Immigrants In The Us Essay

1292 words - 6 pages

In the forty years building up to 1900, the millions of immigrants from primarily southern and eastern Europe that overwhelmed the country in hopes of capitalizing on immense newfound job opportunities had a profound impact on the country. As business owners looked for the cheapest sources of labor possible, they found it in new migrants to the country, who were willing to work for much lower wage than native Americans, who were held to higher standards of living and greater expectations from employers. Companies would frequently recruit workers straight out of countries like Italy and Greece to work in factories, and likewise many Chinese were brought to America solely for the purpose of labor. The U.S. government even felt compelled in 1885 to create the Alien Contract Labor Act, which prohibited businesses to pay for the passage of immigrants to America in return for contracted labor, showing just how prevalent of a practice it was. After the Civil War, there was a huge governmental sponsorship to thrust the growth of the economy, and this along with the open policy of the government toward immigration set the stage for huge numbers of immigrants to swarm into the country.
Along with their labor, the immigrants after the Civil War brought their ways of lives and customs, which created much tension in the country and the workplace between them and natives. Mostly of Catholic faith, the newcomers were not welcomed kindly by the mostly Protestant persuasion of English and Irish descendants of America, who believed immigrants took their jobs and created competition among workers. As capitalists sponsored immigration to cheapen the labor pool, there were many clashes between the natives and new Americans. One such clash was in the cases of miners in the Midwest, where after 1890 "new" and "old" miners faced off with different ideas and customs. Not accustomed to dealing with employers, the new miners went to violent measures in striking for better conditions, which angered the calmer old miners and gave the strikers a bad reputation in the eyes of the public.
Another showcase of animosity towards immigrants was the American attitude toward the Chinese. After the civil war, the influx of Chinese laborerers on the west coast helped facilitate the rise of the railroad industry, with thousands of Chinese brought in for the sole purpose of working on the completion of the transcontinental railroad. In tandem with the European immigrants who built the railroads of the East, the Chinese provided the needed labor to industrialize America, yet received incredible backlash and hatred by a large number of Americans. Despite their contribution to the completion of connecting the country, the Chinese were shown how unwelcome they they were in 1882, with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prevented Chinese immigration. The case of the Chinese shows perfectly the great hypocrisy that existed in America regarding immigrants: the...

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