Page images
PDF
EPUB

commenced to pick up a little dite, – felt, and as fur as takin' help from outter'ble gradual like, at fust, you know, side was concerned, why she never would but still makin' out to stem the tide with hearken to it for a secont's time. jest a grain or so to spare, till finally all "'T wa'n't only yesterday she up and them three old doctors had to give in he says to me she 'most knowed God was on the mendin' hand, and no gitting A'mighty would hold it ag'in her for 'round it, but every soul here to this Cove what come of heavin' the project after that was anyways knowin' to the matter Bobby Henderson that time; but I told allowed that Susy Mary May was all the her I could n't noways see as there was one that saved Bobby Henderson's life the least mite of call to look at it like that time. Anyways soon's ever he got that. I done my very dingdest to soothe so's to be up and 'round the least little her down like, for the pore

creatur' was mite, she jest claimed him for hern, commencing to take on consid'ble bad,

, huffs, horns, and hide, and nothin' that is, for her, you know. would n't do but that the pair of 'em Finally, I jest up and says to her like should turn to and git married right this: 'Susy Mary May,' 's I, ‘you wa’n't away off. I rec'lect the Sunday that nothin'only a little young gal the time you Susy Mary appeared bride down to the took and hove that plague-gone project, Corner meetin'-house here happened to and for the life of me I can't see as you fall on the very day she was twenty year

was so ter'ble weeked for never once old, too.

realizin' the resk there was in them kind "Bobby he always hung to it like a of things, bein' as nobody never took the good one that he had n't no business to trouble to post ye up in regards to 'em. ever once think of such a thing as gittin' But there!''s I, 'even s'posin' you done married, being as he was all crippled-up wrong that time, why Godfrey mighty! so awful bad; but Lord love ye! Susy jest only look at what you done since, Mary was sot as the hills in regards to that's what always makes out to git me, that 'ere. She give it out there to home only once take and look at what you right up and down, that unlessn she could done since! Why, quick's ever you seen marry Bob Henderson right away, so's jest how bad Bobby was disenabled that to do for him all the rest-part of his life, time, you turned to right away and give same's she has, she'd take and heave him your best tow-line astern, and fair herself chock offn the w'arft the fust or foul, blow high and blow low, you ’ve thing ever she done, and she'd kep’ her stood by him ever since in proper good word too, sure's ever the sun riz.

shape, - there's no two ways about that “Finally our folks come to see plain part of it. The pair of ye,' 's I, ‘have enough they'd full better jest hands-off, made a master long, hard drag of it in and give the gal all the slack line she comp’ny for goin' on fifty years' time wanted in the whole business. Doin' for now, and seems's though you won't never Bobby, and tendin' out on him same's if let go of him till you see him all safe to he was a baby like, was all the comfort anchor where nary wind that blows can't the creatur' could take them days, and do him no hurt. Now,' 's I, 'come to that's all ever she has got out of it since, take it atop of all that, it don't look to doctor. Of course Bob he's been so's to me anyways likely that the Old Scholar earn a dollar by spells, you know, and up there ever once cal’lates to take and always was ter’ble anxious to do what blame that project onto you any great, little he could, but same time it always not at this day o' the world. That 'ere,' looked a good deal to me as though Susy 's I, ‘right on the face of it, don't look Mary May never wanted he should lift à

to me noways raytionable like.' - What hand. Seems's though the more she done do you cal'late yourself, doctor; be I so herself all soul alone, the better off she very fur out the way?"

THE PROTECTION OF IMMIGRANT WOMEN

BY FRANCES A. KELLOR

In a preceding article I attempted to from friends or relatives in their first days show the growing economic and social of wonder in the new city, when they are value of immigrant women, and that they fired with the enthusiasm and vitality of are not always to be found in domestic the new life. The sweat shop, the teneservice. There are two great risks in- ment, the low wages, and hundreds of curred by the immigrant who starts from ways of exploitation have not yet been her native shore. First, can she reach her learned. To what extent does our governhome and place of labor in this coun- ment undertake to see that this enthusiastry in safety ? Second, has she a pros- tic immigrant who writes others to come pect of fair living and working condi- has correct views and information to send tions after arrival ? I shall attempt here them? Once released from Ellis Island, to answer the first question by showing its chief interest is to deport her if some of the risks incident to the journey she subsequently violates the immigration to, and settlement in this country, and law. Both state and nation permit her to by indicating especial protection that is get information and experience as best needed.

she can. Are the laws she needs to know, The dangers for which America is re- opportunities for labor, wages, directions sponsible begin on the other side. What in case of need, rights, educational opporseems a simple journey may be filled with tunities and requirements for citizenship hardships. Considering the many dis- printed in concise form and placed in her advantages and dangers, it is remarkable hands in a language she can understand? how many come through safely and be- By no means. What is to counteract the come honest hard-working women, and information given by employment agents, law-abiding citizens. The loyalty and “notary publics," steamship ticket agents, self-sacrifice among those already here and some of the political leaders among who help them to come are almost incred- “her own people,” who see in increased ible unless really witnessed. Especially numbers an increased profit to themin view of the little help that is given by selves? When resident immigrants are Americans, it is a remarkable tribute to left so utterly in such hands for their human character that so many win out ideas of American life and laws, they are in the hard struggle. While Americans frequently made the unsuspecting tools are willing to provide labor, and to sup- of employment agents and unauthorized port philanthropies which help the im- peddlers of steamship tickets, and others migrant in time of distress, there are who urge that friends and relatives be many times when no friendly hand is brought over, and who advance or help held out except that of the ignorant or them borrow the money to send, but inexperienced immigrant who has just assume no responsibility after arrival. arrived or who is trying to make his Sometimes the employment agent offers own way among strangers and new con- honest work, sometimes not. The young ditions.

procurer for dens of immorality lives in Let us follow the journey from Ant- the crowded tenements, and he too urges werp to New York and see what these that she come, and offers to marry her typical dangers are, and how they may be or to find her work. These are but illusavoided. First come enthusiastic letters trations of the way in which well-meaning persons here play into the hands of are infested with small unauthorized those who wish to exploit the immigrant banker-steamship-ticket brokers, who are girl. Thus her future is sold or heavily allowed to take the deposits of immimortgaged even before she starts. grants without giving a bond or having

But she does not always wait for such any financial responsibility. Her little letters from her friends and relatives. sum has fallen into the hands of such a Some enterprising broker gets her name banker, and he has not sent the money, and address and sends her one of the though he has repeatedly told the sender thousands of copies of papers printed in that he has done so. After several such this country in her language, which con- transactions, he moves to another part of tains a romantic tale of the wages, liberty, the city, assumes a new name, and proand good times in America, and how the ceeds to rob others. Why does not the imyoung people find prosperous husbands migrant select one of the hundreds of reand live in plenty. It is not dry reading; liable bankers? Why does not some one to her it is a live thrilling tale, and it tells inform her who they are ? Why does not only what she can get, not what she must the state protect her from robbery? Why give, or what the requirements are. does not the immigrant who sends the

Once here, one of the great difficulties money prosecute the banker for so simple is that she has started on misleading in- a fraud ? With his witness in Russia or formation. She has false ideas of free- Hungary, how can he prove that the dom, wages, prosperity, and good times,

money was not sent and lost? Can he and discontent begins. Is the newspaper afford the loss of several days' work, to romance a true picture? Can she get all say nothing of lawyer's fees and carthat is promised ? It is evident that the fares, in order to recover thirty dollars or first step in protection must begin in forty dollars, often representing his entire America and must give honest informa- savings, which he has sent to the waiting tion about America. Our immigration law is explicit in But

suppose

he is cautious and thinks prohibiting steamship agents from adver- it safer to see the ticket and send it himtising or stimulating emigration abroad, self. The same banker is quite willing to but says nothing as to the many publi- accommodate him, and if he has not cations printed here in foreign languages enough money, offers him a ticket on the and sent abroad. It is said that some of installment plan. Sometimes, when the the steamship companies back these pa- immigrant here has no intention of sendpers by expending huge sums in circulat- ing for friends, these peddlers pursue ing them abroad. Their influence is wide, him in his home and place of business for in every community where one is sent with offers of tickets on such easy payit goes from family to family. Does the ments that he buys them. The installgovernment know the number of such ment ticket is sold for from five to publications, what they contain, and in fifteen dollars above the market rate to whose interest they are published ? Is it cover the risk, although most immigrants in no wise interested in the kind of in- are required to give a guarantee and are formation with which its future citizens sometimes charged interest on the unpaid start?

balance ! On a ticket costing thirtyThe immigrant girl is now stirred by three dollars, he pays ten dollars down the letters and stories to the point of leav- and one to two dollars per week, with the ing. But she has not enough money. So express understanding that the girl on that is borrowed in America and en- the other side is to have the ticket at once. trusted to a “banker.” But the promised Fully one-third of the prepaid third-class sum may fail to arrive. What has hap- tickets are sold to immigrants in Amerpened ? Just this. In America, the cities ican cities on the installment plan. But

girl ?

this “ticket” is only an order it men- the same to my sister, but while waiting tions no steamship line and in many cases in Antwerp for the ticket to come to New is not even signed by the broker who sells York, she was arrested for begging, and it. It is a bogus piece of paper until the when the second advice or order arrived, broker sends its price to his coöperating the police told her that it was not good. foreign office. In the mean time, the girl The said sister was compelled to stay in has received this bogus order, sold out prison for several days, and after she was everything, leaves her home and arrives released she again begged and nearly in Antwerp ready to sail. She goes to the starved for eight months until I sent her ticket office and is told that her "ticket is another ticket to come to New York. She no good” as no money has been received. is in New York at the present time. As The foreign police know these tickets so soon as I learned that the second order or well that they often tell the immigrants advice was no good, I went to the office of before they reach the office that they have the company, but found the office closed, been duped. Of course the order is no and I have never been able to find them, good! Some of these unauthorized, ir- nor have I been able to have refunded the responsible agents sell as many as one money which I paid to them for the first hundred tickets a week. They have no order or advice, nor the additional ten capital. How can they send over $3300 dollars which I gave for the second order, for tickets when they have received only nor have I ever been able to receive the $1000 on installment?

steamship ticket for passage from AntImagine the girl's plight with all ties

werp to New York.” cut behind her, with not enough money

The evils of such frauds are two-fold. to sail or to return. Stranded, she must They imperil the girl's morality and entire endure the long delay of writing to her future. There are many cases where local friends here, and of awaiting a reply from charities have had to send the girls back this side. The purchaser is put off from to Russia or Hungary from Antwerp, betime to time until the agent disappears. cause there was no more money; or where Here is one story of what happens in the families have been separated, there being mean time and is a typical hardship: – enough money to bring only part of them

“I bought a ticket for passage from over. Second, they lower the standard of Antwerp to New York for the sum of for- living of the immigrants here, who save ty-five dollars, by paying ten dollars down and sacrifice only to be robbed. One man and two dollars each week thereafter un- slaved for three years and nearly starved til the full sum of forty-five dollars was himself to save $160 to bring over his paid. At the time I paid the ten dollars children, and lost it through such an down, I received an advice or order which agent. The family is still separated. In I sent to my sister in Russia, who, imme- the past three years, it is estimated that diately upon the receipt of same, started over $500,000 has been wasted through for Antwerp, and when she presented the dishonest agents in New York city alone, said advice or order she was told the and

thousands of dollars of losses same was no good, and that it would not are never reported. And these sums vary be honored. My sister was stranded in from the servant girl's savings of two Antwerp and was obliged to beg. As soon dollars a week sent to a friend to come as I learned about the above-mentioned over on, to $500 — the savings of years. facts, I went to the company, and they The protection offered is meagre. Mastold me that I must pay an additional ten sachusetts has a law requiring a fifteen dollars to have the original advice or thousand dollar bond of bankers who order given to me stopped, and for them sell steamship tickets, but no steamto give another order or advice. I did re- ship ticket regulations. New York, as ceive the second order or advice and sent the result of investigations made by the

many

[ocr errors]

a

a

Research Department of the Woman's If it is a male relative, even a brother, he Municipal League and Welfare Com- must be accompanied by his wife if marmittee of the National Civic Federation, ried, or give satisfactory assurance that has two laws which went into effect she is to live with a woman, before she is September 1, 1907. One provides for a released. If it is her intended husband fifteen thousand dollar bond for bank- who claims her, the commissioner may ers, and the other prohibits the sale of require that they be married there. unauthorized tickets not binding on the Where the girl has no relatives or steamship companies. Up to this time friends, the missionaries representing the no adequate protection whatever had various churches and immigrant sociebeen afforded the immigrant. The other ties take her in charge, house her, find ports and the great industrial cities like her work, and take a friendly interest in Pittsburg and Chicago, where large num- her. If they did not she would frequently bers of tickets are sold, have no regula- have to make the long journey back. tions and there is no federal protection. This is a splendid, necessary work, effi

The immigrant, if she can meet these ciently organized at Ellis Island, and havhardships or escape them, is now safely ing the sympathetic interest of Commisaboard ship. Has our government any sioner Watchorn. But it is by no means matrons or inspectors who make it im- so effective and systematic at all of the possible for the procurer, who wishes to other ports, where there are fewer immitravel steerage or second cabin for the grants, but where the individual dangers purpose of meeting her, to accomplish are also great. It is not a system of prohis purpose ? Is she safeguarded so care- tection equally applicable to all ports, fully that members of the ship's crew and fostered by the government, but decannot mislead her ? There is so little pends entirely on the amount of interest supervision that evilly disposed persons and support that each nationality can find it profitable to make her acquaint- obtain from its own, or from religious ance in the steerage. Their knowledge organizations. Therefore some immiof her home and language, combined with grants are better protected than others. their wonderful stories of America, ce- When no precautions are

taken on ment the friendship, and when she lands, board ships, these well-meaning immiher new-found friend is her adviser. The grant homes may find their work useconditions on shipboard are inexcusably less. I have in mind four girls who were negligent, and the government has long instructed to go to an immigrant home, been urged to provide matrons and in- accept positions, and then send their adspectors. It is unfair and unreasonable dress to the young procurer who induced to expect the immigrant girl traveling them to come here. This they did. under such conditions to resist the evil But many do not stop in New York of a great city, so long as the main idea and so do not come under this good influof the government is not to protect but ence. Suppose the girl has a through to deport. It is hard to find a reason for ticket to Chicago. The responsibility of such criminal negligence when so simple the government ends when she is safely a method can be tried, and when the on the train, and the railway is not held government has so ample a fund, made responsible for her safe arrival. Suppose up of the head-tax paid by the immi- she loses her address, or the street numgrants for the privilege of coming here. ber is wrong, or her friends fail to meet

Once at Ellis Island, the greatest care her, or have moved, or any one of fifty is taken to protect her. She can be re- things that

may break the connection has leased only when the government is sat happened ? Suppose a procurer meets isfied that the persons who claim her are her on the train (as they do) and she is really the ones to whom she is coming. induced to go with him? Her friends

« PreviousContinue »