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not be overlooked, inasmuch as it does bear directly and often with great force upon the usefulness of the immigrant, both as a voting citizen and as an effective laborer. Moreover, it is also a fact that the largest percentage of illiterates is found, generally speaking, among those races who send the largest percentage of men without wives or families.
NUMBER AND PER CENT. OF ILLITERATES
14 years of age and over, in each race of European immigrants (including Syrian) admitted into the United States in the fiscal years 1899 to 1909, inclusive. [Compiled by the United States Immigration Commission from reports of the Commissioner-General of Immigration]
7,199,061 1,918,825 Including 693 Hungarians in 1899. b Including 35 Hungarians in 1899.
NUMBER AND PER CENT. OF ILLITERATES
14 years of age or over, in each class of European immigration (including Syrian) in fiscal years 1899 to 1909, inclusive.
Inclination to Return to Europe
The nature of our activities, both private and public, is determined primarily by our purpose and intentions regarding the future. If an immigrant intends to remain permanently in the United States and become an American citizen, he naturally begins at once, often indeed before he leaves Europe, to fit himself for the conditions of his new life, by learning the language of the country, studying its institutions, and later on by investing his savings in America and by planning for the future of his children in such a way that they may have advantages even better than his own. If, on the other hand, he intends his sojourn in this country to be short, a matter of a few months or a few years, naturally his whole outlook upon American institutions and American life is changed. He will wish to secure in America that which will be of chief use to him after his return to his home country, and not that which would ultimately serve him best here. The acquisition of the English language will be of little consequence unless it might secure a slight increase of wages, and the acquirement of a year or two would
scarcely suffice for any important change in this regard. Naturally, the chief aim of a person with this intention is to put money in his purse; to secure as much wealth as possible in this country, not for investment here but for investment in his home country, so that upon his return he may possess a better economic and social status. The question, then, of a permanent, as compared with a transient, residence in the United States becomes a factor of prime importance in determining the ease of assimilation of the various races of immigrants. In this respect an important distinction is to be made between the races of the new immigration and those of the old.
Our earlier immigration records did not take account of the aliens leaving United States ports, but beginning with 1907 such a record has been kept and the figures for the year 1908 are available. Inasmuch as in the fall of 1907 there was an industrial crisis followed by a period of depression, the return movement during the year 1908 was doubtless greatly stimulated, while on the other hand the immigration during the earlier part of 1907 was also very large. The European emigration, including the Syrians, into the United States in the year 1907 showed 22.7 per cent. of the old immigration and 77.3 per cent. of the new, whereas the difference between the immigrants of these two classes leaving the United States in the year 1908 was still more striking, those of the old immigration numbering only 8.9 per cent., while the new formed 91.1 per cent. These facts would seem to show that the races of peoples composing the older immigration are much more largely permanent residents, whereas a very large proportion of the newer immigrants are merely transient dwellers who come
here for a few years to acquire a competence and then return to their home country.
From the reports of the United States Commissioner-General of Immigration, which have, on the whole, been confirmed by the separate investigations of the Immigration Commission, it appears that taking a number of years in succession, 1908, 1909, 1910 (the later figures of 1911-1914 indicate the same tendencies), the number departing for every one hundred admitted varies greatly among the different races, and the distinction between the new immigration and the old in this regard is very striking. Not less than 56 per cent. and over of the North Italians and South Italians, Magyars, Turks, Croatians, Slovenians and Slovaks were returning to Europe in those years, whereas of the Hebrews and the Irish only 8 per cent. and 7 per cent., respectively, returned. If we classify the data regarding the aliens admitted and departed, so as to indicate separately the old and the new immigration, it is found that the number departing for every one hundred admitted of the old immigration is only 16, while of the new immigration it is more than twice as much, 38.
It appears then, clearly, that in this respect likewise the conditions which would lead to a ready assimilation with the Americans exist to a much greater degree among the races of the old than among those of the new immigration. It appears, too, that the inclination to return to the home country is much greater among the immigrants who have been in this country but a short time than among others, another fact which seems to justify the belief that the transient immigrant is becoming a most important factor of the entire immigration question. In this regard, too, the differ
ence between the old immigration and the new is quite noteworthy, altho not so great as in some other respects, 71.3 per cent. of the returning immigrants of the old immigration, of the years 1908 to 1910 inclusive, being of those immigrants who have been in this country five years or less, while 83 per cent. of the new immigration had been in this country during that brief time.
The distinction of the sexes also is noteworthy, emphasizing again the fact that it is among the newer immigrants that we find by far the largest proportion of those workers who come here without their families, with the intention of enduring the hardships of toil for a season and then returning to Europe for their place of permanent abode. Among returning immigrants of the old immigration 63.6 per cent. were males, whereas of those of the new immigration not less than 85.4 per cent. were males. It seems that of all the immigrants now coming into this country about one-third return to Europe, and it seems also reasonably clear that approximately two-thirds of all those who return to Europe remain there. This migratory tendency, of the new immigration especially, has doubtless a most important influence upon the difficulty of assimilation of the immigrants into the great body of American citizens, and is a factor that should not be overlooked in estimating the influence of the different races upon our country, and the results thereof upon our people.
Probably the large majority of the immigrants from Europe who later return thither leave in this country, as the result of their toil, an increase of wealth considerably greater than that which they take with them, as the result of their savings, for investment in their