Bailey Hayes Essay

1923 words - 8 pages

People immigrated to America for a plethora of different reasons, some of which included religion, freedom to create, and the opportunity for a prosperous life. However, it is possible for all of these reasons to be grouped into one, extremely simplified, category. Someone wasn’t happy in their own country, and they thought they would be happier in America. Immigrants firmly believed that their life would be better in America, so they abandoned their home country. They left to escape the hardships of their former life, but they had no idea how many hardships awaited them; circumstances made their lives problematic regardless of where they lived. Immigrants held an extremely wearying ...view middle of the document...

Religion may have been the first reason immigrants came to America, but it certainly wasn’t the only reason. Immigration was driven by the promise of a better life elsewhere. America promised more jobs, more food, more land, and better opportunities for the children of immigrants. For example, the Irish potato famine led to a massive increase in immigration, as America promised more food than Ireland (“The History Place - Irish Potato Famine: Gone to America”). For those who obtained the means to travel, it made no sense to stay in a place where there was not enough food. America held an abundance of resources to be taken by anyone willing to work hard enough to acquire them.
Resources are like a magnet; people flock to natural resources. Resources drew people to America. Land was plentiful, and people wanted to stake their claim before prices rose. There was enough space for everyone, and anyone could obtain land. Settlers simply had to work the land they owned (Hine and Faragher).
Immigration provided a chance to start over. In My Ántonia by Willa Cather, the Russians, Pavel and Peter, told a story about a pack of wolves eating an entire wedding party; they were the only two survivors. They had no choice but to commit some very immoral acts in order to survive. Pavel and Peter came to America shortly after the fiasco as the story of their immoral act followed them everywhere they went in Russia (30-32). Immigrating to a new country meant starting with a clean slate. No one knew the ugly secrets of the immigrants’ past.
Immigrants didn’t only leave their home to escape the past; they also looked to the future. Many families immigrated to ensure a better future for their children. America was the land of opportunity, and everyone received a chance to change the status quo. It was often hard to move up in the social classes of Europe and Asia; children were placed in the same class as their parents. The jobs available to workers were based on social class, education, and connections. Lower classes didn’t possess the right connections or much time for education, so they attained the worst jobs. The vicious cycle often continued for generations, which made it nearly impossible for children to find new opportunities to change their economic standing. America had social classes, but they were much less rigid than those of Europe, especially in San Francisco. European immigrants in San Francisco were not excluded from “the ladder of economic and social mobility” as other minorities, such as the Chinese, were (Hine and Faragher 422). Lee Chew, a Chinese immigrant summarized the condition of his people quite effectively; he stated, “The treatment of the Chinese in this country is all wrong and mean.” This statement can be applied to nearly every minority that arrived in the U.S. (“Italian - Working Across the Country - Immigration…- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources - Library of Congress”).
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