Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

Immigration in the United States

by
Joyce Bryant


Contents of Curriculum Unit 99.03.01:

To Guide Entry


Immigration is the act of coming to a foreign country to live. The act of leaving one's country to settle in another is called emigration. Immigrants who flee their country because of persecution, war, or such disasters as famines or epidemics are known as refugees or displaced persons.

Most people find it very hard to pull up roots in their native land and move to a strange country. But throughout history, countless millions of people have done so. The heaviest immigration worldwide took place from the early 1800's to the Great Depression, the economic hard times of the 1930's. In that period, about 60 million people moved to a new land. Most came from Europe. More than half immigrated to the United States. Other destinations included Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. (Source: Land of the Free, pp. 413-416).

Today, the availability of fast, safe, and cheap transportation helps make migration easier. Asia is replacing Europe as the major immigrant-sending area. The United States remains the chief receiving nation.

People forsake their homeland and move to another country for various reasons. Some people emigrate to avoid starvation. Some seek adventure. Others wish to escape unbearable family situations. Still others desire to be reunited with loved ones.

The main reason for immigration has long been economic opportunity, the lure of better land or a better job. During the 1800's, for example, the rich prairie land of the United States attracted many European farmers. Today, professional people commonly emigrate because of better opportunities elsewhere. Such emigration has sometimes been called brain drain. Many doctors and nurses and numerous engineers and scientists have moved to the United States. (Source: The Golden Door and Land of the Free, pp. 42-43).

Religious persecution has led many people to move to a new land for the freedom to practice their faith. Such immigrants include Jews expelled from England in the 1200's and Bahi's fleeting Iran in the 1980's.

Wars, revolutions, and political unrest have driven innumerable people to find new homes. In the 1980's alone, millions of refugees fled from warfare in Afghanistan, Iran, Uganda, Southeastern Asia, and Central America. (Source: The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Page 80).

Some immigrants were brought to a new land against their will. From the 1500's to the 1800's Europeans shipped black Africans to the Western Hemisphere as slaves.

Before 1920, about 30 percent of all immigrants to the United States later returned to their native country. Today, about 15 percent return home. Some immigrants intend to stay in a new country temporarily and then go back home. But others go back because they find adjusting to a new society too difficult. (Source: The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Page 82).

Many immigrants to a new country first settle in a community made up of people from their native land or even their native village. They keep their old customs and acquire a limited knowledge of their new country's culture, language, and values. In time, however, most immigrants begin to assimilate (adapt to a new culture). Immigrants who adapt most quickly usually have a background similar to the new cultural environment and much contact with the new society. They also plan to remain permanently in the new country.

Most immigrants find a job and strive to buy a home. They try to provide their children with the education and opportunities not available in the immigrants' native lands. They become citizens of the new country and take part in politics and government.

Immigrants have made enormous contributions to the culture and economy of the United States. But their accomplishments have been made with great difficulty. At times, the United States, like many receiving countries, has restricted immigration to maintain a more homogeneous society in which all the people share similar ethnic, geographic, and cultural background. Although some immigration laws have been relaxed, many new comers of different backgrounds still face challenges in gaining acceptance.

Population movements have mixed effects on the sending and receiving nations. Emigration relieves overcrowding in a country; yet the country may lose many people with valuable skills and suffer brain drain. The receiving nation gains new workers but may have trouble providing the immigrants with jobs, education, social services, and even housing.

The effects of population movements on the worker economy are difficult to measure because nations have become increasingly dependent on one another. For example, many emigrants take their skills with them, while others acquire skills in the new country, accumulate savings, and then return home. Some immigrants establish businesses with trade links to their homelands. Many immigrants stay permanently in their new country but regularly send money to families left behind. Some immigrants retire to their native land in old age.

The United States has long been the world's chief receiving nation for immigrants and refugees. The country has had four major periods of immigration. The first wave began in what is now the United States with the colonists of the 1600's and reached a peak just before the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775. The second major flow of immigrants started in the 1820's and lasted until a depression in the early 1870's. The greatest inpouring of people took place from the 1880's to the early 1920's. A fourth and continuing wave began in 1965 because of changes in U. S. Immigration laws.

During the first wave most of the early colonists who settled in what is now the United States came from England. Many other colonists came from France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Sweden, and Wales. Some colonists came from Denmark, Finland, and what is now Ukraine. (Source: The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Pages 81-82).

Some colonists sought adventure in America. Others fled religious persecution. Many were convicts transported from English jails. But most immigrants by far hoped for economic opportunity. Many could not afford the passage to American and came as indentured servants. Such a servant signed an indenture to work for a master for four to seven years to repay the cost of the ticket. Blacks from West Africa came to the colonies involuntarily. The first Africans were brought as indentured servants, but most blacks arrived as slaves. West African blacks captured most of the slaves in wars and traded them for European goods. (Source: The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Page 82).

(table available in print form)
The New Book of Knowledge: volume 9, pp. 89-90

By 1700, the colonists in America numbered about 250,000. Approximately 450,000 immigrants arrived between 1700 and the start of the Revolutionary War. During that period, fewer English immigrants came, while the number from Germany, Ireland, and Scotland rose sharply. Most immigrants arrived in Philadelphia, the main port in the colonies. (Source: Academic American Encyclopedia, Volume 11, Pages 54-56).

Wars in Europe and American slowed immigration during the late 1700's and early 1800s. Newcomers included Irish fleeing English rule and French escaping revolution. Congress made it illegal to bring in slaves of 1808. By that time, about 375,000 black Africans had been imported as slaves.

During the early 1800's, New York City began to replace Philadelphia as the nation's chief port of entry for immigrants. The country's first immigration station, Castle Garden, opened in New York City in 1855. Ellis Island, the world's most famous station, operated in New York Harbor from 1892 to 1954.

The second wave lasted from 1820 to 1870. Almost 7 million newcomers entered the United States. Nearly all of them came from northern and western Europe. About a third were Irish, many of them seeking escape from a potato famine that struck Ireland in the mid-1840's. Almost a third were German. Most of the Irish had little money, and so they stayed where they arrived, on the East Coast. Many Germans had enough money to journey to the Midwest in search of farmland. (Source: The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Page 82).

In the mid-1880's, some states sent agents to Europe to attract settlers. Railroad companies did the same thing. Better conditions on ships and steep declines in travel time and fares made the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean easier and more affordable. In the mid-1800's news of the discovery of gold in California reached China. Chinese immigrants and sojourners streamed across the Pacific to strike it rich. Sojourners were temporary immigrants who intended to make money and return home. French-Canadian immigrants and sojourners opened still another path to the United States. They moved across the Canadian-U.S. border into the New England states and Michigan.

The flood of immigrants began to alarm many native born Americans. Some feared job competition from foreigners. Others disliked the religion or politics of the newcomers. During the 1850's, the America Party, also called the Know-Nothing Party, demanded laws to reduce immigration and to make it harder for foreigners to become citizens. Although the part soon died out, it reflected the serious concerns of some Americans.

During the 1870's, the U. S. economy suffered a depression while that of Germany and Britain improved. German and British immigration to the Untied States then decreased. But arrivals increased from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, China, Canada, and southern and eastern Europe. In 1875, the United States passed its first restrictive immigration law. It prevented convicts and prostitutes from entering the country. During the late 1870's, Californians demanded laws to keep out Chinese immigrants. In some instances, mobs attacked Chinese immigrants, who were accused of lowering wages and unfair business competition. They were also denounced as inassimilable and as racially inferior.

The third wave was from 1881 to 1920. Almost 23 million immigrants poured into the United States from almost every area of the world. Until the 1880's, most newcomers still came from northern and western Europe. They came to be called old immigrants. Beginning in the 1890's, the majority of arrivals were new immigrants, people from southern and eastern Europe. (Source: The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Page 82).

More and more native-born Americans believed the swelling flood of immigrants threatened the nation's unity. Hostility which had boiled over against the Chinese in the 1870's now turned against Jews, Roman Catholics, Japanese, and, finally, the new immigrants in general.

In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited Chinese laborers from coming to the United States. That year Congress also began to expand its list of unacceptable immigrants beyond convicts and prostitutes to include such people as beggars, contract laborers, the insane, and unaccompanied minors. A 1917 law required adult immigrants to show they could read and write. The law also excluded immigrants from an area known as the Asiatic Barred Zone, which covered most of Asia and most islands in the Pacific. (Source: The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Page 82).

In 1921, Congress set a ceiling on the number of people allowed to enter the Country. This quota limited immigrants from any country to 3 percent of the foreign born people of that nationality who lived in the Untied State in 1910. The Immigration Act of 1924 took effect in 1929. It limited the number of immigrants from outside the Western Hemisphere to about 153,700 a year. The distribution was based on percentages of the nationalities making up the population. That formula ensured that 126,600 of the immigrants would be from northern and western Europe. (Source: Academic American Encyclopedia, Volume 11, Page 56).

During the Great Depression, U. S. immigration dropped sharply. Only about 500,000 immigrants came from 1931 to 1940 and even more people left. Wold War II (1939-1945) led to an easing of the nation's immigration laws. The War Brides Act of 1945 admitted the spouses and children of U.S. military personnel who had married while abroad.

China became an ally during the war, and so the United States lifted its ban against Chinese naturalization. In 1952, the Immigration and Nationality Act, also called the McCarran-Walter Act, established limited quotas for Asian countries and other areas from which immigrants had been excluded. The law, for the first time, also made citizenship available to people of all origins.

Congress began to set separate provisions for refugees. The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 and the Refugee Relief Act of 1953 opened the country to about 600,000 Europeans and Soviet citizens left homeless by World War II. During the late 1950's and early 1960's, the United States received thousands of refugees from revolutions in Hungary, Cuba, and China. (Source: The World Book encyclopedia, Volume 10, Page 83).

In 1965, the fourth wave amendments, to the Immigration and Nationality Act ended quotas based on nationality. Instead, the amendments provided for annual quotas with a ceiling of 170,000 immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere and 120,000 from the Western Hemisphere. The act established a preference system for the issuing of visas that strongly favored relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens, as well as people with special skills. Wives, husbands, parents, and minor children of U. S. citizens could also enter without being counted as part of the quota. In 1978, Congress replaced the separate quotas for immigrants from the Eastern and Western hemispheres with a single annual world quota of 290,000. (Source: The World Book encyclopedia, Volume 10, Pages 83-84).

The 1965 amendments produced major changes in patterns of immigration to the United States. The percentage of immigrants from Europe, Canada and Central America dropped, while that of immigrants from Asia and the West Indies leaped dramatically. Today, most immigrants to the United States come from Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, China, the Dominican Republic, India, Vietnam, Jamaica, Cuba and South Korea. The immigrants from South Korea include many people who were born in North Korea. Although a large number of newcomers still settle in the East and Midwest, many others move to Florida and California. (Source: Academic American Encyclopedia, Volume 11, Page 56).

Under the 1965 amendments, refugees could make up 6 percent of the Eastern Hemisphere's annual quota for immigration to the United States. This was later extended to the Western Hemisphere. But the percentage was too small for the flow of refugees from war torn Southeast Asia in the late 1970's or the streams of people from Haiti starting in the early 1970's and from Cuba in 1980. The act admitted 50,000 refugees in 1980 and provided for the setting of new quotas yearly. By the mid-1990's, the quota had risen to about 110,000.

The United States established the Border Patrol to prevent unlawful entry along U.S. boundaries. But the problem of illegal immigration has grown steadily. Experts estimate that as many as 3 1/3 million undocumented aliens live in the United States. Undocumented aliens, or illegal aliens, are noncitizens living in a country without proper visas or other documents. Most undocumented aliens in the United States are Mexicans.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 offered amnesty to illegal aliens who had lived in the United States continuously since before January 1, 1982, or who had worked at least 90 days at farm labor in the United States between May 1, 1985, and May 1, 1986. The act also set penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. By the end of the amnesty period in 1988, more than 3 million illegal aliens had applied for amnesty. However, hundreds of thousands of others did not apply for various reasons, including the cost and confusion involved in filing, concerns about splitting up families, and the lack of adequate residency or employment records. In addition, critics of the 1986 law claimed that it had only a minor effect on the flow of illegal aliens into the country.

In 1990, further amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 increased the number of immigrants allowed into the United States each year. Ceilings were fixed at 700,000 annually for 1992 to 1994 and 675,000 annually beginning in 1995. Like the 1965 amendments, the 1990 amendments place no limit on the number of U. S. Citizens' immediate relatives who could enter the country each year. The ceilings also did not include refugees. The 1990 amendments gave additional preference to people from countries that had sent relatively few immigrants to the United States in recent years. These countries included many Europeans and African nations. (Source: American History, pp. 456-457).

People who seek legal admission to the United States apply at the U.S. consulate in their home country for a visa. They must prove, among other things, that they do not have an infectious disease or a criminal record. Immigration laws favor relatives of U.S. citizens; refugees; and people with skills needed in the United States. Others may have to wait years, particularly in countries that have many people wishing to emigrate. (Source: Immigration Made Simple, pp. 11-99).

In 1860 the free population of the United States was around twenty-eight million. Fifty years later, it was over ninety million. Much of this increase was due to two large additions-the freedmen and the immigrants. Of the ninety million Americans of 1910, roughly nine million were Negroes, former slaves and descendants of slaves. Twenty-three million were new comers from Europe, Canada, Latin America, and the Orient. (Source: The World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 10, Page 94).

The United States is often called a melting pot. Actually, that figure of speech is misleading. It suggests that to become an American is to become just like all other Americans. In fact, America is unlike most other countries, precisely because Americans are not all alike. The American people are many different kinds not just one kind. A great American historian, Frederick Jackson Turner, once said that the United States ought to be described as a salad bowl rather than a melting pot. Americans, he said, get mixed together like leaves in a salad bowl, by remaining distinct. They are not melted down into a common type. (Source: Beyond the Melting Pot, p. 5).

American includes many groups-English-Americans, Irish-American, Afro-Americans, and so forth. They are not, of course, transplanted nationals. Being Americans, they are different. But each group has its own special qualities.

A great wave of immigration had come in the thirty years before the Civil War, bringing millions of English, Irish, Germans, and Italians. The two decades after the Civil War was a second tide of immigration from the same parts of Europe. Irish and German districts in eastern cities expanded. Boston, once the most English of all Americans cities, was by 1890 more Irish than English. In New York and Philadelphia, German-Americans and Irish-Americans together made up a large percentage of the population. In newer cities to the West, such as Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis, the same was true.

Many of these immigrants went into the West. Having received large tracts of land from the government, the transcontinental railroad companies wanted farmers to come so that there would be passengers and freight to handle. They sent agents to Europe, seeking settlers for their empty acres. Soon the tracks of the transcontinental lines were dotted with communities where the predominant accents were German, Danish, Norwegian, or Swedish.

Beginning in the 1890's, still another wave of immigration brought entirely new groups to America. People from southern and eastern Europe began to come in large numbers. It was a bold step. They were coming to a faraway country where the language was utterly strange, and every condition of life would be new. Most of southern and eastern Europe was still medieval. Noblemen, landowners, and priests were law and authority. Plain people were not used to thinking of themselves as having rights or freedoms. Going to America, they were indeed entering a new world. Yet they came by the millions from Italy, Greece, Hungary, Slavic parts of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Poland, and Russia.

The inability to make a living at home was not the only reason for their coming to America. Some were drawn by what they had heard of the Declaration of Independence. More of them left their homes because they were forced to do so. In Russia, in the 1880's, the government began to kill, jail, and otherwise mistreat Jews. Hundreds of thousands of that faith fled Russia and Poland (then part of Russia), seeking safety in America. In Turkey, at about the same time, the government began to persecute Armenians, a Christian minority in a largely Mohammedan country. Armenians, too, fled to America.

The first arrivals from southern and eastern Europe had hard adjustments to make. From their farms or villages at home, most had walked to a seaport. Some made journey of two or three hundred miles-three weeks or a month of steady walking. They scrimped on food to save ten or fifteen dollars for steerage space on a trans-Atlantic steamer.

For a week or more at sea, the immigrants lived crowded together in a cargo hold. Continual darkness, lack or air, meager rations, bad water, seasickness, and contagious diseases made the voyage one to remember with horror. At Boston or New York, the immigrants set foot gratefully on land, but no one there spoke their language. Somehow, these first-comers found a way. Italians, Greeks, Czechs, and others found jobs wielding picks and shovels. There was work in eastern cities digging foundations for the new skyscrapers, laying tracks for electric railroads, paving streets, and putting in sidewalks. Many Russian Jews found work in sweatshops. Armenians, many of whom escaped with some money, opened shops. Knowing the wares of the Middle East, some found a place for themselves as dealers in Persian rugs or Turkish tobacco.

Some immigrants were picked up by agents hiring men to work in coal mines or steel mills. Most of these were Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles. The first of these immigrants prepared the way for later waves. Italians with construction jobs in cities arranged for other Italians to get such jobs. Large Italians with communities developed in eastern seaboard cities and, also, in San Francisco. Saving their money, Italian laborers brought over families or brides from the old country. Soon, there were neighborhoods with Italian grocery stores and restaurants, Italian theaters, and churches with Italian priests. Other immigrant groups developed similar communities. Where the Russian Jews congregated in New York, there were soon synagogues and kosher restaurants, butcher shops, and delicatessens. By 1910 nearly all cities had quarters known as "Little Russia," "Little Poland," and "Little Hungary."

From Massachusetts to Illinois, there were mill towns, mining towns, and steel towns where a large part of the population was Czech, Hungarian, or Polish. Tens of thousands also came from Canada. While Boston had concentrations of Irish and Italians, some of the mill towns around it were largely French-Canadian. Other tens of thousands of immigrants came into the Southwest from Mexico, joining the large Mexican group that had become American by force of conquest. In the Far West were Chinese who had come to dig for gold and, later, to work on the railroad. About 1890, Japanese also began to arrive in California.

There were parts of the world that did not contribute to America. Except for Armenians, few came from Turkey or the Arab Middle East. Few came from India or Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, with large groups from Africa, all parts of Europe, Canada, and some parts of Latin America, the United States by 1910 could boast of having the broadest gathering on the planet.

Many native-born Americans were hostile toward these immigrants. Some had reason. The newcomers took their jobs. Never having known any condition except bleak poverty, many of these new Americans would take any work at any wage offered. Employers hired them instead of native whites. Sometimes, too, immigrants would let themselves be used as strikebreakers. Working men often looked on the new citizens as enemies. It took the wisdom and foresight of someone like John Mitchell, the coal miners' leader, to see them as potential allies. (Source: Land of the Free, pp. 323-324 and pp. 416-417).

In most cases, however, the hostility of native Americans was not based on reason. It was a reaction against strangeness. Some of these new citizens had darker skins. In many cases, their accents and gestures were strange; the food they ate was odd. Sometimes, the newcomers were disliked just because they were different. A surprising number of educated people believed the new citizens were inferior. One reason was false ideas about race. Defenders of slavery had argued white superiority. Many people, including some who opposed slavery, accepted these arguments. Many also believed that, among whites, Anglo-Saxons were somehow superior. They ranked Irishmen, Latins, and Slavs as lower orders with less intelligence and ability. We now know that such beliefs are nonsense. Scientists have proved that no color group, race or nationality is better than any other. (Source: American History, pp. 416-417).

The immigrants from Ireland were mostly Roman Catholics. So were many of the immigrants from Germany, and most of those from countries such as Portugal, Italy, Hungary, and Poland. A large number of native American Protestants were hostile to these immigrants on account of their religion. Many immigrants from Germany were Jews. So were most of the later immigrants from Russia. Among both native American Protestants and immigrant Roman Catholics, there was religious prejudice against these Jewish immigrants. (Source: American History, pp. 418-419).

Irish and German-Americans found that some rooming houses would not take them in. Even those who had the money could not buy homes in the better neighborhoods. Although some employers hired immigrants because they were cheap, others would not hire them at all. Advertisements for workers sometimes said, "Irish need not apply." Some restaurants and other places of business posted signs saying Irish or Germans were not welcome. As time passed, the situation of the Irish German, and Scandinavian-Americans improved. The early immigrants became established citizens. Their children and grand children, though still identifiable, were native-born Americans. Reinforced by the postwar wave of immigration from their home countries, they became numerous enough and strong enough to battle successfully against discrimination. (Source: Land of the Free, pp. 417-418).

Well into the 20th century, the Jews, in particular, often had trouble buying houses or renting apartments. No matter how rich they became, they could not get into exclusive private clubs. Their children were frequently denied admission to private schools and universities. The amount of such discrimination, however, steadily lessened. Meanwhile, the newer immigrant groups met hostility; they were shunted into the worst houses and neighborhoods. They were offered the meanest work, usually at the lowest pay. In restaurants, store, barber shops, and other such places, a southern or eastern European was apt to get a cold stare, a turned back, or an insult.

In the Southwest and Far West, prejudice against Mexican-Americans and Orientals took even harsher forms. In many towns in Texas and California, Mexican-Americans were made to live in segregated shanty villages. If Mexican-American children were offered any schooling at all, it was in a separate classroom or schoolhouse. The children were not allowed to mingle with Anglo-American children. In the towns themselves, stores and restaurants carried signs saying outright, "Mexicans Not Served Here." That was not true everywhere. There were exceptions, such as San Antonio, Texas, where Mexican-Americans and Anglo-Americans lived on terms of near equality. By and large, however, Mexican-Americans were victims of hard discrimination. (Source: Land of the Free, pp. 416-417).

The same was true for Asians. Beginning as early as gold rush days, the Chinese were targets of violence in California. Ignorant people believed that Asians had low standards of morality. When any crime occurred, these people were quick to think a Chinese person had done it. More than one innocent Chinese was strung up by a lynch mob. In the 1870's, working men in California became aroused against all Chinese. Chinese had then come by the thousands and were willing to take work of any kind any wages offered. With the Panic of 1873, times grew hard. Working men in West Coast cities became furious at the Chinese who, they reasoned, were taking jobs away from them. There were anti-Chinese riots. A large-scale movement developed to prevent any more Chinese from coming to America. This movement hurt the Chinese badly. In San Francisco and elsewhere, they crowded together defensively in "Chinatown." Many were afraid to leave these districts.

Meanwhile, the national government was persuaded to take action. In 1882 Congress passed a Chinese Exclusion Act, which put a stop to immigration from China. It also reaffirmed that people born in China could not be naturalized. That is, they could never become citizens. Many Chinese gave up and went back to China. When Japanese began coming to America, they were given much the same treatment. California cities put their children in separate or segregated schools. In 1913 the state legislature passed a law forbidding Orientals to own land within the state. Californians called on the national government to forbid Japanese immigration, just as it had earlier forbidden Chinese immigration. President Theodore Roosevelt, instead, negotiated in 1907 a "Gentlemen's Agreement" with Japan. Under this agreement, the Japanese government was to keep Japanese from going to the United States.

Although this agreement worked, Californians kept calling for a Japanese Exclusion Act like the Chinese Exclusion Act. They wanted the nation to say in no uncertain terms that Japanese were not welcome. In the 1920's, Congress responded to the Californians' demands. It passed a general immigration law, one section of which banned Japanese. This law also put severe limits on immigration from southern and eastern Europe. Almost all newcomers met some prejudice or discrimination. Among immigrants, Orientals experienced the worst treatment. The extent of prejudice and discrimination in America was a sad and shameful fact. Native Americans gave a poor welcome to the new citizens. But, fortunately, the new citizens were tough and hardy. They met their challenges as determinedly and resourcefully as other groups of Americans had met the challenges of the wilderness and the frontier.

The struggle against prejudice and discrimination was not the only one that immigrants had to wage. An American city, mill town, coal town or even small farm was not the same thing as a European village. Moving into these new surroundings, immigrants had to learn new ways of doing things. Though most immigrants could read and write, few knew English. They face a struggle to acquire basic language skills. Skills that would improve their lot also came hard. Hired as laborers and worked to the bone, they had little opportunity or time in which to learn a trade, study for a profession, or master the manners and arts needed to be a clerk or salesperson. (Source: American History, pp. 419-420).

A newly arrived immigrant could rise in life only if he had tremendous drive, determination, and energy. The children of immigrants were in slightly better position. They learned the customs and language while growing up. Those living in towns or cities usually had some opportunity for schooling before having to go to work. Still, these children and even their children needed grit and drive to get anywhere. Many immigrants, or their children, nevertheless, made success of their lives. Some, indeed, put their marks permanently on the nation's history.

When the Irish first arrived, unscrupulous politicians made use of them. The immigrants did not understand free elections. If offered money, coal, or something to eat, they would sell their votes. Led to the polls, they cast ballots for men about whom they knew nothing. Corrupt men won office through their votes. In time, some immigrants learned better. They became politicians themselves, asking fellow Irish-Americans to support them. In office, Irish-Americans politicians were not necessarily more honest than the men they replaced. They were, however, more interested in the welfare of the Irish-American community. In New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco, Irish-Americans were elected to city councils, became mayors, and took other public posts. They rewarded their friends with contracts for paving streets, digging sewers, and putting up public buildings. The contractors made money. Some people became wealthy. Soon there was an upper crust of Irish-Americans.

Among German-Americans, the same thing happened even more quickly. The 1850's had seen a number of political refugees come to the United States. Many of these refugees were educated men. Some escaped with money. The German-American community, therefore, had leaders from the very beginning. German-Americans scored successes in politics and then in business. Carl Schurz, a refugee with a German university education, became United States Senator from Missouri. He served in the cabinet of President Rutherford B. Hayes. For many years, Schurz was one of the most influential political leaders in the nations. Jacob Schiff, another well-educated German immigrant, rose to head Kuhn, Loeb and Company, a New York banking house second in the financial world only to that of J.P. Morgan. Frederick Weyerhaeuser, an immigrant without much education, became the nation's timber king. Other German immigrants made their names famous in business, among them Eberhard Faber in pencil making, Joseph Steinway in piano manufacture and H. J. Heinz in the canning industry. Like the Irish, Germans rose to full or almost full equality. (Source: Land of the Free, pp. 419-423).

As of 1910, the newer immigrant groups were just beginning to rise. A few Italians, Czechs, and Poles had emerged as political leaders. A few other individuals had begun to gain success in business. In California, Amadeo P. Giannini, a son of one of the first Italian immigrant families, established the Bank of Italy. Giannini experimented with a new idea. Instead of having one big bank in a city, he set up branch banks in a number of neighborhoods. This idea proved in time to be a huge success. With its name changed to Bank of America, Giannini's bank was one day to become the biggest banking concern in the world. (Source: Land of the Free, pp. 419-422).

Given the handicaps black leaders faced, it is remarkable how many Negroes improved their lives. They opened banks, insurance companies, and stores in Negro neighborhoods. Some industry developed, including successful shirt factories, carpet factories, lumber mills, and even cotton mills. Slowly, educated Negro leaders emerged. In the South, Negroes had a hard time getting an education. Arguing that the Constitution guaranteed equal treatment for all, Negroes fought segregation in the schools. They lost. In 1896 the United States Supreme Court ruled that it was all right for states to set up school that were "separate but equal."

In fact, the schools set up for Negroes were never equal to those for whites. Some Negroes, however, squeezed all they could out of what was offered. Some others were lucky enough to grow up in parts of the North and West where segregation was not the rule. With aid from generous northern whites, Negro colleges were established in the South. From these and other colleges came an increasing number of Negro lawyers, doctors, ministers, and teachers. Negro leaders were intent on helping other Negroes. Because of "Jim Crow" laws and restrictions on Negro voting, some of these leaders felt that Negroes could not advance by the rules that immigrant groups were following.

One such leader was a black nationalistic named Marcus Garvey, immigrated to the United States in 1916. He moved to New York From Jamaica. When the twenty-eight year old Garvey arrived in the country on March 23, 1916, he found a large population that was ready to listen to his ideas about racial pride and self-improvement. The blacks were tired of being victims or prejudice and mob violence in their own country and were seeking a leader who could restore their dignity and self respect. Garvey believed he could be that leader.

Only a few people had heard of Marcus Garvey and his organization, the Universal Negro Improvement Association. After three months in New York, Garvey had raised enough money to begin his lecturing and fund raising tour. He traveled extensively speaking in major cities from Boston, Massachusetts to Washington, D.C. to Chicago and he visited nearly every state with a large black population. He discovered that discrimination in the south was worst than in the north. Garvey witnessed the flow of blacks northward as he traveled during 1916 and 1917. He saw that the immigrants had not discovered the promised land that they had dreamed of. Instead they encountered very poor housing conditions, low cost of living and much of the same discrimination that they faced in the south.

Whenever and wherever Garvey traveled he spoke out against the injustice that the blacks were forced to endure. Garvey told his black audiences that they should be proud of their blood, but he warned them that they would never be given the respect and equality they deserve until they improved themselves. They needed to unite for their own protection and they must obtain more education and free themselves of their dependence on their white employers. American blacks had a long way to go before they could achieve the self-sufficiency that Garvey advocated.

Despite the overall social situation Garvey found some room for hope. Battling out numbered and organized discrimination, blacks had made great accomplishments during part of their freedom. There were Negro banks in Chicago and Washington, D.C., also real estate agencies, cafes, stores, theaters, and restaurants.

After traveling for a period of time Garvey returned to new York and at the urging of Hubert Harrison, a militant spokesman for the black protest movement, spoke to an audience that received him with enthusiasm. Shortly after his speech, Garvey began holding weekly Sunday meetings at different churches. He encouraged and helped a group of supporters form a New York Chapter of his Universal Negro Improvement Association. The new branch was run by elected officials with Garvey serving in an advisory capacity. He remained president of the Jamaican Organization and corresponded by mail.

The New York branch ran into trouble during the first few months of its existence because a group of Harlem politicians tried to control it. Garvey moved to block the takeover and a battle ensued within the organization and by 1917 it had fallen apart. Garvey immediately began a new and larger chapter in New York with himself as president. He decided that America, with its greater wealth and population was a better place to base his operations and New York became the international headquarters for the organization.

Garvey began to build strength and he moved his meetings to large convention halls with visions of a proud and free black race. During 1918 Garvey began publishing the "Negro World" newspaper and internationally distributed it. It was a valuable tool for spreading Garvey's message around the globe. Garvey's hard work paid off and in 1919 he announced that the Universal Negro Improvement Association was beginning a shipping company that would be owned and operated solely by blacks. This company was known as the Black Star Line. This shipping venture opened up whole new horizons for blacks. Thousands were swept up by the vision of a fleet of ships representing the entire black race, proudly bearing the Black Star flag in all the world's parts.

The Black Star Line was more than a shipping company for Garvey. It embodied within it the struggle for black rights, and for blacks to achieve economic independence. Garvey encouraged people to invest in the shipping company. Garvey told the people that by investing in the company they would be creating jobs for themselves and their children. Stock in the company sold for a dollar a share. Garvey had millions of supporters and they purchased stock and sent him thousand of dollars. He used the money to set up small black businesses. Business profits were used to finance the movement. In 1925, Marcus Garvey was convicted of mail fraud in connection with his sale of stock in on of the businesses. The movement then declined. Garvey was released from prison in 1927 and he returned to Jamaica. (Sources: Black Moses; The Story of Marcus Garvey. Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa. pp. 15-45).

Education was the key to success for the immigrants. Most found life in America very difficult. Lacking education or special training, they had to work with their hands and at low wages. Many determined that their children should not live as they did. The saw to it that their sons and daughters finished school. In other cases, it was the children who developed the determination not to live as their parents did. In any case, many children from immigrant families pressed on through high schools, colleges, and frequently professional schools. Getting an education gradually became easier. Partly under pressure from immigrant families, cities expanded their high schools. New city colleges were established, in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere. State universities were enlarged. Even private colleges and universities opened their doors more widely by offering scholarships to talented youths. (Source: Land of the Free, pp. 6-12).

In teaching, medicine, law, and other professions, the number of children and grandchildren of immigrants grew to be quite large. Their own ambition, coupled with increased educational opportunity, enabled national and religious minorities to overcome almost all their earlier handicaps.

Chinese and Japanese Americans continued to have a difficult time all through the 1930's. The same was true of Mexican-Americans. They found few opportunities in business, politics, or the labor movement. The public schools providing for them were often not as good as those for others, with the result that few Mexican-Americans could get the preparation necessary for higher education. The history of the Negro in the 1930's showed progress, but progress won only by continual and often painful struggle. Even during the 1920's, individual Negroes had continued to distinguish themselves. A group of poets, writers, and painters in New York produced work of the very highest level. Scholars, following in the footsteps of W. E. B. DuBois, turned out works on Negro history and social conditions among Negroes. So thorough was their work, that more accurate information was available on the Negro than on any other comparable group in America. (Source: Land of the Free, pp. 416-418).

Negro musicians influenced the whole nation, especially by means of jazz. A number of Negroes were outstanding athletes. A significant number made success in business. But in spite of so many achievements by individuals, Negroes as a group remained well behind most other minorities in economic and social progress. Through the 1930's, the same remained true. When recovery began, Negroes made gains in the business world, just as did other minorities. In a few places, they emerged as a force in politics. A Negro was elected to Congress from Illinois. Others won seats in state legislatures, even in the border states of West Virginia and Kentucky. In the labor movement, President A. Phillip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was an important figure. Increasing numbers of Negro teachers, lawyers, and doctors emerged not only from Negro colleges in the South but from city colleges and state and private universities in the North and West. Still the total progress of Negroes was less than that of most other minority groups.

The greatest opportunities, of course, were in the schools. By 1860 a fair number of free public schools already existed in the North and West. Most, however, were elementary schools, and all but a few were one-room schoolhouses where one teacher taught all the children who came. Although there were a few public high schools, most education beyond the fifth or sixth year was private. Parents had to be willing and able to pay for it. With the inflow of new citizens, cities of the North and West meanwhile found their schools jammed. Toward the end of the 1870's the nation was forced to think through its wishes as to education. (Source: Land of the Free, pp. 259-261).

Cities and towns began to put up new schools and hire new teachers. Every community of any size builds a public school. In 1860 there had been only a few hundred free high schools in the nation. By 1910 there were over five thousand. Many states passed laws requiring children to attend school until the age of twelve or fourteen. Truant officers searched for children who did not come to school. The idea was taking root that free public education should run through high school. Nationwide, the results were impressive. Up to the 1870's, as many as half the children in the nation had received no schooling at all. By 1900 nineteen out of twenty children in the North and West were receiving at lease some formal education. In the south, this was true of seventeen out of twenty white children and of twelve out of twenty Negro children. Although there was still much to be done, the nation had taken giant strides toward providing education for all.

Improvements were made. From Germany came the idea of kindergarten. The one-room school gave way to graded schools with a teacher for each grade. The same was true for Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese-Americans. Some leaders were rising within these groups, but it was not yet clear whether these leaders would set their sights on full equality.

Thinking back on the reception of these immigrants, Americans have to feel both pride and shame. The reason for shame is that so often a cold shoulder was turned to these volunteer Americans. The reasons for pride are, first, over what these new citizens achieved, how they enriched American culture, and what they contributed to science, invention, business, and industry. A second reason is that the American system gave these new citizens opportunity, including that of transforming themselves into Americans.

to top


Goals and Objectives for Students of Mathematics

A. Select and use appropriate method of computing from among paper and pencil, mental arithmetic or calculator.
B. Formulate problems from situation and given data.
C. Develop and apply a variety of strategies to solve problems.
D. Verify, validate, and interpret results, claims and generalize solutions.
E. Know standard methods to solve problems, and use these methods in approaching more complex problems.
F. Conduct at least one large-scale investigation or project chosen by a student or teacher.
G. Select appropriate mathematical concepts and techniques from different areas of mathematics and apply them to the solution of the problem.
H. Become mathematical problem solvers.
I. Learn to communicate mathematically.
J. Make mathematical connections.
K. Learn to reason mathematically.
L. Learn the value of mathematics.
M. Become confident of their mathematical abilities.

to top


LESSON PLANS

Social Studies Activities

1. In the years before the Civil War, from what countries did most of the immigrants to America come?
2. After about 1885, from what countries did most of the immigrants come?
3. Describe a typical immigrant's journey to America.
4. What kinds of work did these immigrants find in America?
5. What immigrants moved on westward? Why did they go on?
6. From what three countries did immigrants come directly to the Far West? Why did they come?
7. Why did some Americans resent immigrants?
8. What was President Theodore Roosevelt's "Gentlemen's Agreement" with Japan in 1907? Explain.
9. What was Marcus Garvey's advice to other Negroes?
10. What did Marcus Garvey urge Negroes to do?
11. What were some of the handicaps immigrants had to overcome in America?
12. Gather information about the statue that stands at the entrance to New York harbor and prepare a report on the following questions:
a. How did the United States get the statue?
b. Who wrote the inscription on its base and from what country did the author come?
c. Why is the statue one of America's most treasured symbols?
13. Most new citizens, although they made a pledge of allegiance to the United States still think o the country of their birth with warmth and affection. These newcomers make distinct contribution to their new home. Do you agree that America, instead of being called a "melting pot," should be likened to a "salad bowl"? Why, or why not?
14. In your library find out how an immigrant becomes an American citizen. Make a chart describing each step of the procedure.
15. In the fifty years after the Civil War, immigrants came from
a. Ireland
b. Germany
c. Poland
d. Russia
e. Japan
f. China
g. Mexico
h. Canada
Write a paper on the new citizens from one of these countries and tell how they have enriched American Life. Describe the work they did. Tell about the hardships they had to overcome. Read more about an outstanding individual in the group and tell of his achievements.

Math Activities Part I

(chart available in print form)
1. How far is a trip from Ireland to the United States?
2. How far is a trip from China to Germany?
3. How far is a trip from Ireland to Germany?
4. How far is a trip from China to Germany to Ireland?
5. How much farther is it from Germany to Ireland then from Ireland to China?
6. How far is a trip from United States to Germany to China and back to the United States?
7. How much farther is it from China to Ireland than from the United States to Germany?
8. How much farther is it from China to the United States than from Germany to Ireland?
9. How far is a trip from Ireland to China to Germany and directly back to Ireland?
10. How far is it from the United States to China and back?

to top


PROBLEM SOLVING

1. There are 550 immigrants traveling from Germany to the United States. There are 235 children and each ticket cost $852.00. There are 315 adults and each ticket cost $1,055.00. What is the total cost for all the immigrants?
2. The airplane weighs two tons, the passengers weigh one ton and the luggage weighs five hundred sixty-seven pounds. Once the plane is loaded, what is the total weight?
3. Two trains leave New York carrying immigrants at the same time. One traveling north, the other traveling south. The first train travels at 40 miles per hour and the second train travels at 30 miles per hour. How many hours will the trains travel to be 245 miles apart?
4. Immigrants travel to different parts of the country once they arrived at Ellis Island. Two adults and four children drove from Ellis Island to Cleveland, Ohio, a distance of 653 miles. Their rest stops, gasoline, and food stops amounted to two hours. What was their rate of speed if the trip took 18 hours?
5. Many of the immigrants settled on farm land and they had to drive to town for supplies. One farmer drives to town at 36 miles per hour and returns at 48 miles per hour. If his total driving time is 3 hours, how far is his farm from town?

Math Activities-Part II

1. The Hall family wants to drive from Dallas to Seattle in 5 days. About how many kilometers must they average per day if the trip is 756 miles?
2. About how many kilometers per hours must you average to drive from Chicago to Dallas in 20 hours if the trip is 9,000 miles?
3. How much farther is it from New York through Chicago to Dallas than from New York through Washington, D.C., and Atlanta to Dallas?
4. About how many times as far is it from San Francisco to Denver as it is from Chicago to St. Louis?
5. What one-way trip is closer to a round-trip between Atlanta and Tampa?

to top


Suggested Reading List and Bibliography for Students

1. Bachelis, Faren, The Central Americans: Chelsea House Publishers, New York, 1990. Information about the central parts of America.

2. Brandt, Sue R. Facts about the Fifty States: Franklin Watts, New York, 1988. Information about the states.

3. Caughey, Franklin, May, Lane of the Free: Benziger Brothers, Inc. New York, 1966.

4. Fisher, Leonard, Ellis Island Gateway to the New World: Holiday House, New York, 1986. Ellis Island became the famous federal immigration station where the largest wave of immigration in history was processed. This is a fascinating story of Ellis Island.

5. Fleming, Thomas, J., The Golden Door: Grosett, Dunlap, Inc. America, 1970. This book focuses on the hardships, persecutions, success and failures of each major group as they found their way in America.

6. Hakim, Joy, All the People: Oxford University Press, New York, 1995. In this book one will learn about people from all walks of life.

7. Lye, Keith, Getting to know the United States: Passport Books, Lincolnwood, Illinois, 1995. This is information about the United States.

8. Maestro, Betsy, Coming to America Scholastic Inc., New York, 1996. This book explores the evolving history of immigration to the United States in search of food, religion, political freedom, safety and prosperity. I recommend this book highly for students to read. It is a beautiful story and beautifully illustrated.

9. Rips, Gladys, Immigrants from Southern Europe: Delacorte Press, New York, 1981. This book gives readers insights into the various and often painful experience of the immigrants.

10. Siegel, Beatrice, I Am Ellis Island: Four Wind Press, New York, 1985. This is a story of how the island changed.

11. The World Book Encyclopedia: Scott Fetzer Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1996, Volume 10, Pages 82-85.

12. The New Book of Knowledge, Volume 9, Pages 89-90.

13. Academic American Encyclopedia: Grolier Incorporated, Danbury, Connecticut, 1984, Volume 11.

to top


Suggested Reading List and Bibliography for Teachers

1. Bender, David L., Immigration, Opposing Viewpoints: Greenhaven Press, Inc. California, 1998. This book deals with opposing views on immigration in America.

2. Bentley, Judith, American Immigration Today: Julian Messner Publisher, New York, 1981. This book gives information on immigration today in America.

3. Brooks, Barbara, & Lind Arthur S., Problems in American History: Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1957. This work explores problems on immigration.

4. Caroli, Betty Boyd and Kenneth, Thomas, Today's Immigrants, Their Stories: Oxford University Press, New York, 1982. These are stories about people who immigrated to the United States.

5. Clarke, John, Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa: Random House, New York, 1974. This book is about the life and work of Marcus Garvey.

6. Coppa, Frank J., Curran, Thomas J. The Immigration Experience in America: Twayne Publishers, Boston, 1973. This work is based on personal experiences.

7. Cronon, David, Black Moses: The Story of Marcus and the Universal Negro Improvement Association: Wisconsin Press, Wisconsin, 1969. This book entails the work of Marcus Garvey.

8. Feldstein, Stanley, The Land That I Show You: Anchor Press/Doubleday, New York, 1978. This book deals with the Jewish people in America.

9. Glazer, Nathan & Moynihan, Daniel, Beyond the Melting Pot: The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1970. This book is about the people who came to America.

10. Isbister, John, The Immigration Debate Remaking America: Kumarian Press, West Hartford, Connecticut, 1996. The book is about the backlash of opposition for reasons that are both economically cultural.

11. Jensen, Malcolm C., American In Time: Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1977. This book traces the history of America.

12. Jones, Maldwyn Allen, American Immigration" University of Chicago Press, 1960. This is the story of how the gathering of immigrants from several nations became unified into a new nation.

13. Kennedy, John F., A Nation of Immigrants: Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1964. In this book President Kennedy tells what immigrants have done for American and what America has done for its immigrants.

14. Leonard, Richard W., and Link, Arthur S., Problems in American History: Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1957. This work deals with problems of immigration.

to top

Contents of 1999 Volume III | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

© 2014 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Terms of Use Contact YNHTI