migration: The New American Paul Kalapodas 8 Dec.
1999 Immigration For many, immigration to the United States during the late 19th to early 20th century would be a new beginning to a prosperous life. However there were many acts and laws past to limit the influx of immigrants, do to prejudice, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act. Later on into the 20th century there would be laws repealing the older immigration laws and acts making it possible for many more foreigners to immigrate to the United States. Even with the new acts and laws that banned the older ones, no one can just walk right in and become a citizen.
One must go through several examinations and tests before he or she can earn their citizenship. The Immigration Act of March 3, 1891 was the first comprehensive law for national control of immigration. It established the Bureau of Immigration under the Treasury Department to administer all immigration laws (except the Chinese Exclusion Act). This Immigration Act also added to the inadmissible classes.
The people in these classes were inadmissible to enter into the United States. The people in these classes were, those suffering from a contagious disease, and persons convicted of certain crimes. The Immigration Act of March 3, 1903 and The Immigration Act of February 20, 1907 added further categories to the inadmissible list. Immigrants were screened for their political beliefs. Immigrants who were believed to be anarchists or those who advocated the overthrow of government by force or the assassination of a public officer were deported. This act was made mainly do to the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901.
On February 5, 1917 another immigration act was made. This Act codified all previous exclusion provisions and added the exclusion of illiterate aliens form entering into the United States. It also created a “barred zone”(Asia-Pacific triangle), whose natives were also inadmissible. This Act made Mexicans inadmissible. It insisted that all aliens pay a head tax of $8 dollars. However, because of the high demand for labor in the southwest, months later congress let Mexican workers (braceros) to stay in the U.S.
under supervision of state government for six month periods. A series of statutes were made in 1917,1918, and 1920. The sought to define more clearly which aliens were admissible and which aliens were deportable. These decisions were made mostly on the aliens political beliefs. They formed these statutes in reaction to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, which led to a Russian economic recession and a surge of immigrants used to communistic ideals bringing along with them a red scare.
The Immigration act of May 26, 1924 consolidated all of the statutes and laws in the past. It also established a quota system designed to favor the Northwestern Europeans because others were deemed less likely to support the American way of life. The act also barred all Asians as aliens ineligible for citizenship in the U.S. The act of June 14, 1940 permanently transferred the Immigration and Naturalization Service from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice. The Act of April 29, 1943 provided for the importation of temporary agricultural laborers to the U.S. from North, South, and Central America.
The Program served as the Legal basis for the Mexican bracero program, which lasted through 1964. The Displaced Persons Act of June 25, 1948 was a respond to the large numbers of Europeans who had been turned into refuges by World War Two. It also marked the first Major expression of U.S. policy for admitting persons fleeing persecution. They still had a quota however, of 205,000 displaced persons in a two-year period. (3,1096) The priority went to aliens who were farm laborers and those who had special skills.
Racial and Religious factors also affected the implementation of the Act. From June 30 until July 1 half of the German and Austrian quotas were available exclusively to persons of German ethnic origin who were born in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, or Yugoslavia and who resided in Germany or Austria. The Immigration and Nationality Act of June 27, 1952 also known as the McCarran-Walter Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was passed over the veto of President Harry S. Truman. The Act made all immigration laws compact into one comprehensive statute.
All of the races were made eligible for naturalization. Sex discrimination was eliminated with respect to immigration. However it still had a quota in preference to skilled aliens. It also broadened the grounds for exclusion and deportation of aliens. The Immigration and Nationality Act of October 3, 1965 abolished the national-origins quota system, elimination national origin, race, or ancestry as a basis for immigration. It also established a limit of 170,000 immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere per year and 120,000 limit per year on the Western Hemisphere.
The Act also established a 20,000 per-country limit within numerical restrictions for Eastern Hemisphere, applied in 1976 to Western Hemisphere in 1976. The Refugee Act of March 17, 1980 was the first omnibus refugee act enacted by congress. The act passed through congress mainly because of the hundreds of thousands of refuges that come to the U.S. in the 50s, 60s, and 70s because of communist oppression. The Refugee Act established procedures for consultation between the president and congress on the numbers and allocations of refugees to be admitted in to the country in each fiscal year.
It also established procedures on how to respond to emergency refugee situations in conformity with 1967 United Nations protocol on refugees. Through this act, refugees attained permanent resident status. The wanted to lower the number of refugees admitted but that plan was a failure. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of Nov 6, 1986, was signed by President Ronald Reagan.
Through this act illegal aliens who had resided in an unlawful status since January 1, 1982 could be legalized. This act also prohibited employers from knowingly hiring an illegal alien. It increased immigration by making adjustments for Cubans and Haitians who had entered the U.S. without inspection prior to January 1, 1982. Through this act at least 700,000 visas were issued.
A Person becomes a citizen of the United States of America through a rigorous application. The First step is to get an application and, except for children under 14 years of age, a fingerprint card and a biographic information form from the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service or from a social service agency in the community. For him or herself one must fill out Form N-400. If it is for a child fill out Form N – 402. The Application, the fingerprint card, and the Biographic Information form if appropriate, must be filled out correctly and returned to Immigration and Naturalization Service. Three unsigned photographs as described in the application must be submitted.
A fee is required when filling out N-400 or N-402. After the application is completed by the Immigration service, the applicant must go for a test. If eligible, after the test, the applicant is to feel out a paper known as a petition for naturalization, in the court. The Final court hearing is after the examination is completed, the petition filed in court, and all investigations of fitness for citizenship completed. Then the petitioner will be notified to appear before the court for the final hearing.
If the examiner agrees that the applicant should be a citizen, he or she becomes a citizen. If the examiner does not agree, he or she will have to come to court with or without an attorney and the judge will hear what the petitioner has to say. The judge then has the final call on whether the petitioner becomes a citizen or not. You can become a citizen if you meet the following requirements: you have been a legal permanent resident for five years, or three years if you are married to a U.S.
citizen, you have lived in the U.S. for at least 2-1/2 years (50%) of the five year period, or 1-1/2 years (50%) if you are married to a citizen, you have lived for more than three months in the state where you apply for citizenship, you have good moral character. To become a citizen today one must go through a whole process of tests and trials and that is only if the applicant meets all of the requirements first. Who were/are the immigrants to the U.S.? 1607-1830 Scotch-Irish had been working on farms that they did not own.
when they could no longer afford to rend their homes, they had no alternative but to seek new homes. The poorest faced the prospect of starvation if they did not get away. Africans were brought involuntarily, as slaves. they made up the lowest social class.
All ages were brought here, men and women. They were forced to come here and work on plantations as slaves. Scotch Irish were Catholics and Presbyterians. 1830-1890 ? Nationality Primarily Irish and British immigrated to America during this time period. ? Circumstances Irish: The Irish immigrated to America for several reasons, one of which was the potato famine that killed over a million. Along with this, they resented the British rule of their country, and the British landlords.
This included the British Protestantism and British taxes. With this there was the onset of prolonged depression and social hardship. Ireland was so ravaged by economic collapse, that in rural areas, the average age of death was 19. By the 1830’s Irish immigration was growing quickly, and in 1945 with the potato famine, the number of immigrants sky rocketed. British: The reasons the British came to America are not nearly as detailed as the reasons for the Irish coming here.
The British came to simply look for better opportunities of work. ? Social Classes Irish:Most Irish had been tennant farmers before they came to the United States. They had little taste for farm work and little money to buy land in America anyway. British: The British were mostly professionals, independent farmers, and skilled workers.
? Age Irish: Teenager to Young Adult British: Most immigrants from Britain were fairly young, although not quite as young as their Irish counterparts. ? Race From 1830-1890 Immigrants were primarily white Europeans. ? Religion Irish: Roman Catholic British: Protestant 1890-1924 ? Italians ? Voluntary ? White ? Catholics and Roman Catholics ? Russian Jews ? Voluntary ? White ? Jewish ? Greeks ? Voluntary ? White ? Eastern Orthodox ? Slavs ? Voluntary ? White ? Christian ? Eastern European Jews ? Voluntary ? White ? Jewish ? Armenians ? Voluntary ? White ? Christian 1968-Present ? Many middle-upper class Cubans found Castro’s plans threatening to their way of life ? In 1959, Fidel Castro came to power ? He announced the restructuring of Cuban society ? Between 1959 and 1962, 200,000 anti-Castro Cubans immigrated to the United States Reasons for immigration 1607-1830 ? Political Freedom ? Religious Tolerance ? Economic Opportunity – People want a better life – better job – more money ? Political Refugees fear for their lives ? Some want free atmosphere ? Forced Immigration (Slavery) ? Family Reunification ? There are two types of motivation for immigration ? Push(need to leave in order to survive) ? Pull (attracted to new way of life) 1830-1890 The reason for immigration in the period from 1830-1890 is quite clear. Land remained plentiful, and fairly cheap. Jobs were abundant, and labor was scarce and relatively dear.
A decline in the birthrate as well as an increase in industry and urbanization reinforced this situation. The United States, in the 19th Century, remained a strong magnet to immigrants, with offers of jobs and land for farms. Glowing reports from earlier arrivals who made good reinforced the notion that in America, the streets were, “paved with gold,” as well as offerings of religious and political freedom. A German immigrant to Missouri wrote home about: “The abundance of overbearing soldiers, haughty clergymen, and inquisitive tax collectors…” 1890-1924 ? Jews came for religious freedom ? Italians and Asians came for Work ? Russians came to escape persecution ? America had jobs ? America had religious freedom ? America was hyped up in many countries as “Land of Opportunity” 1968-Present The main reason why everybody wants to go to US is because if they would go somewhere like France of Japan although they would get higher wages, there is a much greater chance of getting harassed, arrested or deported in those countries as opposed to US.
Legal vs. illegal immigrants 1607-1830 As yet, no law was yet formed to decide who were the legal or illegal immigrants. Therefore, everyone who came to the United States was considered just an immigrant. 1830-1890 ? Illegal immigrants were not an issue at this time 1890-1924 ? There were very few illegal immigrants during the early 1900’s as Mexicans and Canadians were not counted as immigrants ? Most of the immigrants that came to America at that time came through legally 1968-Present Most of the Chinese immigrants in the US are illegal. The reason for this is because China doesn’t let too many people leave and the US also placed it’s quotas on the amount of people that are allowed to come in.
The Chinese government doesn’t care about the immigration, be it legal or illegal because the more people leave the less unemployed the country has. The life of illegal immigrants is very hard. They have to pay the smugglers to get out of the country then work in dirty sweatshops and watch out for the authorities who could place them in jail or deport them. Destination/places where they settled 1607-1830 Most Scotch Irish remained frontier farmers, touch, resolute, and independent, but some were able to rise in the world. Small groups found homes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, but most of the Scotch-Irish went to Pennsylvania.
Once they were free of their services, they headed for the frontier. They settled in the interior and moved down into Virginia and Carolinas. Now and again, after 1619, a cargo of African Americans appeared for sale in Virginia or its neighboring colonies. However, until 1660 the numbers were small.
After 1660, the fate of the African Americans began to take a plunge. Fairly soon after, the trade in African Americans boomed. The appearance of the plantation system in South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland toward the end of the seventeenth century created a demand for service labor. 1890-1924 ? Most immigrants settled near the port of entry (Ex: New York, Seattle) ? If diseased they were quarantined ? Settled in large cities such as ? Polish ? Chicago ? Cleveland ? Buffalo ? Detroit ? Milwaukee ? Wallington ? Italians ? New York ? Chicago ? Cleveland ? Buffalo ? Detroit ? Milwaukee ? Only 2 Percent went South ? Earned about $5-$10 a month in 90 hour work weeks 1968-Present ? Nearly 2/3 of all Cuban Americans live in Florida ? More Cubans live in Miami than any other U.S. city Like all the other cultures Chinese Americans settled in all parts of the country. However most of them settled in China Town and other similar places in the big towns.
The reason for that was their lack of English or just felt more comfortable to be around their own people. One more thing that attracted the Chinese to Chinese dominating areas was the opportunity to get a job. Opportunities for and success of immigrants 1607-1830 ? Employment ? In the case of African Americans, employment was plentiful, but it came in the form of slavery ? Most Scotch Irish became frontier farmers ? Some were able to rise in the world, such as in politics ? Living conditions ? Living conditions varied depending upon the slave owner ? The slaves were not free and unless the slave owner was “kind”, living conditions were not what you would call magnificent ? Education ? In the case of slaves, the only real education was that of life on the plantation. It was incredibly rare when a slave learned to read because the slave owners knew that it would be easy to keep in charge of the slave if they became educated and the slaves did not ? Social Mobility ? As far as advancing socially, this was nearly impossible because the slaves were not free ? Political Representation ? There was not much political representation for the slaves, but there were some politicians that tried to set the slaves free ? Some /scorch Irish immigrants were able to become politicians, however I do not know whether they stuck up for their heritage. *Most of the above statements changed after the Civil War 1830-1890 ? After the Civil War immigration agents went to Europe to enlist recruits for the American Industrial army ? In 1864 they legalized contracts by which immigrants pledged the wages of their labor for a term not to exceed twelve months to repay expenses of their journey to the U.S.
? In 1868 the law was repealed but the American Emigrant Company still imported laborers upon orders from employers until 1865 when Congress made it unlawful ? Immediately upon arrival, the immigrants fell under the watchful eyes of politicians as potential voters ? Some immigrant stocks were even called “voting cattle” to be herded to the polls by bosses and ward helpers ? Immigrant vote did not seriously affect the outcome of elections except for public excitement over questions that directly concerned the interests of the immigrants or injured their priced ? Homestead Act of 1862 gave every man 160-acre farm 1890-1924 ? Employment ? Dry Cleaners ? News Stands ? Grocery Stores ? Machine Shops ? Garment factory ? Living conditions ? Apartments in city ? Houses in the slums ? Poor living conditions ? Education ? Children got education after coming to America ? Parents and elders got no education ? Social Mobility ? The Polish, Italians, and the Jews had more of a social mobility then the Asians because racism and the way they look ? Jews had some problems because of their religion ? Political Representation ? The Italians had the most political representation of all the groups ? They had Ferillo LaGuardia, mayor of N.Y. ? The Poles and Jews had small political representation ? The Asians had little or no representation 1968-Present Legal immigrants have the same opportunities as normal Americans providing that they know English, but if they don’t they have to work in the Chinese community and it is harder because there is a great demand for jobs and there are no unions so the person could be easily replaced if the boss doesn’t like him. But on the other side there are many successful Chinese Americans who have exactly the same opportunities as the “Americans” and our school is a living proof of that. Peaks/waves of immigration The century following 1820 can be divided into 3 great periods of immigration, or “waves.” These three have immigrants coming from primarily three different regions.
1820-1860, Great Britain, Ireland, and Western Germany. 1860-1890, The above countries continued to provide, as well as Scandinavian Nations. 1890-1910, The majority was Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Russia, up until World War 1. From 1905 until 1914, an average of more than a million aliens yearly entered the U.S. With the outbreak of World War 1, the number declined sharply. In 1921 the number again rose, but only for a short time until changing conditions in Europe as well as new U.S.
Laws governing Immigration were established. 1830-1890 ? In the decade preceding the election of Lincoln, 2,598,214 immigrants came to U.S. mainly from Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany with few from Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands ? After the panic of 1857 and out break of the Civil War, immigration declined, but after collapse of Confederacy, immigration assumed a huge volume again ? Not until the 1840’s did wave after wave of immigration was deposited on American shores from practically every country of Europe ? This is where Irish immigration began its wave, especially after the potato crop failure ? This “Era of Mass Immigration” was initially from northern and western Europe ? The 1830’s was a surge of German immigrants ? In 1848, with the discovery of Gold, there was a spur of Chinese and Latin American immigrants to the west coast ? In the 1870’s large number of Scandinavians, Chinese, and Canadians immigrated to the U.S. ? 1840’s and 1850’s – 1.5 million immigrants ? 1840’s – 1880’s (Germans) – 4 million immigrants ? Total number of immigrants in this wave is about 7.5 million 1890-1924 ? In 1907 Japanese immigration was limited ? Chinese immigration was stopped in 1892 ; 1902 1968-Present ? Cuban immigration picked up sharply during the 1950’s as a result of increasing political turmoil in Cuba ? Many of the first Cubans to flee Castro’s dictatorship in the early 1960’s were from wealthy families and were well educated ? The U.S., granted asylum to these people and offered federal help to qualified applicants in finding homes and in making job contacts ? Most later Cuban immigrants were relatives of the first group or were poor people looking for work ? A major influx of Cuban immigrants was the arrival in 1980 of the Marielitos ? The Marielitos were about 125,000 people that the Cuban government wanted out of Cuba ? They included many unskilled workers, criminals, and mentally ill people ? These people were put aboard boats at the Cuban port of Mariel, and sent to Miami ? The U.S.
government allowed these people to enter, not knowing that some of them were criminals ? Some were placed in U.S. prisons ? Many of them were rehabilitated and released ? Few were returned to Cuba Laws Restricting Immigration America must be kept American President Coolidge signing immigration quota law in 1924 1607-1830 In the 17th and 18th centuries, the control over the admission of newcomers was mainly in the hands of the individual colonies. These were dictated by the desire to attract settlers to virgin territories or by the need to keep out unwanted social burdens (dependent stranger). As a result, in Virginia, laws encouraged newcomers by giving the “head-right” of 50 acres to each arrival if he/she paid for their own passage or to the master who paid for them.
On the other hand, strict vagrancy laws in other colonies excluded those who could not support themselves and who might become public charges. There was also an effort to keep out convicts and other undesirables whom the mother country might which to send to the provinces. After America’s independence, all such restraints on immigration disappeared. The federal government simply regulated the conditions for naturalization. In 1790, a law made citizenship available to aliens after two years of residence. Then, in 1798, a more rigid law extended the time required to 14 years.
Finally, in 1802, the interval was kept to 5 years, where it remained. The government left the rest up to the individual states, who mostly wanted to attract settlers and immigrants. These states had liberal land laws and also sent out commissions in Europe to make their resources known to possible immigrants. In fact, in 1819, a law was made designed to protect immigrants from dishonest shipmasters. It included minimum conditions of safety and sanitation. Although this law was difficult to carry out, still, as you can see, there were really no efforts to keep out immigrants in the 1600-1800’s and in general, the presence of newcomers was accepted as yet another facet to America’s diversity.
1830-1890 ? Propaganda was spread in favor of laws restricting immigration as a means of protecting the American wage earned ? In 1875 was the first restriction of immigration of prostitutes and felons ? In 1882 the government reacted to the anti-immigrant feelings, such as anti-Chinese riot and the U.S. enacted further restrictions barring the insane, the retarded, and people likely to need public care and the Chinese Exclusion Act suspending Chinese laborers for ten years 1890-1924 ? In 1892 an act passed by Congress provided for the examination of immigrants and the excluding of convicts, polygamists, prostitutes, people suffering from diseases, and people liable to public charges ? in 1917 a law was passed that enlarged the list of people who can be legally excluded ? It imposed a literary test and created the Asiatic Barred Zone to keep Asians out of this country ? It was updated in 1918 ? In 1921, Congress passed a quota which severely affected the Asian Russia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and islands in the Pacific and Atlantic ? In 1924, the law was expanded to let in northern and western Europeans and exclude almost everyone else 1968-Present There are pending bills that will dramatically restrict legal immigration for years to come. For example, there are several bills that would slash legal immigration to the United States all the way down to 20,000 or less. Under some of these pending proposals, parents, adult children, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens could no longer immigrate at all, spouses and children of lawful permanent residents would be limited to 10,000 visas per year and Refugees would be barred in all but extraordinary circumstances.
What did/do immigrants find distinctive about America? 1607-1830 ? Political Freedom ? Religious tolerance ? Economic Opportunity 1830-1890 ? Young men were not forced to serve long years in the army ? Democratic government meant equality and participation for more people 1890-1924 ? Immigrants like the U.S. because they could become successful no matter who their parents were ? They also found a place where they could do whatever they wanted in the ideas of religion and politics 1968-Present According to Chinese government there are about fifty million unemployed people in China. China is becoming more capitalist but in that process the old Communist leaders are getting all the money. Since the introduction of privatization Chinese people have had a hard time utilizing it because just to get a license they have to bribe many officials and overcome many obstacles. Because of this they come to US looking for a better place, a better opportunity. Most of these people are illegal immigrants because there are such limiting quotas in place.
So the people would rather waste a significant part of their life just working to pay off the smuggler who got them to US then live in their old country. Effects/impact on America (positive and negative) 1607-1830 African Americans have had a great deal of impact on American culture as well as history. Africans first arrived in the area that became the United States in 1619, when a handful of captives were sold by the captain of a Dutch man-of-war to settlers at Jamestown. Others were brought in increasing numbers to fill the need for labor in a country where land was plentiful and labor scarce. By the end of the 17th century, approximately 1,300,000 Africans had landed in the New World. From 1701 to 1810 the number reached 6,000,000, with another 1,800,000 arriving after 1810.
Some Africans were brought directly to the English colonies in North America. Others landed as slaves in the West Indies and were later resold and shipped to the mainland. The story of how these African-Americans were freed from slavery and gained political freedom has become a part of history. Some famous leaders during that time were Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesse Jackson, and Malcolm X. African Americans have effected our culture in many ways. Now, they hold positions of power in many areas of life.
The Scotish-Irish came from Ireland and mainly settled in the valleys of Pennsylvania and Virginia in the colonial era. (18th Century) Then, from 1846-49, there was a great potato famine in Ireland which resulted in the immigration of more than 1,500,000 people, most of whom settled in the east coast of the United States. They contributed to the huge economic growth in the United States. Some of the more famous Scotish-Irish were Andrew Carnegie, Andrew Jackson, and Alexander Graham Bell. The Scotish-Irish became the mediators between those who were on top of the social ladder to the newest immigrants who were on the bottom.
They were the foremen, superintendents, policemen, firemen, trade-union organizers, all socially intermediate positions. That gave them a naturally strong political power over the workers, or, in other words, the mass of voters. Later, the Scotish-Irish would arise to the point where they would have a great influence in the political as well as religious circle. 1830-1890 ? Lowered price of American labor but immigrants with a lower standard of living replaced the American laborers and thus robbed them of their jobs ? During the major immigration waves was also 3 major crime waves, one being in 1850 and lasting 20-30 years ? Linked to immigration, economic deprivation, and war ? Cholera and small pox erupted because of the large number of people on the move ? Diseases were returned to the U.S. with Irish immigrants of 1840’s ? In 1854, the anti-immigration Party (The know Nothings) reached greater strength before it collapsed as a political force in 1856 which reflected serious concerns of some Americans ? Immigrants alarmed many native-born immigrants for they feared competition for jobs and dislike religion and politics of new comers 1890-1924 ? Positive Jews brought more of an open religion barrier on the U.S. ? Asians and Polish brought cheap labor ? Italians and Jews brought skilled workers ? Negative ? Italians and Chinese brought organized crime to a new height in America ? Resulted in poor job opportunities for 2+ generation Americans ? Brought many diseases 1968-Present The Chinese government doesn’t care about the immigration, be it legal or illegal because the more people leave the less unemployed the country has.
Therefore the impact is big on the US government because of all of these people coming in and looking for jobs. The positive effect of this is on the consumer. Since the labor costs less, the product would also cost less. That is why Canal St.
is considered the cheapest place in the world. Although the quality is not perfect, everybody buys there because it’s cheap. And the negative effect is the loss of American jobs because of such a big demand for jobs from the newcomers. Methods of transportation and ports of arrival 1607-1830 The African Americans came over on ships where they were wedged into holds so tightly they could barely move at all. Vessels of one to two hundred tons often carried four to five hundred African Americans, as well as the crew and the provisions.
They were cooped up weeks, lived in meager ration, and were deprived of fresh air. This caused many deaths among the unhappy captives. 1830-1890 Most immigrants arrived through the port of New York by ship. The ships would leave the passengers at wharves, to fend for themselves. Some of the new problems that they faced were posed by con-men, thieves, and thugs. After 1855, they began to use the Castle Garden immigrant receiving center.
Later moved to Ellis Island, it was located at the southern tip of Manhattan. 1890-1924 ? Asians on boats arrived at Angel Island in San Francisco or Seattle ? Europeans arrived in Ellis Island in New York 1968-Present Mostly Asian Americans travelled in overcrowded boats but some came on planes Assimilation? If so, to what degree? 1607-1830 Many African-Americans in America had ancestors who were brought to America unwillingly as slaves ever since the early 1600’s or earlier. At first, they were treated the same way as indentured servants from Europe, but soon, clear differences in their treatments arose. A 1662 Virginia law assumed Africans would remain servants for life, and a 1667 act declared that “Baptism does not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedom.” By 1740, the slavery system in colonial America was fully developed.
A Virginia law in that year declared slaves to be “chattel personal in the hands of their owners and possessors… for all intents, construction, and purpose whatsoever.” So really, African-Americans had no choice but to assimilate into American culture as slaves. They did not have the choice to go back, and generations later, when they did have the chance, most of them were so firmly rooted in the American society that they would have not the desire to. The Scottish-Irish had a great advantage over most immigrants because they could already speak English. Therefore, communication between the two cultures was very fluent. 1830-1890 America, always having been a land of immigrants, had always given the immigrants a less then nice welcome.
However, when the Irish Catholics came to America in their great numbers, this aroused antagonistic feelings in the Protestants, from not only religious competition, but also the competition for jobs. There was even a political party formed unofficially against Immigrants and Catholics in the mid-1800’s. However, as time passed and the civil war took more of the political attention, the immigrants slowly assimilated into the normal population of America. 1890-1924 ? Language – If any group made much of an impact on English, it was Hebrew ? Many Jews speak both Hebrew and English and try to keep Hebrew alive in America ? Some of the Asian languages are still going strong also ? Italians, Jews, and Asians have kept a lot of their customs alive in celebrating Holidays and parties The New American The definition of what it means to be an American has changed dramatically throughout the history of our country. The founding fathers brought forth the idea of a new nation. A nation that made sovereign the supremacy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
America has changed drastically over the last two hundred years, and the definition of what it means to be an American has changed with it as well. In class for the last several weeks, the question was raised of what it means to be an American at the end of the twentieth century. The America of the twentieth century is not as far off from what the founding fathers intended; as some people might be led to believe. We have looked at several different works and articles that have given their perspective on what it means to be an American. Although American citizens are shown in Hollywood movies such as Kids, the film does not depict what the true meaning of being an American is, and is not truly indicative of the common people of America. Our country was founded on the principals of there being no borders between us as a nation.
Whether it be a difference of race or heritage, we as a people are all Americans. Being an American means setting aside your biases or prejudices, and living side-by-side with other religions, races, and cultures in a society with the absence of a single ethnic origin. Two works that mainly caught my attention were Letters from an American Farmer, written by Hector St. Jean Cr?vecoeur, and The Disuniting of America, written by Arthur M. Schlesinger. Cr?vecoeur focuses greatly on the American as a person with the drive and ambition to distinguish themselves from the others that are around them.
Cr?vecoeur’s views show a great sense of individuality among Americans. Schlesinger’s excerpt attempts to show that our country has failed to create the society that our nations founders originally wanted. A new society in which being an American does not mean you are white and your ancestors were from the original thirteen colonies; but a society that is multi-ethnic and has no real ethnic-origin. The American as defined by Cr?vecoeur, is a new man who acts upon new principals; and must therefor entertain new ideas and form new opinions. The American man is a strong unique individual who strives for individuality in a society of many people.
Cr?vecoeur says: Men are like plants; the goodness and flavour of the fruit proceeds from the peculiar soil and exposition in which they grow. We are nothing but what we derive from the air we breathe, the climate we inhabit, the government we obey, the system of religion we profess, and the nature of our employment. This shows how his views of what is means to be an American means that everyone must strive to obtain some sort of individuality. Americans will use certain bases of the society that they live in to form certain values; but after that they must create their own to gain the sense of individuality that they need. Americans according to Cr?vecoeur have a drive to learn and a thirst to acquire knowledge that other nations do not have. Cr?vecoeur shows this by stating, “This renders them more bold and enterprising; this leads them to neglect the confined occupation of the land.
They see and converse with a variety of people; their intercourse with mankind becomes extensive.” Americans are not satisfied with what they have within their own boundaries to explore. They must use the water that surrounds them to explore and gain further knowledge outside their borders. People such as Europeans are satisfied with what early knowledge they acquire and the early bargains they make. Through Cr?vecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer, he shows that his views of Americans are a class of individuals seeking knowledge and individuality. Although Cr?vecoeur’s ideas were based on America in the seventeen hundreds, everything he states about American individuality stands true today and is reinforced in Schlesinger’s excerpt.
Schlesinger promotes the idea of the great American “melting pot.” One of Schlesinger’s first statements is that Americans have puled off an almost unprecedented trick. The trick is that the United States has successfully created a federal, multi-ethnic state that works; and the state we have created is both successful and rich. Schlesinger writes throughout his article that the society we have created is deteriorating and is a time bomb waiting to explode. He believes the “melting pot” will divide all; and that the idea is long dead.
Schlesinger states the people of the United States are going to explode and we are witnessing only the very beginning. Schlesinger’s views are skewed and come from a frightened view of what America will become with a fully integrated society. What we have pulled off in not a trick as Schlesinger puts it. What we have created in the United States is a society with the absence of a single ethnic origin.
Without the restrictions of a single culture with a bunch of zealots attempting to preserve it, the United States has been able to offer ethnically diverse peoples compelling reasons to see themselves as part of the same nation. Our country was created with the assistance of many different ethnic groups and a variety of cultures. People who want to retain their ethnicity, heritage, and culture are not forced to give it up if they choose to live in America. This is one of the many things that allows people to live in relative harmony in America.
Schlesinger uses the journals of Cr?vecoeur, he says, “Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men.” This new race of men lives under the idea of E pluribus unum, which means In God We Trust. The idea of this new race of man living under the wing of God would thrive forward creating a new identity for themselves, while melting away ethnic differences that may separate them. That is part of Schlesinger’s vision of what an American is and coincides with what Cr?vecoeur says about American individuality. So what does it mean to be an American? Schlesinger’s and Cr?vecoeur’s views of what it means to be an American are essentially the same.
It means you must be willing to set aside any prejudices you may have. It means learning to live with other people that have a heritage of their own; and they may posses a great sense of individuality that may not be yours. Looking at examples from movies like Kids, almost every teenager in the group was diverse in some way. Whether they were culturally different, ethnically different, or carried different beliefs, they set aside all their differences because they were all friends.
The new race of man that is created by the joining of nations in a single society void of cultural biases; and allows the freedom of thought to drive the society to a higher level of conscienceness. Being an American means all prejudices are melted away by the variety of people living together in a new race of man called Americans. Bibliography Paul Kalapodas 8 Dec. 1999 Acknowledgements Laton, Edward. The Famine Ships: The Irish Exodus to America. 1st ed.
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