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Instructor name Date The Benefits and Costs of Early Immigration Prior to 1890, the vast majority of immigrants to the U.S. originated from Western and Northern European countries such as Germany, Britain and the Scandinavian regions…
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Download file to see previous pages (Pedraza 1996). This mass influx of immigrants was needed and welcomed. The Industrial Revolution was in full swing during this time, society was completing its transformation from farm to city life and urban manpower was in short supply. The immigrants had jobs and could build their new life and America benefited because this endless source of labor streaming into Ellis Island made it the most industrialized and economically successful country in the world. Immigrants from this period and those descended from them have been very influential in the area of creative arts over the past century. They dominated the entertainment industry during the first half of the 1900’s accounting for many of the top actors, writers, producers and directors in the American movie industry. This mutually beneficial relationship, however, came at a cost to both the immigrants and their new country. From 1890 to 1918, the country grew by a larger percentage that at any other 30 year period before or since. The Eastern European immigrants flocked to the new industrial jobs in the city which filled an economical need in America. On the other hand, their presence also instigated a cultural divide between the current resident small-town Protestant farmers and the new Catholic immigrants with the thick accents who were not ‘men of the land’ but rather had succumbed to the sinful life of the city. (Crossen, 2006). Prior to 1890, the majority of the voting public was considered within the boundaries of the social middle-class. By 1918, the country had become more socially divided. The rapid growth of the immigrant population became a threat to the country’s natural resources when there had been plenty for all. The expansion of people and settlements along with over-hunting led to the creation of federal preservation programs such as the federal parks. During the turn of the 20th century, the fear of immigrants reached a fever pitch. The roots of this new racism were from ‘old world’ anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic mind-sets. The ideology that grew from immigrant racism is the belief that the Western and Northern European Anglo-Saxon heritage was a superior ‘race’ to Eastern and Southern Europeans. (Higham, 1988). These widespread beliefs had an effect on immigration policy in the U.S. which, in the early 1900’s, moved to limit the numbers and types of people allowed to immigrate. The anti-foreigner sentiment crossed all segments of society, from the Protestant farmers in the furthest reaches of the rural regions to Ivy League elitists. A Harvard-educated man formed the Immigration Restriction League in 1894 which made recommendations to the government. They advocated testing the literacy of refugees as a prerequisite to entering the country or gaining citizenship. This was intended to slow the number of immigrants from Eastern and Southern European which had been, “sending an alarming number of illiterates, paupers, criminals, and madmen who endangered American character and citizenship.” (Hirschman, 2006). Many Americans, known as nativists, concluded that the rate of immigration, especially from Eastern European counntries, should either be greatly reduced or halted altogether. “The myth of the melting pot has been discredited,” said Representative Albert Johnson, (R) who was one of many congressmen concerned about America’s ‘open-door’ policy. “The day of unalloyed welcome to all peoples, the day of indiscriminate ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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