Coming through the Golden Door:
Immigrants & American Life, 1860-1900
The New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus, 1883
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!“
Key Questions
 Who were they?
 How were they integrated into American
How Many?
 1800-1870: 10 million
 Northern and Western Europe
 1870-1920: 26 million
 Eastern and Southern Europe
 ~ 20 million stayed
 Foreign-born less than 15%
Old Immigrants
 Arrived before 1880
 Came from Northern and Western Europe
 Were mainly Protestant Christians
 Were culturally similar to original
American settlers
 Settled both in cities and in rural areas
New Immigrants
 Arrived 1880 to 1910
 Came from Southern and Eastern Europe
 Were mainly Catholics, Jews, or
Orthodox Christians
 Were often culturally different from the
original American settlers
 Generally settled in cities
From Where?
 “Old” vs. “new” immigrants
 Pre-Civil War: Ireland
 1872-1896: Germany
 England, Scotland
 Scandinavia
German immigrant family, 19th c.
From Where?
 “New” immigrants 1880+
 Austro-Hungary
 “Poland”
 Jews
 Greece (after 1900)
 Italy(esp. after 1900)
Invented by Hoboken’s Italo Marchiony,
emigrated 1895
From Where?
 China
 Canada: 2 million+
 Mexico, Caribbean
(esp. 1890+)
Bloomington IL immigrant, 1890s
Why did They Come?
 “Push” & “pull” factors
 Home countries: declining
Rose Schneiderman
Polish immigrant, 1890
 America: available land, jobs
What Assists?
Triumph of steam technologies
Who were They?
 80% aged 14-44
 Overall, mostly male
 Irish/Swedes:
more balanced ratio
 Jews: Family migration
Italian Ellis island arrivals
Gaining Entry
 Castle Garden at Ellis
Island, 1892
 12 million
 Angel Island, 1910
 Registration & inspections
at all entries
Ellis Island Health Inspection
Inside Ellis Island
In the hospital wing
Where did they settle?
 Rural: Czechs
 Urban: Irish
 Target industries
 Earlier migrants
Beret Olesdater Hagebak, Wisconsin, 1896
 China town, Little
Nativist Sentiments
 1830s: Anti-Catholic/Irish
 1850s: Know Nothing Party
 Focus on background
 Anxiety over magnitude
“The Usual Irish Way of Doing Things,”
Thomas Nast, 1871
Anti-Immigrant Laws
 1875: Page Law: keep out “undesirables”
 1882: Chinese Exclusion Act
 European restrictions in 1920s
Historians’ Views
 What was the immigrant experience?
 Uprooted?
 Transplanted?
Lewis Hines, Italian family leaving Ellis Island, 1905
Historians’ Views
 Did immigrants co-exist
or assimilate?
 Is America a melting pot
or a pluralistic society?
 Americanization
“Melting Pot”?
“Understand that America is God's Crucible, the great
Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming! Here you stand, good folk, think I, when I see them
at Ellis Island, here you stand in your fifty groups, your fifty
languages, and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and
rivalries. But you won't be long like that, brothers, for these
are the fires of God you've come to – these are fires of God.
A fig for your feuds and vendettas! Germans and Frenchmen,
Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians—into the
Crucible with you all! God is making the American.”
Zangwill, The Melting Pot, 1908
Historians’ Views
 How does the history of immigration intertwine with
the development of American national identity?
 Issues of race
 Issues of citizenship
1876 Harper’s Weekly cartoon ►
C. Immigration
 No single immigrant experience
 No one model of national integration
 Same issues for immigration today

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