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Immigration during the Gilded Age
Transcript of Immigration during the Gilded Age
designed by Péter Puklus for Prezi
In the beginning of the nineteenth century German, Irish, Chinese, Mexican, Scandinavian and French Canadians flooded into the United States in search of better work and a better life in this so-called "New World". The largest groups were by far the German, Irish and Mexican.
The japanese and Chinese settlers relocated to the American West Coast. A lot of them settled in places such as Chinatown, Greek Town, and Little Italy because of the comfort and feeling like home.
Tenement housing and factory work had horrible conditions but became popular because of the large amounts of immigrates. Many immigrants did not intend to become American citizens they just wanted to earn enough money to send their family and eventually return to their native country. The United States proved to be a promise land for most immigrants, the nation provided jobs, the chance for education, and religious freedom.
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first Act to restrict immigration in the United States. The rush of the Chinese into the United States was due to the collapsing economy in China and specifically, the gold rush of 1849. Chinese immigrants began to occupy jobs which forced the white American citizens to compete for employment with them. The Chinese were heavily discriminated against by many different racial groups because some people believed the Chinese’s low wage reduced all wages.
Where they Settled
German- Northeast and Midwest
Irish- Eastern cities (Boston, Philadelphia and New York)
Mexicans- Southwest and California (mainly Texas after it was annexed in 1845)
New immigrants played a significant mark on American society no matter where they settled. Their labor mostly contributed to the building railroads and canals, as well as the supplying of foods from factories. These cities began to thrive because of the introduction of new customs, new foods and new sounds.
Difficulties of "Old" Immigration in the "New" World
"New" Immigration took place during the Gilded Age. Most of the immigrants were from Greece, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Serbia, Russia and Croatia. The vast majority of immigrants were Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. However, Jews from Eastern Europe began to immigrate as well because of increasing persecution. Very few of the settlers spoke English and some were illiterate in their own language.
Where they settled
Life of the "New" Immigrant
Native-born Americans worried that their country was being "overrun by foreigners".
Such disposition fueled the growth of hate groups and racism.
Issues of probation divided native-born reformers from immigrant groups.
Sample text from the Act
“Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the expiration of ninety days next after the passage of this act, and until the expiration of ten years next after the passage of this act, the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States be, and the same is hereby, suspended; and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come, or having so come after the expiration of said ninety days to remain within the United States.”
-The Act punished by fining or imprisoning anyone who attempted to bring in Chinese (Sec. 2)
-No Chinese shall receive citizenship (Sec 14)
-If any Chinese are to leave the US, they must record name, age, occupation, last place of residence, physical marks of peculiarities, and all facts necessary for the identification of each of such Chinese laborers and they will receive a certificate with all of this information on it which will guarantee the re-enter and departure into the country (Sec 4)
National Origins Act 1924
Congress passed the National Origins Act of 1924 which was discriminatory because it restricted the immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans and almost excluded all Asians and other nonwhites from entering the U.S. The act also prohibited immigration for those who could not obtain citizenship, mainly Asians. This act lowered annual immigration from 358,000 to 164,000. However, it was finally abolished in the 1960s.
National Origins Act 1929
The second National Origins Act in 1929 further reduced the annual number of immigrants allowed into the U.S. to 150,000. This Act was passed because many U.S. citizens felt there were not enough restrictions for immigrants.
The Melting Pot Metaphor of Society
According to the Melting Pot Theory people from various cultures come to America and contribute aspects of their culture to create a new, unique American culture.
The result is that contributions from many cultures are indistinguishable from one another and are effectively "melted" together.
Ideal to Americans during the Gilded Age
Melting Pot in the Gilded Age
Immigrants maintained their customs and religions, despite efforts to Americanize them. However, most immigrants had to learn the English language in order to function in society.
Some immigrants put themselves through school during whatever free time they could find. Some of the educated immigrants worked to teach others English.
An example of one of these educated people was Abraham Cahan, a Russian Jew and journalist. He edited a Jewish newspaper in the U.S. which chronicled stories of the immigrant experience and the struggles they faced. As a more educated and successful immigrant, Cahan wrote a column in a paper that responded to Jewish readers concerns about adjusting to their new life.
The Salad Bowl Theory of Immigration
According to the Salad Bowl Theory there are times when newly arrived immigrants do not lose the unique aspects of their cultures like in the melting pot model, instead they retain them. The unique characteristics of each culture are still identifiable within the larger American society, much like the ingredients in a salad are still identifiable, yet contribute to the overall makeup of the salad bowl.
containing a mixture in which each ingredient remains distinct but contributes its own flavor and texture.
The American Salad Bowl
“Nativism is a deep seated American antipathy towards ethnic groups within the united states displaying national, cultural, or religious differences from mainstream Anglo-American Society” (Muchnick).
Nativism existed in the United States before the Civil War, with the Irish and German immigrants, and after the Civil War, with Eastern European immigrants as well as Japanese and Chinese immigrants
Darwinism was a major factor in the creation of Nativism.
New immigrants were seen as mentally and physically inferior to America’s Northern Europeans who had been living in America for hundreds of years.
•Major organizations that formed because of Nativism: the American Protective Organization and the Immigration Restriction League
The Know-Nothing Party
• The Know-Nothing party was a political party formed prior to the Civil War to oppose the large number of immigrants entering the United States after 1845.
• They were originally a secret fraternity known as the “Order of the Star Spangled Banner.” They got their names as Know-Nothing s because whenever they were asked questions about the fraternity and nativism they replied “I know nothing”
• Attracted middle-class and working-class Americans who were angered by the job competition with the New immigrants and the fear of corruption within the Protestant church by the Roman Catholics.
• The Know-Nothings attempted to isolate the immigrants by trying to pass laws that:
increased the amount of time the immigrants had to stay within the United States before becoming citizens, excluded foreign-born and Catholic immigrants from office, prohibited alcohol, and restricted Protestants from public school teaching.
• The Know-Nothing party disappeared because of the growth of the anti-Slavery movement.
The concept that eventually immigrants or their decedents adopt enough of the American culture, so that they are identifiable as specifically American. To become Americanized, the immigrants would have to replace their original customs with new American traditions.
In the political cartoon, the artist is stressing how negatively the native born citizens looked at Irish immigration. As immigration increased the population of Catholics increased as well because the majority of Irish and Italians were Catholic. In the cartoon, what seems to be alligators are actually Catholic Popes symbolizing all of the Irish, invading America and destroying society and Christianity.
Many immigrants came to the U.S. with the dream of owning land, but most jobs were in cities Most of immigrants crowded into the urban areas of the U.S., creating Little Italys, Chinatowns, and other distinct ethnic areas
The Chinese were discriminated against more than any other ethnic minority of the time. One of the reasons why they were targeted was because they were more easily distinguishable from Americans in their clothing and hairstyles and physical appearance.
However, their large numbers and their insistence on maintaining their own customs became an added irritant. This was an attitude not really different than those of all other ethnic groups. Not surprisingly, the Chinese were unmoved by efforts to Christianize them.
Immigration officials had to change the spelling of some of the immigrant’s last names because they were unable to understand the spelling of their real names
The immigrants had to adapt to the new American landscape because they were not familiar with the geography or climate of America. The foreigners were forced to learn new methods for growing crops in America. For example, the Scandinavians who came to America were used to living in the mountains as opposed to the American prairie. The Scandinavian farmers were accustomed to growing cabbage, but they were forced to plant crops such as corn, barley, and wheat.
Many immigrants learned how to speak English and encouraged their children to receive an education
Jews who lived in New York City on the Lower East Side could take classes in English or attend classes on American government taught in Yiddish at Isidor Straus Educational Alliance
Salad Bowl vs. Melting Pot
Immigration during the Gilded Age was more characteristic of the melting pot theory because Americanization was not completely successful.
Immigrants maintained their customs and they were easily discernible in many aspects from of Americans.
Although immigrants assimilated in the aspect of language, the cultural idea of America as a “melting pot” was less pertinent to the Gilded Age than the Salad Bowl theory.