Reasons For Changing Attitudes Towards Immigration in the 1920s…
Reasons For Changing Attitudes Towards Immigration in the 1920s
Term given to US policy of trying to stay out of foreign affairs.
Favoured Policy for much of the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Several anti-immigration laws were passed as an extension of this policy.
Attitudes towards immigration began to harden in the late 19th century.
Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882
Between 1870 and 1880, the Chinese made up 4.3% of newcomers to the USA.
They were the largest non-white group in America.
Law banned Chinese workers from working in the USA for 10 years.
Law was made permanent in 1902.
Federal Immigration Law, 1882
Imposed a 50 cent tax on each immigrant to the USA making it harder for poor people to enter the country.
Denied entry to 'any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.
Immigration Restriction League, 1894
Group of Americans known as 'nativists' who wanted to prevent 'undesirables' from entering the country.
Particularly focused on new immigrants and demanded that all immigrants could read and write which made it harder for easter and southern Europeans for entering the country.
USA really didn't want to get involved but were forced to in 1917.
Led to a great anti-German, anti-Austrian feeling in the country and an increased hatred of immigrants.
Reverted to a policy of isolationism after WW1 to ensure they don't get involved in foreign affairs again.
Didn't join the League of Nations.
This policy made people fear the rest of the world and fear being influenced by immigrants so made them dislike them.
Directly led to anti-immigration legislation.
Because of their feelings of isolationism, the war made them hate immigrants even more since they were dragged into a war which was not their own and led to the death of many Americans.
Dislike for Germans and Austrians only lasted a short time unlike racism and prejudice.
Some of the legislation was directed at certain races which is more because of racism rather than isolationism.
The legislation also favoured WASPs which also shows more racism than feelings of isolationism since many immigrants were still let in.
"After the armistice (in 1918) however, the anti foreign fears and hatreds of those who were 100% Americans were transferred from the German element to alien revolutionaries and radicals." - Historian Maldwyn A Jones, American Immigration, 1960
Fear of Communism/Revolution
Communism is a political ideology promoting a violent revolution to redistribute property and wealth aiming to eliminate society's social class.
Traditional American beliefs of free enterprise, competition and a hatred of government interference were the complete opposite of communist beliefs.
Russia had recently had a revolution in 1917 were the government and royal family were overthrown and a communist state established.
The 'Red Scare'
The fear that Bolsheviks were going to destroy American society overthrowing the government.
Great suspicion of Russian immigrants after 1917.
Mitchell Palmer (Attorney General)
Claimed there would be a revolution on May 1st 1919
Used this to deport 6000 people
Made people be suspicious about immigrants and fear that they would bring crime.
When the 1st of May came there was no sign of a revolution.
People thought he just made it up to seem like the 'Protector of America'.
In 1919 there was a wave of strikes for which people blamed the revolutionary immigrants
In April of 1919 the postal service intercepted letter bombs addressed to important US citizens along with anarchist leaflets.
Wall St Bombings
Italian Anarchist Group
38 People Killed
Increased feelings of anti-communist prejudice and paranoia.
Sacco and Vanzetti
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomew Vanzetti
They were accused of being apart of a failed robber on Christmas Eve 1919 and of a robbery in April 1920 where the robbers got away with $15,000 and killed two men because in their car was handguns and anarchist leaflets.
107 people saw them elsewhere but they weren't believed because they were Italian friends of Sacco and Vanzetti.
Experienced police officers didn't believe that they did it.
The prosecution switched the bullets to make it seem like they came from Sacco's gun.
The judge hated anarchists.
Someone confessed to doing the crime.
Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death by electric chair.
"Did you see what I did to those anarchist b*stards" - Judge Webster Thayer
The 'Red Scare' made people fear immigrants.
The genuine risk of a communist uprising was very small as only 0.1% of the population were communist so they are other factors which were much more bigger.
A lot of suspicion towards these immigrants was more based in prejudice towards the Eastern Europeans and the Italians.
Prejudice and Racism
In 1915 there goals were to maintain white supremacy and protect the ideals of pure Americanism.
Published 'The ABC of the Invisible Empire' in 1917 outlining their goals.
Birth of a Nation
Released in 1915
First film shown in the Whitehouse
Presented the KKK as heroes protecting a white women from a group of black men.
Led to a surge in membership.
4 million Americans were paying members after the film.
"All so terribly true" - President Woodrow Wilson
They had big political influence in states like Oregon and Tennessee and almost complete state control in Colorado and Indiana.
President Warren G Harding was allegedly a member.
Redefined enemies to include Catholics, Jews, Communists and immigrants which broadened their appeal.
Estimated 4 million members.
The KKK had a lot of power and influence so could make people dislike immigrants.
The support for the KKK is proof that many Americans had racist feelings toward immigrants.
The KKK actually influenced politics and allowed for legislation to be put in place.
The power of the KKK was short lived as in 1929 their membership was only down to 1 million members.
Immigration Act 1917
Banned feeble-minded people, epileptics, insane people, alcoholics, people with contagious diseases, criminals, polygamists, anarchist, those who wanted to overthrow the government with violence, and illiterates over the age of 16.
Literary test was introduced
Favoured North-West Europeans as many South-Eastern Europeans wouldn't be able to pass the test.
1921 Emergency Immigration Act/Quota Act
Only 3% of each nationality's population in the 1910 census was allowed in each year.
Favoured immigrants from North-Western Europe as there were more of them in 1910.
1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act/National Origins Act
Made immigration restrictions permanent.
Made it 2% of each nationality based on the 1890 census.
Meant very little Eastern European immigrants could enter the country.
Completely excluded Asians from entering the US.
Demand for housing grew as more immigrants came to the States.
Landlords raised the prices of housing without improving the quality.
Many people already living there were annoyed at immigrants for making them pay more for housing without getting more.
Many immigrants were forced to live in crowded and unsanitary places due to a lack of housing.
Crime increased with immigration so many politicians blamed immigrants for it.
Many gangs came over like the Mafia from Italy who illegally sold alcohol under prohibition.
Gangs like these made many people turn against immigration.
Old immigrants thought that they were better than new immigrants - nativism
Eugenics 'proved' that Nordics were better than south-eastern Europeans.
Nativists wanted to stop them from coming so as to not weaken the American gene-pool and give Americans bad qualities like not working hard and to stop crime and immorality.
Immigration was affecting their lives which made people dislike it.
A lot of these problems could have been solved by building better and more housing, and investing in a better police force which suggests that there was more to the reasons why attitudes towards immigration changed.
Originally liked immigration as it increased the market for manufactured goods, they would work for low wages, and they were easily exploited since many immigrants didn't know the laws very well.
Communism, socialism and anarchism were all popular with immigrants so big businesses treated them with suspicion as they didn't want them threatening their free enterprise and their private property.
As more immigrants came, it meant that less jobs were available so workers began to dislike immigrants.
Immigration brought more buyers of their goods, however immigrants who set up their own businesses increased their competition.
Immigration did have some negative effects on workers and were potential threats for big businesses and small businesses.
The threat to big business was really small.
The positive impacts of immigration on the economy far outweighed the negatives.