The Irish Statesman/May 5, 1906
European Immigrants Are Beginning to Learn That There is an America Outside of New York.
Most of the New Comers of the Next Few Years Will Settle in States of the South and South-West.
In Order to Encourage People to Settle in the South a Passenger Line to New Orleans is Planned.
That the greater part of the vast army of immigrants which will come to America during the next few years will distribute itself over the agricultural States of the South and Southwest and there found a new race of sturdy, progressive Americans, is the prediction made by Friedrich von Pills, a director of the North Herman Lloyd Steamship Company and one of the world’s experts on the subject of immigration, says the New York Herald.
Throughout the continent of Europe the word has been spread, he asserts, that the cities of America, particularly New York and Chicago, are now filled to overflowing with foreigners, and with it has gone the tidings that the great agricultural states like Texas, Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana hold out golden promise to the rugged alien whose life dream is a home of his own and enough acres to provide a comfortable livelihood for his family.
Hundreds of thousands of stalwart peasants of German blood from Southern Russia, Bulgaria, Roumania and Hungary will flock to America, he declares, with their baggage checked straight through to distant points in the South and Southwest, and they will bring money enough to give them a fair start in the life they wish to lead. They will not come with the intention of returning after they have accumulated what in their native countries would be considered snug fortunes, but will leave home with the declared purpose of becoming American citizens and adopting American ideas. America, Mr. von Pills says, should not regard with alarm the incoming hordes of foreigners, but should welcome them, and should give a double welcome to the swarm of agriculturists which will come here in the next half dozen years. Any country country in Europe, he says, would be sorry to lose them; every country should be glad to receive the as residents.
As managing director of the steerage department of his steamship line, Mr. von Pills for more than a year has been conducting a campaign of education in the European countries which contribute to the immigrant horde. He has sent agents into the centers of population to tell the people that American cities offer few advantages to the foreigner, because they are already filled to overflowing, and has pointed out the opportunities in the great agricultural commonwealths which, in many parts, are still in a state of undevelopmcnt. American Consuls, he says, have aided in this work of education, and hundreds of thousands of letters from foreigners in America have opened the eyes of the restless Europeans. What should now be done, he says, to carry the plan to fulfillment is for the several slates which are anxious for emigrants to settle in them and work their farms, to establish bureaus in New York, enlighten the newcomers and direct them.
Studying in the South
To prevent further congestion In the cities of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Baltimore the North German Lloyd Steamship Company is planning to start a new passenger line between Bremen and New Orleans and will sell tickets direct from the point of embarkation to cities and villages in the interior of the southern states, just as it now does over the line established a year ago to Galveston.
Mr. Von Pills is now in the South making inquiries concerning those sections which are most advantageous to the foreigners. He will return to New York in a week or ten days and will then depart for Germany to put into full operation the scheme he is perfecting. Although young in years, being but thirty-two, his long connection with the great steamship company and his previous service with the German government as colonizer for Eastern Prussia have made him one of the foremost authorities on immigration.
Desiring to populate the thinly settled province of Posen, in Eastern Prussia, the government selected him to undertake the work and in three years made a thriving agricultural region of the province, sending in Germans from Galicia, Hungary, Russia and Roumania. Completing this task, he became director of the steerage depart of the North German Lloyd Steamship Company and in that capacity has visited all the corners of Europe, as well as South American countries and most of the American states.
“Is America to expect a million new residents from Europe every year?” he was asked.
“America may always expect to receive a big army of immigrants from Europe,” he said, “but not a million a year. The high water mark has been reached. Last year established what probably always will be the record, although 1906 will see but a slight falling off. There were plenty of causes for the remarkable exodus from Europe last year and for the continued outpouring of the first few months of 1906. In the first place, the failure of the crop in Hungary in 1904 caused a great many Hungarians to emigrate to America, and the lack of settled government aided. The chief cause, however, was the political disturbances in Russia. But conditions have righted themselves in a large measure now, and henceforth there will be but a steady, healthy flow of Europeans to American shores.
“New York need not worry about the immigration of the future. The Europeans who come to America in the steerage are beginning to learn that there is an America that is not New York, and to realize that in the great stretches of country to the south and west there are limitless opportunities for the man of thrift who wishes to establish a home of his own and is willing to toil and thrive to do it. The great part of the army which will swarm into America in the next few years will check its baggage straight through the port of entry, be it New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Boston, and will pass on to the rich states which lie back of them.
“To practically every immigrant and to all their fellows at home America has always been New York. They picture a great swarming city, a little stretch of farm land and forest, and then—Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia. Pittsburg mean little to them—they have heard the names and they suggest factories and teeming hives of humanity. Little has the peasant population of Germany realized that Texas alone is larger than their entire country and that there are dozens of states of fertile soil uncultivated because there is no one to cultivate them.
“Two years ago I made my first trip to America in the interest of our steerage service and I then found that New York, Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, Kansas City and a dozen other cities were overcrowded with foreigners and that the tides of immigration should be directed to the rural sections of the country. The whole question was taken up by the management of the North German Lloyd Steamship Company, and as a result we established a line direct from Bremen to Galveston, Texas. Our first boat to that port carried fifteen immigrants; our last one, which landed only a few days ago, carried 1,100. To enable the immigrants to get to the interior of the country without trouble we arrange their transportation direct from Bremen to any inland destination.
“So successful was the service to Texas proved that I shall recommend on my return the establishment of a new line to New Orleans, this being the gateway to the great agricultural states of Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama. Nowhere so much as in the Southern States should there be a desire to turn the streams of immigration into the South. Those states need good farmers and hundreds of thousands of them will arrive in America in the next few years. We have educated the prospective immigrants as well as we could and shall make every effort to direct them to the regions where they are needed and where they can reside with most profit to themselves, and I would suggest that the various states establish bureaus in New York and other ports of entry to aid in the work. Much could be accomplished in this way.”
“From what part of Europe may America expect the greatest army of immigrants in the next few years?” he was asked.
“That is not easy to tell,” he said. “Italy will continue to send a flood of aliens here. Italy, in fact, is the only European country which does not discourage wholesale emigration to America. Russia will continue to pour into your cities streams of Hebrews, but not so numerous as during the last two or three years, and Hungary will contribute her share.
“I would say. however, that the next flood will come from the Gorman districts of Southern Russia, Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary, and they will be the kind of people that America ought to welcome with open arms, the type of rugged manhood that adds strength to any state. The people who are now turning their eyes to America are agriculturists, and I fully expect to see a great exodus of them to your shores. Some will go to South America, but the great mass will strike out for America, and their destination will not be the centres of population. They will want to cling to their occupation—that of tilling the soil. The German residents of the countries I have named are powerful men, of exemplary habits, and their idea of success in Iife is to have homes of their own and to rear healthy families.
“These people would a. boon to the South. They are accustomed to temperature and soil much the same and would bring about an almost magical development of the great area which now lacks proper cultivation. They are natural farmers and hard workers. They are natural farmers and hard workers. They will start a new race in the South—will be the new pioneers. Twenty years from now, I confidently predict, America will be glad she left her doors open and pointed the way to the land of the cotton fields
“There need be no fear in America that Europe us unloading upon her an undesirable population. It is quite true that many of the immigrants, notably from Italy, are not the best sort of citizens, but those who come from central Europe are the kind of people that Europe does not wish to lose. Many of those who come from Italy spend part of the year here and return to their homes with their American earnings. This is a custom which should be discouraged. But in the case of the people from Hungary, Bohemia, Roumania, Bulgaria and other parts of Europe, they emigrate for good. They sever all ties abroad and start out with the determination to link their fortunes with those of America and to send for their relatives as soon as they can scrape together sufficient money.
“Inspection at the point of embarkation is far more rigid than it has ever been, and it would doubtless surprise many people in your country to know how many thousands of people are sent back to their homes because they are not physically sound or because they would lie dependent as soon as they reached America. Why, at the port of Bremen alone last year the North German Lloyd Steamship Company rejected 10,000 applicants for transportation to America. In America you have the faculty of making citizens quickly and you may be sure that the hordes that are already laying plans to land on your shores will be greatly assimilated.
“In the number of Hebrews coming to America from Russia there will be a marked falling off. For several years the stream of Hebrews from Russian ports to Argentina has been swelling, and this year the number will be larger than ever. Argentina is extending her arms to European immigrants and would gladly welcome all those that set out for America. That government offered me some time ago an enormous tract of land in one of the most productive parts of the country on the condition that I would people it with good, rugged Europeans.
“Stories of the sweat shops in New York and of the teeming tenements, where light and air are not to be had, have caused thousands of Hebrews who were thinking of migrating to New York to change their minds. Many of them will go to Argentina; many will go to other parts of the world but a comparatively small proportion will come to America. Most of the Hebrews who do will settle in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and St. Louis, because they are not fitted for agricultural pursuits.
“America need not be alarmed when they read that 100,000—or whatever the number might be—immigrants landed in New York in a certain month. America will absorb them just as she has absorbed the millions who have come heretofore. any of your most intellectual and influential citizens are descendants of the great mass of Irish peasants who flooded your gates back in the forties. Many also are descendants of the multitude of Germans who scattered broadcast over your states thirty odd years ago. In a very few years many of your leading men will be descendants of the Italians who started for America some fifteen years ago.”
(Source: Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90059959/1906-05-05/ed-1/seq-2/)