Popular Science Monthly/Volume 69/August 1906/Effects of Immigration on Homicide in American Cities
|EFFECTS OF IMMIGRATION ON HOMICIDE IN AMERICAN CITIES|
BY MAYNARD SHIPLEY
IN his recent report for the Bureau of Immigration, Commissioner General Sargent again calls attention to the dangers arising from the inadequate immigration laws of the United States. He contends that the time has come when some more effective restrictions must be introduced than those that have so far obtained. Although protests against prevailing legislation on immigration have been heard for more than fifty years, real cause for alarm has, perhaps, existed only within recent years. The total number of immigrant arrivals had never exceeded one half of a million during any one year previous to 1881. Since 1820, we have received 22,932,905 immigrants, an annual average of 269,798. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1905, the total number of aliens who entered this country (exclusive of Canadian and Mexican immigrants), was 1,026,499, the largest aggregate of immigrant arrivals in any one year of our history. At this rate, we should receive during the next twenty years the same number of aliens that flocked to our shores during the past eighty-five years. As most of the newcomers of recent years have belonged to a class having neither trade nor profession, and as many of them are totally illiterate, it would seem that some very grave consequences must ensue as the result of their congestion within an area of a comparatively few square miles of the Atlantic seaboard. The attempt is now being made to transport many of them to those sections of the United States which can more readily absorb them. In just how far the success of this movement would mitigate present evils the future alone can reveal. Meanwhile, the problems arising from the presence of these alien hordes 'loom so largely in the prospect of our country,' declares Mr. Sargent, 'that it may be said without giving just cause for the charge of exaggeration, that all other questions of public economy relating to things rather than to human beings shrink into comparative insignificance.'
The great danger from this increase of immigration, however, arises rather through the change in its character than from mere increase in numbers. Once recruited mostly from the United Kingdom, Scandinavia and Germany, the greater part of our immigrant population now comes from Russia, Poland, Austria-Hungary, Bohemia, Italy and the Balkans. During the decade 1881-90, the proportion of immigration from the foregoing countries was about 20 per cent, of the total; during the ten years following, about 50 per cent. In 1902 these countries furnished about 71 per cent, of the total immigration, a proportion exceeded during the year just ended.
The accompanying figure (No. 1) shows graphically the precipitous decline of immigration from northern Europe, the vast influx from southern Europe, the proportionate increase from all other countries, and the deplorable rise in the ratio (per 100,000 of population) of deaths from homicide.
The figure below (No. 2) shows graphically the source and extent of the annual immigration into the United States since 1880, the annual number of arrivals from Italy being given separately because of its special importance in the present inquiry:
The records of our penal institutions prove that it is not the alien as such who adds unduly to the number of homicides in this country; they show rather that the alarming increase in crimes of violence is due to certain particular elements of our immigrant population.
Among the nationalities represented in our prisons, the sad preeminence for murder belongs to the alien Mexican, 121 of whom are now confined for deliberately killing a fellow man, though their total number in this country hardly exceeds one hundred thousand. Among an equal number of alien Irishmen less than three have been convicted on the charge of murder, and of German and English immigrants not more than four in each one hundred thousand are held for this grave offense. Among Scandinavian aliens the ratio is still smaller. Next to the Mexicans, the Chinese are the most murderously inclined of any foreigners present, 65 in each one hundred thousand of their number being now held for murder. That there is danger in the vast increase of immigration from southern Italy is evidenced by the fact that of each one hundred thousand of alien Italians in this country 50.2 are held for murder. There is no question here of race prejudice, as may be seen by the following diagram (Fig. 3).
Unfortunately, the tendency of immigrants is to concentrate in large cities. The proportion of foreigners is about four times greater in the 161 cities of over 25,000 inhabitants than in the remainder of the country; hence the relation of increasing immigration to the increase of crimes of violence can be best studied through the police records of large cities. Fig. 3. Table showing Number of Foreigners held for Murder in American Penal Institutions, with their Ratio per 100,000 of Population. Naturally, such a task is fraught with many difficulties, owing to the want of adequate data. By confining the scope of the present inquiry to the effect of immigration on crimes involving the loss of human life, and by comparing prison statistics with the reports of chiefs of police, sheriffs and health officers, many obstacles, insuperable in any study of wider scope, are avoided.
As the records of our penal institutions show which elements of our foreign population are most given to homicide, those cities should have the higher ratios of arrests for homicide which contain the greater proportions of aliens from the countries shown in the figure to produce the greater proportions of murderers. But there are many disturbing factors to be reckoned with, chief of which is the presence in many of our cities of large numbers of a socially inferior race of native-born citizens, the negroes. The United States Census Report on Crime, for 1880, shows that the tendency among negroes towards crimes against the person was 100 per cent, greater than among the native whites. The report for 1890 shows that the negroes had been convicted of three times more homicides in proportion to their number than had the foreign whites; whilst as compared with the native white population they appear to have been about six times more murderous. Nearly two thirds of the prisoners charged with murder were in the south.
Capable as many of the better-conditioned blacks are of attaining all the virtues of the average white citizen, and, in some instances, of transcending them, the American of African descent is, on the whole, fully as prone to homicide as are the native Indians, whose savage cruelty he does not hesitate, when excited by the lust for blood, to emulate. In Lexington, Kentucky, for instance, where 38 per cent, of the population are negroes, 13 per cent, of whom are illiterate, the annual average of arrests for murder and manslaughter during the four years 1901-04 was 40.07 per one hundred thousand of inhabitants, the highest ratio of any city of which statistics covering more than one year are available. Only 3.5 per cent, of the population are of foreign birth, hence the great number of homicides implied by these figures can not be attributed to the immigrant population.
On the other hand, in cities where the proportion of negroes is small, the higher ratios of arrests for homicide correspond with the higher percentages of immigrants from certain countries. Other things being equal, the lower ratios prevail where the foreign element is from northern Europe, and the higher ratios are seen where the foreign element is from the countries shown above to produce the emigrants who are most given to crimes of violence.
The following table shows the ratios of arrests for homicide per one hundred thousand of population in various cities, for the years 1880, 1890, 1900, and the annual average ratios for the last two or more years.
Referring to the last two columns of the table above, it is seen that despite the fact that San Francisco has but a very small negro population (only 0.5 per cent, of the total inhabitants, in 1900), the annual average ratio of arrests for homicide is greater than in Louisville, Kentucky; or in Charleston, South Carolina, where the negro population is relatively large. This corresponds with the fact that San Francisco has a large number of Chinese (about 16,000) in her population; a large proportion of Italians (7,508, in 1900); about 1,500 Mexicans, and a large proportion of foreign born from various countries other than Scandinavian, Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon.
The latest report of the Sheriff of San Francisco County shows that of the prisoners committed to the county jails during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1904, 70 per cent, were of foreign birth, while the proportion of foreign born in the total population is about 34 per cent.
|City.||Year 1880.||Year 1890.||Year 1900.||Annual average per
100,000 for the
|San Jose, Cal.||15.91||55.37|
|Charleston, S C.||12.00||9.0||16.12||1901-04|
|Trenton, N. J.||10.44|
|Newark, N. J.||1.46||1.10||6.90||9.16||18.99-04|
|Des Moines, la.||13.38||9.98||7.65||1901-04|
|Hoboken, N. J.||6.45||6.94|
|Los Angeles, Cal.||13.88||4.86||1901-04|
|Springfield, Mass.||4. 2|
|Patterson, N. J.||3.91||1.27||4.51||1901-04|
|Buffalo, N. Y.||13.15||2.17||1901-04|
|Albany, N. Y.||.10|
Ratio of Arrests for Homicide per 100,000 of Population in Various Cities of the United States.
|Number of Certain Classes killed.|
Number of Homicides reported by the Health Officer of San Francisco, during the years given.
The figures above show that of the 199 persons who met death by homicide in San Francisco during the five years 1889-93 and the two years 1902-03, 111, or 55.6 per cent., were of foreign birth, while the total foreign born of the city form but 31.1 per cent, of the population. The undue proportion of murders among the Chinese is easily appreciated when it is stated that the Mongolians comprised 28.6 per cent, of the number who met death by homicide, while they form less than 6 per cent, of the population. The mortality statistics of San Francisco show that during the twenty-five years 1872-97, there were 169 Chinese murdered, an annual average of 18.76. From these figures it may readily be seen that the very high ratios of arrests for homicide in San Francisco are largely attributable to her alien Chinese population. Consulting the District Attorney's Report for 1897 (a report which happens to be available), I find that 41 per cent, of the charges filed for murder and manslaughter during that year were against Chinese.
The table following shows that the annual proportion of arrests for homicide and attempts at murder has varied but little during the years given (omitted years imply missing or unavailable reports).
That the ratio of arrests for homicide has not grown larger in San Francisco concurrently with the general increase of immigration from southern Europe, coincides with the fact that the proportion of Chinese in that city, is growing smaller, and that the great influx of European aliens has not yet affected the Pacific coast to any considerable extent. Of the 1,025,000 immigrants who landed on our shores during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1905, at least 76 per cent, went into New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio and Illinois. Only 431,571 were destined for the west, and but 46,343 for the south.This tendency of the alien to congest in the great manufacturing cities of a few eastern states is gradually reversing the order of conditions heretofore existing. Twenty years ago the population of Pacific coast cities was much more largely foreign born than at the present time, while in the east the percentage of foreign born in urban communities is increasing. Ten and twenty years ago, as may be seen
by Fig. 4, murders were far less frequent in proportion to population in eastern cities than they are now. In the west the reverse is true, because the immigration from southern Europe has had little influence on the growth of Pacific coast cities. In Los Angeles, where the proportion of native born of native whites is exceeded by only four cities (of 100,000 or over) in the United States, the ratio of arrests for homicide has greatly diminished, falling from 13.88 per 100,000 of inhabitants in 1890, to an annual average of 4.86 during the four years 1901-04.
Passing now to the Atlantic seaboard, we find in the city of Newark, New Jersey, a conspicuous example of the effect of immigration on homicide in a city which owes much of its recent growth to alien settlers. In 1900, 29 per cent, of Newark's population was foreign born, the foreign-born Italians alone numbering 8,537, since which year this element of her population has greatly increased.
In 1880, when the Italian population of Newark was very small, the ratio of arrests for homicide was but 1.46 per 100,000 of inhabitants; in 1890 the ratio was even lower, being 1.10 per 100,000 of population. During the decade following, the immigration from Italy, Poland, Russia, Austria-Hungary and the Balkans greatly increased, and Newark got her full share of all these elements. The police reports of the period following show an increase in the ratio of crimes of violence in general, while the ratio of arrests for homicide in 1900 was five times greater than in 1890. That this great increase was not merely the result of an unusual year is shown by more recent statistics. The annual average ratio of arrests for homicide in Newark for the six years 1899-1904 was 9.16 per one hundred thousand of population; this is on the basis of the population of the census of 1900, more recent statistics not being available.
In New Haven, Connecticut, where the Italian population has greatly increased since 1890, the ratio of arrests for homicide has about doubled during the past six or eight years. In 1880, the ratio of arrests for murder and manslaughter in that city was 1.59 per 100,000 of inhabitants; in 1890, 2.46; and during the four years 1901-04 there were 4.16 arrests per 100,000 of population on the charge of killing a fellow man. This ratio is still quite low, compared with some cities of the east, but the increase is very significant, especially in view of the fact that the second generation of foreigners is always more criminally inclined than the first.
The relation of immigration to the proportion of crimes of violence in urban counties is well exemplified in the various large cities of the Empire State.
In the city of New York, with its million and a half of foreigners, constituting as they now do more than 37 per cent, of the total population, and nearly half of whom are from countries other than those of northern Europe, we find very favorable conditions for a comparatively high ratio of crimes of violence. Consulting the police statistics of New York City, I find that the ratio of arrests for homicide has increased more than fourfold since 1880, rising from 3.6 per 100,000 in that year, to 6.7 in 1890, and 13.12 in 1900. The annual average ratio for the six years 1898-1903 was 13.23 per 100,000 of inhabitants. There are no statistics available showing the proportion of these homicides which were committed by New York's immigrant population. Many of the journals of the great metropolis charge the Italians (of whom there are now about 400,000 in that city) with a large share of the murders committed; and when it is considered that, as shown in a preceding table (No. II.), one out of every 1,906 Italians in this country is held for murder, it is apparent that the charge is not without foundation. Some idea of the problems arising from such a vast influx of aliens as the past few years have witnessed is derived from the records of New York's Children's Court. Of the 7,647 children arraigned during the year ending December 31, 1904, more than half were born in Italy or Russia or of parents born in those countries. "Practically all of the material brought into the Children's Court," says Mr. Coulter, "is a gift from Europe."
Passing now to the cities which have received few immigrants from southern Europe, we find that the ratios of homicides have changed very little, and that they are uniformly low.
In the city of Buffalo, where at least 73 per cent, of the foreign born population are from northern Europe, the ratio of crimes of violence has remained almost stationary for thirty years. In 1880 the ratio of arrests for homicide was 2.60 per one hundred thousand of inhabitants; in 1890, the proportion was 3.52; while the annual average for the three years 1902-01 was 2.93.
In Rochester, where 85 per cent, of the foreign-born inhabitants are from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Scandinavia, homicides have decreased relative to the population, the ratio of arrests for murder and manslaughter being, in 1880, 2.23 per one hundred thousand of population; in 1890, 0.74; while the annual ratio for the four years 1900-03 was 1.22.
In Syracuse, where 77 per cent, of the population are native whites, and where about 82 per cent, of the foreign-born are from the countries of northern Europe, but six cases of homicide have come under jurisdiction of the police department during the past fourteen years.
Passing south now to the Quaker City, we find that an arrest for homicide in Philadelphia, fifteen years ago, was of very rare occurrence (0.76 per 100,000 of inhabitants in 1890). Since that time the population of Philadelphia has increased by about 250,000, a large proportion of which augmentation has been the result of the increased immigration from southern Europe. Of the 295,340 foreigners in Philadelphia in 1900, 17,830 were born in Italy, 7,554 in Poland; 28,951 were natives of Russia, while 8,209 were born in Austria-Hungary or Bohemia; aggregating in all, from these countries, 62,544 immigrants of a much lower type, industrially and educationally, and, by inference, morally, than formerly migrated to this country. The results are shown in the records of the police courts, the ratio of arrests for homicides having increased fourfold since 1890, the annual average for the six years 1899-1904 being 4.93 per 100,000 of inhabitants.
That crimes of violence increase with the changing character of the immigrant population is shown clearly by the police statistics of the cities of Cleveland and Cincinnati. In the former city the annual average of arrests for homicide during the two years 1903-04 was 9.56 per 100,000 of population. In Cincinnati the average for the six years 1898-1904 was 6.23. In 1890 the disparity was still greater, the ratio being 4.04 in Cincinnati, and 13.01 in Cleveland. The annual average of arrests for murder and manslaughter in Cincinnati during the nine years, 1880, 1800 and 1898-1904 (as shown in the foregoing table), was 5.56; for Cleveland during the three years for which statistics are available, the annual average was 10.71 per 100,000 of inhabitants. The causes of this disparity may readily be found in the relative character and proportions of their foreign population. The United States census for 1900 shows that whereas in Cincinnati 35 per cent, of the inhabitants were native-born of native parents, in Cleveland only 23 per cent, belonged to this class. In Cleveland the foreign-born formed 46.1 per cent, of the population; in Cincinnati but 17.8 per cent, were foreigners. It is also worthy of notice, in this connection, that whereas about 37 per cent, of Cleveland's foreign-born population were from southern Europe, in Cincinnati the same countries furnished only about 11 per cent, of the foreign-born inhabitants. In 1903, 13,651 immigrants settled in Cleveland; and during the same year there were 23 murders, 34 stabbing affrays, 45 shooting affrays, 56 cutting affrays, while 131 persons were assaulted. In 1904, over seven thousand immigrants arrived and settled in Cleveland, among whom were 1,464 Italians, 1,098 Hungarians, 1,637 Poles, 826 Russians, 390 Slavonians, 133 Roumanians and 30 Croatians. During this year there were 30 stabbing affrays, 51 shooting affrays, 6 murders, 91 cutting affrays, and 121 persons assaulted. As to how many of these crimes were perpetrated by foreigners is not given in the police statistics, but in his report the Chief of Police remarks that—"While the records show a large number of the arrested to be of foreign birth, it by no means follows that our foreign-born element is a criminal element, but that our city is a cosmopolitan one and our extensive manufacturing interests have drawn a large laboring class to the city." In the report of the Chief of Police of Cincinnati, the number of foreign-born among those arrested is given. The report for 1904 shows that among the 7,135 white persons arrested in Cincinnati, 4,437, or 64.04 per cent, were foreigners, though the foreign-born in that city, in 1900, formed but 18.61 per cent, of the white population. The total number of persons arrested for murder during the year was 31. In respect to other offenses, 68 were arraigned for 'cutting with intent to kill'; 49 were arrested for 'shooting with intent to kill' There were also 146 arrests for 'cutting,' and 61 for 'shooting' a fellow man (with what 'intent' in these cases is not stated). While a large proportion of these crimes of violence were undoubtedly committed by the foreign whites, it must also be taken into consideration that Cincinnati has a large negro population, numbering, in 1900, 14,482: and that while they comprised but 4.4 per cent, of the total population, the number of negroes arrested during the year numbered 2,822, or 19.60 per cent, of the total population of the city.
In the table given above showing the ratio of arrests for homicide in various cities, per 100,000 of population, it appears that the proportion of crimes of violence has not increased in Cincinnati during the past twenty-five years. The following figures show that they have at least increased in numbers. The police-court records show that during the twenty-one years 1884-1904, there were 335 arrests for murder in Cincinnati, an annual average of 15.95. During the ten years 1895-190-1 the annual average was 17. The annual average for the four vears 1901-04 was 21.
In Minneapolis, where nearly 90 per cent, of the foreign-born population are from northern Europe, and where there are neither Chinese, Italians, nor negroes, homicides are proportionately rare, the ratio of arrests for murder and manslaughter being in 1880, 2.13; and in 1901 less than one per one hundred thousand of inhabitants. In Milwaukee, where over 60 per cent, of the foreign population are Germans, the annual average ratio of arrests for homicides during the seven years 1898-1901 was 1.77 per one hundred thousand of inhabitants. This is more than twice the proportion occurring in Minneapolis; but Milwaukee has about twice the proportion of immigrants from southern Europe that Minneapolis has. In 1880, when there were comparatively few immigrants in Milwaukee from Italy, Poland, Russia or the Balkans, the ratio of arrests for homicides was 0.87 per one hundred thousand of population, and, as late as 1890, the ratio was but 0.97.
Although there is no city in the state of Kansas ranking in population with the cities here studied, for the sake of its instructive example the city of Kansas, as the largest city in the state, may be given special mention. During the two years ending October 31, 1905, the annual average of homicides (not the number of arrests therefor) was 17.61 per one hundred thousand of inhabitants. An inquiry addressed to Chief-of-Police Yernon J. Rose, evoked the reply that at least four fifths of these homicides were committed by the immigrant and negro population, who comprise, together, over 25 per cent, of the total population of the city. About 40 per cent, of the 9,000 employees of the six great packing houses are natives of Russia, Greece, Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria and Hungary, and Chief-of-Police Rose states that it is among these 'Bohunks' (the local term which comprehends these races as a group) that nearly all of the homicides among the whites occur.
In Providence (R. I.), where the Italians comprise more than ten per cent, of the foreign population, and where 38.1 per cent, of the total inhabitants are of foreign birth, the ratio of arrests for homicide is lower than in Boston, the annual average of arrests for homicide in Providence being, for the four years 1901-04, 1.70; and for Boston (during the two years 1904-05) 1.98 per one hundred thousand of inhabitants. But in Rhode Island, as a whole, the proportion of population held for homicide is greater than in Massachusetts, the ratio for the former state being 0.57 per one hundred thousand of inhabitants, and for the latter 0.39. In Rhode Island the Italians comprise 11.58 per cent, of the convicts held for homicide, and but 2.09 per cent, of the total population. In Massachusetts the Italians form but 1 per cent, of the total population, and 26.1 per cent, of the convicts held for homicide.
Next to Nevada, Colorado has the highest ratio of deaths from violence of any state or territory in the continental Union. But the ratio of arrests for murder and manslaughter in her chief city, Denver, is comparatively low, the annual average ratio for the three years 1903-05 being 8.21 per one hundred thousand of inhabitants. It is a significant fact that there are but five cities of her class in the United States which have a larger proportion of native white
inhabitants born of native parents. Only 19 per cent, of Denver's population are foreign born.
The question may well be raised: Why has the state of Colorado so high a ratio of deaths from violence (52.5 per one hundred thousand of population), and Denver so few arrests for crimes of violence? It may be replied that homicide is not naturally frequent in urban communities, but prevails in sparsely settled regions, or in mining districts. In general, homicides decrease as the proportion of persons engaged in manufacturing increases, and increase as the proportion of persons engaged in mining increases.
The figure above illustrates this principle, the states and territories being arranged according to the annual average of deaths from homicide during the decade 1890-99, the District of Columbia having the smallest number of deaths from violence, and Nevada the highest
ratio per one hundred thousand of population. (The ratios were computed on the basis of statistics of crimes of violence compiled and published by the Record-Herald, of Chicago.) The white bars show the proportion of the population who, according to the United States census for 1900, were engaged in manufacturing pursuits, and the black bars indicate the percentage engaged in mining and quarrying:
It will be observed that Pennsylvania and West Virginia are the only states in the Union which are engaged extensively in mining, and yet have a comparatively low ratio of homicides. This is largely due to the fact that the mining districts in these states are adjacent to well-populated and comparatively cultured communities, whereas in the West, the mines are situated in states or territories which contain few or no large cities, and wherein the rural population is of a rather low order. Colorado, for example, has but one large city, and is one of the five most sparsely settled states or territories of the (continental) Union; whereas Pennsylvania, on the other hand, has more towns of over 4,000 population than any other state, giving it the highest per cent, of urban population of any commonwealth in the Union with the exception of New York. Again, whereas West Virginia has 38.9 persons to the square mile, Nevada has 0.4.
Consistently with all that has herein been stated, we find the greater percentages of foreign-born who are most given to crimes of violence in the very states shown to produce the greater proportion of homicides, and most of which are engaged most extensively in mining, as may be seen by comparing Fig. 7 with the one preceding.
Not wishing needlessly to multiply examples and evidences, it may be said in conclusion that, however desirable the hundreds of thousands of ignorant immigrants annually landed on our shores may be from an economic standpoint, as 'much-needed laborers' or, however charitably we may personally feel toward the hordes of hapless human beings who seek to better their condition by coming to this land of freedom and opportunities, such a vast addition of untutored and poverty-stricken people, unused to self-restraint, can not be absorbed without a material increase in crimes of violence throughout the United States, and especially in the large cities, where the recent immigration has for the greater part congested. It is to be hoped that the evidences of the Children's Court of New York City, and of police statistics in general, are symptoms rather of conditions to be remedied than of evils destined to grow more portentous.
- The curves of immigration show the per cent, each group of race elements bears to the total influx of aliens; the curve for homicides shows the actual number of persons who met death by homicide in each 100,000 of the total population of the United States. The latter figures are based upon the mortality statistics of the United States Census Reports.
- The proportion of homicides committed would, of course, serve more accurately as an index of relative criminality, in respect to the crimes of manslaughter and murder, than would the number of arrests therefor. The former statistics not being available in many instances, the latter have been used as a basis for the present study. The writer's thanks are due the many chiefs of police, and others, who have so kindly assisted him in procuring the statistics of arrests for homicide in the various cities mentioned in this study.
- The annual average ratios of arrests for homicide during the last period given are based upon the population statistics of 1900. Due allowance must therefore be made for increase of inhabitants in some cases.
- 'Alien Colonies and the Children's Court,' North American Review, November, 1904, Vol. 179, No. 5.
- The average for the same period in Cleveland is not available.
- The Report of Warden C. E. Haddox, of the West Virginia State Penitentiary, for 1903-04, shows that the five counties in which mining industries predominate, with a total population of 139,812, sent 419 persons; while sixteen other counties, whose population is engaged in agriculture or other equally stable pursuits, numbering in all 205,175 persons, are represented by 28 convicts. In the mining counties one person in every 333 was sent to the penitentiary; in the sixteen bounties mentioned, one in each 7,327 of population was sent to prison—a difference as great as 300 is to 13.