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Jim Kershner’s This day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

Immigration was a combustible issue in Spokane in 1910, symbolized by a controversy over the employment of “alien labor” on city construction projects.

The city had a law on its books requiring that people working on municipal projects had to be U.S. citizens and Spokane residents.

The law was a way to protect local jobs – but it also reflected the distrust of immigrants flooding into the city.

The Spokesman-Review breathlessly reported that a city investigator discovered that a certain construction company was employing “many Italians,” mostly single men. They were all living in one boardinghouse in what the paper described as “squalor.”

In another case, city inspectors discovered that 90 percent of a paving company’s employees were foreigners who could not “read, write or even spell their own names.” Nor did they have naturalization papers.

The agent questioned one Russian, who replied, “Yep, me got papers,” and proceeded to hand over a pack of cigarette papers.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1889: The first jukebox made its debut in San Francisco. … 2000: In a setback for Al Gore, the Florida Supreme Court refused to order Miami-Dade County officials to resume hand-counting its Election Day ballots.