result. And yet most students of biology agree that the crossing of types must not be too violently extreme. Nature proceeds in her work by short and easy stages.

At this point the opportunity for the students of heredity, like Galton, Pearson, and their fellow workers, appears. What, for instance, is the order of transmission of physical traits as between the two parents in any union? We have seen how unevenly assorted much of the intermixture in the United States tends to be. If, as between the Irish and the Italians, who are palpably evincing a tendency to mate together, it is commonly the Italian male who seeks the Irish wife; and if, as Pearson avers, inheritance in a line through the same sex is pre-potent over inheritance from the other sex; what interesting possibilities of hereditary types may result!

An interesting query suggested by the results of scientific breeding and the study of inheritance among lower forms of animal life, is this: What chance is there that, out of this forcible dislocation and abnormal intermixture of all the peoples of the civilized world, there may emerge a physical type tending to revert to an ancestral one, older than any of the present European varieties? The law seems to be well supported elsewhere, that crossing between highly evolved varieties or types tend to bring about reversion to the original stock. The greater the divergence between the crossed varieties, the more powerful does the reversionary tendency become. Many of us are familiar with the evidence: such as the reversion among sheep to the primary dark type; and the emergence of the old wild blue rock-pigeon from blending of the fan-tail and pouter or other varieties. The same law is borne out in the vegetable world, the facts being well known to fruit-growers and horticulturists. The more recently acquired characteristics, especially those which are less fundamentally useful, are sloughed off; and the ancestral features common to all varieties emerge from dormancy into prominence. Issue need not be raised, as set forth by Dr. G. A. Reid, as to whether the result of cross-breeding is always in favor of reversion, and never of progression. But interesting possibilities linked up with this law may be suggested.

All students of natural science have accepted the primary and proven tenets of the evolutionary hypothesis,--or rather, let us say, of the law of evolution. And all alike must acknowledge the subjection of the human species to the operation of the same great natural laws applicable to all other forms of life. It would have been profoundly suggestive to have heard from Huxley on a theme like this. We are familiar, in certain isolated spots in Europe, the Dordogne in France for example, with the persistence of certain physical types without change from prehistoric times. The modern peasant is the proven direct descendant of the man of the stone age. But here is another mode of access to that primitive type, or even an older one, running back to a time before the separation of European varieties of men began. Thus, to be more specific, there can be little doubt that the primitive type of European was brunette, probably with black eyes and hair and a swarthy skin. Teutonic blondness is certainly an acquired trait, not very recent, to be sure, judged by historic standards, but as certainly not old, measured by evolutionary time. What probability is there that in the unions of rufous Irish and dark Italian types a reversion in favor of brunetteness may result? Anthropologists have waged bitter warfare for years over the live issue as to whether the first Europeans were long-headed or broad-headed; that is to say, Negroid or Asiatic in derivation. May not an interesting and valuable bit of evidence be found in the results of racial intermixture, as it is bound to occur in the United States?

A relatively unimportant, yet theoretically very interesting, detail of the subject of racial intermixture is suggested in Westermarck's brilliant *History of Human Marriage*. It is a well-known statistical law that, almost the world over, there are more boys than girls born into the world. The normal ratio of births is about one hundred and five males to one hundred females. Students have long sought the reasons for this irregularity; but nothing has yet been proved conclusively. Westermarck brings together much evidence to show that this proportion of the sexes at birth is affected by the amount of in-breeding in any social group, the crossing of different stocks tending to increase the percentage of female births. Thus, among the French half-breeds and mulattos in America, among mixed Jewish marriages, and in South and Central America, female births may at times even overset the difference and actually preponderate over male births. The interest of this topic lies in the fact that it is unique among social phenomena in being, so far as we know, independent of the human will. It is the expression of what may truly be denominated natural law.

Westermarck's general biological reasoning is that, inasmuch as the rate of increase of any animal community is dependent upon the number of productive females, a sort of accommodation takes place in each case between the potential rate of increase of the group and its means of subsistence, or chance of survival. More females at birth is the response of Nature to an increasingly favorable environment or condition. In-and-in breeding is undoubtedly injurious to the welfare of any species. As such, according to Westermarck, it is accompanied by a decline in the proportion of females born. This is the expression of Nature's disapproval of the practice; while intermixture tends, contrariwise, to produce a relative increase of the female sex. Certain it is that an imposing array of evidence can be marshaled to give color to the hypothesis. Our suggestion at this point is that here, in the racial intermixture just now beginning in the United States, and sure to assume tremendous proportions in the course of time, will be afforded an opportunity to study man in his relation to a great natural law, in a way never before rendered possible. Statistical material is at present too meagre and vague; but one may confidently look forward to such an improvement in this regard that an inviting field of research will be laid bare.

The significance of the rapidly increasing immigration from Europe in recent years is vastly enhanced by other social conditions in the United States. A powerful process of social selection is apparently at work among us. Racial heterogeneity, due to the direct influx of foreigners in large numbers, is aggravated by their surprisingly sustained tenacity of life, greatly exceeding that of the native-born American. Relative submergence of the domestic Anglo-Saxon stock is strongly indicated for the future. "Race suicide" marked by a low and declining birth-rate, as is well known, is a world-wide social phenomenon of the present day. Nor is it by any means confined solely to the so-called upper classes. It is so notably a characteristic of democratic communities that it may be regarded as almost a direct concomitant of equality of opportunity among men. To this tendency, the United States is no exception; in fact, together with the Australian commonwealths, it affords one of the most striking illustrations of present-day social forces.

Owing to the absence of reliable data, it is impossible to state what the actual birth-rate of the United States as a whole may be. But for certain commonwealths the statistical information is ample and accurate. From this evidence it appears that for those communities, at least, to which the European immigrant resorts in largest numbers, the birth-rate is almost the lowest in the world. France and Ireland alone among the great nations of the earth stand lower in the scale. This relativity is shown by the following table, giving the number of births in each case per thousand of population.

Birth-Rate (approximate)

Hungary 40

Austria 37

Germany 36

Italy 35

Holland 33

England; Scotland 30

Norway; Denmark 30

Australia; Sweden 27

Massachusetts; Michigan 25

Connecticut; Rhode Island 24

Ireland 23

France 22

New Hampshire 20(?)

This crude birth-rate of course is subject to several technical corrections, and should not be taken at its full face value. Moreover, it may be unfair to generalize for the entire rural West and South from the data for densely populated communities. And yet, as has been observed, it is in our thickly settled eastern states that the newer type of immigrant tends to settle. Consequently, it is the birth-rate in these states, as compared with that of the new-comer, upon which racial survival will ultimately depend.

The birth rate in the United States in the days of its Anglo-Saxon youth was one of the highest in the world. The best of authority traces the beginning of its decline to the first appearance about 1850 of immigration on a large scale. Our great philosopher, Benjamin Franklin, estimated six children to a normal American family in his day. The average at the present time is slightly above two. For 1900 it is calculated that there are only about three-fourths as many children to potential mothers in America as there were forty years ago. Were the old rate of the middle of the century sustained, there would be fifteen thousand more births yearly in the state of Massachusetts than now occur. In the course of a century the proportion of our entire population consisting of children under the age of ten has fallen from one-third to one-quarter. This, for the whole United States, is equivalent to the loss of about seven million children. So alarming has this phenomenon of the falling birth-rate become in the Australian colonies that, in New South Wales, a special governmental commission has voluminously reported upon the subject. It is estimated that there has been a decline of about one-third in the fruitfulness of the people in fifteen years. New Zealand even complains of the lack of children to fill her schools. The facts concerning the stagnation, nay, even the retrogression, of the population of France, are too well known to need description. But in these other countries the problem is relatively simple, as compared with our own. Their populations are homogeneous, and ethnically, at least, are all subject to these social tendencies to the same degree. The danger with us lies in the fact that this low and declining birth-rate is primarily confined to the Anglo-Saxon contingent. The immigrant European horde, at all events until recently, has continued to reproduce upon our soil with well-sustained energy.

Baldly stated, the birth-rate among the foreign-born in Massachusetts is about three times that of the native-born. Childless marriages are one-third less frequent. This somewhat exaggerates the contrast because of differing conditions as to age and sex in the two classes. The difference, nevertheless, is very great. Kuczynski has made detailed investigations as to the relative fecundity of different racial groups. The fruitfulness of English-Canadian women in Massachusetts is twice that of the Massachusetts-born; of the Germans and Scandinavians, it is two and one-half times as great; of the French Canadians, it is thrice; and of the Portuguese, four times. Even among the Irish, who are characterized now-a-days everywhere by a low birth-rate, the fruitfulness of the women is fifty per cent greater than for the Massachusetts native-born. The reasons for this relatively low fecundity of the domestic stock are, of course, much the same as in Australia and in France. But with us, it is as well the "poor white" among the New England hills or in the Southern States as the town-dweller, who appears content with few children or none. The foreign immigrant marries early and children continue to come until much later in life than among the native-born. It may make all the difference between an increasing or declining population whether the average age of marriage is twenty years or twenty-nine years.

The contrast for supremacy between the Anglo-Saxon stock and its rivals may be stated in another way. Whereas only about one-ninth of the married women among the French-Canadians, Irish, and Germans are childless, the proportion among the American-born and the English-Canadians is as high as one in five. A century ago about two per cent of barren marriages was the rule. Is it any wonder that serious students contemplate the racial future of Anglo-Saxon America with some concern? They have seen the passing of the American Indian and the buffalo; and now they query as to how long the Anglo-Saxon may be able to survive.

On the other hand, evidence is not lacking to show that in the second generation of these immigrant peoples, a sharp and considerable, nay in some cases a truly alarming, decrease in fruitfulness occurs. The crucial time among all our new-comers from Europe has always been in this second generation. The old customary ties and usages have been abruptly sundered; and new associations, restraints, and responsibilities have not yet been formed. Particularly is this true of the forces of family discipline and religion, as has already been observed. Until the coming of the Hun, the Italian and the Slav, at least, it has been among the second generation of foreigners in America, rather than among the raw immigrants, that criminality has been most prevalent; and it is now becoming evident that it is this second generation in which the influence of democracy and of novel opportunity makes itself apparent in the sharp decline of fecundity. In some communities the Irish-Americans have a lower birth-rate even than the native-born. Dr. Engelmann, on the basis of a large practice, has shown that among the St. Louis Germans, the proportion of barren marriages is almost unprecedently high. Corroborative, although technically inconclusive, evidence from the Registration Reports of the State of Michigan appears the following suggestive table, showing the nativity of parents and the number of children per marriage annually in each class.


German father; American-born mother 2.5

American-born father; German mother 2.3

German father; German mother 6.

America-born father; America-born mother 1.8

I have been at some pains to secure personal information concerning the foreign colonies in some of our large cities, notably New York. Dr. Maurice Fishberg for the Jews, and Dr. Antonio Stella for the Italians, both notable authorities, confirm the foregoing statements. Among the Italians particularly, the conditions are positively alarming. Peculiar social conditions influencing the birth-rate, and the terrific morality induced by overcrowding, lack of sanitation, and the unaccustomed rigors of the climate, make it doubtful wither the Italian colony in New York will every be physically self-sustaining. Thus it appears that forces are at work which may check the relatively higher rate of reproduction of the immigrants, and perhaps reduce it more nearly to the Anglo-Saxon level.

On the other hand, the vitality of these immigrants is surprisingly high in some instances, particularly where they attain an open-air rural life. The birth-rate stands high, and the mortality remains low. Such are the ideal conditions for the rapid reproduction of the species. On the other hand, when overcrowded in the slums of great cities, ignorant and poverty-stricken, the infant mortality is very high, largely offsetting, it may be, the high birth-rate. The mortality rate among the Italians in New York is said to be twice as high as in Italy. Yet some of these immigrants, such as the Scandinavians, are peculiarly hardy and enduring. Perhaps the most striking instance is that of the Jews, both Russian and Polish. According to the Census of 1890, their death-rate was only one-half that of the native-born American. For three of the most crowded wards in New York City, the death-rate of the Irish was 36 per thousand; for the Germans, 22; for natives of the United States, 45; while for the Jews it was only 17 per thousand. By actuarial computation at these relative rates, starting at birth with two groups of one thousand Jews and Americans respectively, the chances would be that the first half of the Americans would die within 47 years; while for the Jews this would not occur until after 71 years. Social selection at that rate would be bound to produce very positive results in a century or two.

At the outset, confession was made that it was too early as yet to draw positive conclusions as the to probable outcome of this great ethnic struggle for dominance and survival. The great heat and sweat of it is yet to come. Wherever the Anglo-Saxon has fared forth into new lands, his supremacy in his chosen field, whatever that may be, has been manfully upheld. India was never contemplated as a centre for settlement; but Anglo-Saxon law, order, and civilization have prevailed. In Australia, where nature has offered inducements for actual colonization, the Anglo-Saxon line is apparently assured of physical ascendancy. But the great domain of Canada, greater than one can conceive who has not traversed its northeastern empire, is subject to the same physical danger which confronts us in the United States,--actual physical submergence of the English stock by a flood of continental European peoples. And yet, after all, is the word "danger" well considered for use in this connection? What are the English people, after all, but a highly evolved product of racial blending? To be sure, all the later crosses, the Saxons, Danes, and Normans, have been of allied Teutonic origin at least. Yet, encompassing these racial phenomena with the wide, sweeping vision of Darwin, Huxley, or Wallace, dare we deny an ultimate unity of origin to all the peoples of Europe? Our feeble attempts at ethnic analysis cannot at the best reach further back than to secondary sources. And the primary physical brotherhood of all branches of the white race, nay, even of all the races of men, must be admitted on faith,--not the faith of dogma, but the faith of scientific probability. It is only in their degree of physical and mental evolution that the races of men are different.

Great Britain has its "white man's burden" to bear in India and Africa; we have ours to bear with the American Negro and Filipino. But an even greater responsibility with us, and with the people of Canada, is that of the "Anglo-Saxon's burden,"--so to nourish, uplift, and inspire all these immigrant peoples of Europe that, in due course of time, even if the Anglo-Saxon stock be physically inundated by the engulfing flood, the torch of its civilization and ideals may still continue to illuminate the way.

"Races in the United States" by William Z. Ripley, The Atlantic Monthly, December 1908; Volume 102, No. 6; pages 745-759.
m_nv_cv picture m_nv_un picture m_nv_am picture m_nv_pr picture m_nv_as picture m_nv_se picture