• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

The foreign element: New immigrants and American industry, 1914--1924

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Thomas Mackaman
Abstract:
This dissertation analyzes how new immigration workers changed industrial society through a comparative study of iron mining in Minnesota, the Calumet steel milling district of the south Chicago area, and coal mining in central Illinois. The rise and fall in immigration radicalism and labor militancy was a transatlantic process. By 1914, new immigrants from eastern and southern Europe had come to dominate industry's dirtiest and most dangerous jobs. Such was the case in the iron, coal, and the steel industries of the western Great Lakes--the heart of industrial growth prior to W.W.I. The decade that followed was bookended by interruptions to mass immigration, first brought on by the eruption of war in Europe, and then in 1924 by the virtual banning of the new immigration through the Johnson Reed Act. The intervening years were characterized by acute economic and demographic change, on the one hand, and on the other by the saturation of new immigrant populations with ideology generated both in the U.S. and Europe, including the competing claims to loyalty of nationalism and various currents of radicalism. These changes coupled with the new immigrants' position at the bottom rungs of industrial hierarchy to advance a tendency toward interethnic labor militancy and to augment the audience for radicalism. Many of the tendencies in government, industry, and society that emerged or intensified in the early 1920s were reactions against this immigrant militancy and radicalism of the preceding years. New immigrants then found themselves caught in a double envelopment of reaction, in their new land and old. This dissertation advances on previous studies by synthesizing various elements of the labor, immigration, and political history of the period and comparatively analyzing different industries and immigrant groups in a global context, while recognizing new immigrants as actors in the period's crucial changes.

Table of Contents Introduction: "Got a match?" 1 Chapter 1: "Our lives, our thoughts and our allegiance:" New immigrants in 1914 28 Chapter 2: "A War of Coal and Iron," 1914-1917 92 Chapter 3: "Securing the industrial forts of America," 1917-1918 136 Chapter 4: "The Revolt of the Rank-and-file": 1919 179 Chapter 5: A Double Envelopment of Reaction: 1920-1924 221 Epilogue: The Nation-State, Immigration Restriction, and Fordism 264 Bibliography: 272 IV

Figure 1. "Got a Match?" Source: The cartoon originally appeared in the Des Moines Register on October 10, 1919, and can be found in Drake University Library's Covvles Collection. 1

Introduction The cartoon appeared in the Duluth News Tribune in October of 1919, in the midst of the largest strike wave in U.S. history.1 With one hand, a swarthy figure labeled "foreign element" whispers to a figure representing "American labor," and with the other holds a fuse labeled "industrial revolution and communism" that leads to a stockpile of "gun powder" and "dynamite." The explosives lie beneath depictions of American mines and mills, the "Foundation of American Wages and Prosperity." High on a hill above the industrial scenes we see a wooded town, the cartoonist's illustration of an imperiled society. Commentators employed terms like "foreign element" to suggest that "industrial revolution and communism" were alien imports. The cartoon depicts a number of the major historical problems from a troubled period of U.S. history. Present is the fear of the new immigrant—racialized with dark, protruding features, and standing in stark contrast to the fair and upright characterization of the idealized American worker. We also see the fear of workers' revolt conjured up by the Russian Revolution. Yet the cartoon's unmistakable implication, given its date and nod to "industrial unrest," was that the foreign origin applied to more than revolution: class conflict itself was an import and a grave danger to "American wages and prosperity" and the society built up on industry. A deeper historical reading, however, shows that the cartoonist must have had doubts about the foreign nature of class conflict. We note, for example, that the "foreign element" is not depicted as an intellectual or a soap-boxing rabble rouser; rather, he is 1 http://ddr.lib.drake.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/ddarling&CISOPTR=l 157&REC=1 2

clad in the garb of a worker. Strikingly, the figure representing "American labor" shows no hostility to the "foreign element." On the contrary, his eyes are trained on the latter with a look of curious study. Brow furrowed and hand-to-chin, he is clearly contemplating the appeal of "industrial revolution and communism." And by the immense stockpile of explosives underlying industry, the cartoonist perhaps unwittingly suggested that the basis of labor struggles in the period literally arose out of the mines and mills themselves. The "foreign element" needs only a match to set the whole works ablaze. This is a study of "new immigrant" industrial workers from southern and eastern Europe during a critical period of U.S. history, from 1914 to 1924. Through comparative case studies of coal mining in Illinois, steel milling in the Calumet area around Chicago, and iron mining on Minnesota's Iron Range, I argue that new immigrant workers played a critical role as both actors in, and objects of, important changes to the working class, organized labor, industry, politics, and culture. These changes were transnational in origin, bound up with transatlantic ideologies, world-historical events like W.W.I, and the Russian Revolution, and the processes of immigration and return migration. By 1914 immigrants had come to predominate in whole sectors of industry, such as the iron, coal, and steel industries of the western Great Lakes, a region of rapid industrial growth prior to W.W.I. The decade that followed was bookended by interruptions to immigration, first brought on by the eruption of war in Europe and then in 1924 by the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act. The intervening years were characterized by acute economic and demographic change, on the one hand, and on the other by the saturation of immigrant communities with ideology generated both in the U.S. and Europe, including the 3

competing claims to loyalty of both U.S. and "old country" nationalism, as well as various currents of radicalism. These changes coupled with the immigrants' position at the bottom of industrial hierarchy to enhance interethnic labor militancy and to augment the audience for radicalism, manifested in the largest strike wave in U.S. history (1916- 1922) that gripped these and other industries. Within this historical context, the dissertation concentrates on the mutual and dynamic interaction between immigrants on the one hand, and industry and the late Progressive Era corporate state on the other. That is the central drama, to borrow a metaphor from the theater. But the scene's setting is crucial. The story unfolds amidst the turbulent development of the industrial economy within the U.S. and a crisis of the entire world order, punctuated by war, revolution, and reaction. The stage is populated with an array of actors—Progressive Era managerial elite and politicians, trade unionists and radical leaders, reactionary and vigilante Americans. Yet here the leading performance belongs to new immigrants, who were protagonists in important changes to unions, radicalism, industry and American citizenship. As is the case with a good theatrical performance, which requires effort for an audience to interpret the actors' motivation, so for the historian the great challenge remains to arrive at an assessment of the consciousness of historical actors. In considering the question of new immigrant consciousness, I make reference throughout the dissertation to two forms of new immigrant working-class movement: "labor militancy" and "radicalism." By the former, I refer to various forms of labor struggle that arise out of the point of production or the local community, such as union organization, strikes, labor marches, bread riots, and clashes with strikebreakers, private 4

security forces, police, and so on. There has been no shortage of bloody labor militancy in U.S. history—in spite of prevailing assumptions based on the relative absence of strikes and the decline of unions during the last three decades. By "radicalism," I refer to ideological formations— such as the Socialist Party (S.P.), the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), and the various communist parties— that sought to articulate what they perceived to be the class interests of workers. While it has often been the case that radical groups have tried to anticipate and advance working class struggle through their activity and theory—and though many radicals have themselves been workers—there have been long periods during which radicalism has operated at a distance from the practical and day-to-day struggles of masses of workers. There have been periods where the two streams—labor militancy and radicalism—both appear to be growing in strength and bound for convergence, threatening to lift radical ideas upon the crest of powerful popular social movements. Such was the scenario developing in the period of this study, when a convergence of radicalism and mass labor militancy emerged first among new immigrant workers. The historian's most articulate commentators during such moments are often those whose interests appeared most menaced. Whether or not business leaders and politicians overreacted to the actual danger posed in this period can never be proven. This is the prevailing viewpoint, and has led to an assessment of the first Red Scare as a gross overreaction. Yet whether they were right or paranoid, contemporaries counted the very real development of mass labor struggle and radicalism as a dangerous threat. ^Robert K. Murray, Red Scare; a Study in National Hysteria, 1919-1920 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1955); William Preston, Aliens and Dissenters: Federal Suppression of Radicals, 1903- 1933 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994); John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860-192'5(New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press, 1988.) 5

The period of political reaction that began in the Wilson administration, and accelerated through the Red Scare and the early 1920s can only be understood in this light. During W.W.I., the American state attempted to head off the convergence of mass labor militancy and radicalism through a combination of cooption and coercion. The Wilson administration invited labor figures such as Frank Walsh and Samuel Gompers close to the citadels of state power and offered an unstated quid pro quo to much of the labor force that included increasing wages (that nonetheless still fell behind inflation), federal mediation of labor disputes, and a friendlier regime toward A.F.L.-style organized labor. It also invited "Americanziation" of immigrants as a prominent part of a nationalist propaganda mobilization. On the other hand, government meted out savage repression against political dissenters. Radicals and immigrant workers experienced unconstitutional and quasi-legal censorship, mass arrests, deportations, beatings, law suits, ransacking, burglaries, and frame-ups. This was conjoined to a darker side of the propaganda campaign that demonized difference and dissent. At the same time the state "deputized," so to speak, hundreds of thousands and then millions of middle class Americans into organizations such as the American Protective League (A.P.L.) and later the American Legion and Ku Klux Klan. These organizations, some of the largest mass volunteer organizations in U.S. history, armed themselves, carried out vigilante attacks and intimidated radicals, workers, and immigrants. They also acted quite self-consciously as a social counterweight to the largely immigrant industrial working class. The parallels with the more-or-less simultaneous emergence of fascism in Europe are striking. 3 Joseph McCartin, Labor's Great War: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy and the Origins of Modern American Labor Relations, 1912-1921 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997); Joan M. Jensen The Price of Vigilance (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1969); Charles S. Maier, Recasting Bourgeois 6

The fear of the new immigrant was doubled by the fact that many came from lands caught up in the revolutionary fervor of Europe after 1917. By means of repression, government and business leaders sought to decapitate radicalism and thereby prevent it from giving expression to widespread antiwar sentiment and the strike wave. By the early 1920s, the racialized association between new immigrants and radicalism laid the groundwork for the passing of the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 and its de facto banning of eastern and southern European immigration. This constituted a watershed moment in U.S. history. Not only did Johnson-Reed repudiate the long-standing open immigration policy, which had been progressively eroded after decades of singling out Asians, anarchists, and the infirm. It also initiated a sharp change in the composition of the working class and the advent of a new approach in labor-industrial relations that favored stability and employee loyalty over labor market flexibility. Whereas the growth of industry from the 1890s until W.W.I, had been predicated on an enormous and fluid labor force, during the war for the first time industrial experts began to concern themselves with "turnover" and its problems. The transition was from the sort of labor market favored by the steel industry, contingent upon mass immigration, to that associated with what would come to be known as "Fordism."4 Europe: Stabilization in France, Germany, and Italy in the Decade After World War I. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1975). 4 Aristide Zolberg, A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 2006); Michael Robert Lemay and Elliott Robert Barkan, eds., Immigration and Naturalization Laws and Issues: A Documentary History. (Greenwood Press, 1999); Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); Sumner H. Slichter, The Turnover of Factory Labor, (New York: D. Appelton, 1919), and "The Scope and Nature of the Labor Turnover Problem," Quarterly Journal of Economics 34 (Feb.) 1920: 329-345; Paul F. Brissenden, "Occupational Incidence of Labor Mobility." Journal of the American Statistical Association 18 (Dec.) 1923: 978-992; David Montgomery, Workers' Control in America: Studies in the History of Work, Technology, and Labor Struggles (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979): 35; David Brody, Workers in Industrial America: Essays on the Twentieth Century Struggle. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993): 12-13. 7

In spite of many cultural differences, it is not only possible to consider the new immigrants as a group, but necessary to do so. New immigrants were categorized together by contemporaries, they engaged in labor struggles together across national and ethnic boundaries in these years, and began to think of themselves as constituting a unified group. There are important historical works that present quite a different picture. Lizabeth Cohen, in her magisterial treatment of Chicago's industrial workers between the two world wars, Making a New Deal, views the massive steel strike of Chicago's new immigrant workers in 1919 as the premature birth of something that could have arrived only much later—successful union and political struggles waged by industrial workers across ethnic lines. For Cohen, it was only the process of cultural Americanization and assimilation—and afterwards labor's alliance with New Deal liberalism—that cleared the way for workers to build up industrial unions' clout within a popular-front style political alliance. Prior to that, Cohen assumes, new immigrants were hopelessly separated. "Working men and women were politicized with their 'local' worlds of race, ethnic group, neighborhood, and job and were not oriented toward broader political alliances or solutions," she writes.5 The new immigrants' labor struggles and political radicalization of the period between 1914 and 1924, however, demonstrate that national and ethnic rivalries did not form an insurmountable barrier to solidarity. Indeed, at times nationality, ethnicity, or race, as it was then most often called, became very much conjoined in the consciousness of new immigrants with class grievances arising in the workplace or community. New 5 Lizabeth Cohen Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990): 50; Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973); Gerald Rosenblum, Immigrant Workers; Their Impact on American Labor Radicalism. (New York: Basic Books, 1973); Mark Wyman, Round-Trip to America: The Immigrants Return to Europe, 1880-1930. (Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1993.) 8

immigrant workers felt that dirty and dangerous work, poor living conditions, and bigotry resulted from their being categorized as lesser Italian, Slavic, Hungarian, or Finnish workers. But they also learned that these conditions were shared by other new immigrants in the same mine pit, steel mill, and industrial community. Yet simultaneously W.W.I, and the prospect of independence for a number of eastern European states authored competing nationalisms among new immigrants. New immigrants united in labor struggles both in spite of and because of their cultural or "racial" differences, a process that James R. Barrett has called "ethnocultural class formation." John J. Kulczycki, in his study of Polish coal miners in the Ruhr, has found a similar tendency, what he calls "ethno-class consciousness," although he goes so far as to call for the invalidation of the "analytical dichotomy between national and social solidarity," rather than seeing the two identities in motion, at times working in harmony, at times at cross purposes. In the period of political reaction that emerged in the early 1920s, however, the disaggregating elements of identity pushed to the fore, and those elements tending toward class solidarity, which had tended to unify new immigrants across many transplanted borders, receded. Cohen is right about the 1920s, but wrong about 1919.6 The developing ethno-class consciousness of the new immigrants was most clear in their labor struggles, which in the period were typified by long, violent, and whole- community struggles in which women and children figured prominently. The militancy of the new immigrants interacted with existing trade unions in seemingly unpredictable ways, which can be seen in the relative success of trade unionism in the coal industry, led 0 James R. Barrett, "Americanization from the Bottom Up: Immigration and the Remaking of the Working Class in the United States, 1880-1930." The Journal of American History 79, no. 3 (1992): 996-1020; John J. Kulczycki, The Polish Coal Miner's Union and the German Labor Movement in the Ruhr, 1902-1934: National and Social Solidarity ( Oxford: Berg, 1997). 9

by the United Mine Workers (U.M.W.), and the ultimate failure to organize the steel industry. In both industries new immigrants tended to be the most militant portion of the workforce, at times running into conflict with conservative trade unionists. Because in both industries the militancy of the new immigrants was a constant factor in the period, understanding the success of the U.M.W. and the failure of the A.F.L. to organize the steel industry demands further explanation. The question of the rationalization of industry holds the key. Rationalization was a major underlying force of U.S. economic development from the 1890s on. In the steel industry, finance capital took the lead and affected a sweeping reorganization not just of the production process, but of the entire industry. Craft unionism stood in the way of this process, but because its peculiar form was rooted in earlier relations of production, business leaders were able to largely eliminate the craft unions from steel and other industries, in spite of the bitter resistance of skilled workers. Due to the peculiar nature of the coal industry, which stemmed from the superabundance of coal deposits and the low level of capital needed to extract and transport it, coal interests could not carry out an equivalent form of rationalization. In the absence of capitalist monopoly, the U.M.W. played an important role in leading the efforts to regulate competition in the major fields of the Midwest. In general, it did not stand in the way of technological development, although technology was far less advanced in coal. Yet this rationalizing role, which hinged on the defense of contractual obligation, brought the national and state U.M.W. bureaucracy into frequent conflict with new immigrant workers. Radical immigrants launched struggles within the U.M.W. to broaden its political and economic demands. Among other things, they demanded the nationalization of the 10

entire industry. This did not happen. Its basis in the Midwest ultimately pitted the U.M.W. and its allies among the coal operators against the non-union producers of West Virginia and Kentucky. The U.M.W. would reach its high water mark in terms of membership and strength during W.W.I., yet soon after the war it faced more fierce competition from the non-union fields, and entered a period of protracted decline. In coal the problem was overcapacity—"too many mines, too many miners," as Lewis put it. The struggle within the U.M.W. which was particularly ferocious in Illinois, continued to hinge on the question of how the problem of overcapacity would be resolved. The interaction of industry, trade unionism, and the new immigrants took a different form in the steel industry. The early craft unions in the steel industry did not fall victim to an "immigrant invasion," but to changes in the nature of the steel industry. Then the attempt to organize steel workers in 1919 along industrial lines under the National Committee to Organize Steel Workers (National Committee) failed after a spectacular strike involving as many as 350,000 workers. The strike exposed major fissures along lines of race and skill, which the National Committee was unable to overcome. But as was the case in the coal towns, the immigrants reached an extraordinary level of militancy in 1919, and evidence from the strike suggests a widespread embrace of radicalism. Indeed, these characteristics—what unionists called "impetuousness"— brought the new immigrants into conflict with the organizational effort. Owing to the nature of the coal industry and its rationalizing role therein, the U.M.W. proved much 11

more capable of overcoming national and racial divisions in the workplace than the craft unions.7 The basis of shared identity among new immigrant resulted from the shared experiences of labor migration and dirty work. In steel milling and iron mining, distinctions between kinds of jobs allocated to "American," "old immigrant," or "skilled" workers—-jobs that paid better, and were cleaner and safer—and new immigrants, whose work was dirty, dangerous and lesser paid, both fed off and reinforced the formation of a new immigrant enthnocultural consciousness. Cultural differences, the focus of much contemporary commentary on the immigrants, provided a racial explanation for social inequality. Yet it was not only work and innovations in management and technology that formed consciousness and racial identity. The coal industry in Illinois proves the point well. Unlike the steel industry, coal proved resistant to mechanization, Taylorization, and indeed monopolization. The divide between "American" and "Hunky" work was never so stark. Yet there too, new immigrants increasingly dominated the workforce, a similar sense of grievance emerged, and tendencies toward labor militancy and radicalization came to the fore contemporaneously to similar developments in such a highly concentrated industry as steel. The development of consciousness among new immigrants, therefore, must also be explained by broader factors. I argue that the shared experiences of work and living conditions were shaped and given meaning by a series of world historical developments that acutely impacted new immigrant—depression, war, inflation, revolution, reaction, and depression again. 7 Herbert Gutman "The Negro and the United Mine Workers of America: The Career and Letters of Richard L. Davis and Something of Their Meaning, 1890-1900," in The Negro and the American Labor Movement. Julius Jacobson, ed. (New York: Doubleday, 1968.) 12

The immigrants led transnational lives; their ideologies, cultures, and movements were of necessity global. Europe and the U.S.—and the rest of the world—grew in dynamic interaction. No process reflects that more than mass immigration. If W.W.I, represented the revolt of the means of production against the nation-state system to which they had been confined, as Trotsky argued, then the phenomenon of mass, international immigration was perhaps that revolt's most consciously-experienced element, involving as it did millions upon millions of people. It was in large part a response to the struggles of the new immigrants, imbued with a spirit of internationalism, that the U.S. would move decisively away from its old position that advocated open immigration from Europe, and toward the Fordist model of steady employment, employee loyalty, and Americanization—a system that gained state sanction with the triumph of the racist Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, and which would characterize U.S. capitalism until the new globalization that emerged from the 1970s on. The New Immigration and the Age of Steel Deposits of iron, coal, and limestone—the essential raw materials of iron and steel production—are enormous, and they occur in a form that makes them easily and therefore cheaply worked.. .The Lake Superior ore region is several hundred miles distant from the coking-coal producing centres in the Pittsburgh and Chicago region... [but] the Great Lakes, navigable from Duluth, the center of the world's greatest iron ore production region...form the greatest internal waterway in the world. Further, they constitute the northern boundary of the largest manufacturing belt in the country.8 In order to understand the development of the new immigration, its political implications, and the consciousness of new immigrant workers, it is necessary to consider the development of industry to which it was conjoined. The enormous scale, complexity, 8 E.D. McCallum, The Iron and Steel Industry in the United States, (P.S. King and Son, London: 1931): 25- 26. 13

and inter-connectedness of industry contributed to what contemporaries referred to as the "mass mindedness" of the immigrants. Industrial development from the 1890s on linked, moreover, new immigrants into circuits of labor migration both national and transnational in their dimensions.9 The growth of industry was heavily based on the production of steel. Steel was necessary for the final surge in the growth of the railroad network that reached its pinnacle shortly after W.W.I. The steel beam and rail allowed for the enormous expansion of the city scape—both upwards and outwards. The production and distribution of steel, in turn, relied on five essential ingredients—iron, coal (converted into coke), limestone, a transportation network capable of bearing heavy loads, and labor. Fortuitously for the growth of American capitalism, the Great Lakes region supplied the first four of these ingredients in abundance. The fourth, labor, would have to be supplied largely through immigration. Iron ore had been produced in the Great Lakes region for decades prior to 1914, regular shipment of ore having begun in the 1850s from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. By the early 1880s, Minnesota had joined the ranks of the ore producing states through the development of the Vermillion Range. Then in the 1890s, the development of the Mesabi Range created a bonanza. Ore deposits were enormous and located conveniently close to the surface in a 120-mile stretch of northern Minnesota timberlands. Collectively, Minnesota's three ranges—the Mesabi, the Vermillion, and the Cuyuna—came to be known as "the Iron Range" and produced nearly 60percent of the total U.S. dollar value of iron mines by 1910, when 50,000 people, mostly immigrants, inhabited the area. To its 9 Gunther Peck, Reinventing Free Labor: Padrones and Immigrant Workers in the North American West, 1880-1930. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.) 14

great advantage, Iron Range ore deposits were easily transportable. Heavily laden trains coasted down a gradual descent to Lake Superior's major U.S. harbors situated in and around Duluth, Minnesota, which came in short time to be the nation's largest port in terms of tonnage. The trains then travelled out above Lake Superior on enormous scaffolding called "ore docks" where they would dump their payload into the open hulls of waiting ore freighters below. In this way 12,000 tons of ore could be loaded per hour. From the Superior ports the trains then ascended empty to the mines of the Range, and the great maritime steamships transported the ores over the length of the Great Lakes to their destinations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Michigan and the Calumet district of the south Chicago area. There the ore was unloaded by the recently developed "Hulett electrical unloader," which could unload, remarkably, at nearly the same rate the ore trains dumped. By 1913, the Lake Superior District produced 84.5percent of all U.S. iron.10 10 McCallum, The Iron and Steel Industry, 59-63; D. G. Sofchalk, "Organized labor and the iron ore miners of Northern Minnesota, 1907-1936." Labor History 12, no. 2 (1971): 214-242; John Sirjamaki, "Development of Mesabi Communities"(PhD diss., Yale, 1940); Paul Henry Landis, Three Iron Mining Towns, a Study in Cultural Change (Ann Arbor: Edwards Brothers, 1938); Joseph C. Mullin and Wallace P. Mullin. "United States Steel's Acquisition of the Great Northern Ore Properties: Vertical Foreclosure or Efficient Contractual Governance?" Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization 13, no. 1 (April 1997): 74-100. 15

Full document contains 301 pages
Abstract: This dissertation analyzes how new immigration workers changed industrial society through a comparative study of iron mining in Minnesota, the Calumet steel milling district of the south Chicago area, and coal mining in central Illinois. The rise and fall in immigration radicalism and labor militancy was a transatlantic process. By 1914, new immigrants from eastern and southern Europe had come to dominate industry's dirtiest and most dangerous jobs. Such was the case in the iron, coal, and the steel industries of the western Great Lakes--the heart of industrial growth prior to W.W.I. The decade that followed was bookended by interruptions to mass immigration, first brought on by the eruption of war in Europe, and then in 1924 by the virtual banning of the new immigration through the Johnson Reed Act. The intervening years were characterized by acute economic and demographic change, on the one hand, and on the other by the saturation of new immigrant populations with ideology generated both in the U.S. and Europe, including the competing claims to loyalty of nationalism and various currents of radicalism. These changes coupled with the new immigrants' position at the bottom rungs of industrial hierarchy to advance a tendency toward interethnic labor militancy and to augment the audience for radicalism. Many of the tendencies in government, industry, and society that emerged or intensified in the early 1920s were reactions against this immigrant militancy and radicalism of the preceding years. New immigrants then found themselves caught in a double envelopment of reaction, in their new land and old. This dissertation advances on previous studies by synthesizing various elements of the labor, immigration, and political history of the period and comparatively analyzing different industries and immigrant groups in a global context, while recognizing new immigrants as actors in the period's crucial changes.