Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/99

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91
RACE MIXTURE AND NATIONAL CHARACTER.

and fifty who can. In the Eastern States the second generation is less numerous than in the West. The influence of our schools is apparent, for, if we take Massachusetts as an example, we find that of the native-born population one per cent are illiterate, while of the foreign born twenty per cent are illiterate.

Another influence of the social environment is the exercise of political rights. Here the second generation can not be looked upon as foreigners, as all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens thereof. The terms of naturalization are such that the foreign born may become citizens in five years. Whatever may be the dangers of foreign influence upon our government, surely one of the best methods of assimilating the discordant elements is to make all classes feel that they have an interest in our institutions, by the exercise of political rights. If this process of assimilation had not been going on, we should be able to notice some effect upon legislation in the different States. Assimilation is promoted by the participation in the holding of property. Thousands of foreigners have availed themselves of the land grants by the homestead and other laws. Having vested interests, they are loyal to the Government, for very few property-holders become anarchists. Self-reliance and independence also tend to attach the foreigner to our institutions. Our system is not paternal in its character, but the guarantees of civil liberty are so broad that they offer the greatest measure of individual action. Every man's house is his castle, and some writer has said that, although the snow and rain may blow in, the king can not enter. The prominence given to labor in America is also conducive to the assimilation of the foreign elements. A new dignity has been placed upon labor here, and we are passing over from a political to an economic attitude, which will have its effect upon all classes. Titles and rank, which have done so much in the Old World to keep the classes alienated, are unknown here, and their absence is the means of encouraging foreigners to accept the responsibilities of citizenship. Economic influences which have frequently been overlooked, are also a potent factor in the assimilation of races. I have already referred to the dignity of labor in this country. The laborer is not regarded as depending upon a wage fund for support, but he is looked upon as an integral part of society, receiving a share in distribution. There are causes at work affecting consumption, and society is in a dynamic state. Changes in the economic order of consumption are taking place which tend to raise the standard of life. Economic conditions induce the foreigner to leave his native land and come to America. On arriving here, he is probably influenced as much by the standard of life of our people as by any other cause. He enters the field of labor and attempts to reach our standard of