Popular Science Monthly/Volume 41/October 1892/Lessons from the Census VIII
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.
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.
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.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 22·76 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:
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 15,686,158. 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 7,670,493. 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.