Immigrant Life In The 19th And 20th Centuries

2170 words - 9 pages

American was a prosperous country with incredible economic growth between the end of Reconstruction and the Great Depression. It was during this time that "industrial expansion went into high gear because increasing manufacturing efficiencies enabled American firms to cut prices and yet earn profits for financing still better equipment (Henretta 488)." During this era, the manufacturing of steel, the construction of railroads, factories, and warehouses, and the growing demand for technological advancements, increased greatly. Philanthropists, such as Andrew Carnegie, Andrew Mellon, and John D. Rockefeller, took advantage of the situation they were in by investing large sums of capital into the growing economy. Carnegie constructed an enormous steel mill outside of Pittsburgh that became one of the worlds' largest. Mellon started the Union Trust Fund in Pittsburgh, which developed in its later years to one of the largest financial institutions in the country. Rockefeller, who was involved in the petroleum industry, built the Standard Oil Company. Philanthropists were not the only group of people funding the growth of Corporate America. "The federal government, mainly interested in encouraging interregional development, provided financial credit and land grants (Henretta 490)." As a whole, the American economy was growing at an incredible rate. It was due to this growth that countless immigrants from Europe made their way over the Atlantic, as well as African Americans migrating from the South, both with hopes of improving their own standards of life.

When Europe fell into its depression, many European peasants were struggling to live. It was not a struggle of providing good lives for their families, it was a struggle of providing lives in general. When word of the economic boom in America reached the European shores, many European farmers decided to pack up and set off for a better life in America. Farming in Europe was also advancing quickly, and due to Europe's population increase, many farmers were losing their jobs to more efficient machinery. The opening of jobs in America encouraged many to leave their country and pursue a new, happier, overall better life. However, after a long, hard trip to America, the only thing immigrants encountered was cold hatred.

Upon arrival in the United States, many foreign immigrants experienced extreme hatred at the hands of the Americans. In Out of this Furnace, Bell starts the book by telling the story of what might happen to Kracha if he wandered astray - ."..about trusting immigrants robbed and beaten their first day in America, about others who stepped off the ship and were never seen again, about husbands found in the alleys with their throats cut from ear to ear while their brides of a month vanished forever into houses of prostitution (Bell 4)." It was a common belief among Americans that immigrants brought disease, crime, pollution, and a thinner job market. Many...

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