Census-Taking Fatal to Monopoly.

Census-Taking Fatal to Monopoly.

[Liberty, July 21, 1888.]

The makers of party platforms, the writers of newspaper editorials, the pounders of pulpit-cushions, and the orators of the stump, who are just now blending their voices in frantic chorus to proclaim the foreign origin of evil and to advocate therefore the exclusion of the foreign element from American soil, should study the figures compiled by Rev. Frederick Howard Wines from the tenth census reports and presented by him to the congress of the National Prison Association lately held in Boston. Such of these shriekers as are provided with thinkers may find in these statistics food for thought. From them it appears that, though the ratio of crime among our foreign-born population is still very much higher than the ratio among our native population, the former ratio, which in 1850 was more than five times as high as the latter, in 1880 was less than twice as high. And it further appears that, if crimes against person and property are alone considered, the two ratios stand almost exactly on a level, and that the ratio of foreign-born criminals tends to exceed that of native criminals in proportion as the catalogue of crimes is extended to cover so-called offences against public morals, public policy, and society. In other words, the percentage of natives who steal, damage, burn, assault, kidnap, rape, and kill is about as large as the percentage of foreigners of similarly invasive tendencies, and the percentage of foreign-born law-breakers exceeds that of native law-breakers only because the foreign-born are less disposed than the natives to obey those laws which say that people shall not drink this or eat that or smoke the other; that they shall not love except under prescribed forms and conditions; that they shall not dispose or expose their persons except as their rulers provide; that they shall not work or play on Sunday or blaspheme the name of the Lord; that they shall not gamble or swear; that they shall not sell certain articles at all, or buy certain others without paying a tax for the privilege; and that they shall not mail, own, or read any obscene literature except the Bible. That is to say, again, people who happen to have been born in Europe are no more determined to invade their fellow-men than are people who happen to have been born in America, but the latter are much more willing to be invaded and trampled upon than any other people on earth. Which speaks very well, in Liberty’s opinion, for the foreigners, and makes it important for our own liberty and welfare to do everything possible to encourage immigration.(160 ¶ 1)

But, say the shriekers, these foreigners are Anarchists and Socialists. Well, there’s some truth in that; as a general rule, the better people are, the more Anarchists and Socialists will be found among them. This, too, is a fact which the tenth census proves. The ratio of native criminals to native population is as 1 to 949. How about other nationalities? Listen to Rev. Mr. Wines:(160 ¶ 2)

From the West Indies, the number of prisoners is 1 in 117 of our West Indian population; from Spain, 1 in 165 of the Spaniards in this country; of the South Americans, 1 in 197; of the Chinese, 1 in 199; of the Italians, 1 in 260; of the Australians, 1 in 306; of the Irish, 1 in 350; of the Scotch, 1 in 411; of the French, 1 in 433; of the English, 1 in 456; of the British Americans, 1 in 590; of the Russians, 1 in 916; of the Germans, 1 in 949; of the Poles, 1 in 1033; of the Welsh, 1 in 1173; of the Belgians, 1 in 1195; of the Swiss, 1 in 1231; of the Hollanders, 1 in 1383; of the Scandinavians, 1 in 1539; and of the Austrians (including the Hungarians and the Bohemians), 1 in 1936. The Hungarians and the Bohemians make the best showing, in respect of crime, of any nationality; this is probably contrary to the popular opinion, which seems to have no better foundation than an unjust prejudice, founded in ignorance.(160 ¶ 3)

Now, in what class of foreigners in this country do the Anarchists and Socialists figure most largely. Certainly not among the Chinese or the Irish or the Cubans or the Spaniards or the Italians or the Australians or the Scotch or the French or the English or the Canadians. But these are the only foreigners except the Russians who make a poorer showing in point of criminality than the native Americans. To find in this country any considerable number of Anarchists and Socialists of foreign birth, we must go to the Russians, the Germans, the Poles, the Hungarians, and the Bohemians. The statistics show, however, that the Russians are almost as orderly as Americans, the Germans exactly as orderly, the Poles more orderly, and the Hungarians and Bohemians more than twice as orderly.(160 ¶ 4)

Moral: If the defenders of privilege desire to exclude from this country the opponents of privilege, they should see to it that Congress omits the taking of the eleventh census. For the eleventh census, if taken, will undoubtedly emphasize these two lessons of the tenth: first, that foreign immigration does not increase dishonesty and violence among us, but does increase the love of liberty; second, that the population of the world is gradually dividing into two classes,—Anarchists and criminals.(160 ¶ 5)