CHAPTER XIX. THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CENTURY
Most of the tendencies which characterized the growth of population, the expansion of the West, the concentration of the people in cities, the development of manufacturing and agriculture, and the extension of the railway system, from 1870 to 1890, were equally significant during the two decades following the latter year. Nevertheless there were important differences of detail in the tendencies of the later period; and about the year 1900 in particular there occurred changes that were far-reaching.
The rate of growth of population slowed up slightly after 1890, being twenty-one per cent. per decade, as contrasted with twenty-five per cent. from 1870 to 1890. The increases were distributed over a larger area during the later two decades, and aside from the industrial states, those which showed the greatest growth were Oklahoma, Texas and California. Immigration continued to be large, and concentrated in the north, especially in the cities. In New York city, for instance, forty per cent. of the inhabitants in 1910 were foreign born, and thirty-eight per cent. more were of foreign, or mixed foreign and native parentage. The chief European contributors to the population of America in 1910 in the order of their importance were Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Ireland, Italy and England. Moreover the foreign elements had frequently become concentrated in especial states: the Germans in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois; the Russians in New York, North Dakota and Connecticut; the Austrians in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and the Irish in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. The immigration of Canadians, which had been of importance before 1900, appreciably slowed down after that year; and instead there was a distinct movement in the opposite direction, especially from Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington. The emigration was caused mainly by the desire to take up fertile lands which had been widely advertised by the Canadian government. The migration from the eastern states toward the West continued as in earlier years. It was noticeable, however, that whereas previous migration had been almost wholly on east and west lines, there was in later years a greater tendency to seek favorable openings wherever they were found. Oklahoma, for example, in 1910 contained 71,000 natives of Illinois, 101,000 Kansans and 162,000 Missourians. The trend of population toward the cities was so rapid between 1890 and 1910 as to suggest the likelihood that by 1920 half the people of the country would be living in communities of 2,500 persons or more. Of the twenty-three towns that more than doubled in numbers during the two decades after 1890, seventeen were in the South and on the Pacific Coast, indicating that the tendency toward urban life was no longer confined to the North and East.
Manufacturing increased its importance as the greatest economic activity in the Northeast, and was moving westward so rapidly that Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois found their interests becoming increasingly like those of the eastern states. Parts of the South, also, developed considerable industrial interests. The manufacture of cotton goods, for example, increased with such rapidity that three of the first five states in the value of their product in 1909 were southern states - North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Since 1889 the production of lumber has taken a prominent place. Louisiana doubled its activity from 1889 to 1899 and had tripled this record by 1909. Almost the entire South from Virginia to Louisiana produced large amounts during the twenty years under consideration. The iron and steel industry in Alabama, and the production of turpentine, resin and fertilizers were other important southern interests. Throughout the country at large the number of wage earners engaged in manufacturing grew somewhat more rapidly than the population, being about twenty-five per cent. per decade from 1890 to 1910.
The center of agriculture continued to be in the Middle West, in which was to be found nearly fifty-three per cent. of the improved farm lands and fifty-eight per cent. of the value of all farm property. It was in this part of the country that the greatest increases in the amount of improved land took place, and particularly in the prairie country west of the Mississippi. By 1890 the Plains had lost their earlier unique and picturesque characteristics as a cattle country, and had given way to the homesteader. Hence the greatest expansion in agriculture took place in the tier of states from North Dakota to Texas. It appeared, therefore, that manufacturing was driving agriculture farther and farther to the west: New England cultivated less farm land in 1910 than in 1850; the improved area in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania declined after 1880; Ohio tilled fewer acres in 1910 than in 1900, and the gradual replacement of agriculture by manufacturing was observable in Indiana and Illinois. Oklahoma and Texas, on the other hand, together opened to cultivation between 1890 and 1910 nearly 24,000,000 acres, an expanse almost equivalent to the combined areas of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maryland.