Skip to main content

tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  April 10, 2016 3:05pm-3:54pm EDT

3:05 pm
involved -- fortunate enough to be able to do was bring change to people's lives. but that is what we are doing at the fcc. we are in one of the great network revolutions of all time. watch the communicators, monday night on c-span two. >> georgetown university professor adam rothman teaches a class about the migration in the 19th century. he argues among the factors that contributed to the european exit is war and increase in population and decreasing the cost of transportation. he talks about how many migrants also moved for higher wages or to escape political pressure.
3:06 pm
his class is about 45 minutes. >> you're looking at footage of a vessel called the william myers landing at ellis island in 1903. this film was taken by edison studios and it gives us a window into a moment of mass migration in the industrial atlantic. let's just take in the scene.
3:07 pm
let's start with a question for you all. first of all, let me ask you what you saw in the video.
3:08 pm
what struck you most and let's just do hands. we will put you on the spot. what did you see in that video? sorry, film. >> mostly that they carried so little with them considering it was them starting a new life. >> it seemed like they were carrying very little baggage. they did not have much with them. they brought very little with them to their new lives. what else? >> a lot of them were families it is surprising number of young children, because when we were learning at the beginning, a lot of the colonies were started by young
3:09 pm
, independent males, whereas now, there is a lot of young children and people to start completely new lives in the country. >> very perceptive. you saw a lot of women and children. that is unusual because we know that mass migrations in much of history have largely been male-dominated. the presence of women and children in such large proportions really stands out. anything else? go ahead. >> it seemed like there was a steamboat and that would indicate they reach the point where you could go across the atlantic back and forth. the increase in technology. >> grade. you see in that film the implication of new kinds of technology.
3:10 pm
immigrants now coming to the americas in the steamships. beyond that, we can witness that through this new technology of film, which was a hallmark of the modern age. that you could see these kinds of moving pictures. i think the steam technology of the vessels and the film that is recording them are reminders that this is a new era of technological marvel. let me ask you this. how many of you have ancestors -- probably great grandparents, great, great grandparents who came through ellis island. a show of hands. ok. quite a few of you. that's impressive.
3:11 pm
not for no reason is ellis island the iconic sight of migration to the united states. perhaps the iconic sight of the age of mass migration in general. i want to say a few things about ellis island. the first thing i will say is ellis island was constructed fairly late in the era of mass migration. it's not opened until the 1890's, the end of the 19th century. and there have already been millions of european immigrants who came into the united states before the construction of ellis
3:12 pm
island. and ellis island is sometimes remembered as a kind of welcome mat for new immigrants to the united states. it's often paired with the statue of liberty. but ellis island was as much about screening out undesirable migrants as it was leading in the ones the country actually wanted. there was a fairly rigorous process of inspection to keep out people who carry disease or even political ideas that the country didn't want to admit. ellis island is really an ambivalent symbol of the attitude of the united states. toward the migrants that were flooding upon their shores. the second thing i will say about ellis island is that although ellis island is really a symbol of the immigration story in the united states, it's actually part of a much larger set of institutions and structures put in place across the americas, across the atlantic world to deal with the
3:13 pm
new phenomenon of mass free migration in the 19th and early 20th centuries. we often think of the united states as a nation of immigrants . we hear that over and over and it's partially true. i think it's worth remembering forced him all that before the united states was a nation of immigrants, it was in part a nation of slaves and slave owners, something we're wrestling with right now here at georgetown university with the renaming over the weekend of two buildings on campus named after leaders of georgetown involved in selling slaves to louisiana. that nation of immigrant stories should not obscure other aspects of our history that i think are equally significant and don't fold very well into that story. secondly, that the u.s. is not uniquely a nation of immigrants.
3:14 pm
many other countries in the americas were wrestling with a new population. they wrestled with new people, foreigners, coming to their countries and changing the demographic, social, cultural, political dimensions of the entire order. just to illustrate that, i want to give you this juxtaposition here. on the left is a photograph of ellis island in 1905. you can see the grand institution there. now on the right, its counterpart in argentina.
3:15 pm
it is a nice indigation this was a transatlantic phenomenon. it was not the only destination. i think as this class takes in a blade take perspective that has us look beyond the order of the united states to the broader r patterns. first of all, i would like to talk about that in general pattern. in particular, the klein of the forced migration of slaves across the ocean -- the decline of the forced migration of slaves across the ocean and the non-slave migrations in the 19
3:16 pm
century. and i'd want to talk about one specific phenomenon that should make us question the idea that mass migration in the 19th century was strictly made up of a free people. then we will look more closely at the dimension of european transatlantic migration and we will conclude by reflecting on the people who went back. that is our plan for today. let's start with the general pattern of the relationship between slaves and free migration in the 19 century atlantic world. before we do that, let me give you one more illustration of the pan-american migrations. this man was born in 1883 in a town in northern italy.
3:17 pm
he was the son of luigi and margarita. luigi was a mechanic, a labor leader, a socialist. he received a good technical education up to the age of 16, but in 1900, at the age of 17, he emigrated to buenos aries. that is where his godfather lived. he had a prior connection. he was one of 2 million italians who moved to argentina between 1876 and 1925. out of a grand total of 9 million italians that emigrated from italy during the same time. it's interesting to note that while he went to buenos aries,
3:18 pm
other members of his family went to places like leon and cuba and new jersey. everybody ends up in new jersey. and 1914, buenos aires was 50% foreign born happy people living there had come from other countries. 20% of the city was italian. one historian notes that buenos aries as a 1914 was the third largest city in the spanish-speaking world. a pretty large proportion of the people actually spoke italian. there, anesti married a woman named karina. you can see how those local ties
3:19 pm
are re-created all the way across the ocean. he started working as a laborer & became a draftsman and finally coming he became a railroad contractor. in 1912, his brother joined him. they never saw their parents again but they wrote to them frequently. here is a letter he wrote to his parents in 1910. do as parents, i am sending you a magazine from here which has pictures of a winery. it shows you the viticulture in this country. home, they did not have a lot of this. they always keep at home, some bottles from here, so, tradition. thatars old have worked in
3:20 pm
it has been seven years and have been buenos arias. i thankful for my job. check.osing with a in the near future i will make up the months lost in my arrangement with you. to thevery close celebration of 100 years of independence. there is a lot of work on all sides in the capital as well as in the farthest village from the center of the republic. and on certain occasions you have to pay the unskilled laborers the same price. this is the reason why i keep urging you to come and join me. we see however much the government of america advertises, people are too stupid and timid. they think they want to come and fight with the indians. but you can see at once you are in one of the most beautiful and
3:21 pm
modern cities. that itough to say takes at least an hour and a quarter by electric railcar. this is a wonderful letter. i think it's typical of the kind of boisterous letters that parents and families often receive from immigrants who had made it good on the other side of the atlantic. you see some of the reasons why immigrants left europe and went to the americas. the main reason seems to be economic. there are jobs in argentina that hey good wages wages higher than , people can get in italy. you also see aresti adjusting culturally to life in his new country. he is trying to maintain some of the traditions from back home like a drinking wine. your call you married a woman from his hometown.
3:22 pm
at the same time, he's not the same person he was when he left it really. he seems to identify with argentina, with its national history. he's celebrating this act of 100 years of argentinian independence even though for him, it may mean more work and more money than any genuine patriotic feeling. you also see him trying to distribute people back home from their notions that they know what life is like in the americas. he's tried to say argentina is not the primitive place you think it is. he points to buenos aris itself. he calls it the largest, most beautiful, modern city. it's that sense of the modern age of what historians
3:23 pm
sometimes call modernity. this gives us another window into that age of mass migration as it has matured in the early 20th century. so how does all this happen? what are the dynamics behind it? let's start with one important pattern, the decline in the forced migration of slaves and the rise of free migration. you can see from this chart of that by the middle of the 19th century, the migration of slaves across the atlantic ocean has
3:24 pm
fallen off. i think it's important to remember that at the beginning of the 19th century, the transatlantic slave trade was going full steam despite the pressure against it from global superpowers like britain. in 1820, that are more captive africans crossing the ocean than european immigrants. we have seen in this class, over the course of the first half of the 19 century, the slave trade gets depressed. by the end of the 1850's, there are virtually no captive africans crossing the atlantic as slaves. at the same time, free migration starts to take off. by the decade of the 1850's, you have nearly 3 million europeans coming across the ocean basically under conditions of voluntary consent.
3:25 pm
this is the basic pattern that leads us to think about mass migration in the 19th and early 20th centuries as a movement of free people. but that is not entirely the case. one way to think about that is to look past the movement of contrast laborers into post-emancipation society in the caribbean in the 19th century. let me again give you a few numbers. the dates on these are sort of varied. between the 1830's and the 1860's, roughly 60,000 contract laborers are imported from west africa into the caribbean, principally the french colonies.
3:26 pm
a larger number, almost 150,000 of chinese contract laborers, are transported to the caribbean between the late 1840's and the mid-1880's. most of these workers end up in cuba. the largest proportion of contract laborers to end up in the caribbean come from india. or than half a million between the 1830's and the first decade of the 20th century. many of those indian migrants end up in the british caribbean, places like jamaica and trinidad. here's a photograph taken in jamaica in 1880. the caption describes this as a scene of indentured indian laborers in 1880. there is visual evidence of that new population of indians in the
3:27 pm
caribbean. what were the causes of this contract labor? what kind of migration was this? you have to understand that as abolition and emancipation gained steam, planters and plantation societies like the caribbean became very anxious about the fate of production in the wake of abolition. once and no longer could compel enslaved people to work via the whip or the workouts, they workhouse, they despaired of the possibility to extract a labor from them. in the wake of emancipation, many former slaves do choose no longer to work on the plantations they have labored for generations but instead try
3:28 pm
to set them selves up as independent proprietors, farmers, trying to work for themselves. this also goes for planters and places like brazil and the southern united states. many of them thought they might be able to revive agricultural production by importing indentured workers from asia and africa. the french experience with basically purchasing slaves in west africa, renaming them apprentices, and transporting them to the caribbean. the spanish government in cuba does the same thing with chinese workers, bringing them over to
3:29 pm
work on sugar plantations. british government recruited indian laborers to work as contract laborers in jamaica and trinidad. these contract labor migrations are fueled by a demand for labor in the wake of emancipation. there's more to it than that. many of these contract labor migration schemes were designed to create a kind of competition with newly emancipated people. the hope on the part of these planters and policymakers was the introduction of these new, industrious workers would both
3:30 pm
discipline former slaves and provide a model of industry they could then emulate. it didn't quite work like that but that was the idea. of course, bringing in large masses of contract workers created new problems. the first problem was that many of these contract laborers did not want to be exploited in the way that sugar planters wanted to exploit them. the introduction of contact laborers only introduced new conflict over labor and sugar plantation societies. a second dimension to the problem of contract labor was that you have to remember these labor migrations are taking place in the age of abolition and emancipation. they were forms of the most
3:31 pm
brutal and explicit forms of color version and exploitation -- coercion and exploitation. african slavery in the caribbean -- they also kept a close eye on these new contract labor migrations to make sure they were not in fact the revival of slavery under a view and disguised name. periodic scandals emerged in the french and british empires over the treatment of chinese and indian workers. watchdog groups that were highlighting and exposing the brutality and arch conditions that contract workers faced. one -- a couple of the things they focus on was first of all, the condition of passage. this was a very long trip from china or india to the caribbean.
3:32 pm
it could take nearly half a year. some critics argued that the contract labor trade resembled in mortality rates the rate of the transatlantic slavery. they didn't want to see a new slave trade emerging under the guise of contract labor. at the same time, anti-slavery critics worried that these laborers were actually being co-worst -- coerced or falsely seduced to sunning their laws away. -- flaming their lives away. this was the perennial fear of indentured servitude. did the people really know what they were getting into? were the planters on the other end of the deal abiding by their contracts to protect the safety and well-being of the workers? were these contract laborers truly voluntary? or was it just a disguise?
3:33 pm
in this solution to the problem of emancipation just creates its own problems. the final point i will say about these contract labor migrations is they are a reminder that in the 19th century, the world becomes globalized in a new and intense way. we have not really seen the connections between the atlantic world and the pacific world. since the beginning of the semester. but here, it's interesting to think that here it's east indians being transported to the west indies that were mistakenly named after the indies hundreds of years earlier by columbus, who was basically lost.
3:34 pm
this is the return of asia into caribbean history. by and large, and from a comparative perspective, the numbers of contract laborers were transported to the caribbean pales in comparison to the ever-increasing numbers of pre-migrants who are coming from europe. -- free migrants who are coming from europe. let's turn our attention to that far greater migration. a few more numbers for you. here is a chart that shows the increasing wave of european migrants across the ocean in the 19th and early 20th century. you can see by the first decade
3:35 pm
of the 20th century, migrants are coming in numbers that door the migrations of earlier decades and centuries. just in the first decade of the 1900s, as many free europeans crossed the atlantic ocean as enslaved africans did over the course of the transatlantic slave trade. the magnitude, the scale of migration is beginning dwarf everything that has come before it. the scale creates a massive demographic shift in the americas. i will also say that the first decade of the 20th century is probably the decade with the most people on the move in all of human history. even today's migrations aren't as great as that of the early 20th century.
3:36 pm
where did all of these migrants go? you can see that the major destination for european migrants was the united states. about a little over 60% of all european migrants came to the united states and the vast majority of them passed through new york, which was the great magnet for european migrations. they didn't all stay in new york but most of them passed through new york. but u.s. historians tend to focus exclusively on that slice of the pie. we need to look beyond the u.s. and recognize migrants want to other places as well.
3:37 pm
you can see from this pie chart that another 6.5 million ended up in argentina. 5 million ended up in canada although to be fair, a lot of those who went to canada then migrated once again south to the united states. 4 million to brazil. more than one million to cuba. another 1.5 million to other places in the atlantic world. european immigrants are going all over the americas, not just to the united states. you saw that from the story. i will also say that as a proportion of the total population of the new host countries, immigration actually was a bigger factor in places
3:38 pm
like argentina, canada, brazil than it was in the united states. even know there are fewer numbers of migrants coming into the u.s., the u.s. is already a bigger country so those migrants are having just as big an effect on their host societies. where are the europeans coming from? the pattern shifts across the 19th century. for the first half of the 19th century, a bolt of the migrants are coming from the british isle and from germany. in the second half of the 19th century, the origins of the migrants start to shift to the east and to the south. in the late 19th century, you get more and more migrants from italy, germany, and eastern europe. there is a shifting source of free people. what is behind this massive migration to the new world that built up steam in the 19th century?
3:39 pm
the first cause is population growth in europe. europe breaks out of these limits on population largely because of the capitalist transformation of agriculture, which produces more and more food produced by fewer and fewer people. agriculture can sustain a larger population. the population in europe stands around 109 million people in 1800. by 1900, that has left up to 1400 million and that is even
3:40 pm
with 50 million people leaving. this is more people in europe and they have to find someplace to go. this migration is intimately linked, intricately linked to industrial development in europe, the rise of industrial capitalism. one of the major factors going into mass migration is improvement in transportation. we have already talked about seeing travel across the ocean and we know that whereas in the 18th century, it might take a month to cross the atlantic. in the late 19th century, it takes only a week. the speed of travel, the trouble is accelerated and by the same token, the cost comes down to be cheaper to travel long distances. that is not just to the transatlantic movement, it's also a movement within europe and within the americas. it becomes easier and cheaper for people in the interior of
3:41 pm
europe to make their way supports -- two ports where they can travel across the ocean. once they get to a port of new york, it becomes easier and cheaper to hop on a railroad and end up somewhere in the western portion of the continent. the lower transaction cost of movement is i think an enormous factor in accelerating people around the world. so people moved for higher wages. they moved for economic opportunity being generated by this new industrial capitalist border in the americas. they also moved to a state, political, social pressure. the revolutions in europe in 1848 pushed political radicals across the ocean. many of them ending up in st. louis and chicago. the mass migration of eastern
3:42 pm
european jews beginning in the late 19 century was sparked in part by a series of systematic violence targeting jewish communities in the wake of the assassination of desire -- the czar in 1881. millions of jews across the atlantic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. finally, i think it's important to recognize not just economic opportunity, not just things like religious freedom in the united states, but also the advice that people were getting from their friends and family who were already on the other side of the atlantic.
3:43 pm
so go back to the letter. if not just improvement and human movement but the acceleration of communication, the ability of people to communicate across the atlantic, that facilitated the movement of people. how many letters home from the americas made it to friends and families in europe, urging them and enticing them to cross the atlantic? among the factors pushing people out of europe and drawing them toward the americas. what happened to immigrants? once they got to the americas? it's incredibly hard to capture the tremendous diversity of experiences in a short lecture like this so that's why want to emphasize the diversity of experiences. many new migrants ended up as urban dwellers in places like new york and buenos aires, forging local communities in a way that tried to re-create the ties of their homeland in a new and modern world, taking advantage of the economic
3:44 pm
opportunity. other immigrants moved to the countryside. benefiting from government policies to distribute land to new immigrants. the homestead act in the united states or policies in brazil and argentina to donate land to colonies of people that could then become agriculturalists or sheep farmers. it's important to recognize that this age of mass migration, especially in the late 19th century, was also an era of tremendous frontier expansion. in north america as well as south america, this is the era when the u.s. army is finally corralling the plains indians
3:45 pm
and putting them on reservations. similar things are happening in south america and argentina where the government is waging genocide war on indians on the frontier. in both cases, a vast new stretches of land are cleared of their old inhabitants in favor of new immigrants. this is conscious policy to promote economic development and i think the modernization of society as well. all of these things are connected. immigrants faced a difficult time transitioning to their new society so they build up resources for themselves to try to ease that transition. the late 19th and early 20th century is an age before social democracy, before the provision of massive welfare institutions
3:46 pm
by the government to the needy. in the 19th century, people have to organize to help themselves and they do through things like mutual aid societies, collectives of people who do things like provide for a decent burial for people who died. people organized ritual -- mutual aid societies to help themselves. immigrants organized their own newspapers so they could communicate with each other in their own languages, disparate -- to spread news about where they had come from and about where they now were. perhaps the most important vehicle of cultural assimilation were schools throughout the americas, schools with a rising generation of children being assimilated into the cultural patterns of their host countries, learn english, learn
3:47 pm
spanish if they want to -- went to argentina. it's important to understand the creativity, the social energy immigrants put into adjusting to life in their new society, trying to balance the traditions of the old world with the customs of the new. it was an astonishingly successful project and i think we today would do well to remember some of that history. i want to conclude on a different kind of point because we tend to focus on the people who stay. one of the features of the age of mass migration was that a lot of people went back. approximately 35% of all immigrants to the united states in the 19th century returned to their countries of origin.
3:48 pm
italians, for instance, who harvested wheat in argentina in the winter and crops in italy in the summer, part of a seasonal labor migration, became known as birds of passage. almost half of all italians who arrived in argentina between 1857 and 1924 returned to italy. we shouldn't just think of migration in the 19th and early 20th centuries as a one-way street. it was a two way street. people going and forth across the ocean. facilitated by improvements in transportation and adjusting to cycles of economic opportunity. i want to conclude with one example of such a family, a figure who moved back and forth across the atlantic ocean.
3:49 pm
this is the manifest of a steamship called the water dam that sailed from the port of -- rotterdam in 1915, arriving in new york city october 31, 1915. i want to direct your attention to this family here. they are called the lever winces berwiz's. julius, rosa, aaron, edna, and max, mary, and herman. you will notice that some of the family are actually naturally u.s. citizens. these are people who were actually born in what is today romania. they have come to the united states a decade before, more
3:50 pm
than a decade before, and settled in new jersey where they had become citizens. they had children. a couple of the children like max were natural born citizens of the united states. at some point around 1908, the liebowitz's moved back to romania because julius did not like it in new jersey. can you imagine? [laughter] they went back over the objections of his daughters who have found good work in the united states. julius was not a very well off man. he worked as a woodcutter in romania but in 1915 as conditions worsened in europe, they decided it was time to return to the united states. so they do, landing in new york in 1915. so this is a great example of a family that moves back and
3:51 pm
forth. it's an interesting example because this is actually a jewish family and we tend to take think of jewish migrants as one way migrants. there is a presumption that because they were largely fleeing from religious persecution, that they didn't go back. this is a counterexample. this is a family that did go back, but when conditions worsened before world war i, they decided to return to the united states and rebuild their lives there. it's a good thing they did because murray liebowitz actually thrived upon return. he was born in 1903, 12 years old when he returned to the united states. here's a picture of him in 1929. he had gone to school in newark, new jersey. he exhibited a talent for
3:52 pm
drawing and draftsmanship so he decided to go into architecture and become one of these new middle-class professionals in the united states. he was able to secure a place in the architecture school at columbia and in 1929 -- he would have been 26, i think. in 1929 he spent a year abroad in france where he learned to draw in the european-style. so he was a transatlantic migrant. after his year in france, he returned to the u.s. yet again only to suffer through the great depression. you might ask how is it i know all of this about murray liebowitz?
3:53 pm
he is just not an academic figure for this class, he is actually my grandfather. so we will stop there and we will talk about the irish on thursday. ♪ >> i am a history buff. i do enjoy seeing the fabric of our country, and how they work, and how they are made. >> fantastic shows. >> that is something i would really enjoy. tv, it givesistory you that perspective. -- i am apan fan c-span fan. >>


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on