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proved land, have for years been striving to turn the tide of immigration southward. In the following chapters instances are cited of plantation owners who advanced the passage money for the transportation of groups of Italian families and settled them on their cotton plantations. The total immigration induced in this way is not significant, except as it formed nuclei around which gathered subsequent immigrants to the United States. Sunnyside colony, the mother of several rural settlements, originated in the importation of 20 or more families from northern Italy fifteen years ago.
A number of colonies, notably in Texas and Louisiana, seem to have originated in the purchase of a few acres of land by some Italian farm laborer, who, arriving practically without money at a southern port of entry, sought employment on some neighboring plantation. A number of the strawberry growers of Tangipahoa Parish, La., were originally berry pickers who came out from New Orleans. Italian truckers in Texas were urban day laborers who bought a few acres near the city and let their families raise vegetables, first for home use and later for the retail trade.
Some few colonies have been promoted either by some Italian philanthropist or by land companies, honest or dishonest. Some of the exploited colonies failed utterly, and none except those established at Valdese and St. Helena, N. C., seem to have prospered. The St. Helena colony is apparently one of the most successful colonizing ventures recently undertaken in the South, one large element in this success being the thrifty character of the colonists and the fact that nearly all came direct from farms in northern Italy.
Not many Italians who were skilled workers in the trades or industries, here or abroad, have moved to farms, and comparatively few who found permanent unskilled work in industries after landing later engaged in agricultural pursuits. But, notably in Texas, the building of railroads has brought in a number of South Italians, chiefly Sicilians, some few of whom have become either tenants or independent proprietors of small market gardens or truck farms. It may be asserted confidently that there has been no marked shift of Italians from industrial pursuits or from city employments to farms in the Southern States. In Missouri and Arkansas, indeed, many Italian farmers supplement their incomes by labor in the coal mines during the winter, otherwise the colonies are purely agricultural.
There is, however, a somewhat definite movement from the cane districts, where some planters employ large numbers of Italians as farm laborers, to the cotton fields and truck farms farther north.
THE ITALIANS AS FARMERS.
It is to be noted that nearly all the Italians are small farmers; that while they have engaged in diverse forms of agriculture few have undertaken any agricultural enterprise that requires a large outlay of capital, either for permanent improvements or for tools, machinery, or live stock. There are no extensive rice growers, for example, and no sugar-cane planters were found. Truck crops, cotton, and small fruits require little capital equipment and a great deal of hand labor. The necessary investment in land is small; one may become a cotton "cropper” with practically no capital. The Italians have found it easy to become farmers and still easier to learn all that the natives know about cotton raising or vegetable growing. Where the climate is congenial they have prospered; in fact, they have been able to surpass their neighbors because they exercise the simple virtues of thrift and indefatigable industry; They have been imitators, rather than originators, of agricultural methods. Very few innovations, either in crops, methods of culture, or improved machinery can be credited to the Italians. They have developed a highly specialized agriculture at Independence, La., where they are engaged in strawberry culture, but almost entirely along lines originated by the earlier American growers.
This specialization by communities is a noticeable economic feature. Every family in the community raises the same commercial crop. Instead of competition, this results in cooperation. Cooperatively the Italians have an advantage over the natives: if class consciousness has not been developed, there is at least a race consciousness which forms a basis for community consciousness and commercial cooperative endeavor. In Independence, where there was need, the Italian growers united with commendable facility to market their berries and to buy fertilizers and berry boxes. In certain Northern colonies it was found that the Italians cooperated readily and worked together very successfully both in marketing produce and in buying supplies and equipment. In establishing local cooperative business enterprises they have been much more successful than their native white neighbors.
In careful tillage, clean cultivation, and attention to details the Italian almost invariably excels the negro and the old-time southern farmer. He is not wasteful and he makes his farm supply his table as far as possible. By living cheaply he soon accumulates some money, and except in the cotton districts probably invests in land. He ordinarily makes a permanent addition to the agricultural population.
INFLUENCE OF LEADERSHIP.
More than those in the North, the Southern colonies reflect the influence of leaders or the want of them in their growth, economic characteristics, social progress, and institutions. The economic progress of the new colony at St. Helena, N. C., is due to the oversight of a colonization company that not only looks after the social welfare of the Italians, but oversees and gives expert advice with regard to planting, cultivating, and marketing produce. The leaders, though not Italian, have been alert to meet the difficulties and to remove the obstacles that meet the newcomer, ignorant both of language, farm practice, and methods of marketing produce. They have urged citizenship and provided a church and a school. Under this kindly tutelage the Italians have progressed rapidly. As a rather striking example, it is interesting to compare the independent spirit, the desire for ownership, and the political and social progress of the Italians at Tontitown, Ark., with the progress along similar lines made by the Italians at Sunnyside, both originally from the same locality in Italy. The reports clearly show that progress is much more rapid where there is some one, as at St. Helena and Tontitown, to lend a friendly hand from the beginning.
THE EFFECT OF THE ITALIAN ON THE RURAL SOUTH.
There are at present too few Italians engaged in agricultural pursuits to effect important changes in many rural communities. The tendency of the Italians to congregate by race groups is very marked. Where once a colony is started, the subsequent immigrants gather about the first nucleus, purchasing the neighboring unimproved land or the old farms of original owners. This grouping is not a characteristic peculiar to Italians; Bohemians, Poles, Swiss, and other non-Anglo-Saxon races are likely to settle in rather close groups. The effect of this segregation on the price of land is very noticeable in some districts, especially where the Italians have developed a specialized form of agriculture. Land within the limits of Italian occupation is frequently 50 per cent higher than land of the same fertility situated a short distance outside of the boundary lines. Segregation, too, has a tendency to perpetuate racial customs, traditions, and characteristics. This has been noted elsewhere, but in some sections of the South the tendency is strengthened by the fact that there are few Americans whites with whom Italians can associate, and in no place does there seem to be any inclination to mingle with the negroes more than is necessary. There is a decided contrast between the attitude of certain North Italian and most Sicilian colonies in the South with respect to segregation. Where opportunity is afforded the North Italian seems to desire to mingle with the Americans, to learn the English language, to give his children an education, to become a citizen, and to exercise the prerogatives of citizenship. In fewer instances is this true of the Sicilian or other South Italian. The result of this disinclination or lack of opportunity to fuse with the older white population, added to a certain condescension toward the foreigners on the part of the natives, has been to make the foreign colonies in the South so many small, unassimilable lumps in the body politic. Not only have they begun to occupy the farms of the native farmers, who have moved out to give place to them, but ordinarily they have been the means of establishing Italian stores in the neighboring villages where most of the rural Italians do their buying and selling.
The displacement of negro farm labor by the Italian has not yet assumed significant proportions, quantitatively. The reports on the Sunnyside and the "delta" settlements make clear the Italian's superiority over the negro, and the high regard in which he is held by the cotton planter in almost every instance. Not many negroes have been
. displaced, but the greater efficiency of the Italians assures them places as share hands or renters as fast as they come to demand them. Nowhere are the Italians held in higher esteem as farm laborers than among the large cotton planters in the delta region. Here they are raising successfully and profitably a crop of which they knew nothing previous to immigration and for which it can not be said they had any natural aptitude. The influx to the cotton belt is slow, but this sluggishness is not due to lack of encouragement on the part of the planters. There is little doubt that the immigration will continue, but at the present rate there is little immediate prospect of the Italian's forcing out the negro.
There is an increasingly large movement of Italians, mostly Sicilians, into the sugar-cane region. New Orleans, which in 1900 had a larger "proportion of natives of Italy.” than any city considered in the United States,a is situated in the midst of the sugarcane parishes, and many Italians find their way from the city to the sugar plantations. They are excellent laborers and on some plantations have taken the work away from their negro competitors. It may be said that more trouble arises from disturbances on the cane areas than in the cotton fields. On the cane farms the laborers frequently work in gangs and disputes are likely to arise. In some districts they are reputed to be quarrelsome and disorderly. Near New Orleans there are many Italians with small market gardens who retail their produce from house to house, especially in the Italian quarter. The Italians occupy a large section of the French market of the city. This industry is capable of great development, and it seems likely that many more Italians will take up vegetable growing as soon as they accumulate sufficient capital to buy the necessary land.
It was not possible to visit all the small colonies of Italians nor all the plantations in Louisiana on which Italians are employed, nor can any adequate approximation be made of the total number now engaged in agricultural pursuits in that State. Rural settlements other than those mentioned in the reports are at Alexandria, Houma, La Place, Lafayette, Lake End, Lutcher, and Thibodauxall of which towns, with the exception of Alexandria and Lake End, are in the sugar-cane area of Louisiana.
THE ITALIAN CITIZEN.
Opinions differ regarding the desirability of the Italian as a permanent element in the Southern population. Unfavorable comment on Italian immigration is frequent and outspoken in many parts of the South. There are several reasons for this criticism. The regretable Italian disorders and disturbances in New Orleans have done much to create prejudice against Italians as a body. The uncompromising attitude adopted in many communities toward all persons of foreign tongue has kept foreigners out of many districts. The hostility of the country merchant, or supply man, is frankly based on what he calls the "stinginess" of the Italian. The Italian is not a lavish spender. His wants are few, his supply bill is short; his farm and garden furnish most of his food. In contrast to the negro he is not a good customer. There are many also who feel that the Italian will not assimilate with the American population.
It is only fair to say that nearly all of these criticisms are modified on longer and more intimate acquaintance with a farming colony of Italians. Perhaps no community in western North Carolina is more respected by all who know it than that at Valdese. The Italians at Tontitown, Ark., Bryan, Tex., and Independence, La., have fought their way inch by inch through unreasoning hostility and prejudice to almost unqualified respect, or even admiration. The striking qualities they exhibit are thrift, industry, peaceableness, business integrity, and these have won the somewhat reluctant admiration of those who originally assumed a hostile attitude.
a Twelfth Census, Population, Vol. I, p. CLXXX.
Progress in citizenship is a matter of leadership and environment. Where there is someone to urge the application for citizen's papers or to set before the community the economic or social advantages of citizenship and suffrage, the Italian is not slow to make his way to the polls. Where local issues are discussed by his neighbors and a lively, widespread interest in suffrage is manifested the Italians take sides and qualify as voters. Unfortunately, in a number of colonies the immigrant has not learned his political worth. His tenant neighbors are politically apathetic. There is no one to encourage citizenship or point the way. Where there is no vision, no motive, there is no interest, and the proportion of adult aliens is great. That the local native politicians discourage the political aspirations of the immigrant is not clearly proved, but that many colonists receive no local encouragement to take part in public affairs is certainly well attested. Where the Italians have become citizens they take great interest in local issues, vote rather solidly, and in some instances elect Italian officers or at least hold the balance of power.
The testimony indicates that rural Italian makes a more honest voter than his urban brother. There are few charges of vote buying or selling, either individually or en masse. There is less patronage to dispense; ownership of landed property brings a sense of responsibility and independence and often gives a vital personal significance to local issues. Taken in the aggregate, there is a smaller ratio of legal voters in Southern foreign colonies than in Northern, and less venality in rural settlements than in urban, according to reliable testimony.
An elementary school open a few months in the year at least, is beneficial to every inhabitant of the community. In some instances the Italians have demanded schools and teachers. In others, especially in the cotton regions, there are few adequate school facilities of any sort.
The absence of compulsory education laws in the Southern States has placed the Italian at a disadvantage when compared with others of his race who have settled in rural districts in the more northern States. Unless emphatically urged there are a number who take little interest in the education of their children and keep them at work on their farms from the time they are strong enough to run errands until they leave their parents. The disregard of educational advantages and, it may be added, the lack of them, is particuJarly noticeable in the cane and cotton areas.
THE POSSIBLE PLACE OF THE ITALIAN IN SOUTHERN AGRICULTURE.
That the Italian has made a good pioneer farmer in a number of places in the South there is no doubt, especially where he has engaged in truck farming and small fruit growing on the sandy virgin coast lands. These lands were purchased at low prices, and small acreages have yielded a living from their occupation. It is probable that the Italian has made a permanent place for himself as a vegetable grower along the coast. Here he is a property owner and a settled element in the agricultural economy of the community.
As a cotton grower he has been successful, especially where he has been able (as at Bryan, Tex.), to begin as a share hand without capital and work his way up to independence or land ownership. Where