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Chapter 15 – Section 1. Immigration and the United States in the Gilded Age. Europeans Flood Into the United States. By the 1890s, more than half of immigrants were from eastern and southern Europe Italians Greeks Poles Slovaks Russians Armenians

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chapter 15 section 1
Chapter 15 – Section 1

Immigration and the United States in the Gilded Age

europeans flood into the united states
Europeans Flood Into the United States

By the 1890s, more than half of immigrants were from eastern and southern Europe

  • Italians
  • Greeks
  • Poles
  • Slovaks
  • Russians
  • Armenians

Between 1860 and 1890 approximately 14 million immigrated to the U.S.

U.S. population in 1860 was 31,443,341

europeans flood into the united states1
Europeans Flood Into the United States

Reasons for Immigrating


Political freedom

Avoiding military service

Escaping religious persecution

European nations had repealed laws which prevented their citizens from leaving

Ideal of a classless society (or at least one in which one’s class wasn’t permanent)

the atlantic voyage
The Atlantic Voyage

Steerage – most basic and cheapest accommodations on a steamship

  • Filthy conditions
  • Most basic food
  • Disease was a concern

Journey took approximately 14 days from setting sail to landing

Ellis Island – U.S. government center for processing immigrants on the east coast

ellis island
Ellis Island

Process took approximately one day

One reason was medical examinations – any immigrants with possible problems were isolated and marked with chalk

H for heart problems

K for hernias

SC for scalp problems

X for mental disability

Failing the medical examination could mean being sent back home

ethnic cities
Ethnic Cities

Nation’s largest cities developed multiple ethnic enclaves

  • Little Italy
  • Lower East Side (Jewish)
  • Chinatown
  • Kleindeutschland (Little Germany)
  • Irish
  • Swedish
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese

Approximately 1 in 3 immigrants returned home after a few years – they had only planned to make money and then return home

asian immigration to america
Asian Immigration to America

By mid-1800s, China’s population was approximately 430 million

U.S. population now is about 330 million

1848 gold rush started attracting immigration

1850 – Taiping Rebellion

Civil war in China

1860s – Central Pacific begins work on the transcontinental railroad, which creates a demand for Chinese laborers

asian immigration to america1
Asian Immigration to America

Sir: I am a Chinaman, a republican, and a lover of free institutions; am much attached to the principles of the government of the United States... The effect of your late message has been thus far to prejudice the public mind against my people, to enable those who wait the opportunity to hunt them down, and rob them of the rewards of their toil... You argue that this is a republic of a particular race — that the Constitution of the United States admits of no asylum to any other than the pale face. This proposition is false to the extreme, and you know it. The declaration of your independence, and all the acts of your government, your people, and your history are all against you.

- Norman Asing, letter to the Daily Alta California, May 15, 1852

The slender fare of rice and the other economical habits of the peasant class [of China], which are so objectionable to your lower orders and the demagogues who trumpet their clamors, are not the result of choice to Chinamen; they follow poverty. The hard-working, patient servants that you have about you today love good fare as well as other men, but they are engaged in a work far higher than the gratification of self-indulgence; they are working to liberate their parents in China [from poverty]....

- Kwang Chang Lin, letter to the San Francisco Argonaut, 1878

asian immigration to america2
Asian Immigration to America

Numerous restrictions on Chinese laborers forced them into more menial occupations, ethnic enclaves

By January of 1910, California opened a facility to process incoming immigrants – Angel Island

Process could take weeks at a time

Very few Japanese immigrants to the United States until after 1910 – they then faced very similar problems

the resurgence of nativism
The Resurgence of Nativism

nativism – an extreme dislike for immigrants by native-born people and a desire to limit immigration

Previous wave of nativism occurred during the 1840s and 1850s with waves of Irish and German immigrants

Religious differences compounded ethnic differences


Many immigrants were Jewish

Asian immigrants were even further outside the realm of what Americans considered true religion

prejudice against newcomers
Prejudice Against Newcomers

American Protective Association (APA)

Group was committed to stopping immigration completely

Led by Henry Bowers

Fiercely anti-Catholic

Group claimed to have approximately 500,000 members in 1887, and eventually rose to almost 1 million

prejudice against newcomers1
Prejudice Against Newcomers

Workingman’s Party of California

Founded by Denis Kearney, an Irish immigrant (irony!)

Party was focused mainly on fighting Chinese immigration, working to place restrictions on the kind of work any remaining Chinese immigrants could do

impact of the anti immigrant movement
Impact of the Anti-Immigrant Movement

Immigration Act of 1882 – placed a 50 cent head tax on all new immigrants; banned convicts, paupers, and the mentally disabled

Chinese Exclusion Act – banned any Chinese immigration for ten years, starting in 1882; prevented those Chinese immigrants already present from ever becoming citizens

Congress renewed the act in 1892, made it permanent in 1902

Level of Chinese living in U.S. dropped from 105,000 in 1890 to 74,000 in 1900