Remarks at the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, June 12, 1909


The Conference was called to order by the President, who introduced Miss Jane Addams of Chicago as chairman of the Committee on Immigrants. Miss Addams read the report of the committee. (Page 213.)

Prof. Jenks of Cornell University read a paper entitled "Racial Problems Involved in Recent Immigration." (Page 215.)

THE CHAIRMAN: Whoever has had to do with charity work in cities or towns knows how closely it is connected to the question of finding and holding a job. It has seemed to us quite germane that in this discussion on immigrants we should devote one paper to the subject, "How Far Does the Question of the Immigrant Affect the Development of Our Industries," first, in regard to surplus labor, and second, in regard to the development of industry, so that unskilled men may be more constantly utilized. Those of us who have been attending this Conference many years feel that this industrial question is gripping closer and closer on the question of charities. After Mr. Devine's splendid investigation into unemployment, and the question of the standard of living, we cannot keep it out from our councils. We realize how intertwined all our social problems are. We have with us tonight Professor Mead from the University of Chicago, who will present this question not from the point of view of the economist or the trade unionist who feels the pressure of the immigrant, but from the viewpoint of the social philosopher who tries to see the various classes and the various problems of society in relation to each other. It gives me great pleasure to introduce Mr. Mead to this audience.

Prof. George H. Mead delivered an address entitled "The Adjustment of Our Industry to Surplus and Unskilled Labor." (Page 222.)

THE CHAIRMAN: I am sure we are all very grateful to Mr. Mead for his speech, even though he did not take the subject which I gave him. Judge Mack of Chicago was to speak to us also tonight upon the problem of deportation and extradition. But he is unable to be here and his telegram came so late it was impossible to find a substitute. In Chicago recently we have been much stirred over the subject of extradition. Eminent jurists of international reputation have interested themselves in this question especially in the case of a young Russian who was demanded by the Russian government because he was accused of political crime in his own country. The state department decided in this case, and also in a similar case in New York, that the parties in question should not be returned to Russia. This has opened up an entirely new aspect of the immigrant problem. At what point does an oppressive government cease to represent its people, so that the revolutionaries against that government are more adequately representative of the people than the government itself? That question may have to be repeated over and over to our state department, just as long as Russian refugees seek an asylum in our country. It is a matter of deep regret that Judge Mack is not here to speak on this subject. But we have still a half hour left, and we will try the experiment of a general discussion.

After a general discussion in which many members participated, the President of the Conference resumed the chair.