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"The general conditions of success in life are the same in the United States as in the old country, namely, a sound body, a sound mind, and a good character.

No one should emigrate who does not possess good health.  Invalids will not be benefited generally by the change, and they run the risk of being turned back, as the American laws forbid their landing unless they show themselves possessed of means sufficient for their support.  Persons beyond the prime of life should also abstain from emigration, unless they can depend upon the support of others when no longer able to work.

A strong mind is hardly less necessary than a sound body.  Few emigrants escape disappointments and trials, to bear up under which requires buoyancy of spirits, patience, and power of self-denial.  A certain degree of intelligence is also desirable in those who come to live among a people naturally so quick-witted as the Americans.

Persons unwilling to work, or accustomed to live by their wits alone, are not wanted in the United States.  Idlers will only go from bad to worse, and adventurers will not prosper any more here than at home.  Criminals, to whom the United States has always been a favorite refuge, are sent back as soon as discovered.

No one should emigrate without money enough to maintain himself after his arrival in the foreign country till he can earn a living, unless he has friends ready to help him.  This applies especially to heads of families, who would be guilty of reckless imprudence in exposing themselves and their companions to the risk of arriving in destitute circumstances, and to the inevitable ensuing.  Let no one start depending upon charity alone, for charitable provisions at various points of landing serve only to meet the most urgent wants.  To begin life in a new country as a pauper is at best an undignified start, which every person with any self-respect should wish to avoid.  Moreover, under the law of the United States, paupers are not permitted to enter the country.

Next to these general conditions, the success of an emigrant will depend upon his previous training and occupation.  As a rule, those whose occupations are wholly or in part mental are far less likely to profit by emigration than those who live by the labor of their hands.  Every one of the so-called learned professions is overstocked.  There are more doctors, apothecaries, lawyers, literary men, architects, teachers, clergymen, and other men of liberal education in the United States than can make a decent living.  In the cities and country districts of the older States especially, there is a superabundance, of professional men, and even in the Western States, where their services are less required, the supply, though not of a high order, exceeds the demand.

It would be folly for most persons of this class to emigrate unless they emigrate for other than material reasons, and come provided with sufficient means for their support during the long years when they will have to wait before they can expect to make a living from their profession.  Professional young men, settling in some new community in the West, may gradually build up a practice.  But this growing up with a place is a slow process, calling for not a little patience, and involving years of self-denial.

Persons following business pursuits will hardly do better than professional men.  Their want of acquaintance with the country, and the different methods of doing business in it, will place them at a decided disadvantage.  Owing to the intense competition in most branches of business, the percentage of failures among merchants is greater than in any other country.  If merchants with capital emigrate at all, they ;should be content to wait until a protracted residence has rendered them familiar with the peculiarities of American business before investing their means.  In the growing cities and towns in the West many opportunities for starting in business offer themselves, but even there the safest course will be to study the ground carefully before risking anything.

Clerks ought not to think of coming to the United States unless they have thoroughly made up their minds to lay down the pen and to take to the spade or the plough.  No kind of labor is so much of a drug as clerical labor.  Nearly everybody writes a good hand, and can keep books.  The rush into this kind of work since the late civil war has been very great.  Cases of grievous disappointment are very frequent among clerks, book-keepers, and shopmen from Europe who have come out under the impression that they will do better in a new country.  For their purposes it is not a new country, but an old one.

Women who expect to earn their subsistence by teaching, tending shop, or sewing, are also very liable to disappointment.

Persons accustomed to earn a living by manual labor run the least risk in emigrating.  A pair of stout arms, if united with habits of sobriety and economy, are sure to give the emigrant a good start in the States.  With a knowledge of some mechanical trade he can still more confidently rely on doing well.

Of the different classes of laboring people none will find a better opening than agricultural laborers.  Men with a small capital can easily become independent freeholders in the prosperous Western States.  To this class of emigrants large families will prove a positive advantage, if the younger members can assist in tilling the soil.  The demand for firm hands working for hire is great and constant in all parts of the country.  Gardeners are almost everywhere in good demand.  Ordinary laborers, able and willing to do any kind of work that will yield them a good living, will also not be long in finding something to do.

Good mechanics will likewise have little difficulty in obtaining employment.  Among the most promising trades are those of boot and shoe making tailors, carpenters, furniture makers, masons, stone-cutters, brick-makers, ordinary and decorative painters, plumbers, workers in iron, tin, and copper, machinists, printers, millers, brewers, and butchers.  Highly skilled artisans, however, such as engravers, workers in the precious metals, and the producers of articles of luxury generally, often do not improve their condition.  Not a few persons of this class return to Europe after trying the country for a while.  It is not because their skill is undervalued, but because the demand for such labor is unequal to the supply.

Operatives will do better than at home if they obtain employment, but their chances of finding it will depend very much on the state of the manufacturing business at the time of their arrival.  Of late years, owing to the depression of many branches of industry in the States, the demand for operatives has diminished.  More information for this class is given in Part II., under Manufactures.

Miners earn much higher wages in the United States than in Great Britain; but the largest branch of American mining industry, coal mining , has for some time been very much disturbed by a succession of strikes, so that new-comers cannot be sure of finding work on landing.  But they will be safe enough in coming out if they are willing to do other labor, until an opportunity offers to follow their regular occupation.

No class of persons will trust less to chance in emigrating than domestic servants.  Male servants, such as butlers, coachmen, and grooms, it is true, are not much wanted outside of the larger cities; but females, such as cooks, maids, laundresses, and nurses, can find good situations everywhere for the mere asking.  The demand for them is really unlimited.

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EMIGRATION U.S.A. - Table of Contents


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