Social Tension of the 1920s and Nativists

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Christopher Nieves
The social tension of the 1920s was to a large extent due to backlash from Nativists and the KKK towards immigrants. With the immigrant surge threatening jobs and tainting the white Anglo-Saxon society, the idea of nativism began to proliferate through the minds of native born Americans. Social conflicts often came to violent ends by the hands of members of the “Ku Klux Klan”, they too had a nativist mindset however they focused primarily on African Americans but harbored hatred towards anyone who is not of Anglo-Saxon descent. These two movements made for a dangerous society, and made matters even more difficult for penniless immigrants trying to survive.

Starting up around 1890 but plateauing in the 1920s nativists and labor unions fought for immigration restriction. In 1921, an emergency immigration act was passed which established a quota system that decimated the amount of immigrants granted access to the States. America had never before seen such a surge of immigrants before, over 25million people over the course of thirty years, and this was the first time that Italians, Poles, Jews and Slavs had come to America in mass. Nativists worked to do anything they could to belay immigrant progress in society, and with the economic prosperity of the twenties they realigned their beliefs behind religious and racial nativism. Following the First World War, nativists throughout the twenties focused their attention of Catholics, Jews, and southeastern Europeans. These people were different than the immigrants that had come before in that they had much more difficulty assimilating with the language barrier and even in appearance. Difficulty communicating made getting a job and education much more difficult and for Hasidic Jews stood out with their distinct religious garb. When the migrants from England and Ireland and the like came over they could communicate much easier with Americans which significantly helped them out. Well over half of the...
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