The movement of emigration may be divided into two currents, temporary and permanentthe former going chiefly towards neighboring European countries and to North Africa, and consisting of manual laborers, the latter towards trans-oceanic countries, principally Brazil, Argentina and the United States.
Millet, however, is still cultivated in the north of Italy, and is used as bread for agricultural laborers, and as forage when mixed with buckwheat (Sorghum saccaratum).
The condition of the numerous agricultural laborers (who constitute one-third of the population) is, except in some regions, hard, and in places absolutely miserable.
The terms of agrarian contracts and leases (except in districts where mezzadria prevails in its essential form), are in many regions disadvantageous to the laborers, who suffer from the obligation to provide guarantees for payment of rent, for repayment of seed corn and for the division of products.
In Liguria, on account of the comparative rarity of large estates, agricultural laborers are in a better condition.
In Emilia the day laborers, known as disobbligati, earn, on the contrary, low wages, out of which they have to provide for shelter and to lay by something against unemployment.
In Tuscany, however, the prevalence of mezzadria, properly so called, has raised the laborers position.
Yet in some Tusban provinces, as, for instance, that of Grosseto, where malaria rages, laborers are organized in gangs under corporals, who undertake harvest work.
Com posed mainly of elements drawn from the Left, and dependent for a majority upon the support of the subversive groups of the Extreme Left, the formation of this cabinet gave the signal for a vast working-class movement, during which the Socialist party sought to extend its political influence by means of strikes and the organization of labor leagues among agricultural laborers and artisans.
The strikes and other economic agitations at this time may be divided roughly into three groups: strikes in industrial centres for higher wages, shorter hours and better labor conditions generally; strikes of agricultural laborers in northern Italy for better contracts with the landlords; disturbances among the south Italian peasantry due to low wages, unemployment (particularly in Apulia), and the claims of the laborers to public land occupied illegally by the landlords, combined with local feuds and the struggle for power of the various influential families.
One consequence of the agrarian agitations was the increased use of machinery and the reduction in the number of hands employed, which if it proved advantageous to the landlord and to the few laborers retained, who received higher wages, resulted in an increase of unemployment.
In August there were strikes among the dock laborers of Genoa and the iron workers of Florence; the latter agitation developed into a general strike in that city, which aroused widespread indignation among the orderly part of the population and ended without any definite result.
It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the houses of its children ...
I hardly need refer now to the laborers in our Southern States who produce the staple exports of this country, and are themselves a staple production of the South.
I remember when wages were sixty cents a day for laborers on this very road.
I was wont to pity the clumsy Irish laborers who cut ice on the pond, in such mean and ragged clothes, while I shivered in my more tidy and somewhat more fashionable garments, till, one bitter cold day, one who had slipped into the water came to my house to warm him, and I saw him strip off three pairs of pants and two pairs of stockings ere he got down to the skin, though they were dirty and ragged enough, it is true, and that he could afford to refuse the extra garments which I offered him, he had so many intra ones.
On one of his estates the three hundred serfs were liberated and became free agricultural laborers--this being one of the first examples of the kind in Russia.