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Immigration in the Gilded Age
Transcript of Immigration in the Gilded Age
Think about some reasons that people leave their home-country to come to the United States. Pair up with the person next to you and share your answers with them. Then write down three reasons that the two of you came up with.
The New Immigrants
During the Gilded Age, there was a wave of new immigrants, coming to America in large numbers from places that they had not been coming from in the past.
What regions were most of the new immigrants coming from?
What does this cartoon suggest about immigrants coming to America?
Bad Living Conditions
Immigrants working in the cities lived in terrible conditions. They were packed into tenements - cramped apartments,, often without bathrooms, running water, or electricity.
Immigrants traveled by boat, in cramped quarters and often with all of their possessions in a single bag.
Once they arrived, they were processed by the government. They were given papers and had their names recorded. If they had certain diseases, they were sent back. Most European immigrants arrived at Ellis Island in New York City. Most Asian immigrants arrived at Angel Island in San Francisco.
A result of both industrialism and immigration was rapid urbanization - the growth of cities. New York City, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco were growing very quickly - in 1890, New York was the most densely populated city in the world.
The tenements these immigrants lived in were usually in unofficially segregated ghettos - poor neighborhoods with people of the same ethnic group. This led to the creation of Chinatowns, Little Italys, etc. in major cities.
Another problem immigrants faced in America was Nativism - a movement that favored native-born Americans and looked down on immigrants. Nativists wanted to restrict immigration, especially from "non-white" countries.
Why so afraid?
Nativists feared the New Immigrants for a number of reasons:
they were often not Protestant Christians
they often didn't speak English
they would work for less and thus take jobs from "Natives"
Just watch the first 20 seconds of this one.
The Chinese Exclusion Act
In California, Nativism was strongest against Asians, especially Chinese immigrants. Nativists blamed Chinese immigrants for the high unemployment and low wages in California. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act temporarily banned immigration from China to the U.S..
The Gentlemen's Agreement
In 1906, there were just 93 Japanese immigrant children going to school in San Francisco. Then on April 18th there was a terrible earthquake followed by fires, destroying much of the city, including some schools. Nativists on the San Francisco school board used the lack of buildings as an excuse to segregate students. When the Japanese government found out that Japanese kids were being segregated from white kids, they protested to U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt.
The Gentlemen's Agreement
The President and the Japanese leaders reached an agreement called the Gentlemen's Agreement - San Francisco agreed to not segregate Japanese students and Japan agreed to not allow people to emigrate to the U.S. unless they had family here.
Before the Agreement
After the Agreement
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
The above lines are written on the base of the Statue of Liberty. What do you think they are saying? Did America live up to it during the Gilded Age? Does America live up to it today? Explain your answer.