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“The Growth Of Portuguese Immigrants And Their Ensuing Importance In America Society”

1960 words - 8 pages

The Portuguese came to America for the opportunity and chance to obtain the American Dream. While most immigrants that came to America worked factory jobs, the Portuguese came for whaling, fishing, ship making, and the aquaculture industry. There was a need for the new wave of Portuguese immigrants to be close to the water since Portugal resides along the Atlantic Ocean, so therefore they settled in regions such as: Southern New England, San Francisco Bay, California, and Hawaii. Considering Portugal’s close approximation to the water, one may understand why mostly all Portuguese immigrants worked in maritime industry. Unfortunately, even considering all the labor and business the Portuguese brought to America, there was still discrimination towards them and their contributions to America’s industrial growth. The ideology, nativism, was the concept of protecting the interests of established inhabitants, which henceforth created countless difficulties for the Portuguese. Nativist beliefs which marginalized against Portuguese immigrants where laws such as the Naturalization act of 1798, which required a citizen to have lived in America for 5-14 years before applying for citizenship, as well as the Johnson Quota act, which limited immigration to 2% of the country’s current population . Portuguese still continued to attempt to make America their home while struggling to make a living and while avoiding the hardships caused by the nativist laws. Even with the constant resentment towards Portuguese immigrants from the Azores, Madera Island, and Portugal, they still came by the thousands. Therefore, Portuguese growth in America resulted in enormous growth in American maritime business; although, there was frequent resentment towards their immigration. Even so, they still continued to venture to America for the promise of the American dream from Matthias de Sousa in 1634 in Maryland, to present day Portuguese immigrants in 2014 .
Before 1860, the Portuguese were only a small yet significant piece of America’s population in America. The Portuguese were eager to flee life in Portugal and come to America due to a poor economy and lack of jobs in Portugal. A problem for those immigrants from Portugal was that their English ability was below average, as was the case for most immigrants. Therefore, the U.S government had a clear reason to discriminate against the Portuguese for their lack of exposure to the English language. Henceforth, laws were set in place that limited illiterate immigrants, which was nearly 70% of the Portuguese. There were numerous laws that discriminated against the Portuguese for their clear inability to read but there were also more laws which discriminated against: the time they had spent in the United States , organized meetings for any reason, if they appeared threatening and even if the disagreed with the government that discriminated against them. These laws made life for the Portuguese very difficult solely because at any...

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