Why did the USA become increasingly hostile towards Immigration in the sass? They were escaping poverty, hardship and persecution, attracted by the promise of the American Dream which was rooted in the capitalist ideals of freedom, prosperity and democracy. However, even before the sass it can be seen that America’s open door immigration policy had began to close as the government chose to systematically exclude people of certain nationalities, who were seen to be politically radical or perhaps feeble minded.
The most early sign of this change in attitude was manifested in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act which was the first significant law restricting Oriental and Asian immigration into the ASSAI. By the 1 sass it can be seen that the original settlers who were White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) felt threatened by the arrival of Immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. It Is this change that saw America become increasingly hostile towards Immigrants who brought with them various problems.
The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution caused a great fear In America, leaving non;WASP immigrants to be accused of anarchism and Communism. This went hand in hand with a feeling of nativity in American society, stoked by racist, scientific writings asserting WASP superiority. The more obviously racist UK Klux Klan (ASK) led an efficient campaign of hatred and violence which aided the spread of hostility towards the subordinate immigrants and promoted the natives belief. World War One left America upholding an increasingly isolationist stance in which she was reluctant to become involved in foreign affairs.
The patriotism of immigrants was questioned as they were believed to have sympathies or their mother countries during war time. This resulted In the introduction of an ever harsher series of anti-immigration legislation. Finally, the realities of having so many Immigrants In the USA gave rise to numerous social and economic Issues such as crime and competently for Jobs. This essay shall weigh the relative Importance of each factor which resulted In the USA becoming Increasingly hostile towards immigration in the sass. The 1917 Russian Revolution sent waves of shock across the world, particularly America.
The Bolsheviks’ overthrowing of the Tsar was anathema to a country built on fatalist ideals, leading to what has been called the “Red Scare”. Historian Frederick Allen describes it as ‘an era of… Suspicion and civil conflict – in a very literal sense, a reign of terror’ as Americans were incredibly fearful that a Bolshevik revolution could occur in their homeland. This fear was embodied in the Seattle Shipyard strike in which a general strike of 6,000 workers ensued, leading to Eastern European Immigrants being pinpointed and branded as “Reds”.
It was believed that the strikers were under the deletion of Lenin and Trotsky, exacerbated by Linen’s slogan workers of the world unite. ” Statistically, a considerable share of the strikers were example, immigrants made up 80% of the workforce in sugar refining, and 70% in clothing manufacture. America saw this differently and argued that the foreign workers were extremely vulnerable to persuasion from radical propaganda. The hysteria created by the strikes was furthered by a series of letter bomb attacks on prominent political figures, among them was AM Palmer, Attorney General of the USA.
In retaliation to the failed attack, on New Year’s Day of 1920, Palmer organized the preparation of 6,000 (suspected) communist immigrants without appeal or trial. This occurrence is argued to be the end of the Red Scare as only 3 pistols were found amongst all 6,000 deportees. By 1921 the hysteria was fading, and in 1924 the Saturday Evening Post looked back with amusement at the nations former concern over radicals, dismissing it as “nothing but the last symptom of war fever”. However, the intolerance of immigrants took many forms following the Red Scare.
It can be seen that the Red Scare Justified a link between immigrants and anarchy, resulting in n increased hostility which continued throughout the sass. These feelings, however, had been stirring in American society before the Russian Revolution, in the form of nativity. The belief that the original purity of the USA needed to be preserved was prevalent amongst the established WASP community who felt threatened by the influx of new immigrants from abroad. The view of WASP superiority permeated American society due to the fact that WASPs held the majority of positions of power in the country, from political office to the police.
The speeches of certain congressmen such as Fred S. Purcell were saturated with references to “the old pioneer stock” of the WASPs and the “irresponsible and broken wreckage” that supposedly made up the new immigrants. The views of such influential people rippled throughout society and immigration restriction was supported to an even greater extent. The natives belief was also portrayed by academics who used so- called scientific means to prove the dominance of WASPs and the inferiority of other races.
In his book “The Passing of The Great Race”, Madison Grant argues that the mingling of immigrants with WASPs would lead to the “survival of the unfit. Harry Laughlin, a leading eugenicist, attempted to support this by stating that immigrants were “genetically inferior”. Despite their unreliable and unfounded claims, Laughlin and Grant used their influence in the public sphere to extend their natives ideas to a wide audience. This audience consisted of white Americans, who, already feeling threatened by the arrival of immigrants, were ready to take up natives ideology.
Therefore Laughlin and Grant’s conclusions stimulated more intense anti-immigrant feeling. They manufactured a scapegoat out of the new immigrants who were heartening the fervent belief of 100% Americanization, influencing a greater hostility towards immigration in the sass. The year 191 5 saw the re-emergence of the more openly racist ASK. Their influence peaked in 1923, when Hiram W Evans, the Imperial Wizard, stated that the Klan had 4. 5 million members. The ASK, although principally targeting blacks, also persecuted immigrants of different nationalities throughout their activity.
Klan members penetrated all areas of society, from holding demonstrations on the streets to leading implement new governmental laws, Thomas C. Reeves explains that “they controlled the legislatures of Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana and Oregon”. For example, during their peak membership, the 1921 and 1924 Quota Laws were passed which dramatically reduced the number of immigrants allowed into the USA. Their governmental representation was also significant, giving them huge power on a national level.
This power was exemplified by marches held in the largest cities in the USA, for example in 1925 the Klan demonstrated their racist attitudes through the streets of Washington. These marches resulted in the change of opinion towards the idea of immigration as the Klan promoted militant patriotism in which they wanted to preserve the WASP image as the “ideal American”. The Auk’s numerical support, widespread influence and economic power put the organization in good stance to have an enormous impact on the growth of hostility towards immigration in the sass.
Another overarching idea that influenced immigration was America’s policy of isolationism. As early as the sass she had been steadily withdrawing her affairs from a Europe she saw as corrupt and dangerous. Despite this, she was drawn reluctantly into WWW , losing 55,000 soldiers in the process. John High states that as a result, by mid-1920 there was “a revulsion against European entanglements”, a mood shown in the refusal of America’s senates to Join the League of Nations. Over 800,000 immigrants arrived in the USA in 1921 with most coming from war ravaged Eastern and Southern Europe.
The patriotism of these immigrants was questioned, leaving many American’s suspicious. It was thought that these immigrants from Germany and Italy, for example, would support their mother country if another war was to arise. This impacted on legislation and in 1921 a Quota Act was passed which emitted the number of immigrants to a mere 3% of that nationality living in the US at the time of the 1910 census. This was reduced further in 1924 by which the proportion from each country was lowered to 2% based on the 1890 census.
Both the 1921 and 1924 Quota Acts discriminated unfairly against people from Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, who, as a result found it increasingly difficult to emigrate to America. Ultimately, isolationism was used to curb immigration by avoiding alien communication and to desperately try to retain the national identity, ethnicity and culture. Therefore, isolationism was a key component in showing that America was becoming increasingly hostile towards immigration. A fear of crime was also a major influence on immigration hostility.
Coming out of natives works like Grant’s “Passing of the Great Race”, the belief that immigrants were “predisposed to committing crime” was seen in the trial of Sack and Vendetta. Two Italian anarchists were accused of murder and later executed in 1927 despite an international campaign and substantive evidence that could have proved their innocence. Their trial was based more on their origin and radical beliefs, proving that America’s Judicial system at the time was extremely prejudiced, particularly to those from Southern and Eastern Europe.
This school of thought is exemplified by Gary Gristle who states that people from these regions were stigmatize as “dangerously accumulation of immigrants in ghettos brought an increased xenophobia to the citizens of America as they failed to assimilate into society. They lived together in isolated communities where they could retain their culture and identity, described by Charles R Crisp, a congressmen from Georgia, as “the breeding ground for UN- American thoughts and deeds.
America became fearful of these immigrants as they brought with them social implications, such as crime, and their separation from society led to misunderstanding which ultimately created hostility towards Finally, the physical and economic effects of immigration were a major contributor to hostility, particularly amongst the working-class. Following WWW the USA was in economic recession which increased competition for Jobs and heightened tensions between different areas of society. Prepared to work for less, immigrants would often undercut their American counterparts, leading to anger in the tough economic times or working-class America.
Ruthless employers who were prepared to pay low wages often took advantage of immigrants, this in turn angered American citizens as they could not compete with such low income rates. On top of this, immigrants were also extremely unpopular with the rapidly growing trade union system who organized strikes for better working conditions. The immigrants often failed to Join the unions and broke the strikes, meaning that improved environments were not given to the desperate workforce. Therefore the economic consequences that were seen as result f immigrants caused a greater resistance towards immigration in the sass.
As can be seen, hostility towards immigration was a result of a variety of reasons. A fear that a communist revolution could take hold in America, a beloved beacon of democracy and freedom, led to open suspicion and hatred of Eastern European immigrants. However, feelings of nativity and isolationism already present in society would suggest that the reaction to the Revolution of 1917 gave rise to underlying emotions. Nativity created the belief, with the help of scientific evidence, that immigrants were inferior to WASPs and their arrival would tarnish the strong pioneer stock.
The ASK enhanced the natives belief as they were openly hostile and used their enormous power to translate their ideas throughout all areas of American society. The isolationist stance of America which was furthered post WWW exacerbated the hostility Americans felt towards immigrants. They were seen to represent change and often pertained qualities which were unwelcome following the disruption caused by war. In addition, the promotion of nativity caused WASPs to resist any change as they believed themselves to be superior.
Nativity also caused a fear that immigrants had a tendency to commit crime, reflected in the decisions of the inherently prejudiced Justice system in the case of Sack and Vendetta. Lastly, America’s post war recession resulted in Job competition. It can be seen that employers had a preference to hire immigrants as they were willing to work for low pay, therefore, the distressed working-class became ever more loathing towards immigrants. The reason for an increased hostility towards immigration cannot be pinned solely on one matter: as can be seen, there is a large tapestry of affecting retain reasons.