Between 1880 and 1925 American society remained true to its core values of liberty, equality and opportunity regarding immigration issues. Assess the validity of this statement.



                             The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

SOURCE:  A poem by Emma Lazarus (1883) graven on a tablet within the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands.



          The Settlement [House] then, is an experimental effort to aid in the solution of the social and industrial problems which are engendered by the modern conditions of life in a great city. It insists that these problems are not confined to any one portion of a city. It is an attempt to relieve, at the same time, the overaccumulation at one end of society and the destitution at the other; but it assumes that this overaccumulation and destitution is most sorely felt in the things that pertain to social and educational privileges…

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
          The social value of the coffee-house and the gymnasium [at Hull House], were quickly demonstrated. At that time the saloon halls were the only places in the neighborhood where the immigrant could hold his social gatherings, and where he could celebrate such innocent and legitimate occasions as weddings and christenings… The coffee-house gradually performed a mission of its own and became something of a social center to the neighborhood as well as a real convenience. The Hull-House students and club members supped together in little groups or held their reunions and social banquets, as, to a certain extent, did organizations from all parts of the town.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
          At a meeting of working girls held at Hull-House during a strike in a large shoe factory, the discussions made it clear that the strikers who had been most easily frightened, and therefore first to capitulate, were naturally those girls who were paying board and were afraid of being put out if they fell too far behind. After a recital of a case of peculiar hardship one of them exclaimed: "Wouldn't it be fine if we had a boarding club of our own, and then we could stand by each other in a time like this?" After that events moved quickly. …On the first of May, 1891, two comfortable apartments near Hull-House were rented and furnished. The Settlement was responsible for the furniture and paid the first month's rent, but beyond that the members managed the club themselves.

SOURCE:  Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House, 1910.



In America, everything was free, as we had heard in Russia; the streets were as bright as a synagogue on a holy day. Music was free; we had been serenaded, to our gaping delight, by a brass band of many pieces, soon after our installation on Union Place.

Education was free. That subject my father had written about repeatedly, as comprising his chief hope for us children, the essence of American opportunity, the treasure that no thief could touch, nor even misfortune or poverty. It was the one thing that he was able to promise us when he sent for us; surer, safer, than bread or shelter.

… The incident impressed me more than anything I had heard in advance of the freedom of education in America. It was a concrete proof--almost the thing itself. One had to experience it to understand it.

SOURCE:  Mary Antin, The Promised Land, 1912 (Jewish immigrant arrived in 1894).




Immigration Patterns:  1880-1919

        (in thousands)

Year Arrivals   Departures   Departures/Arrivals
1880-1884 3,201 327 0.10
1885-1889 2,341 638 0.27
1890-1894 2,590 838 0.32
1895-1899 1,493 766 0.51
1900-1904 3,575 1,454 0.41
1905-1909 5,533 2,653 0.48
1910-1914 6,075 2,759 0.45
1915-1919 1,613 1,180 0.73
TOTAL 27,377  11,046 0.40
Race or People     Arrivals         Departures       % of Departures
Hebrew 1,837,875 93,344 5.2
Irish 808,762 100,108 12.4
Mexican 447,065 71,074 15.9
French 415,244 78,662 18.9
German 1,316,614 257,938 19.6
Czech 159,319 34,364 21.6
Scandinavian 956,308 227,620 23.8
English 1,067,659 261,295 24.5
Japanese 260,492 85,415 32.8
Polish 1,483,374 587,742 39.6
Greek 500,465 241,923 48.3
Italian, North 605,535 292,522 48.3
Croatian, Slovenian 485,379 246,098 50.7
Slovak 536,911 298,689 55.6
Italian, South 3,215,451 1,812,943 56.4
Hungarian 492,031 177,484 63.9
Bulgarian, Serbian,
      Montenegrin 165,191 148,386 89.9
Chinese 59,079 76,332 129.2

SOURCE:  Nell Irvin Painter, Standing at Armageddon, 1987.



"The city is the nerve center of our civilization. It is also the storm center. The fact, therefore, that it is growing much more rapidly than the whole population is full of significance."

"The city has become a serious menace to our civilization .... It has a peculiar attraction for the immigrant."

"Because our cities are so largely foreign, Romanism finds in them its chief strength."

"For the same reason a saloon, together with the intemperance and the liquor power which it represents, is multiplied in the city."

"Not only does the proportion of the poor increase with the growth of the city, but their condition becomes more wretched. The poor of a city of 8,000 inhabitants are well off compared with many in New York; and there are no such depths of woe, such utter and heart-wringing wretchedness in New York as in London ....."

"Socialism not only centers in the city, but is almost confined to it, and the materials of its growth are multiplied with the growth of the city. Here is heaped the social dynamite; here inequality is the greatest."

SOURCE:  Josiah Strong, Our Country, 1885.



It is not claimed, I believe, that the time has come for the further restriction of immigration on the ground that an excess of population overcrowds our land.

It is said, however, that the quality of recent immigration is undesirable. The time is quite within recent memory when the same thing was said of immigrants who, with their descendants, are now numbered among our best citizens.

It is said that too many immigrants settle in our cities, thus dangerously increasing their idle and vicious population. This is certainly a disadvantage. It cannot be shown, however, that it affects all our cities, nor that it is permanent; nor does it appear that this condition, where it exists, demands as its remedy the reversal of our present immigration policy.

The claim is also made that the influx of foreign laborers deprives of the opportunity to work those who are better entitled than they to the privilege of earning their livelihood by daily toil… With the advent of settled and wholesome financial and economic governmental policies, and consequent encouragement to the activity of capital, the misfortunes of unemployed labor should, to a great extent at least, be remedied…

The best reason that could be given for this radical restriction of immigration is the necessity of protecting our population against degeneration and saving our national peace and quiet from imported turbulence and disorder.

I cannot believe that we would be protected against these evils by limiting immigration to those who can read and write in any language twenty-five words of our Constitution.

SOURCE:  President Grover Cleveland's 1897 veto message to Congress concerning a bill 
to impose literacy tests on immigrants for suffrage. 



…the Klan wishes to restore the Bible to the school, not only because it is part of the world's great heritage in literature and philosophy and has profoundly influenced all white civilization, but because it is the basis on which all Christian religions are built, and to which they must look for their authority… Jews or Catholics are lavish with their caustic criticism of anything American. Nothing is immune; our great men, our historic struggles and sacrifices, our customs and personal traits, our "Puritan consciences"--all have been sacrificed without mercy…we of the Klan admit that we are intolerant and narrow in a certain sense…. We are intolerant of everything that strikes at the foundations of our race, our country or our freedom of worship. We are narrowly opposed to the use of anything alien--race, loyalty to any foreign power or to any religion whatever--as a means to win political power. We are prejudiced against any attempt to use the privileges and opportunities which aliens hold only through our generosity as levers to force us to change our civilization, to wrest from us control of our own country, to exploit us for the benefit of any foreign power--religious or secular--and especially to use America as a tool or cat's paw for the advantage of any side in the hatreds and quarrels of the Old World. This is our intolerance; based on the sound instincts which have saved us many times from the follies of the intellectuals. We admit it. More and worse, we are proud of it…

SOURCE:  Hiram Wesley Evans, "The Klan's fight for Americanism," the North American Review, March, 1926.



Don't condemn me
For leaving my country,
Poverty and necessity
Are at fault.
Good-bye, pretty Guanajuato
The state in which I was born.
I'm going to the United States
Far away from you.

Good-bye, my beloved country,
now I am going away….
I go to the United States
to seek to earn a living.
Good-bye, my beloved land;
I bear you in my heart

SOURCE:  Paul S. Taylor, "Songs of Mexican Migration" (in Ron Takaki, A Different Mirror) -- circa 1910.



I do most solemnly promise and swear that I will always, to the utmost of my ability, labor, plead, and wage a continuous warfare against ignorance and fanaticism; that I will use my utmost power to strike the shackles and chains of blind obedience to the Roman Catholic Church from the hampered and bound consciences of a priest-ridden and church-oppressed people; that I will never allow anyone, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, to become a member of this order, I knowing him to be such; and I will use my influence to promote the interest of all Protestants everywhere in the world that I may be; that I will not employ a roman Catholic in any capacity, if I can procure the services of a Protestant.

I furthermore promise and swear that I will not countenance the nomination, in any caucus or convention, of a Roman Catholic for any office in the gift of the American people, and that I will not vote for, or counsel others to vote for, any Roman Catholic, but will vote only for a Protestant, so far as may lie in my power (should there be two Roman Catholics in opposite tickets, I will erase the name of the ticket I vote); that I will at times endeavor to place the political positions of this government in the hands of Protestants, to the entire exclusion of the Roman Catholic church, of the members thereof, and the mandate of the Pope.

SOURCE:  Secret oath of the American Protective Association (APA), 1893.



"E Pluribus Unum (except the Chinese)"

SOURCE:  Thomas Nast, Harper's Weekly, April 1, 1882.



DBQ Question created by:

Mr. Steven Mercado
Chaffey High School
Ontario, CA
created in:  April, 2000