Popular Science Monthly/Volume 41/October 1892/Lessons from the Census VIII

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THE NATIVE AND FOREIGN-BORN POPULATION.

VIII. LESSONS FROM THE CENSUS.

By CARROLL D. WRIGHT, A. M.,

UNITED STATES COMMISSIONER OF LABOR.

THE native and foreign-born population of the United States has been given to the public in Census Bulletin No. 194. The designations of the foreign-born as to countries from which they came are not included in the bulletin. It is impossible, therefore, to consider any question beyond that of the distinction between native and foreign-born, with the addition of immediate parent nativity.

Native and Foreign-born Population, 1890.

PSM V41 D776 Native and foreign born population by state.png
PSM V41 D777 Native and foreign born population by state.png

The historian Bancroft stated that in 1775 the colonies were inhabited by persons "one fifth of whom had for their mother-tongue some other language than the English." The French, the Swedes, the Dutch, and the Germans contributed this one fifth, and in the order named. In 1890 the total foreign population numbered 9,249,547, while the total number having foreign-born parents, but who themselves were born in this country, was 11,503,075, making a total of foreign-born and children of foreign-born parents of 20,753,222—that is, one third of the total population of the United States consists of people born in foreign


Native and Foreign-born Population, 1880.

States and Territories. Total population. Native-born
population.
Foreign-born
population.
Per cent of native-born of total population. Per cent of foreign-born of total population.
Alabama 1,262,505 1,252,771 9,734 99·23 0·77
Arizona 40,440 24,391 16,049 60·31 39·69
Arkansas 802,525 792,175 10,350 98·71 1·29
California 864,694 571,820 292,874 66·13 33·87
Colorado 194,327 154,537 39,790 79·52 20·48
Connecticut 622,700 492,708 129,992 79·12 20·88
Dakota 135,177 83,382 51,795 61·68 38·32
Delaware 146,608 137,140 9,468 93·54 6·46
District of Columbia 177,624 160,502 17,122 90·36 9·64
Florida 269,493 259,584 9,909 96·32 3·68
Georgia 1,542,180 1,531,616 10,564 99·31 0·69
Idaho 32,610 22,636 9,974 69·41 30·59
Illinois 3,077,871 2,494,295 583,576 81·04 18·96
Indiana 1,978,301 1,834,123 144,178 92·71 7·29
Iowa 1,624,615 1,362,965 261,650 83·89 16·11
Kansas 996,096 886,010 110,086 88·95 11·05
Kentucky 1,648,690 1,589,173 59,517 96·39 3·61
Louisiana 939,946 885,800 54,146 94·24 5·76
Maine 648,936 590,053 58,883 90·93 9·07
Maryland 934,943 852,137 82,806 91·14 8·86
Massachusetts 1,783,085 1,339,594 443,491 75·13 24·87
Michigan 1,636,937 1,248,429 388,508 76·27 23·73
Minnesota 780,773 513,097 267,676 65·72 34·28
Mississippi 1,131,597 1,122,388 9,209 99·19 0·81
Missouri 2,168,380 1,956,802 211,578 90·24 9·76
Montana 39,159 27,638 11,521 70·58 29·42
Nebraska 452,402 354,988 97,414 78·47 21·53
Nevada 62,266 36,613 25,653 58·80 41·20
New Hampshire 346,991 300,697 46,294 86·66 13·34
New Jersey 1,131,116 909,416 221,700 80·40 19·60
New Mexico 119,565 111,514 8,051 93·27 6·73
New York 5,082,871 3,871,492 1,211,379 76·17 23·83
North Carolina 1,399,750 1,396,008 3,742 99·73 0·27
Ohio 3,198,062 2,803,119 394,943 87·65 12·35
Oregon 174,768 144,265 30,503 82·55 17·45
Pennsylvania 4,282,891 3,695,062 587,829 86·27 13·73
Rhode Island 276,531 202,538 78,993 73·24 26·76
South Carolina 995,577 987,891 7,686 99·23 0·77
Tennessee 1,542,359 1,525,657 16,702 98·92 1·08
Texas 1,591,749 1,477,133 114,616 92·80 7·20
Utah 143,963 99,969 43,994 69·44 30·56
Vermont 332,286 291,327 40,959 87·67 12·33
Virginia 1,512,565 1,497,869 14,696 99·03 0·97
Washington 75,116 59,313 15,803 78·96 21·04
West Virginia 618,457 600,192 18,265 97·05 2·95
Wisconsin 1,315,497 910,072 405,425 69·18 30·82
Wyoming 20,789 14,939 5,850 71·86 28·14
United States 50,155,783 43,475,840 6,679,943 86·68 13·32
countries or the children of people so born. It is impossible to go further back than one generation in this calculation; but in all probability, when the facts are known, we shall find that at least one half of the inhabitants of this country at the present time were either born abroad or are the children or grandchildren of persons born abroad, while one third, instead of one fifth, have for their mother-tongue some other language than the English. Future bulletins will enable us to understand this feature of the nativity of the population more clearly.

The first of the preceding tables has been constructed from those given in the bulletin named; which, however, did not give the percentages stated. It shows the total population in the United States, June 1, 1890, separated as to native and foreign-born, and the percentage of each of the total population; the second table gives like facts for 1880. (In the first table I have followed the form now in use at the Census Office, giving the States by divisions; while in the second table, for 1880, the States are alphabetically arranged.)

The State having the greatest proportion of foreign-born is North Dakota, where that element constitutes 44·0 per cent of the total population. In 1880 the State having the highest percentage of foreign-born was Nevada, it being then 41·2. Nevada now has 32·1 per cent. The State having the lowest percentage in 1880 was North Carolina, it then being ·27 per cent, and North Carolina still has the lowest percentage of foreign-born, it being but ·2 of 1 per cent in 1890. Of the population of the whole country 14·8 per cent are foreign-born. The facts are given for the different census years in the adjoining table.

PSM V41 D779 Native and foreign born population by decade.png
From this short table we see the changes that are going on. Taking the last census decade of years, we find that the aggregate population increased 24·86 per cent. Analyzing this, it is seen that the native-born population increased 22·70 per cent and the foreign-born 38·47 per cent. The heaviest increase in the foreign-born was between 1850 and 1860, when it was 84·38 per cent. This was soon after the great tide of immigration set in toward this country. The highest percentage of increase in the native-born population was between 1870 and 1880, so far as the decades in the table are shown, it then being 31·78 per cent. The percentage of the native and foreign-born of the total population is given in the following tabular statement:
Census Years. native and foreign-born.
Native. Foreign.
The United States: Per cent. Per cent.
 1890 85·23 14·77
 1880 86·68 13·32
 1870 85·56 14·44
 1860 86·84 13·16
 1850 90·32  9·68

This little table answers very fully the question as to whether the foreign-born are increasing out of proportion to the increase of population. Leaving out 1850, as immigration had just then begun to be felt strongly, and commencing with the decade of 1860, the percentages are very interesting. In that year the foreign-born constituted 13·16 per cent of the total population of the country. In 1890 it constituted 14·77 per cent, or an increase of ·61 of 1 per cent in the thirty years, certainly not a very alarming figure. In 1870 the foreign-born population constituted 14·44 per cent, while in 1890 it was, as stated, 14·77 per cent, an increase in percentage of ·33 per cent in twenty years. The native population in 1860 was represented by 86·84 per cent of the total population, and in 1890 by 85·23 per cent.

If we examine particular sections of the country, however, we find some extraordinary proportions. Massachusetts, for instance, in 1880 had 443,491 foreign-born persons as part of her population. This was 24·87 per cent of the total population. In June, 1890, her foreign-born population numbered 657,137, and was 29·04 per cent of the total. The foreign-born population in Rhode Island increased from 78,993 in 1880 to 106,305 in 1890. The great State of New York had 1,211,379 foreign-born persons in her borders in 1880, while in 1890 this body had increased to 1,571,050. Pennsylvania showed like proportions. In Wisconsin the foreign-born population increased from 405,425 in 1880 to 519,199 in 1890, but the percentage in relation to the total population did not increase. In fact, in some of the Western States, where the percentage of foreign-born population of the total population in 1880 was very high, it is found to be lower now. This is because the increase in population comes to some extent from the children of the foreign-born, who figured as such in 1880. When the full results as to parent nativity are ascertainable, the comparison as to changes and the relative proportion of the foreign-born element as such in different localities can be clearly brought out, as stated.

The total native population of the country is 53,372,703, while the total foreign-born population is 9,249,547. This latter figure represents the total number of foreign -born living persons out of the total foreign immigration during the history of the country. Prior to 1819 the Government took no account of the number of immigrants, but the accepted estimate gives the total number between 1790 and 1819 at 250,000. In 1819 the Federal Government took account of immigration,,, and the reports have been very regular since then. The total immigration from 1819 to 1890 was 15,086,158. On June 1, 1890, therefore, there were living, of this total number of immigrants, 9,249,547. The reports of the Treasury Department furnish the information as to the character of this body of immigrants. Future reports of the Census Office will furnish information relative to the character of the living foreign-born, not only as to the countries furnishing foreign-born population, but all the other social facts relating thereto gathered by the census. A complete analysis, therefore, must be reserved for future publications of the Census Office. But, looking at the primary facts as furnished by the Treasury Department, it is learned that, of the 15,686,158 immigrants who have settled in this country since 1820, 3,503,227 came from Ireland and 4,546,800 from Germany, including Prussia. Adding these two numbers together, we find that Ireland and Germany have furnished 8,050,027 out of the total number of immigrants, or more than 51 per cent of that total. The number coming from Germany is one million, in round numbers, greater than the number coming from Ireland.

A study of the nationalities represented in the immigration to this country shows that a little more than 50 per cent of the whole number have come from Protestant countries, and if we should look closely into the matter we should find that the two great political parties in the United States absorb equal proportions of the total volume of immigration. In a theological and political sense, therefore, immigration has been quite equally divided.

When we look at industrial conditions, however, it is learned

 that the absorption of immigrants has not been equal. The facts in this respect can not be given for 1890, but for 1880 they indicate what may be expected when the full facts for 1890 are reported. In 1880 the whole number of people engaged in agriculture was 7,070,493. Of this number 812,829 persons were of foreign birth; that is to say, 10·06 per cent of the whole number employed in agriculture in 1880 were foreign-born. The total number employed in manufacturing, mechanical, and mining industries in the United States in 1880 was 3,837,112. Of this number 1,225,787 were of foreign birth, and this number is 32 per cent of the whole number of persons engaged in these industries. The tendency, therefore, of our immigrants is to assimilate with our mechanical industries. This increases the supply of labor in comparison to the demand, and may in some localities tend to lower wages, and sometimes to cripple the consuming power of the whole body of the people. In 1880 12·52 per cent of the whole number of foreign-born persons were engaged in agriculture, while 18·88 per cent of the foreign-born were engaged in manufactures.


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