Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The year was 1901............................

     Roosevelt could see little relief for the rural unemployed in the immediate future.  A place like York,  Pennsylvania . . . was the typical country town grown too big.  There were more than a thousand such cities across the nation.  For its new poor, York offered only more poverty.  A laborer might trade his hoe for a hammer, but a few extra dollars a week, the increment was meaningless, given urban costs.  His children would still run barefoot through November, and in midwinter their breath would be ice on their bedsheets.  Even more wretched than these migrants were the immigrants from unsalubrious parts of Europe further crowding American cities.  Since January, nearly have a million had poured in.  With their greasy kerchiefs and swollen cheekbones, they seemed content to live in any slum and do any work, for pig's wages.  Not surprisingly, the native-born Americans they had supplanted felt rage and ethnic contempt.  Roosevelt's journalist friend William Allen White spoke for many in his syndicated diatribes against "Hunkies and Italians, the very scum of European civilization."

-Edmund Morris,  Theodore Rex

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