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DBQ Immigration Essay

Prompt: For the years 1880 to 1925, analyze both the tensions surrounding the issue of immigration and the United States government’s response to these tensions.

Thesis: Tensions were mainly due to racism and unsatisfied workers that felt that immigrants were taking over the American work environment and politics led to increasingly stricter government regulations on immigration.

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During the 19th century federal government supported business interest instead of interests of the workers. Immigrants w/o a job were often willing to work for less pay can citizens were. Businesses were content with paying lower wages to immigrants and often exploited them. However the working class felt as if the Immigrants were forcing them out of the work force. These sentiments led to ant-immigration plank of the Populist Party ‘s 1892 platform. In this platform the National People his stealing of jobs was the greatest reason for tensions surrounding immigration.

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No immigrants were gaining political power. Boston 1908 men of Irish descent filled positions such as police commissioner. “Members of Congress: O’Connell…Hoar” (DOC F) This led to tension concerning immigration due to the fact that minorities were running politics and citizens felt that it was led by foreigners Other tensions between African Americans and immigrants

Booker T. Washington felt that immigrants were destroying the opportunities for African American economic Empowerment. Many blacks felt that many of the rights granted to immigrants that were not granted to blacks was unjust. Proposed to allow blacks to fill jobs that immigrants were filling. Washington advocated, “ Casting down…you know.” (DOC D). Touching upon 2 arguments in his speech in Atlanta; promotion of blacks and racist sentiments in America during the 1880s to 1925

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The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant promoted the idea that the Anglo Saxon race was the prime race and that America, “Must chiefly depend on leadership” upon the white man (DOC G)

Riots in big cities between blacks and immigrants. His led to the resurrection of the KKK who was both anti-immigrant and anti-foreigner.

Government responds by limiting immigration. Before the 1880s immigrants were largely welcomed in the U.S.

First of these acts was the Chinese Exclusion Act- forbade Chinese immigration to America, it was widely accepted by public

Commissioner General of immigration announced in 1908 that an understanding with Japan was reached, “discouraging immigration of its subjects,” (Doc E). This policy existed before 1908 as well and was continued and enforced by both the Japanese and American Governments.

Final act against immigration by the federal government was after the First World War when a quota system was created. This system greatly lowered the number of immigrants accepted into the U.S and promoted white immigrants over Eastern- European immigrants. (DOC H) The Literary Digest published a cartoon showing a funnel to represent the quotas and labeled the Cartoon, “The only way to handle it,” This act was supported by the public and was apart of the isolationist movement of the 1920s.


In conclusion the racial tensions and anger at lost jobs led to strict government control of immigration throughout the 1880’s and the post 1920’s

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