Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 77.djvu/576

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FROM what economic and social conditions do our immigrants from Europe come? This was the question that came to me after reading book after book concerning the immigrant after he has reached America. A diligent gathering from many sources, chiefly official documents, has brought to light many facts of much interest to one who really cares to know the character of the surroundings of those who are thronging our shores. It is the purpose of this article to present some leading conditions in various countries of Europe.


One eighth of our immigrants are Russian Jews. Peculiar and pathetic is the lot of the Jew in Russia. A law of 1769, modified in 1804 and in 1835, requires that all Jews, except certain specified classes, shall reside within the Jewish pale. The pale is a district beginning immediately south of the Baltic provinces, stretching throughout the west and extending over the south as far east as the Don Army Territory. It has an area of about 362,000 square miles, or less than 20 per cent, of European Russia, and only a little over 4 per cent, of the entire Russian empire. Outside the pale may reside, under certain restrictions, merchants of the first guild—i. e., merchants paying a very high business license—professional persons and master artisans. As a matter of fact 93.9 per cent, of all Jews in the empire live in the pale, 4 per cent, live in the remaining part of European Russia and 2.1 per cent, live in Asiatic Russia. Even the place of residence within the pale is limited by a provision of the notorious May laws of 1882, which prohibits the Jews from buying or renting lands outside the limits of cities and incorporated towns. Jews who owned farm lands in 1882 were not dispossessed, but the law operates to preclude any increase in such holdings.

Restriction upon his place of residence is not the only limitation placed upon the Jew in Russia. In the summer of 1887 the minister of instruction was empowered to limit the number of Jewish students to be admitted into the secondary institutions of learning. This limit was defined as 10 per cent, for the institutions located within the pale, 5 per cent, in the remaining cities and only 3 per cent, in the two capital cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The measure was justified as necessary to maintain a more "normal proportion between the number