American history is plagued by three differently focal schools of thought: Progressive, Neoconservative (consensus), and New Left. Because each represents a different time in history, the historical data is interpreted differently. Such is the case for immigration during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Due to the time in which these schools of thought came to be, ideas are carried off from one decade to another. The New Left is possibly the most influential school of thought in that it acknowledges everything stated in the latter two, while it also brings up new concepts.
Predominantly in the period of 1910- 1945, Progressive historians were basically influenced by the Progressive movement. Ideals of these historians, obviously, have to deal with the fact that progress was inevitable and the United States was well on its way with progress. During the Progressive movement (1900s to about 1920s) there existed a nativist feeling amongst native-born U.S. citizens. Consequently, there were historians during the era that inherited such feelings. For instance, in Immigrants and Their Children, Niles Carpenter expresses such ideas. He clearly states that "Americanization is a matter of social and political, as well as biological assimilation" (Carpenter 250). In other words, race was something that was taken seriously by politicians and sociologists of the time. Also, it implies that scientists were concerned with the interracial marriages for it would basically contaminate what was American.
In Immigrants and Their Children, Niles talks of "Americanizing" these foreigners. In doing so, he goes on to explain that they could be divided into two groups: "old" immigrants and "new" immigrants. The idea of "old" immigrants having a better chance of being Americanized is understandable. The longer that they have been here the more adapted they are to the way of life. On the other hand, "new" immigrants have a harder time because they come to America with a certain vision in mind; simply put, they come with the idea that the United States is the "land of Opportunity", where there is a better chance of improving ones economic and social conditions. This ties into another one of his statements in that immigration takes much of its importance from its relation to the economic development of the United States (Carpenter 296). Because he explores the fact that immigration is a result of the economic well being of the United States, he introduces the concept that there will obviously be social conflict between the immigrants. This is often typical of a progressive historian because most concentrated on conflicts between social classes.
The particular chapter that I read does a good job in explaining the difficulties in which immigrants faced when they were applying for their citizenship. He comments on the fact that while "old" immigrants might have had a likelier chance of receiving their citizenship, there were still many requirements. Such include literacy tests, the educational, residential, and other requirements, which the conditions under which they live and work often render extremely difficult of fulfillment (Carpenter 250). Because of course he is a Progressive writer, he concerns himself with the matter of immigrant labor. According to him, not only does immigrant labor force influence the country's productive capacity, butt it is also intimately bound with the problems of labor. Even though he thoroughly explains himself in the matters of immigrant labor and citizenry, he fails to acknowledge specifics such as the happenings of certain immigrants.
Neoconservatism is considered another major school of thought in the interpretation of historical information. This type of historical information is due largely to the fact that it is similar to the way of thinking before the Progressive school of thought. Neoconservatism, or Consensus, dominates the time period of the late 1940s early 1960s, roughly. The...
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