In order that this money may reach States where it is most needed, the following provision is contained in the bill:

“Said sum shall be apportioned to the States in the proportions which their respective illiterate population fourteen years of age and over, not including foreign-born illiterates, bear to such total illiterate population of the United States." (Ibid., sec. 7.)

At the same time the initiative of the States is completely protected in the following provision:

“All funds apportioned to a State for the removal of illiteracy shall be distributed and administered in accordance with the laws of said State in like manner as the funds provided by State and local authorities for the same purpose, and the State and local authorities of said State shall determine the courses of study, plans, and methods for carrying out the purposes of this section.” (Ibid., sec. 7.)

Thus, it is seen that the bill provides a definite step in the direction of removing illiteracy, but that it at the same time limits the authority of the Federal Government to that which may be exercised through the persuasive influence of facts and suggestions emanating from a source of recognized leadership.


Let us examine the facts concerning the number of foreign-born residents in the United States. According to the 1920 census, as the accompanying table shows, there were 13,920,692 foreign-born residents in the United States.

Number of foreign-born residents in the United States 1870..

5, 567, 229 1880.

6, 679, 943 1890

9, 249, 960 1900.

10, 341, 276 1910.

13, 515, 886 1920.

13, 920, 692 Foreign-born population increasing:- The number of foreign born has been steadily increasing with each succeeding decade; between 1910 and 1920 there was an increase amounting to 404,806. This was in spite of the fact that the war very decidedly cut down the number of alien immigrants admitted to the country during this decade, as the table below shows.

Number of alien immigrants admitted yearly 1913.

1, 197, 892 1914

1, 218, 480 1915.

326, 700 1916.

298, 826 1917

295, 403 1918

110, 618 1919

141, 132 1920

430, 001 1921.

805, 228 1922

309, 556 Equally important with the increase in numbers is the change in the character of the immigrants who have been entering our country. About 1880 the character of immigrants changed in a very remarkable manner. Immigration from the north and west of Europe began declining abruptly and was replaced by an inflow of alien peoples from the south and east of Europe. This flow of people from southern Europe soon developed into a great stream.

Practically no Italians came to us before 1870, whereas in the five-year period beginning 1906, 1,186,000 arrived from that country alone.14 In the decade between 1900 and 1910

there was a loss of 275,911 in the number of people coming from northwestern Europe, and an increase of 3,215,689 from southern and eastern Europe.

New type of immigrant magnifies problem. This enormous influx from countries in which little education exists and in which social and political ideals are so radically different from our own, gives a new significance to the ever-increasing number of aliens in our midst. The seriousness of the double problem created

14 See Cubberley, Public Education in the United States, p. 337.



both by the increase in numbers and the change in character of our immigrants has been recognized by Congress, which in May, 1921, passed “An act to limit immigration of aliens into the United States.” This act is described in the 1921 annual report of the Commissioner General of Immigration as “the first strictly immigration law which provides for actual limiting the number of aliens admitted to the United States.” This act brings with it a radical departure from our former immigration policy, and yet it still allows 356,000 immigrants to enter our country each year, 153,000 of which may come from southern and eastern Europe. If this act had come 20 years ago, the country would not face the problem presented by the great mass of unassimilated southern and eastern European aliens within our borders at the present time. The door has been closed too late, however, and millions of these people are already with us, and most of them are here to stay.

The percentage of illiteracy among the foreign born is high, and the number of foreign-born illiterates within our borders has been rapidly increasing, as the accompanying table shows.

Number of illiterate foreign born in the United States 1900.

1, 287, 135 1910

1, 650, 361 1920.

1, 763, 740 In 1920 there were 1,500,000 people over 10 years of age in the country who were unable to speak English. The number of illiterates and non-Englishspeaking aliens, however, is only a partial measure of the need for Americanization. One may be able to speak English sufficiently to pass the census enumerator, and yet not have that degree of literacy which means ability to comprehend the fundamental principles of our Government. To understand and speak English is but a step in making it possible for the immigrant to participate in the conduct of our national affairs.

Many native born need Americanization. - Nor is the need for Americanization limited to the foreign born. The war brought home for the first time to the average American citizen the fact that foreign settlements, described as "alien islands, exist in various parts of our country. They are found both in the urban and rural sections. The people are often wholly out of sympathy with American ideals, but are not classed as aliens in any Federal census, because often they are removed two or three generations from the original immigrants. In 1920 there were 16,784,299 people in the United States one or both of whose parents were foreign born. Millions of these constitute a problem of Americanization even more grave than that presented by the immigrant. Being native born, they have the right of the ballot, and yet many of them attend foreign-language schools and retain the language and ideals of the country from which their parents or grandparents came. The problem that these un-American native Americans presented by their “hyphenated” activities during the war is still fresh in the minds of all well-informed Americans. That problem is no less serious to-day than it was during the war, only less apparent. Millions of people wholly uninformed and out of sympathy with American ideals are living in our country. Such a menace can not be safely disregarded in peaceful times. We must not wait until in some national crisis this great mass of unassimilated citizenry turns the balance in the direction of disorder and anarchy. A recent report on Americanization compiled by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States sums up the situation in the following words:

"It may truly be said that one result of the war was to bring home to the American people as a whole the importance of assimilating newcomers to this country. War-time investigations revealed a condition which but few outside of our social and civic agencies had realized, such as the existence of groups or colonies of unassimilated immigrants, unable to speak the language of their adopted country, and almost totally ignorant of its manners, customs, and political and civic institutions.

Thus, we see that the Americanization problem is one resulting from the presence in the country of millions of both foreign and native-born people, unassimilated so far as our language, ideals, and customs are concerned. This problem is already with us. It is not a fear of the future. The millions of unassimilated residents within our borders will continue to be a factor in our national life for good or bad for many years to come.

States unaided neglect Americanization.--That some States are likely to neglect this problem is practically certain. Simply because a State is rich and well able to meet the condition adequately is no guaranty that it will do so. The failure by some of our richest States to provide an adequate Americanization program has brought about the condition that exists to-day. Nor should this question be looked upon as one that merely concerns the States individually. The Federal Government regulates immigration and the Constitution guarantees freedom of movement between the States. A State, therefore, has no control over the number of unassimilated persons who are thrust upon it under our National laws. Seventy-four per cent of the foreign-born population of the United States is found in 10"immigrant States.” 15 The States under our Federal laws, therefore, have no choice but to accept any and all whom the National Government chooses to admit. The problem of Americanization is, therefore, seen to be not only a problem of the State, but a national problem, both from the point of view of equity to the States and safety to the Nation.

The Federal Government should do all in its power to encourage a concerted attack aimed at the solution of the Americanization question. It is not wise for Congress to specify just how this work of Americanization should be carried on within the States. It can confidently be expected that the States, once fully aroused to its importance, will properly organize the work in a manner that is most likely to solve the situation as it exists within their borders.

Bill encourages States to meet problem.—Let us now consider what steps the Towner-Sterling bill proposes should be taken in encouraging the States in the solution of this problem. The bill contains the following provisions touching Americanization:

“In order to encourage the States in the Americanization of immigrants $7,500,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is authorized to be appropriated annually to teach immigrants fourteen years of age and over to speak and read the English language and to understand and appreciate the Government of the United States and the duties of citizenship.” (H. R. 7, 67th Cong., sec. 8.)

State initiative fully protected.-At the same time the following provision specifically protects the initiative of the States, leaving them free to meet the situation in the manner which a study of the problem within their several borders justifies

"All funds apportioned to a State for the Americanization of immigrants shall be distributed and administered in accordance with the laws of said State in like manner as the funds provided by State and local authorities for the same purpose, and the State and local educational authorities of said State shall determine the courses of study, plans, and methods for carrying out the purposes of this section within said State in accordance with the laws thereof." (H. R. 7, 67th Cong., sec. 8.)

A third provision guarantees that such money as may be appropriated may be distributed to the States where the Americanization problem exists.

“The said sum shall be apportioned to the States, which qualify under the provisions of this act in the proportions which their respective foreign-born populations bear to the total foreign-born population of the United States." (Ibid., p. 7, sec. 8.)

Thus the Towner-Sterling bill fully confirms the States in their constitutional rights to control education within their several borders. At the same time the Federal Government exercises its well established right to encourage the States to meet adequately a problem that is of peculiar national importance.


Let us consider the physical condition of the manhood of the Nation as revealed by recent studies. It has long been recognized by a few well-informed specialists that there is a great annual economic loss in the Nation due to ill health and premature death from causes that might largely be prevented by effective physical education programs. The National Conservation Commission, appointed by President Roosevelt, in a report on “National vitality,” in 1909, stated that:

there were then about 3,000,000 persons seriously ill at all times in the United States. This meant an average annual loss per person of 13 days owing to illness. It was estimated that 42 per cent of this islness was preventable, and that such prevention would extend the average life by over 15 years.


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15 Schooling of the Immigrant, Thompson, p. 28.

16 Quoted from Waste in Industry; committee on elimination of waste in industry of the Federated American Engineering Societies, appointed by Herbert Hoover. McGraw-Hill Book Co. (Inc.), 1921,

p. 20.


Similar studies, in spite of the importance of their revelations, received but little attention until the time of the World War. The seriousness of the physical deficiencies prevalent among the manhood of the Nation was revealed at this time with unmistakable clearness. It was early recognized as a factor that might reduce our effectiveness in that struggle should it continue to the time when we would be required to place our full effective man power in the field. The draft figures for rejection for physical reasons have received wide attention. Let us examine the evidence concerning the physical condition of the manhood of the Nation as revealed by these figures.

The accompanying, table, dealing with the rejections for physical disabilities shows that in examining 3,208,446 men between the dates given, 29.59 per cent “possessed physical defects of such degree as to prevent their qualifying for general military service.” Over one-half of this group, or 16.25 per cent of the whole number examined, “possessed physical defects of such degree as to prevent them from rendering military service of any kind.” 17

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The 2,259,027 men in the table who qualified for general military service represent 81 per cent of all those inducted by the draft. The figures may, therefore, be accepted as representative for the draft as a whole.

Revelation of physical defects startling.-The figure 29.59 per cent rejected for general military service, is sufficiently startling without further elaboration. It becomes even more significant, however, when it is realized that all the men of this group were included in the ages from 21 to 30, the period of life when a man is supposed to be at his best physically. Had the examinations included those over 30 years of age, the per cent disqualified would doubtless have been materially increased. Complete figures are not available on this point, but a clue is shown in the table given below.

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The men in Group I made up of those varying from 21 to 30 years of age showed 30.83 per cent rejections for general military service; 17.47 per cent being absolute rejections.

The men in Group II made up wholly of those 21 years of age yielded 23.11 per cent rejections for general military service; 9.93 per cent being absolute rejections.

The percentage of rejections for Group I, containing the men from 21-30, is appreciably higher than the percentage of rejections for Group II made up of younger men. This point has not been overlooked in careful analyses that have been made of the draft figures. Referring to the men in our population over 31 years of age, none of whom are represented in the figures given in the accompanying tables, Dr. Eugene Lyman Fisk states:

17 These quotations and the figures given in the table are taken from the Second Report of the Provost Marshal

General to the Secretary of War, on the operations of the selective draft system to Dec. 20, 1918, pp. 153 and 156, and p. 161.

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"Sixty per cent of unfitness between 31 and 45 would be a conservative estimate if reasonable standards are maintained, standards that aim to exclude men who would almost certainly be injured and broken by war service, even though unwounded.”

Peace-time standards lowered during war.-Another important consideration in properly analyzing the figures for physical rejections is the standard maintained by the draft examining boards. These were materially vered from peace-time Army standards, as the following statement of the provost marshal general shows:

"The physical standards adopted at first for the selective service were based on those used by the Army under the volunteer system *. It was soon found that these standards were too severe. In time of peace, when the supply of volunteers ordinarily exceeds the demand, a high physical standard may be exacted. When a necessity exists for great numbers, many minor physical defects must perforce be waived in order to secure the requisite man power.

On request of the provost marshal general, a committee was therefore appointed by the Surgeon General of the Army to formulate a new set of physical standards. This was completed and promulgated to draft boards in June, 1918."

That the standard maintained in peace time was lowered is indicated by the figures in the table given below: 20

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Analysis of physical causes for rejection for military service, United States Navy

and Marine Corps, 1915 (report of Surgeon General)

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The higher standards maintained in the peace-time Navy and Marine Corps show a much greater percentage of rejection for physical disabilities than was true in connection with the draft. The figures showing the rejection rate among applicants for enrollment in the Navy and Marine Corps are not for as representative a group as is included in the draft figures, but they indicate that the standard of the draft was much below that maintained in recruiting our peacetime war forces.

Only prominent physical defects recorded.-One other consideration is important in properly interpreting the draft figures for physical rejections. Only the prominent defect was recorded when a man was rejected from the draft for physical

A man might have been rejected for an eye defect who was at the same time suffering from an advanced case of some other disease such as tuberculosis or heart disease. The cause of rejection recorded in such cases, however, is the minor one.

This fact has been clerarly recognized by one student of the draft figures, who states:

“Millions of defects, perhaps of more importance than the prominent defect, were submerged in the records.” 21

The draft figures concerning rejections for physical deficiencies are, therefore, clearly an under estimate of the amount of physical incompetence in the Nation: Let us summarize the evidence as given on this point:


18 “Some lessons from the draft examination,” Eugene Lyman Fisk, M. D., Journal of the American Medical Association, Feb. 2, 1918, vol. 70, pp. 300-303.

19 Second Report of the Provost Marshal General, p. 151. * This table reproduced from: “Some lessons from the draft examination," Eugene Lyman Fisk, M.D. 21 Preventable Diseases of Adult Life, Eugene Lyman Fisk, M.D., New York State Journal of Medicine, December, 1921.

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