Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 63.djvu/36

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The demand for rough unskilled laborers has steadily increased with our wonderful industrial growth. It is generally admitted that this demand cannot be supplied by native American applicants. Of all foreign laborers none is better qualified for this work than the Slavs. Eighty-five per cent, of the male Slavs are unskilled laborers, and nearly ninety-five per cent. come to this country between the ages of fifteen and forty-five, when their economic value is greatest.

These people do not crowd the tenements of our large cities, but tend to establish themselves in little homes of their own in the country or in the suburbs of manufacturing towns and cities.

The Slav is popularly supposed to be mentally slow and without energy or ambition. This is not entirely true. In comparison with the Hebrews who transact nearly all the business in Poland and Galicia, the Poles (in business acumen) seem as children. The Slovak appears mentally slow compared with the alert Magyar, but it must be remembered that the Hebrew in business makes other races than the Slav seem slow, and that, while almost all Magyars can read and write, one third of the Slovaks are illiterate. This seeming mental deficiency and absence of ambition in the Slav is due mainly to lack of education and to centuries of subjection to tyrannical masters. It is hard to conceive how a peasant in Russia under existing conditions could develop such a quality as ambition, and judgment as to the Slav's energy and his intellectual possibilities must be suspended until his children in this country have had a chance to show that American schools and American environment can quicken the slow apathy of the serf into the energetic activity of the freedman.

The Slavic immigrant fills a place in the industrial fields of this country in which he hears no call for such attributes as ambition, energy and mental brilliancy, a place which no American envies him, and where he is as necessary to American advancement as the coal and iron that by his labor are mined and made ready for the American mechanic and manufacturer.