Monday, May 17, 2010

"Immigration Criticisms: Late 1800s" from VOA.

THE MAKING OF A NATION – a program in Special English.

In our last program, we told how the flow of immigration to the United States began to change in the 1880s. Before then, most of the immigrants came from central and northern Europe. From Britain, Ireland, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries.

The largest number came from Britain. They found it easy to settle in the United States. They shared with the Americans the same language and many of the same traditions. Some of these early immigrants were skilled workers who found good jobs in American industry. Others were farmers who came to America for free land.

After 1880, the flood of immigration from northern and central Europe began to fall. Now, most immigrants were coming from eastern and southern Europe. From Russia, Poland, Romania, Italy, Greece.

These new immigrants were different from those who came earlier. Most did not speak English. Most were poor farmers who had few special skills. Most had little or no education.

They were, however, good workers. They did not protest working long hours for low pay. They did not demand better working conditions. They usually refused to join labor unions or take part in strikes.

American factory owners were pleased with the new immigrants. They gave them jobs formerly held by higher-paid American workers. The owners asked the new workers to write letters to friends still in the old country, urging them to come to America.

And they came by the hundreds of thousands to take jobs in steel factories in Pennsylvania and the coal mines of West Virginia. They worked in the lumber camps of Michigan and in the stockyards and the meat-packing plants of Chicago.

American workers then began to protest, as their jobs were filled by immigrants who were happy to work for less money.

The protests were especially bitter on the pacific coast where thousands of Chinese immigrants were settling in California.

The Chinese arrived there after 1850 to help build western railroads. After the railroads were completed, these Chinese new-comers turned to other jobs. More came every year. By the 1870s, California's political leaders were demanding an end to further immigration from China.

In 1882, Congress passed a law that barred Chinese immigration for ten years. The law was extended for another ten years, then made permanent.

The immigration law of 1882 put other limits on immigration. It closed the country to criminals, the mentally ill, and persons who could not support themselves. Later, others were added to this list. Persons with diseases. Anarchists. Alcoholics.

This, however, did not greatly reduce immigration from eastern and southern Europe. And opponents of immigration demanded stronger action.

Some proposed a literacy test. Immigrants would have to show that they could read and write. An immigrant who could not, would not be permitted to enter the country.

Senator Henry Cabot lodge of Massachusetts urged Congress to pass such a law. In a Senate speech, lodge said:

"if we care for the welfare, the wages, or the standard of life of American workingmen, we should take immediate steps to limit foreign immigration. There is no danger to our workingmen from the coming of skilled workers or of trained and educated men. But there is a serious danger from the flood of unskilled, ignorant foreign labor.

"This labor not only takes lower wages, but accepts a standard of living so low that the American workingman cannot compete with it."

Senator Lodge continued.

"A literacy test will bear very lightly, if at all, upon English-speaking immigrants or Germans, Scandinavians, and French. The races which would suffer most under a literacy test would be those with which the English-speaking people have never united, and who are most different from the great majority of the people of the United States."

Congress passed the proposal. President Cleveland, however, vetoed it. He said the nation had nothing to fear from immigrants who could not read or write. He said there was greater danger from some of the educated immigrants who urged violence and anarchy.

It took a number of years before Congress was able to pass a law demanding a literacy test for immigrants.

Another problem troubled President Cleveland. High tariffs -- taxes on imports.

Soon after his election, Cleveland decided to learn what he could about the tariff. "I'm sorry to say," said Cleveland, "but the truth is, I know nothing about the tariff."

Cleveland studied all the information he could find about the tariff. He found that the tariff was used not only to get money for the government, but to protect American industry from foreign competition. The tariffs had been raised so high that they were producing more money than the government needed.

Cleveland decided that high tariffs were wrong. He told other democratic leaders that he would try to get them reduced.

The politicians warned him not to try. They said he would only lose the support of businessmen. They said he would need campaign money from business if he expected to be elected president again. But Cleveland rejected their advice. He said, "What is the use of being elected or re-elected, if you don't stand for something."

So, late in 1887, Cleveland sent a tariff message to Congress.

He said it was wrong to raise more tax money than the government needed. When this happens, he said, money is withdrawn from the people's use and kept in the public treasury, where it does no good. It threatens the economy and invites dishonest attempts to use the money for private interests.

The government, he said, received most of this unnecessary tax money from tariffs. He said the present tariff laws were vicious, unfair, and illogical. He said they raised the prices of all imported goods which could be taxed. They also led American manufacturers to raise their prices as high as those charged for imported goods.

Cleveland said some men had become rich, because protective tariffs let them charge high prices. He noted that American businessmen like to talk about the strength and success of American industry. But he said that when the question of the tariff is raised, businessmen claim that industry is weak. They say they cannot compete with low-priced foreign products.

Cleveland said he did not propose that all tariffs be ended. He said some were needed to raise money for the government. And he said some industries could not exist unless they were protected by tariffs. But he said tariffs should not let some industries make huge profits.

Cleveland warned that it would be far better to make safe, careful, and intelligent changes in the tariff laws now. Otherwise, he said, there might come a time when an angry public would demand radical and sweeping changes.

The House of Representatives moved quickly to pass a moderate bill that would reduce many of the tariffs. The legislation -- called the Mills Bill -- was exactly what Cleveland wanted. But the bill ran into trouble in the Senate, where Republicans had control.

Senator William Allison, a Republican from Iowa, proposed a different tariff bill. It was one that would increase tariffs...not reduce them.

The Senate debated the tariff question for months. And since it was 1888 -- a presidential election year -- the tariff became an important election issue.

The Democrats promised low tariffs that would mean lower prices for the people. The Republicans defended high tariffs, which they said were necessary to protect American industry and labor.

The Democrats nominated Grover Cleveland for another four-year term. The Republicans held their nominating convention two weeks later.

That will be our story next week.


You have been listening to the Special English program, THE MAKING OF A NATION. Your narrators were Robert Bostic and Jack Weitzel. Our program was written by Frank Beardsley.


1. After 1850, many Chinese immigrants settled in _____________.
a: New York
b: Pennsylvania
c: California
d: Chicago

2. Chinese immigrants came to the US mostly to ________________ .
a: mine coal
b: build the railroad
c: work in steel mills
d: work in meat packing companies

3. In the year 1892, a law that barred Chinese immigrants ___________________.
a: was passed
b: was extended for ten years
c: was reversed
d: expired

4. The immigration law of 1882 didn't limit immigration for ______________ .
a: the mentally ill
b: people who could not support themselves
d: people from Italy or Greece

5. President Cleveland probably vetoed a proposed literacy test for new immigrants because he was on the side of _____________________ .
a: the Chinese
b: factory owners
c: educated immigrants
d: Henry Cabot Lodge

6. Immigrants from southern and eastern Europe after 1880 worked in ________________ .
a: coal mines
b: steel mills
c: meat packing plants
d: all of the above

7. One advantage British immigrants didn't have over European immigrants was _______________________ .
a: the ability to speak English
b: a willingness to work for very low pay
c: shared customs with Americans
d: job skills

8. American factory owners liked the new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe because these immigrants ________________ .
a: didn't speak English
b: demanded better working conditions
c: protested the long hours and low pay
d: didn't join unions

9. More Russian immigration to the U.S. happened _________ .
a: after 1880
b: in the early 19th Century
c: around 1860
d: during the Colonial Period

10. In the election of 1888, the most important issue and the one where Democrats and Republicans were most divided was _________________.
a: Cleveland's intention to lower tariffs
b: the easy passage of the Mills Bill in the Senate
c: the Democrats desire to increase the tariff
d: the problem of deficit spending by the government

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"The First Great Labor Leader: Samuel Gompers" from VOA.

I’m Phoebe Zimmerman. And I’m Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Program, PEOPLE IN AMERICA. Today we tell about one of the country’s greatest labor leaders, Samuel Gompers.


Samuel Gompers was born in London, England in eighteen fifty. His parents were poor people who had moved to England from the Netherlands to seek a better life. Sam was a very good student. However, when he was ten years old, he was forced to quit school and go to work to help feed the family. He was the oldest of five sons. Like his father, Sam became a tobacco cigar maker. He liked the cigar-making industry because it had a group of members. During meetings, workers could talk about their problems. This is where young Sam began to develop an interest in labor issues.

But life was difficult for the Gompers family in London, even with both Sam and his father working. They soon decided to move to the United States to again try to make a better life for themselves. In eighteen sixty-three, the Gompers family got on a ship and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. Seven weeks later, the ship arrived in New York City. The Gompers settled in a poor part of New York where many immigrants lived.

Sam soon learned that life in America was not easy. At that time, most people worked many hours each day for little money. They worked making goods in factories. Often these factories had poor working conditions. New York was known for these so-called “sweatshops.” Whole families, including young children, worked fourteen hours a day in sweatshops for just enough money to stay alive.

Sam hated the sweatshops and refused to work there. Instead, he and his father became cigar makers again. Soon Sam joined the Cigarmakers International Union. In those days, labor unions were not strong or permanent. They did little to help workers in their struggle for better working conditions and a better life. Sam believed this needed to change.


Sam Gompers was married at the age of seventeen. He became a father one year later. He earned a living making cigars in shops around New York City. Employers recognized him as a skilled and valuable worker. The men he worked with recognized him as an effective labor activist.

Sam also became a student of socialism. In eighteen seventy-three, he started working for an old German socialist, David Hirsch. Most of Mr. Hirsch’s workers were also socialists from Germany. These men became Samuel Gompers’ teachers. They taught him much about trade unions.

One teacher was Karl Laurrell, who had been the leader in Europe of the International Workingman’s Association. Mr. Laurrell taught Sam Gompers what labor unity meant. He also taught him about “collective bargaining.” This is how representatives of labor groups meet with the people they work for and negotiate an agreement. For example, labor and management might negotiate for more money, fewer hours and cleaner working places for workers.

In time, Samuel Gompers used his knowledge of labor issues to help cigar makers throughout New York form a single, representative union. It was called the Cigarmakers’ Local Number One Hundred Forty-Four. Each cigar shop in New York had its own small union that elected a representative to sit on the council of a larger union. In eighteen seventy-five, this council elected Mr. Gompers as president of Cigarmakers’ Local Number One Hundred Forty-Four.

The union’s constitution was like the constitution of a democratic government. All people in the union had a representative voice. Experts say the organizing of Cigarmakers’ Local Number One Hundred Forty-Four was the beginning of the American labor movement.

Sam Gompers believed that one day all working men and women could belong to organized trade unions. He believed workers should not be forced to sell their labor at too low a price. He also believed each person must have the power to improve his or her own life. A person can get this power by joining with others in a union. He believed a democratic trade union can speak and act for all its workers. This is the same way a democratic government speaks for the people because voters elect officials to represent them.


Labor organizations began to grow stronger in America during the late nineteenth century. At the same time, Sam Gompers started to speak of new ideas. He dreamed of bringing all trade unions together into one big, nation-wide organization that could speak with one voice for workers throughout the country.

In eighteen eighty-one, Mr. Gompers was sent as the delegate of the cigar makers union to a conference of unions. The delegates agreed to organize an alliance called the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada. The alliance held yearly meeting of national union and local labor councils. It was designed to educate the public on worker issues, prepare labor-related legislation, and pressure Congress to approve such bills. Sam Gompers was an officer in the alliance for five years.

During that time, he worked for several measures to improve the lives of workers and children. These included proposals to reduce the work day to eight hours, limit child labor and require children to attend school. He soon learned, however, that the alliance of unions had neither the money nor the power to do much more than talk about these issues. So, in eighteen eighty-six, Sam Gompers helped organize a new union for all labor unions. It was called the American Federation of Labor.


Sam Gompers was elected president of the American Federation of Labor in eighteen eighty-six. He held that position, except for one year, for thirty-eight years until he died. In eighteen ninety, the A.F.L. represented two hundred fifty thousand workers. Two years later, the number had grown to more than one million workers. Under his leadership, the A.F.L. grew from a few struggling labor unions to become the major organization within the labor movement in the United States.

As leader of the A.F.L. Mr. Gompers had enemies both within and outside the labor movement. Some opponents believed Mr. Gompers was more interested in personal power than in improving the rights of workers. They believed his ideas about strikes and collective bargaining could not stop big business. They believed the American Federation of Labor was a conservative organization designed to serve skilled workers only.

Other opponents considered Sam Gompers a foreign-born troublemaker who wanted to destroy property rights. At the same time, opponents in industry and business feared that the labor leader was demanding too much for workers. They said his talk violated the law, and that he excited workers and urged them to strike.

Sam Gompers was not troubled by any of these attacks. He argued that because there was freedom of speech in America, he would not be afraid to speak freely. He said that no one hated strikes more than he did because workers suffered the most in a strike. However, he said that in a democracy, strikes were necessary. After a strike, he said, businessmen and workers understood each other better and this was good for the nation. He said: “I hope the day will never come when the workers surrender their right to strike.”

Sam Gompers also had an interest in international labor issues. At the end of World War One, he attended the Versailles Treaty negotiations. He was helpful in creating the International Labor Organization under the League of Nations. He also supported trade unionism in Mexico.

Samuel Gompers died in nineteen twenty-four. He is remembered as “the grand old man of labor.” He worked during his whole life for one cause – improving the rights of workers. He led the fight for shorter working hours, higher pay, safe and clean working conditions and democracy in the workplace.

In nineteen fifty-five, the American Federation of Labor joined with the Congress of Industrial Organization to form the A.F.L.-C.I.O. This organization has become an influential part of American economic and political life. It has also helped improve the lives of millions of American workers.


This Special English Program was written by Jill Moss. It was produced by Cynthia Kirk. I’m Phoebe Zimmerman. And I’m Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another PEOPLE IN AMERICA Program on the VOICE OF AMERICA.


1. Samuel Gompers was born in ___________ .
a. New York City
b. Chicago
c. London, England
d. Mexico

2. In the United States, Samuel Gompers became a ___________ .
a. sweatshop owner
b. socialist agitator
c. cigar maker
d. piano player

3. A factory with poor working conditions is called a ___________ .
a. labor union
b. family business
c. sweatshop
d. clean work place

4. Negotiation between workers and owners is called ____________ .
a. collective bargaining
b. a federation of labor
c. a strike
d. a democratic union

5. The American labor movement started with an organization of __________ .
a. plumbers
b. cigarmakers
c. socialists
d. unions

6. One of the objects of the early labor movement was to put limits on ___________ .
a. workers' pay
b. cigar production
c. child labor
d. union formation

7. Samuel Gompers wasn't afraid to express himself because in America, there is freedom of ___________ .
a. religion
b. speech
c. travel
d. employment

8. Samuel Gompers became president of the ___________ in 1886.
a. C.I.O
b. F.B.I
c. U.S.A
d. A.F.L

9. Another name for this story could be "_____________".
a. The History of Cigars
b. The Story of Unions
c. A Great Labor Leader
d. 20th Century Activism

10. This article is mainly about ___________ .
a. going on strike
b. the eight-hour work day
c. sweatshops
d. Samuel Gompers

Also, read about Peter J. McGuire and the first Labor Day.

Samuel Gompers in Wikipedia.

Events in Samuel Gompers's Life, from Youtube:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Marion Anderson" She was famous around the world. From VOA.


I'm Shirley Griffith.


And I'm Steve Ember with People in America in VOA Special English. Today, we begin the first of two reports about singer Marian Anderson.

(MUSIC: "Wide River")

Marian Anderson performing at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939

A tall black woman is singing in a concert hall. Her eyes are closed. She is not looking at the crowd of people sitting silently before her. But she feels their presence. She tries to make the music touch their minds and hearts. Her deep, powerful voice reaches out to all parts of the concert hall.

She finishes, and there is a long silence. Then the people clap and cheer. They call out for another song. And they call out her name: Marian Anderson.


Marian Anderson was an American. But she found success in Europe before finding it in her own country. She was born in eighteen ninety-seven in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She grew up surrounded by poverty. Yet she remembered her family as a happy one.

The Andersons were deeply religious and involved in their church. It was in church where Marian first began to sing in public. She was six years old. The songs she sang were spirituals -- the religious songs that African Americans sang as slaves. The songs are about suffering, and the hope of a better life after death.


Marian's interest in music grew as she got older. When she was eight, her father brought home an old piano. She never thought she would be able to play it. One day, however, she heard piano music coming from an open window. She looked inside the house. There she saw a woman, playing ever so beautifully. Her skin was dark, like Marian's. She knew then that if another black woman could play the piano so could she.

The Andersons were too poor to pay someone to teach Marian. So she was able to teach herself only a few simple songs. Her voice remained her most important musical instrument.


Marian's father died when she was ten years old. She had to go to work to help support her family. She continued to sing at church on Sunday. Soon, other churches heard of the young girl with the beautiful, deep voice. They invited her to sing for them. Marian accepted. She began singing in African-American churches all over Philadelphia.


At about this time, several people told Marian that she should have a voice teacher. They told her that a beautiful voice can be destroyed if it is not trained. Marian said she always sang naturally, without any thought of how she did it. She realized that she would need some training.

The people in Marian's church were very proud of her. They wanted to help, even though many of them were as poor as the Anderson family. They collected enough money to pay for a few voice lessons. She went to a local music school in Philadelphia.


A group of girls was waiting to enter the school. Before Marian could enter, however, a young white woman who worked in the school told her to go away. "We do not take black people here," she said. Marian was shocked. Never before had anyone insulted her because of her race. Years later, she remembered her feelings:


"I just looked at the woman. I was shocked that such words could come from someone so young. I did not understand how a person surrounded by the joy of music could not have some of its sense and beauty inside her. It was as if a cold and horrible hand had touched me. I had never heard such brutal words. My skin was different, but not my feelings. "


Marian Anderson was to hear those hateful words many times again during her life.

(MUSIC: "Wide River")


Marian Anderson continued to sing at churches and special gatherings. Her singing became more widely known. But she still felt that her voice needed training. Finally, a friend promised to help her meet a well-known voice teacher. The teacher was Giuseppe Boghetti. Only the best singers in Philadelphia were his students.

Marian went to see Mister Boghetti. She was nervous, because she wanted to please him. He told her that he already had too many students. He made it clear that he would listen only because he knew her friend. Marian's nervousness disappeared when she began to sing. The song she chose was one she knew best. It was called "Deep River".

(MUSIC: "Deep River")


Mister Boghetti sat quietly when Marian finished. There were tears in his eyes. Finally, he said: "You will start training at once. I will need just two years with you. After that, you will be able to go anywhere and sing for anybody. "

Marian Anderson was very happy. Her friends agreed to help pay for her lessons. Mister Boghetti taught her how to control and direct her voice. He also taught her how to breathe correctly. Marian learned to sing classical music -- the songs of the great European composers.

(MUSIC: "Die Forelle")


Marian Anderson grew to love opera, because it joined singing and acting. But Mister Boghetti advised her not to choose opera as a way to make a living. He knew that black singers in America were not permitted to sing with white opera groups. Instead, he told her she could be successful by singing in concert theaters. She followed his advice.

In nineteen twenty-four, Anderson sang in New York City for the first time. In those days, a singer had to be recognized in New York to be successful everywhere else. She sang in one of the most important concert theaters in the city -- Town Hall.

She sang some spirituals and some classical music. She wanted to make sure she would be judged as a singer who happened to be black -- not as a black singer.

(MUSIC: "Ch'io mai vi possa")


Marian Anderson's town hall concert was not successful. Few people came to listen. The next day, newspapers sharply criticized her. They said she sang the European music without feeling or understanding. Anderson was crushed. She decided to return to Philadelphia. She thought about never singing again.

(MUSIC: "Heav'n Heav'n")


This program was written by Shelley Gollust. It was produced by Lawan Davis. I'm Shirley Griffith.


And I'm Steve Ember. Join us again next week for People in America in VOA Special English. We continue the story of Marian Anderson and how she went on to gain great success as a singer.

He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,
He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the the tiny little baby in His hands,
He´s got the the tiny little baby in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got you and me, brother, in His hands,
He´s got you and me, brother, in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He's got ev'rybody here in His hands.
He's got ev'rybody here in His hands.
He's got the whole world in His hands.

1. He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.
He's got the earth and sky in his hands;
He's got the night and day in his hands;
He's got the sun and moon in his hands;
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

2. He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.
He's got the land and sea in his hands;
He's got the wind and rain in his hands;
He's got the spring and fall in his hands;
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

3. He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.
He's got the young and old in his hands;
He's got the rich and poor in his hands;
Yes, he's got ev'ry one in his hands;
He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands,
He´s got the whole world in His hands.