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Chapter 15 – Life at the Turn of the 20 th Century. Section Notes. Video. Life at the Turn of the 20 th Century. New Immigrants Urban Life Politics in the Gilded Age Segregation and Discrimination. Maps. Ethnic Neighborhoods in Chicago, 1880–1910. History Close-up.

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Chapter 15 – Life at the Turn of the 20 th Century

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Chapter 15 – Life at the Turn of the 20th Century

Section Notes


Life at the Turn of the 20th Century

New Immigrants

Urban Life

Politics in the Gilded Age

Segregation and Discrimination


Ethnic Neighborhoods in Chicago, 1880–1910

History Close-up

Early Skyscrapers


Quick Facts

Political Cartoon: Old and New Immigration

Political Cartoon: Boss Tweed

The Populist Movement

Mexican American Worker

Old and New Immigrants

Visual Summary: Life at the Turn of the 20th Century

new immigrants
New Immigrants
  • The Main Idea
  • A new wave of immigrants came to the United States in the late 1800s, settling in cities and troubling some native-born Americans.
  • Focus Questions
  • How did patterns of immigration change at the turn of the century?
  • Why did immigrants come to America in the late 1800s, and where did they settle?
  • How did nativists respond to the new wave of immigration?
changing patterns of immigration
The old immigrants

10 million immigrants  1800 and 1900

Northern and Western Europe

Most were Protestant Christians with similar cultures to the original settlers

Reasons: have a voice in government, escape political turmoil, religious freedom, or fleeing poverty and starvation

Most came for economic opportunity or open farm land

Chinese immigrants lured by gold rush and railroads jobs

The new immigrants

1880 to 1910  new wave brought 18 million

Most from Southern and Eastern Europe

Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews. Arabs, Armenians, and French Canadians came as well.

Smaller #’s from East Asia. Severe immigration laws reduced Chinese immigration, but 90,000 of Chinese descent in the U.S. by 1900. Japanese immigrants arrived by way of Hawaii

American population had changed  1910 ≈ 1 in 12 Americans were foreign-born

Changing Patterns of Immigration
coming to america
Desire for a better life

New life?? Willing to work hard in America, prosperity was possible.

The journey to America

Decision to come involved entire family

Usually the father went first and sent for the rest later

Port city by train, wagon, or foot to wait for a departing ship

Pass an inspection to board & prove they had some $


Ellis Island

Opened 1892, immigration station, 112 million immigrants passed through…must pass inspection before entering

Coming to America
coming to america1
Coming to America

West Coast immigrants processed in San Francisco

Many Chinese immigrants were detained awaiting a ruling…Poverty and discrimination awaited many newcomers

Angel Island

Many immigrants lived in poor housing slums near the factories (tenements)

NE & MW immigrants settled near others from their homeland  Cities = patchwork of ethnic clusters

Churches and synagogues to practice their faith

Benevolent societies = aid organizations to help new immigrants obtain jobs, health care, and education

Building urban communities

nativists respond
Nativists Respond

Some native-born Americans saw immigrants as threats to society.

Nativists felt they brought crime and poverty, kept wages low for everyone…so, stop immigration

Threat to society

Chinese workers were tolerated during good times, but worsening economy led to active opposition them

Not allowed state jobs & local govt’s could ban them from communities

The Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) banned Chinese immigration for 10 years

Chinese in the U.S. weren’t allowed citizenship

Law renewed in 1892, Chinese immigration banned in 1902.

LimitingChinese immigration

limits to immigration

Nativists also resented the Japanese…students in SF were segregated

Theodore Roosevelt negotiated a Gentlemen’s Agreement with Japan.

No unskilled workers from Japan, and in return Japanese children could attend schools with other children.

Other immigrants

Nativists opposed immigration from S & E Europe

Claimed they were poor, illiterate, and non-Protestant and could not blend society

They called for a literacy test to see if test takers could read English  Literacy Test Act was passed in 1917, over President Wilson’s veto

Limits to Immigration

Americanization Newcomers taught American ways to help assimilation…learned English literacy skills, U.S. history and govt.

urban life
Urban Life
  • The Main Idea
  • In cities in the late 1800s, people in the upper, middle, and lower classes lived different kinds of lives because of their different economic situations.
  • Focus Questions
  • How did American cities change in the late 1800s?
  • How did class differences affect the way urban dwellers lived?
  • How did the settlement house movement work to improve living conditions for immigrants and poor Americans?
american cities change
Compact cities

Late 1880s, they ran out of room and started to build up.

Tall buildings and transportation

Steel frames and Elisha Otis’s safety elevator made taller buildings possible

Mass transit  people moved away

Green spaces

Urban planning

Frederick Law Olmsted designed city parks to provide residents with countryside…ex: New York’s Central Park

American Cities Change
class differences
Class Differences

Wealthy inherited fortunes made from industry and business

Newly rich displayed their wealth  big city houses and country estates

High-society women  instructional books on proper behavior

Ideal woman  homemaker; organized and decorated her home; entertained visitors and supervised her staff; offered moral and social guidance to her family

Some women worked on social reform

class differences1
The middle class

Urban middle class grew as jobs for accountants, clerks, managers, and salespeople increased

Educated workers like teachers, engineers, lawyers, and doctors were needed.

The rise of professionalism required standardized skills and qualifications

Married women managed a home & some participated in reform work

The working class

Many in poverty, with a growing population keeping wages low

Housing shortages = crowded and unsanitary conditions (tenements)

Housekeeping was difficult; no indoor plumbing

Clothes were boiled on the stove and hung on lines to dry.

Many women also worked low-paying jobs

Class Differences
the settlement house movement
London reformers

Founded in 1884. Volunteers taught skills so people could use to lift themselves from poverty

Hull House

Jane Addams founded Hull House (Chicago)  one of the first settlement houses in the U.S.

Movement gave women the opportunity to lead, organize, and work for others

Religious views

Social Gospel was idea that religious faith should be expressed through good works and that churches had a moral duty to help solve society’s problems

Social Darwinists disagreed; they felt people were poor because of their own deficiencies

The Settlement House Movement
politics in the gilded age
Politics in the Gilded Age
  • The Main Idea
  • Political corruption was common in the late 1800s, but reformers began fighting for changes to make government more honest.
  • Reading Focus
  • How did political machines control politics in major cities?
  • What efforts were made to reduce political corruption?
  • How did the Populist movement give farmers political power?
political machines
Political Machine  informal group of politicians controlling the local government who often resorted to corrupt methods for dealing with urban problems

Immigrants—loyal support for political machines

Corruption—illegal tactics to maintain control, buying voter support and election fraud

The Tweed Ring—notorious NYC political machine headed by William Marcy Tweed (Tammany Hall)

Thomas Nast—political cartoonist who attacked the corruption in Harper’s Weekly

Political Machines
federal corruption
Federal Corruption

Grant’s presidency marred by scandals  Crédit Mobilier cost taxpayers $23 million

The Whiskey Ring


Reformers  end the spoils system – Merit System

Pres. Hayes prohibited government employees from managing political parties or campaigns

Hayes and reform

President James A. Garfield was assassinated four months after taking office

Pres. Chester A. Arthur signed the Pendleton Act

Civil service reform

the populist movement
Farmers’ hardships

Crop prices ↓ and farmers had to repay loans

High RR fees

Everyone made money but the farmer

Farmers organized

Local groups formed to aid farmers

The National Grange

First major farmers’ organization

Pushed for political reform and targeted railroad rates

Munn v. Illinois gave state legislatures the right to regulate businesses that involved the public interest

Wabash v. Illinois—federal government could regulate railroad traffic

The Populist Movement
the alliance movement and money supply
The Alliance Movement and money supply

Farmers’ Alliance helped w/ buying equipment or marketing farm products; wanted reform & regulation

In the South, the Colored Farmers’ Alliance formed  the Alliance advocated hard work and sacrifice as keys to gaining equality

Expand money supply = help by inflating prices

Money tied to the gold standard, and farmers wanted it backed by silver as well.

Candidates supported by the Alliance won more than 40 seats in Congress and four governorships

the populist party
The Alliance formed a national political party  The Peoples’ Party was born in 1892.

Coalition of farmers, labor leaders, and reformers became known as the Populist Party.

Party Platform—Supported the National Grange and Alliance, wanted income tax, bank regulation, govt. ownership of RR and telegraph companies, and free coinage of silver.

1892 election—Speaking for the common people against the ruling elite, the Populists took several state offices and won seats in Congress.

The Populist Party
economic depression and a new election
The Panic of 1893

Depression  investors pulled out of the stock market, businesses collapsed

Silver ↓ in value, people rushed to exchange paper money for gold.

Cleveland called for Congress to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. The country stayed on the gold standard.

The election of 1896

William McKinley, Republican nominee, and the Democratic, William Jennings Bryan

Bryan hailed free coinage of silver as key to prosperity

The Populists supported Bryan

McKinley won and the Populist Party faded, but idea of reform remained

Economic Depression and a New Election
segregation and discrimination
Segregation and Discrimination
  • The Main Idea
  • The United States in the 1800s was a place of great change—and a place in need of even greater change.
  • Reading Focus
  • What kinds of legalized discrimination did African Americans endure after Reconstruction?
  • What informal discrimination did African Americans face?
  • Who were the most prominent black leaders of the period, and how did their views differ?
  • In what ways did others suffer discrimination in the late 1800s?
legalized discrimination
Restricting the vote

Democrats had regained control over their state legislatures, passed poll tax and literacy requirements to prevent African Americans from voting

Most African Americans were too poor to afford the poll tax, and many had been denied the education needed to pass the literacy test

Some poor or illiterate white men could not meet the requirements, but grandfather clause allowed them to vote

Legalized segregation

Jim Crow laws passed in the South

African Americans filed lawsuits, wanting equal treatment under the Civil Rights Act of 1875.

1883, the Court ruled the Act unconstitutional, “the 14th Amendment applied only to state governments”

“Congress had no power over private individuals or businesses”

Legalized Discrimination
plessy v ferguson
Louisiana state law required railroads to provide “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races.”

Homer Plessy sat in a whites-only train compartment to test the law and was arrested. He appealed based on the 14th Amendment.

Plessy v. Ferguson(1896), the court upheld the practice of segregation

Ruled “separate but equal” facilities did not violate the 14th Amendment.

Plessy case allowed legalized segregation for ≈ 60 years

Plessy v. Ferguson
informal discrimination
Informal Discrimination

Strict rules of behavior governed social and business interactions

African Americans were supposed to “know their place” and defer to whites

Racial etiquette

If an African American failed to speak respectfully or acted with too much pride or defiance, the consequences could be serious.

Worst consequence was lynching the murder of an individual usually by hanging, without a legal trial.

1882-1892, ≈ 900 lost their lives to lynch mobs. Lynchings declined after 1892, but continued into the early 1900s.


prominent black leaders
Prominent Black Leaders

Two approaches for improving lives of African Americans.

Booker T. Washington African Americans should accept segregation for the moment. Farming and vocational skills were key to prosperity, and he founded the Tuskegee Institute to teach skills for self-sufficiency.

W.E.B. Du Bois, a Harvard-trained professor  speak against prejudice and strive for full rights immediately

African Americans should be uplifted through the “talented tenth,” their best educated leaders. Du Bois launched the Niagara Movement to protest discrimination in 1905. He helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (1909)

others suffer discrimination
Others Suffer Discrimination

Encountered hostility from white Americans, often struggled w/ English & took jobs for low pay.

Debt peonage tied to jobs until they could pay off debts to their employer

Mexican Americans

Chinese and Japanese Americans lived in segregated neighborhoods and attend separate schools.

Several states also forbade marriage with whites.

Asian Americans

Native Americans  government efforts to stamp out their traditional ways of life

Children sent away to be “Americanized.”

Reservations  little chance for econ. improvement

Native Americans