AP U.S History
Throughout the years 1880 through 1925 the United States witnessed a rise in immigration. Industrialization provided greater opportunities for Americans. America’s gilded age gave off the illusion of a utopian society. The visions of such society attracted many foreigners from parts of Europe and Asia. Though these foreigners helped with the expansion of the U.S, economic, political, and social tensions arose. These tensions included scarcity of jobs for natural-born citizens, American suspicion of European communism, and the immigrant resistance to Americanization. In response the government implemented different measures such as the immigration act of 1924, the emergency quota act and the ban of contract laborers to control problems and lower possibility of war.
As immigration increased, Americans felt hostility towards the new incomers. This was because many Americans were forced to compete for jobs. Since the immigrants were willing to do hard labor for cheap pay, business owners would hire them over an American. On the other hand, Americans who were already employed were forced to work for the low pay due to the U.S. dropping the wages in order to keep equality. This also had great affect on the use of labor unions such as the AFL because it was easier to compromise with the foreigners who needed work, limiting the effectiveness of the unions to bargain with employers. Other tensions include the immigrant resistance to conform. Document G supports the fact that Americanization caused a great race between old immigrants and new immigrants. It states that the Anglo-Saxon branch of America see their selves as far more superior than the Jewish and European Catholic groups who were coming to the U.S. Thoughts such as these caused social tensions dealing with religion. While the Russian revolution was ending in Europe the rise of communism occurred. According to secondary sources, labor unions looked at eastern and southern European immigrants suspiciously because they thought they would become “agitators” and promote communism. Since the citizens of the U.S were considered capitalist, a communist was frowned upon. Therefore, Americans wanted to keep those, what they would consider negative, ideas outside of the country. These tensions eventually caused a scare in congress that war may occur.
In response to these tensions, the government implemented many different measures to address them. The emergency quota act was soon proposed. This act, which is supported by document H, regulated the amount of immigrants allowed into America from Europe. It ultimately decided that only 3% of the citizens from Europe would be allowed to stay in the United States. Document E supports the fact that the government made attempts to fulfill the Americans demands. It states that the U.S government made an agreement with Japan that the existing policy of discouraging immigrants from coming to America should continue. Conversely, American citizens still weren’t satisfied so the government was forced to pass the immigration act of 1924, which lowered the percentage of foreigners that were allowed in the country to 2%. Additionally, congress also had to put an end to contract laborers which is stated in Document B to be the men who left their wives back home and came to work in the U.S under a contract until they have accumulated enough money and then would return back to their country. Congress decided to ban contract labor. These modifications helped provide a sense of tranquility in America and a lesser possibility of civil war.
On the contrary, immigration did contribute to the fulfillment of manifest destiny. These foreigners helped with road building, increased self-sufficiency, and made the economy stronger. The more people who came to America, the more jobs it was and the less unemployed people there were. Chinese immigrants were able to build railroad tracks that extended from the Atlantic to the pacific and from the north to the south increasing trade. With workers in the oil, coal and steel factories manufacturing, America no longer had to depend on foreign companies providing them with such resources. Ultimately, the gilded age made America appear as a utopian society and this attracted immigrants from all over south and Eastern Europe. These people caused much tension in the U.S politically, economically and social eventually resulting in many measures like Ellis Island and the variety of acts but also the achievements of the immigrants that we now see today.