Immigration Regulation and Restriction, 1882-1921


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Immigration Regulation and Restriction, 1882-1921

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