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Immigration Regulation and Restriction, 1882-1921
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Immigration Regulation and Restriction, 1882-1921 Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Defining the Problems of Immigration in the Age of Excess From Restriction to Regulation
  • 2. The Numbers (and Sources) Game
    • Imm from Europe,1800-1900: 19,625,913
    • Imms from Europe, 1865-1900: 14,000,000
    • Imms from Europe, 1900-1914: 13,000,000
    • In six of the years between 1900 and 1914, 1 million Europeans entered each year
    • Since the US population was 76 million, this was the heaviest period of immigration in US History, measured by one ratio
    • But it was the sources, not the numbers, that bothered Americans
  • 3. Changing Sources of Immigration
    • The “Old” and the “New” Immigrants
    • Characteristics of the “Old” Immigrants
      • They made up the vast majority before 1882
      • Traced ancestry back to Northern and Western Europe
      • Predominantly white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, from Britain, France, Germany, Scandinavia
      • Predominantly “dry” and rural, they reinforced existing ethnic, cultural and settlement patterns
  • 4. Reception of the “Old “ Immigrants
    • Except for Know Nothing-ism in the Ante-Bellum (1830-1860) period, the reception was welcoming
    • Ideas of Asylum and Melting Pot were consistent with this wave
    • The result was welcome and an age of no restrictions
    • Before 1882, there were no screens or restrictions at all
  • 5. The “New” Immigrants
    • Remember the context: after 1877, a diversifying America
    • Immigrants resulted from (not caused) this
    • But the “new” immigrants reinforced the unwelcome trends of urbanism and diversity
  • 6. Characteristics of the “New” Immigrants
    • From Italy, Russia, Bohemia, Greece, , predominantly non-white, non-Protestant, non-English-speaking, “wet,” urban in settlement, many were “unskilled” and “birds of passage”
    • mostly Catholic or Jewish
    • They lived in ghettos in Europe and recreated them in America
    • They seemed unable to “melt” or assimilate along the one-way path that Americans prescribed
    • Social Darwinism called these (mostly poor) people “inferior”
  • 7. Trends in Immigration: Numbers
    • 1882: 788,992
    • 1883: 603,322
    • 1884: 518,592
    • …..
    • 1896: 343,267
    • 1900: 448,572
    • 1901: 487,918
    1902: 648,743 1903: 857,046 1904: 812,870 1905: 1,026,499 1906: 1,100,735 1907: 1,285,349 US Pop: 1900: 75,994,000 1910: 91,972,000
  • 8. Trends in Immigration: Sources
    • Percentage of New Immigrants to Total Immigrants:
    • 1882: 14%
    • 1914: 73.4%
    • The turnaround year: 1896
    • Restrictionist sentiment intensified in periods of hard times: the 1880s, the period 1892-1896, and declining thereafter– until 1918-1923
  • 9. Early efforts at Restriction
    • Early restriction focused on personal defects
    • The Exception was Chinese Exclusion (1882)
    • Personal Restrictions:
      • 1882: a head tax of 50 cents imposed
      • 1885: contract labor was prohibited
      • 1892: polygamists, prostitutes and persons suffering from loathsome diseases were barred
      • 1903: epileptics, professional beggars and anarchists restricted
      • 1907 law restricted imbeciles, TB sufferers, persons guilty of crimes of moral terpitude
      • 1907: The head tax was raised from 50 cents to 4 dollars
  • 10. Restrictionist Organizations for Conflict
    • American Protective Association (1887)
    • Immigration Restriction League (1894)
    • Frederick Jackson Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” (1892)
    • Henry Cabot Lodge and the Literacy test
  • 11. Two Contemporary Views of Immigration
    • The Romantic and the Majority View
    • The Romantic:
    • Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus” on the base of the Statue of Liberty (1883)
    • The Majority:
    • Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Unguarded Gates” (1895)
  • 12. Motives
    • The IRL’s Motives:
    • Too much of the Wrong Education
    • Geographic Determinism (Turner’s article on the Frontier in American History)
    • Status Anxiety
    • Social Darwinism
  • 13. The Problem with the Literacy Test
    • It penalized immigrants for lack of opportunity
    • No previous immigration legislation (aside from Chinese Exclusion) had done this
    • This violation of the asylum concept bothered the presidents
    • Cleveland, McKinley, Taft and Wilson vetoed the Literacy Test after Congress passed it
    • February 5, 1917: it passes over the presidential veto of Wilson, but has no effect on immigration
    • Why? Its racist premises proved unfounded: the immigrants passed the test!
  • 14. Roger Daniels on the Literacy Test
    • Although ineffective it was an important symbolic victory for the nativists
    • The very failure of its effectiveness was used by its supporters as an argument for tougher measures
    • It therefore empowered those who pushed for restriction on the basis of nation origins
    • This led to air tight restrictions, based largely on racial considerations, in the form of the National Origins Quota system of 1924