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Opposition To Immigration In 19th And 20th Century America

1137 words - 5 pages

Immigration in 19th and 20th Century America

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many American nativist groups opposed free unrestricted immigration. Although racism is a main reason, there were many others. Economic, political, social and moral standards seemed to be threatened by these newcomers. The immigrants were unfamiliar of the language and customs that we take for granted in our everyday lives. The fear that gripped the nation was why people reacted so strongly against immigrants. The people feared change might distort the course of our prospering country. We did not want to become what those immigrants were fleeing.
Many economic changes were changing the pace of our nation during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. There were changes being made in how business was being taken care of and how the workers were being treated. Strikes and riots were a constant concern to factory owners. They felt they could not afford to risk their enterprise to demonstrations of dissatisfaction by their workers. By the owners standards, their workers were being paid quite well. However, an immigrant would be willing to twice as much work for half the wages. Millions of immigrants came to America looking for work. This made many Americans apprehensive at the thought of immigrants taking over their jobs. With so many immigrants, who were thought of as untrained, dirty, uncultivated and an inconvenience, factory owners feared that they would be unable to control such kind of unfamiliar people. These immigrants stuck together, almost like animals, nativists thought. Living in ethnic communities, and working in groups with one another. Separately they were seen as weak and unworthy of any basic human care. However, when they were together, they were generalized and stereotyped. against any immigration economic support whatsoever. This was not a single view, but a reflection of how the entire nativist nation felt.
Many political changes were also being made during this abstract time period. Immigrants were new to our elaborate and tangled web of politics. In fact many nativist Americans didn't understand our political system all to well. Many people had the conception that immigrants were too half-witted to follow American politics. After all they were not even born here. Immigrants tended to vote in blocks together. In document 7, according to magazine writer, E.A. Ross thought that foreigners were underhanded and corrupt. They polluted everything "good" about our "pure and honest" political system. Ross gives a clear exaggeration on how the foreigners managed to change the outcome of an election. From intimidation at the polls, ballot frauds, vote purchases, and saloon influence. Also the support of the vicious and criminal. This is clearly a stretch on the reality of the situation. He contradicts himself at the end by saying its root is the "simple minded foreigner". With all this criminal masterminding to change...

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