Immigration to America in the Early 1900's
In the eyes of the early American colonists and the founders of the Constitution, the United States was to represent the ideals of acceptance and tolerance to those of all walks of life. When the immigration rush began in the mid-1800's, America proved to be everything but that. The millions of immigrants would soon realize the meaning of hardship and rejection as newcomers, as they attempted to assimilate into American culture. For countless immigrants, the struggle to arrive in America was rivaled only by the struggle to gain acceptance among the existing American population.
It has been said that immigration is as old as America itself. Immigration traces back as far as the 1500's when the West faced the coming of the Spanish. At that time, the Americas had been settled by the Indians, who were soon threatened by the first immigrants of America. These Spanish conquerors threatened to undermine the culture of the Indians as well as their way of life. Evidently, immigration started from the beginning of our country's time and has had an everlasting effect on America today.
Between 1880 and 1920 almost twenty-four million immigrants came to the United States. Between better salaries, religious freedom, and a chance to get ahead in life, were more than enough reasons for leaving their homelands for America. Because of poverty, no future and various discrimination in their homelands, the incentive to leave was increasing. During the mid-1800's and early 1900's, the labor and farm hands in Eastern Europe were only earning about 15 to 30 a day. In America, they earned 50 cents to one dollat in a day, doubling their paycheck. Those lower wage earners in their homeland were stuck in lowest paid jobs and had no chances to upgrade themselves.
Many left their homelands in search of a better life and soon, word got out on how great things were in America. The job recruiters form America hung posters and told stories about free land, a lot of opportunity to work for good money, and above all, the freedom to do as they wish. Many were aspired to come to the "land of honey where all the streets were paved with gold". Fueled by the news of the California Gold Rush, they arrived in America looking to strike it rich with hopes of being able to send money back to their poor rural homes, or of returning to their country in a few years with newly acquired wealth.
One of the largest groups ever to immigrate to the United States was the Chinese. In 1842 the British Empire defeated China in the first Opium War. China was forced to pay indemnities of 21 million silver dollars and open five ports to foreign commerce. As a result, peasant farmers were heavily taxed. A series of floods and crop failures in Southern China lead to poverty and famine among peasant farmers. The British were given the power to preside over the immigration of the Chinese people. Eventually 12 treaty ports were opened to...