The Hard Fate of Immigrants Essay Example


Immigrants have always been looked at differently and treated poorly. Throughout the late 1800s, immigrants were looked and judged poorly, solely based on the fact they came in from a different country. Many of them came to our country to seek the “American Dream”. They were fleeing their homes that consisted of famine, disease, poverty, and horrible economic background. Since America has always been looked at very highly and prosperous, this was their main choice. Seeing a Communism rise, some sought to have freedom with religion and hoped to have a lesser grip over them with the government. Nearly 13 million immigrants came between the time periods of 1870-1900s. 

After arriving there were employers who took advantage of the immigrants, paying them poorly and working them in hazardous, poor conditions. Men were paid less than usual, with women being paid even less. Socially, immigrants were discriminated and stereotyped. “Immigrants suffered verbal and physical abuse because they were "different." While large-scale immigration created many social tensions, it also produced a new vitality in the cities and states in which the immigrants settled.”

“Immigration to the U.S. in the Late 1800s. Between 1870 and 1900, the largest number of immigrants continued to come from northern and western Europe including Great Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia. But "new" immigrants from southern and eastern Europe were becoming one of the most important forces in American life.” This created a huge variety of different people, languages, and cultural backgrounds. Seeing as though many Americans were unsure of the immigration taking place because that would mean having to try and understand who they were and where they were from. Making many of the outcasts, and just looked over. 

“As in the past, the immigrants of this period were welcome neighbors while the economy was strong. During the Civil War, both the Union and Confederate armies relied on their strength. But during hard times, the immigrants were cast out and accused of stealing jobs from American workers. Some of the loudest protests came from the Know-Nothings, a political party of the 1850's famous for its anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic leanings.”  There were political parties with different beliefs on immigration. The Know-Nothings were one that absolutely did not like the fact of them coming into our country, instead, they even labeled themselves as anti-immigrant. When the U.S needed immigrants to fill spots they were more than welcome, but on a normal basis, immigrants were not wanted. 

“Americans encouraged relatively free and open immigration during the 18th and early 19th centuries and rarely questioned that policy until the late 1800s. After certain states passed immigration laws following the Civil War, the Supreme Court in 1875 declared regulation of immigration a federal responsibility. Thus, as the number of immigrants rose in the 1880s and economic conditions in some areas worsened, Congress began to pass immigration legislation.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Alien Contract Labor laws of 1885 and 1887 prohibited certain laborers from immigrating to the United States. The general Immigration Act of 1882 levied a head tax of fifty cents on each immigrant and blocked (or excluded) the entry of idiots, lunatics, convicts, and persons likely to become a public charge.

These national immigration laws created the need for new federal enforcement authorities. In the 1880s, state boards or commissions enforced immigration law with direction from U.S. Treasury Department officials. At the Federal level, U.S. Customs Collectors at each port of entry collected the head tax from immigrants while "Chinese Inspectors" enforced the Chinese Exclusion Act.”   During the late 1800s, some acts were put in place to stop the coming of immigrants,some worked and some did not. The Chinese Exclusion Act, once put in force, worked very well the way our nation wanted it to.

The Gilded Age was an era of rapid economic growth, especially in the North and West. However, this era also experienced abject poverty and discrimination towards millions of immigrants—many coming from poverty themselves,causing the high concentration of wealth to become more visible and controversial. 

There were even publishings of newspapers and books that created a visual of how these people were being treated. “The Jungle”   written by Upton Sinclair, in 1904, was a famous novel that spread worldwide. Sinclair's novel was written in hopes of portraying the harsh conditions these immigrants had to work in, also exploited lives of indifferent people to the nation. His primary goal was to show the horrific meat-packing industry that he had seen first hand. Instead many people had horrible working conditions catch their attention. 

“Sinclair famously said of the public reaction, "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident, I hit it in the stomach." His book depicted the working class poverty, harsh living and working conditions, along with the despairing and hoplessness these workers had shown. Novels written like this made Sinclair considered a muckraker, meaning he exposed corruption within the government and economic stand point. Upton Sinclair showed the flaws wihtin the working conditions of immigrants and exposed them to create a healthier way of meat-packing. “The Jungle” made such a huge impact that our nation created an act to help limit the harsh working conditions and create a healthy environment for food to be made.

Immigration discrimination did not stop there, many immigrants were still having to live in tenements, multi-occupancy house-like structures, that were not kept up with. An abundant number of people were having to live in one room, considering this was all they could afford. After having a low paying job that consisted of long hours, those people didn't have the money for more than one room. While the German, Chinese, and European immigrants had these unfair lifestyles, African immigrants were experiencing a certain change in their society.  During the early 1900s, thousands of Africans had to come to America against their free will. Later on they were experiencing some positive feedback.

“The nineteenth century was a time of radical transformation in the political and legal status of African Americans. Blacks were freed from slavery and began to enjoy greater rights as citizens (though full recognition of their rights remained a long way off). Despite these dramatic developments, many economic and demographic characteristics of African Americans at the end of the nineteenth century were not that different from what they had been in the mid-1800s.” African American immigrants were finally having slavery loosen its reigns.

 

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