What impact did immigration have on politics and society in the United States between 1865 and 1900?

What impact did immigration have on politics and society in the United States between 1865 and 1900?

“Huddled Masses” [ 1 ] had already been pouring in to America prior to 1865. There was a short interruption during the old ages of the civil war which saw a impermanent cease to Immigration. However this was followed by a immense addition, with immigrants from Europe and farther afield deluging on to American dirt with hopes of the ‘American Dream’ , new found freedom and well better economic chances. However, in-migration was every bit much a religious event as it was a political and societal response to peculiar historic conditions. [ 2 ] This great inflow of in-migration during 1865-1900 would turn out to consequence America in about every manner possible. Social tensenesss, in-migration policies and strains on resources were merely some of the events that followed. Not merely did in-migration consequence Americans, but it besides put immense emphasiss on the fledglings that stepped on to its shores. These immigrants would be tested in their religious paths and heritage in an effort to ‘Americanise’ what was seen by many as an unsought foreign influence to the American ideal.

America’s alone economic growing [ 3 ] provided immigrants with a host of chances that were absent from their fatherlands. This hope of a better life is possibly best symbolised through the Statue of Liberty which was unveiled in 1886. The statue itself symbolised American ideals, it would be seen to mean American rules of democracy, international good will and above all peace. These political and societal thoughts presented through the statue shone like a beacon of visible radiation to the remainder of the universe, it shone like the beacon the statue held to be exact. The thought that Liberty herself was conveying visible radiation to the remainder of the universe, provided a glowing invitation that welcomed immigrants from foreign shores. While this did non look to be the manifest idea of those watching the statue’s unveiling, it occurred rather clearly to Emma Lazarus. Lazarus’ verse form, which is written on the Statues pedestal, reads:

“Give me your tired, your hapless, Your huddled Multitudes hankering to take a breath free, The deplorable garbage of your pullulating shore, I lift my lamp beside the aureate door! ” [ 4 ]

This verse form captures absolutely the sense of hope and of invitation that immigrants associated with the great American statue. She was non merely an American symbol of autonomy, but a symbol of the autonomy that would be shared with the universe. It did, of class, aid that America had indulgent in-migration policies that allowed the inflow of immigrants to carry through their dreams of traveling to the coveted land of autonomy.

Literature tends to demo these immigrants as either ‘romanticised heroes and heroines’ [ 5 ] who took the long and proving journey to America – a topographic point they hoped would convey a better life – or they are ‘pitied as bedraggled wayfarers’ [ 6 ] who end up in America as a consequence of alterations in their fatherlands. Either manner, literature makes it clear that one time in America immigrants had to submerse themselves wholly in American society, going Americanised and losing touch with their fatherland paths. The first point of contact with American life came every bit shortly as immigrants stepped off of the ships that carried them to the shores of their new place. Ellis Island was a major point of entry for immigrants [ 7 ] , societal reformists and spiritual missionaries worked here with the purpose of supplying information and a friendly face to the fledglings. However, most of these groups acted to seek and change over the immigrants to specific faiths, societal groups or political parties taking advantage of their nescient place with respects to American life. This was the first point of Americanisation.

Americanization proved to be a double-edged blade. While the thought behind it was to assist model new-immigrants into American citizens and maintain the American ideal, it did non turn out so successful. Americanisation proved debatable for both the immigrant and the remainder of American society. American society itself was apparently in favor of continuing cultural peculiarity and the geographical isolation of immigrants, in fright of foreign influences on American life. This is shown in the 1989 study conducted by the Ford-Committee which showed the displacement in Guard-Immigrant attitudes. Guards began to tilt from the thought of protecting immigrants against the adversities of America, towards protecting America from the potentially unsafe elements of the immigrant population. [ 8 ] However, at the same clip, if immigrants were to incorporate into American society, it was on their now-motherland’s footings. If immigrants wanted to blend with American life, they would hold to make so in an English-speaking manner, familiarizing themselves with American imposts and ways of life. However, this procedure of Americanisation besides had immense effects on the immigrant themselves that frequently led to feelings of bitterness on behalf of the first coevals of new-immigrants. An immigrant called Covello writes:

“There was a hungriness of the spirit for something still denied to us. The older people still clung to their memories of their native land [ … ] their children- born in America- know nil of the heritage of their female parents and male parents. [ … ] Their memories would be, non of lands across the sea, but of America, its traditions, its imposts. They could non understand their parents, their parents could non understand them.” [ 9 ]

This loss of heritage, of a baffled national individuality put strain on the new-immigrant. It was about ever the destiny of the first-generation immigrant to stay a “marginal man” , suspended between two civilizations, but non belonging entirely to either. [ 10 ] Schools in America took it upon themselves to socialize kids, it was expected that all immigrants learn and speak in English. Many of the new-immigrants felt harassed by Native Americans and even the older coevals of migrators for non acting in conformity to American norms and civilization. This led to them being outcasted in society, pressured to Americanise so that they were non embarrassingly different. However, the infusion from Covello does demo the success of Americanisation on the younger coevals, those who were born in America seemed to turn up harmonizing to American imposts and hence were less stray and outcasted from society. There was an built-in outlook that ‘foreign-born people should accommodate to and take part in American society’ [ 11 ] even if this was to the disbursal of their ain household life and heritage.

However, cultural heritage was non ever lost amongst immigrants. The fledglings frequently clustered together in favor of locations near to their new workplaces and besides near to each other. By dwelling isolated countries they created communities for themselves where they could still take part in old civilizations and idiosyncrasies without fright of being outcasted. The Irish – for illustration – were ill qualified, the bulk skilled merely in agriculture of which they merely specialised in basic murphy farms. However, they were a good beginning of manual labor. Between Reconstruction and the First World War, newly-created, large-scale fabrication and mass production industries transformed the work lives of American citizens. [ 12 ] This industrial growing required a immense work force, and so was a good beginning of work for the unskilled Irish immigrants, and other immigrants a-like. This work was mostly based in the industrial metropoliss and towns in America and so this is where the Irish resided. Factors other than work propinquity besides affected the Irish immigrant’s determination for geographical isolation in the metropoliss. The Irish were loath to travel to rural countries in America, due in portion to the deficiency of work, but besides because of the deficiency of churches that catered to their ain Catholic religion. [ 13 ] They besides preferred to populate in Irish communities where they could still partake in Irish civilization and tradition. These dumbly populated countries created an stray Irish community amongst American metropoliss and towns, colonization undertakings that aimed to interrupt down these urban concentrations failed. This led to a rise in tensenesss between the Irish fledglings and their American neighbors.

With respects to faith, American and immigrant communities grew farther divided. Many of these new immigrants held strong spiritual beliefs of their ain. Like the Irish, those immigrants going from Italy besides had strong Catholic religion. However, while these different state people could come together under the roof of a Catholic church, there was still tenseness as a consequence of cultural differences in the Catholic religion. These differences were besides amplified by the uncomfortableness in sharing a spiritual topographic point of worship with people from outside one’s ain cultural community. While communitarian thoughts had become progressively secularised in the 19th century, the association with faith persisted and new communitarian colonies continued to be founded by immigrant spiritual groups. [ 14 ] This led to farther divisions and secularization of immigrant and American societies.

This new inflow of immigrants besides roused frights of political radicalism. [ 15 ] For the mass of fledglings the most urgent job of their accommodation into American life related to their engagement in American political relations. [ 16 ] Many immigrants were ill-prepared for the American political system, they were uneducated and hence nescient to the ways of political relations and so frequently became bounded to the Machines.

Machine political relations saw America set up wards, with each ward being appointed a ‘boss’ . The thought was that the foreman would go an built-in portion of societal life and those that found themselves help through him were expected to plight trueness to his political party. Immigrants were frequently shown as ignorant, that they devalued the American political franchise. This political machine became a type of democracy that immigrants could understand, and for the foremans it became a manner to command the political system. Many historiographers have negative positions about machine political relations, Mark Summers claims that machine political relations exploited immigrants and other marginalised groups. This is in portion true, as a consequence of this machine, many fledglings became the tools of unscrupulous politicians. [ 17 ] Cartoons such as the 1s in ‘Harpers Weekly’ show images of immigrants stuffing deceitful ballots in to ballot boxes. [ 18 ] These ocular word pictures of the politically rogue immigrants helped to instil this thought of nativism against them. However, immigrants did non remain nescient with respects to American political relations. The fledglings rapidly grasped basic constructs as issues such as bondage, enlargement and nativism were issues of critical concern to the immigrants and so proved to be powerful dissolvers of political passiveness. [ 19 ]

A batch of Torahs were introduced to forestall the impact immigrants could hold to American political relations. Congress determined that the issue of in-migrations would fall, entirely, under national control. [ 20 ] In 1981 a jurisprudence was passed that laid the administrative foundation for national control of in-migration: it placed in-migration wholly under federal control, excluded people with contagious diseases and upsets and outlawed advertisement for workers abroad. [ 21 ] It was in 1892 that Ellis Island was opened as an immigrant receiving station in New York, were immigration officers would basically ‘sort through’ the fledglings choosing those they thought tantrum to be an American citizen and whom they thought could lend to America’s political system.

This new in-migration inflow besides posed a menace to America’s economic system, therefore impacting both political and societal facets of American life. Immigrants provided inexpensive labor, they would work long yearss for significantly less wage. The sheer figure of workers geting in the US besides meant there was more competition for lower skilled occupations. This drove down rewards, and meant that American citizens were either acquiring paid less or unemployed, pushed out by immigrants who were willing to work harder for so small in return. As a consequence, Americans and immigrants a-like had less money to save with each wage package, and so there was a lessening in money circulation in the consumer sector, which in bend drove down the economic system. An obvious illustration of this clash caused as a consequence of occupation competition can be seen through the blackball of Chinese immigrants. The Chinese became the first cultural group specifically barred from entry to the US with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was passed under force per unit area from white workers’ administrations in the West that resented the Chinese competition for labor occupations such as in railway building. [ 22 ] It was clear that the immigrant presence was doing much annoyance to American citizens who felt threatened by a group that were willing to work for so small and take their occupations, and basically their money.

Immigrants, who expected a warm and glowing welcome, like the one promised through the statue of autonomy, were frequently confronted with ill will and isolation. Immigrant integrating into American society was forced from both sides. It was forced upon immigrants, who were pressured to rapidly Americanise and leave behind their cultural paths. And it was besides forced on American civilians who were loath to accept these new ‘aliens’ into their society. America was unequipped at first to cover with this inflow of immigrants, had better in-migration systems been put into topographic point Oklahoman so possibly integrating would hold occurred more swimmingly. If spiritual groups, missional groups and foremans of machine political relations had of held honest purposes of supplying information and aid, instead than utilizing the immigrant’s ignorance for personal and political addition, so possibly immigrants would hold proved good to America. America’s in-migration policy was excessively indulgent, and this led to mass in-migration which brought about a moving ridge of nativism. Hostility from American citizens, it could be argued, forced immigrants to settle together in stray geographical locations. This denseness of immigrant populations amongst American communities is what caused so much tenseness and led to an ‘us’ and ‘them’ political orientation. Coming so shortly after the civil war and the battle for slave freedom may besides explicate why so much ill will was felt towards these immigrants. America had already battled with itself over equality and racism, and in-migration was a factor that re-instilled racialist thought into American society. The impact of in-migration is still seen in contemporary America, and is often a subject in political relations all over the universe. Society so, and now, seems unable to get by with integrating in fright of ‘foreign influence’ , and political parties remain split in seeking to get by with these frights.



Maldwyn Allen Jones, American Immigration, ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960 ) .

Chip Kidd, Mark Melnick, American Poets Project, ( US: Literary Classic of the United States, 2005 ) .

Alan M. Kraut, The Huddled Multitudes: The Immigrant in American Society 1880-1921, ( Illinois, University of Illinois Press, 1982 ) .

Robert Orsi, The Madonna of 115ThursdayStreet: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880-1950, ( Yale: Yale University Press, 2010 ) .

Web sites:

Clash of Cultures, ‘Immigration Restriction’ , hypertext transfer protocol: //ehistory.osu.edu/osu/mmh/clash/imm_kkk/anti-immigrationkkk-page1.htm [ Date Accessed 20ThursdayMarch 2014 ] .

Digital Collections for the Classroom: ‘Immigration and Citizenship in the United States, 1865-1924’ , http: //dcc.newberry.org/collections/immigration-and-citizenship [ Date Accessed: 15ThursdayMarch 2014 ] .

Daily Kos, ‘US Since 1865 ; The “Second Wave” of Immigration and the Reactions to it.’ , hypertext transfer protocol: //www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/22/1188522/-US-Since-1865-The-Second-Wave-of-Immigration-1870-1900-and-the-Reactions-to-it [ Date Accessed 20ThursdayMarch 2014 ]

‘No Registry Law and Tammany’ , hypertext transfer protocol: //etc.usf.edu/clipart/67400/67400/67400_no_reg.htm [ Date Accessed 20th March

The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island Foundation, ‘Ellis Island’ , hypertext transfer protocol: //www.ellisisland.org/genealogy/ellis_island.asp [ Date Accessed: 18ThursdayMarch 2014 ] .