Immigration European immigrants began to flood American cities. European immigrants outnumbered native born Americans in most major U. S. Cities. Why they came

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European immigrants began to flood American cities. European immigrants outnumbered native born Americans in most major U.S. Cities.

Why they came: Immigrants have always come to the United States for a variety of reasons. Historians divide these into “push” and “pull” factors.

Push Factors: Oppression, Poverty, War, Religions/Ethnic Persecution

Pull Factors: Freedom, Economic Opportunity, Cultural Ties

Shifting Patterns of Immigration: Patterns started to shift about 1880.

Old Immigrants: Came from Northern Europe (Great Britain, Ireland, & Germany). Protestant, and a large number of Irish Catholics. Most of these early immigrants spoke English.

New Immigrants: Came from Southern and Eastern Europe (Poland, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Greece, & Russia). They were Jewish, Catholic, or Orthodox Christian. Most spoke NO English.

Beginning Hardships: They traveled in steerage (an open room below the water line), often with their life’s belongings in a single bag.

Ellis Island: In New York Harbor. Immigration processing point. Anyone with tuberculosis or other diseases were sent back.

Angel Island: Off the California coast. Immigration processing point. Anyone with tuberculosis or other diseases were sent back. After the Chinese Exclusion Act no Chinese were allowed into the United States.

Initial Hardships: Had to choose to stay in New York or to take a train and join their relatives in other parts of the country. Most settled in cities. They had to move into crowded, tenement buildings and worked at unskilled jobs for long hours at low pay. Faced hostility and discrimination from Native Born Americans.

Ethnic Ghettos: Immigrants usually settled with relatives and others of the same nationality in ethnic neighborhoods known as ghettos. They felt more comfortable around those that spoke their language and followed the same customs. Some of these communities published newspapers in their own native language. This helped and hurt them. It kept the immigrants from mainstream American life, making it harder for them to adopt new customs.

Americanized: Learning to dress, speak, and act like other Americans. Many of the adults worked long hours and could not attend night school to learn English. This left their children to become Americanized.

Assimilated: Similar to other Americans. Many immigrant children became assimilated.

Melting Pot: America was seen as a melting pot. They were melted down and reshaped. America’s public schools greatly assisted in this process.

Often Americanization was accompanied by conflict. Immigrant parents might desire an arranged marriage for their children, while their children insisted on finding their own marriage partners according to the American custom.

Rise of Nativism: Hostility to immigration began to mount. Nativists, or those “born” or “native” to the United States, wanted restrict immigration. Nativists believed that people of other races, religions, and nationalities were inferior and that the “New Immigrants” were especially inferior to white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant Americans. Nativists feared the “New Immigrants” could never be fully absorbed into American society since they lived in ghettos and spoke their own language. Nativists argued immigrants working for low wages would take away jobs from other Americans.

Early Restrictions / Chinese Exclusion Act: There were no limits on immigration to the U.S. Anyone who was healthy and could afford to come here were permitted to immigrate. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first federal law to restrict immigration to the U.S. It reflected American prejudices at the time against Asians. In California, political leaders blamed unemployment and a general decline in wages on the presence of Chinese workers. The law temporarily banned the immigration of Chinese workers and placed new requirements on Chinese residents already living in the U.S. These residents had to obtain a special certificate before leaving the U.S. if they planned to re-enter. State and federal courts were denied the ability to grant citizenship to Chinese residents. American leaders carefully negotiated with the Chinese government in order to enforce this ban.

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