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Washington, September 30, 1919. Sir: Except for a quarter million North American Indians, descendants of the natives whom the white settlers found here, the people of the United States are all foreign born or the descendants of foreign-born ancestors. All are immigrants or the offspring of immigrants. The oldest American families are so new in this country that they have hardly forgotten the traditions and the home ties of the countries from which they came. Though we are now more than a hundred millions of people between our double oceans, we have yet to celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of the second of the colonies out of which the Nation has grown; 150 years ago there were less than three millions of us.

From all the world we have come, mostly sons of the poor, all striving to better our conditions in some way, all looking for a larger measure of freedom than was possible for us in the countries from which we came. Here, free from the domination of autocratic government and from the poisoning influences of decadent aristocracies, forgetting our fears and servile habits, we have elevated the best from all countries into a common possession, transfused and transformed it by our highest and best ideals, and called it Americanism. A new thing is this in the world, and withal the most precious possession the world has. Though incomplete, and still in the formative stage, growing richer and grander as the years go by, constantly clearing and purifying itself, its form and spirit are quite well determined.

To enter into this common heritage of the best of all, to be inspired with these ideals, to learn to understand the institutions which guarantee our freedom and rights and enable us to work together for the common good, to resolve to forget all purely selfish means for the work of the highest welfare of our country and of the world, is to become Americanized. To give to the foreign-born population in the United States, and all others, the fullest and freest opportunity for this, is what we in the Bureau of Education mean by Americanization. Every part of our program is directed to this end.

Americanization is a process of education, of winning the mind and heart through instruction and enlightenment. From the very nature of the thing it can make little or no use of force. It must depend, rather, on the attractive power and the sweet reasonableness of the thing itself. Were it to resort to force, by that very act it would destroy its spirit and cease to be American. It would also cease to be American if it should become narrow and fixed and exclusive, losing its faith in humanity and rejecting vital and enriching elements from any source whatever.

Our program of education does not compel but invites and allures. It may, therefore, probably must, in the beginning be slow; but in the end it will be swift and sure.

Americanization is not something which the Government or a group of individuals may do for the foreign born or others. It is what these persons do for themselves when the opportunity is offered and they are shown the way; what they do for the country and the thing called democracy. The function of the Government and all other agencies interested in Americanization is to offer the opportunity, make the appeal, and inspire the desire. They can and should attempt nothing more than to reveal in all their fullness the profit and the joy of working together for the common good and the attainment of our high ideals, to create the desire to have a part in the inspiring task, to show the way by which each may do his part best, and to help him set his feet firmly on the way.

Therefore, the real work of Americanization must be a community affair. Federal and State Governments can only help the several communities to discover their problems, inspire them to the task of its solution, direct their efforts, and coordinate their work. To assist in doing this is the purpose of the manuscript transmitted herewith for publication as a bulletin of the Bureau of Education. Its spirit and the methods it advocates are, I believe, in harmony with the soundest and best policies of Americanization. Respectfully submitted.




Americanization is in the end a task for the individual citizen and not for the Government. The individual can be successful in so human a problem only by having a sympathetic knowledge of his task and of those with whom he must deal.

To supply at least the foundations of this knowledge is the purpose of this book. The contents are taken largely from the lives and experiences of successful workers in Americanization as revealed at the conference of May, 1919. Those who desire a fuller knowledge of the work are referred to the complete proceedings of that conference. That volume may be secured from the Government Printing Office at a cost of 35 cents.

It is evident that such a book as this must be written for the layman. The expert will find little or nothing herein that is new. The technical phases of the problem are being covered by other writers in books which will be issued in the near future as bulletins of the Bureau of Education. These will include “ The Training of Teachers for Americanization," “ The Teaching of English to the Foreign Born,” and “The Teaching of Native Illiterates."



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