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resources and brought about their own financial downfall by services of this description, their embarrassment resulting from errors in judgment as to when employment would be available. Some banks in the small industrial localities loaned as much as $20,000 in small sums to unskilled laborers. Altho the labor forces to which this assistance was extended were afterward widely scattered the bankers exprest themselves as certain that the obligations would be repaid.
The Unsoundness of Immigrant Banks
The unsoundness of immigrant banks, and the danger connected with banking of this character, are obvious. The United States Immigration Commission in its findings set forth the evidences of insecurity as follows:
. I. Immigrant banks are usually unauthorized concerns, privately owned, irresponsibly managed, and seldom subject to any efficient supervision or examination.
2. They deal with a class ignorant of banking methods, distrustful of American institutions, and easily influenced by the immigrant banker.
3. The affairs of the bank and of the proprietor are, as a rule, indistinguishable. As far as legal restrictions or the demands of his patrons are concerned, the proprietor is at liberty to use the funds of the bank for his own purposes.
4. In general, the proprietor's investments are the only security afforded the patrons of his bank. Neither capital nor reserve is required, and, as a rule, neither is found.
5. Men who operate these banks, particularly saloonkeepers, labor agents, grocers, and boarding bosses,
are often ignorant and without any conception of the responsibility imposed. Methods employed by bankers of this class are often very loose and unbusinesslike, and many advertise in a manner that is at least misleading, if not actually fraudulent.
6. Immigrant banks are radically different from other financial institutions. Their chief functions are the safekeeping of deposits and the transmitting of money abroad, and methods have arisen which should be corrected by proper governmental control.
The United States Government through the postal savings system has done a great deal as a competitor of these unregulated banks. Postal savings has been especially successful in the manufacturing and mining centers, where are found nearly all our immigrant population. Thrift has been stimulated, money has been kept in this country, and at the beginning of 1916 our Government had 540,000 depositors with a total credit of sixty-eight million dollars, of which foreign-born depositors owned 72 per cent. This huge sum shows the need and the value of definite action on the part of
the Government. The advantages of close connections with the savings of their nationals in this country has recently been recognized by Russia, Austro-Hungary, and Italy. These three countries, through banks closely connected with their Government, have established branch banks in this country, which have made special appeals to their own immigrants. These governments were quick to see the possibilities in immigrant savings.*
*Further information on the question of immigrant savings can be secured from the excellent articles by Mr. Joseph Mayper, Executive Secretary of the National Americanization Committee in the Journal of the American Bankers' Association, December, 1915, and the March, 1915, issue of the Immigrants in America Review.
ATTEMPTS AT REGULATION
Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio have attempted special legislation regulating immigrant banks. The entrance into or carrying on of the business described is in these States made contingent upon the filing of a bond. The bond is conditioned upon the faithful holding, transmission, or repayment of the money received. In Ohio it is further conditioned upon the selling of genuine and valid steamship or railroad tickets. A most admirable feature of the Massachusetts law is the authority given the bank commissioner to fix the amount of the bond according to the amount of business carried on by each individual concern. The law enacted by the legislature of New York in 1910 is most comprehensive and its vigorous enforcement has proved effective. In 1912 253 private bank inspections were made and numerous violations of the law were promptly corrected and abuses stopt.* It might well serve as a model for other States. This law prohibits the receipt for deposit of sums less than $500, or the receipt of money for transmission in amounts less than $500, except by banks or trust companies incorporated under the existing banking law; provided, however, that incorporation should not be necessary where a bond in the penal sum of $100,000 had been filed, or securities for a like amount, in lieu thereof, been deposited, with the banking department. It provides further (a) that the banker shall have assets amounting to at least $25,000 in excess of liabilities; (b) the issuance of a license dependent upon capital, character, and reputations; (c) the deposit by the
*Second Annual Report of the New York Bureau of Industries and Immi. gration, p. 14, ff.
banker with the State banking department of cash or securities to the amount of $25,000, or of a bond in the penal sum of $25,000; (d) the filing of quarterly and special reports; (e) periodical examination by the banking department of bankers who file a bond in lieu of making a deposit of cash or securities; (f) regulation by the banking department of the character of investments; (g) provision that all money received for transmission should be forwarded within five days from its receipt; (h) the shifting of the burden of proof of transmission upon the banker; (i) regulation of the use of the word "bank” and equivalent terms.
The Immigrant Press
The races of older immigration from Great Britain and northern Europe are served by a well-established daily and weekly press. In many communities there are also published in a foreign language immigrant newspapers, usually issued weekly, which appeal for support to a certain race or races of recent immigration. The majority have a circulation outside of the towns or cities in which they are issued, but there are no national publications which are recognized as the exponents of, or which are printed in the interests of, various races which have come to the United States within recent years.
The recent immigrant press is published by one of three classes of interests: (1) Racial organizations in the United States; (2) church organizations, and (3) business interests, consisting chiefly of steamship agencies and banking and mercantile establishments. The motive of the latter in controlling these publications is twofold: (1) they desire to control
as far as possible public opinion in immigrant localities, and (2) they can use the papers for advertising their general business locally and the banking branches of their business elsewhere among recent immigrants from whom they wish to secure deposits.
The contents of these papers usually consist of a digest of domestic and foreign news of a peculiar interest to the race or races for which the publication is issued. As might be expected, great emphasis is placed upon happenings in the native land of the immigrants rather than upon events in this country.
The recent immigrant press has not been developed to a point where it has any special significance in its relation to American institutions or to the assimilation of the immigrants. Such an outcome also is not probable because of the high degree of illiteracy among the first generation of many races.
In all foreign colonies of any importance churches have been erected by the different races. For races of the newer immigration they are usually of the Roman or Greek Catholic denominations, unless Jewish synagogs, and are often costly and imposing edifices.
The influence of immigrant churches on the assimilation and progress of the alien population is discust at length elsewhere.* No general statistics are available as to their number and membership but a good insight into the general situation may be quickly afforded by a description of the churches in a number of representative towns and cities. In Windber, a bituminous coal mining town in Western Pennsyl
See pp. 273, 274.