America was not a great place to be in the late 1800’s, especially if you were a Native American, immigrant, or African-American. The Native Americans’ homelands were brutally taken over, and they were forced to live on reservations. The immigrants had to deal with the terrible living conditions in the cities and the persecution against them because of their appearance. The African-Americans, despite being declared all the rights of a citizen, were segregated, and voting in the South was made nearly impossible. During this time, living in America would have been a negative experience.
One of the things that made life in America hard for the Native Americans was the Dawes Act of 1887. The Dawes Act stated that the Native Americans would be given 160 acres of land per household, and that they had to farm it. The Act was a failure. The Native American people were not farmers, and couldn’t farm the land well. They also weren’t given the proper farming equipment. They were also not given the proper medical attention, and the teachers provided to them were poorly trained. The Dawes Act was a negative thing in Native American life.
Many immigrants expected to find the streets paved with gold in America, but found that city conditions were terrible. Diseases the cholera, malaria, tuberculosis, and typhoid were common. Tenements, which were cheap places to live, were extremely overcrowded and unsanitary. Crime flourished in the cities. The horrible living conditions in the cities made living in America a negative experience for immigrants.
Life was especially difficult for Asian immigrants. Americans made fun of the Chinese hair and dress, and gave them the name ‘coolies’. Japanese immigrants were dubbed “The Yellow Peril”. Because the Chinese were good workers who were willing to work for less, American workers complained and the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed to prevent Chinese immigration. The Alien Land Law was passed to prevent noncitizen Asians from owning land. Between the persecution from the American people and the American government, life in America for Asians was a very negative experience.
Despite the rights they had just been given after the Civil War, African-Americans in this time found new unfair laws being passed. The Jim Crow laws required separation of African-Americans in schools, parks, hospitals, public buildings, water fountains, and other places. In the case of Plessy vs. Ferguson, the Supreme Court ruled that separate facilities for whites and African-Americans were allowed, as long as they were equal, but the facilities for African-Americans were always inferior to those of the whites. Being an African-American in America at this time was a negative experience.
New laws designed to prevent African-Americans from voting were also passed in the late 1800’s. Despite being given the right to vote, many southern states required that African-Americans must own land and pay a poll tax in order to vote, which was very difficult for African-Americans to achieve during this time. Many southern states also required voters to take a literacy test, but the test given to African-Americans was a lot harder than the one given to whites. Just to make sure that no whites were being prevented from voting by these laws, a law was passed that anyone who could vote before the new laws were passed were exempt from them. These unfair laws ensured that African-Americans didn’t have a voice in government, which made life during this time a negative experience for them.
Whether it was living conditions, unfair laws passed by the U.S. government, or racism by other American citizens, life during this time was made very difficult for African-Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants. The African-Americans and Native Americans were abused by the American government, while immigrants were being made fun of and taken advantage of by the American people. Life in this time for these people was a very negative experience.