Upton Sinclair`s "The Jungle" And The "Golden" Age Of Immigration
June 26, 2010, 02:23 AM
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I was reading TVTropes.org's description of that they call the Ethnic Menial Labor stereotype:
IN the Eastern European Section, there's this note:

Upton Sinclair's The Jungle was all about workers in Chicago, but the main character Jurgis was Lithuanian. Poles and Slovaks were mentioned extensively (as were the Irish, but the Eastern Europeans had mostly displaced them from the most menial jobs)[Accessed at 2:00 pm EST, June 25, 2010]

"Displaced them from the most menial jobs?" I thought, that sounds strangely familiar. See if you can recognize any modern characters in the following quote—I've italicized a couple of points:

"The first family had been Germans. The families had all been of different nationalities—there had been a representative of several races that had displaced each other in the stockyards. Grandmother Majauszkiene had come to America with her son at a time when so far as she knew there was only one other Lithuanian family in the district; the workers had all been Germans then—skilled cattle butchers that the packers had brought from abroad to start the business. Afterward, as cheaper labor had come, these Germans had moved away. The next were the Irish—there had been six or eight years when Packingtown had been a regular Irish city. There were a few colonies of them still here, enough to run all the unions and the police force and get all the graft; but most of those who were working in the packing houses had gone away at the next drop in wages—after the big strike. The Bohemians had come then, and after them the Poles. People said that old man Durham himself was responsible for these immigrations; he had sworn that he would fix the people of Packingtown so that they would never again call a strike on him, and so he had sent his agents into every city and village in Europe to spread the tale of the chances of work and high wages at the stockyards. The people had come in hordes; and old Durham had squeezed them tighter and tighter, speeding them up and grinding them to pieces and sending for new ones. The Poles, who had come by tens of thousands, had been driven to the wall by the Lithuanians, and now the Lithuanians were giving way to the Slovaks. Who there was poorer and more miserable than the Slovaks, Grandmother Majauszkiene had no idea, but the packers would find them, never fear. It was easy to bring them, for wages were really much higher, and it was only when it was too late that the poor people found out that everything else was higher too. They were like rats in a trap, that was the truth; and more of them were piling in every day. By and by they would have their revenge, though, for the thing was getting beyond human endurance, and the people would rise and murder the packers. Grandmother Majauszkiene was a socialist, or some such strange thing; another son of hers was working in the mines of Siberia, and the old lady herself had made speeches in her time—which made her seem all the more terrible to her present auditors."[The Jungle, Chapter 6]

That's the kind of thing that makes people immigration restrictionists. In fact, people in 1906 were trying to pass immigration restriction, and had been since the 1890's. Eighteen years later, they succeeded, with the Immigration Act Of 1924. See my article The (First) Thirty Years War For Immigration Reform, with timeline.