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For the fourth time in as many years, Harvard defeated Princeton in debate. The contest last evening was on the question: "Resolved, That the present restrictions on immigration into the United States are insufficient." The Harvard speakers supported the affirmative and Princeton the negative. The judges were out only three minutes and were unanimous in their verdict.
Parke's clear-cut and deliberate arguments were the most convincing of those offered by the Harvard men. The best speech as to form was made by S. B. Rosenthal '98 in his opening arguments for Harvard. For Princeton the most effective speaker was R. D. Dripps, whose delivery was free from the indirect and rather too assertive mannerisms of the other two.
The judges were President E. H. Capen of Tufts College, Professor George Harris, D. D., of Andover, and Mr. W. S. Page of the Atlantic Monthly. Professor J. M. Pierce presided and extended a cordial welcome to the visiting speakers at the opening of the debate.
The attendance was lamentably small, perhaps due to the lateness of the season, but the small number of students present was inexcusable.
F. O. White '99, in opening for Harvard, disclaimed any intention to argue against all immigration. The present laws, he said, are inadequate in that they do not exclude those whom they aim to exclude, and because they contain no provision for the exclusion of certain other undesirable immigrants. In the laws as they stand there is practically nothing to prevent idiots, insane persons, paupers and criminals from coming to this country by way of Canada. But even if these could be excluded, there are reasons why further restrictions should be imposed. In the first place, while the supply of public lands to accommodate the new arrivals has decreased, the number of immigrants has vastly increased since 1820. The cheapening of transportation has made it possible for almost any one to come to this country. At the same time the character of this immigration has deteriorated. At the present time over one-half of the immigrants come from those races of southeastern Europe, which assimilate least readily with the Anglo-Saxon race. It by no means follows because a large per cent. of the immigration of the past has been assimilated with the native population that all of the immigration of today, of a different size and of a decidedly inferior quality, will be assimilated in the future.
N. S. Reeves opened for Princeton. He stated at the outset that Princeton would insist that this debate was over a question of fact, and that no mere assertions or theories would go unchallenged. Our present immigration restrictions, according to him, are founded upon an economic basis. This is rightly so. If a man comes to this country with an ability and a willingness to work, we can make no indictment against him. We have great undeveloped rescurces in this country that we must depend upon immigrants to develop. Our present restrictions are keeping out the most undesirable of possible immigrants. Since the recently enacted restrictions were put into effect there has been a marked falling off in the amount of immigration. The number of those deported has constantly increased, while the actual number of immigrants has decreased, showing that the previous knowledge of our severe restrictions has a deterring influence upon possible immigrants.
R. T. Parke '98, the second speaker for Harvard, said in part; The eensus of 1890 shows that a large part of the recent immigration from Southern Europe, which is mostly illiterate, lacking in funds, and unskilled, settles near the Atlantic seaboard, and congests unduly in our cities. According to the great slum report, from 77 to 95 per cent of the slum population of our great cities is foreign. From three to seventy times as many of the foreigners in the slums are, however, from Southern as from Northern Europe.
The padrone and sweating systems, which can be traced primarily to the influx of too many needy and incompetent Southern European immigrants are among the serious social evils, brought about by this congestive tendency. The growth of the padrone system, founded upon the dependence, not the indepennence, of the individual is far too threatening to the spirit of our institutions to be endured. In the sweating system we trace the relation of cause and effect between the great and increasing overflow of incompetent and undesirable immigration from Southeastern Europe and the rise and extension of our serious evils. The slums, the padrone system and the sweating system are typical of the problems fronting us in the cities. The evils which Southern European immigration is bringing outside of the cities are typified by the mining conditions in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The remainder of his argument was devoted to giving specific examples of these evils and their tendency to lower social and political conditions.
R. D. Dripps was the second speaker for Princeton. He took up the question of the desirability of the present tide of immigration from Southern Europe. It is claimed that these immigrants are so extremely undesirable that something should be done to keep them out, even if we do not strike at any other class. As a matter of fact, however, these people are desirable. It is claimed that they drift to the almshouses and slums. From the actual statistics that have been gathered, however, it is seen that the Italians and the Hungarians do not constitute such an alarming proportion of our slum population as has been claimed. The way to meet the evils of the slum population is not by excluding the people who would go to them, but by cleansing those places and insisting upon such sanitary regulations as will preclude the spread of disease. The slums furnish us with a class of very valuable laborers, and an inmate of a slum is not per se undesirable. The majority of the immigrants that have come to this country in the past have been poor, but they have become easily assimilated to American conditions of life and habit and have become good citizens. We should not, therefore, exclude further those who are coming now.
S. B. Rosenthal '98, the last Harvard speaker, took up and carefully considered the evils threatening our republican institutions from the present influx of ignorant and vicious foreigners. It is more important, said he, that we should protect these institutions than that we should seek to benefit the ill-conditioned and unfortunate people of Europe. Whereas, for the first fifty or sixty years after the adoption of the Constitution, our population was augmented almost entirely by people who had had experience in self-government, today the additions come from countries where the people are degraded and the democratic idea hardly exists. It is unnatural to suppose that evolution to a bigher type can take place for many years to come. The speaker then went on to show many specific evils that actualty exist, especially in the congested portions of our large cities and in mining camps as a direct result of the influx of these illiterate people. They have learned to distrust all government and to take no interest in political affairs. When they do vote they do so in a way debasing to American citizenship. They become fraudulently naturalized and give their votes to the party offering the highest bribe.
In closing, Rosenthal said that to remedy the evils which exist the affirmative offered several plans, any one of which would be practical. An educational test, a capitation tax, or the requirement that the immigrant be a skilled laborer, would decrease the number of undesirable immigrants who come to the United States.
(Continued on fifth page.)
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