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Old Versus New Immigration




1830 to 1860:

     Mostly Irish and German

     Irish: no self rule and potato famine

     Germans: liberals and intellectuals after

           revolution of 1848


1860 to 1890:

     still mainly Northern Europeans (England,

           Germany, Scandinavia)

     many came to settle the frontier near

           growing railroads


Many Americans welcomed these immigrants as an asset to America as they were:

     workers for factories, mines, railroads

     farmers for the west

     consumers for agricultural and industrial


     men with special abilities and talents

     additional manpower for military

     easily assimilated in American society


Early opposition to immigration:

     The “Know Nothings” were an anti-

           immigration group


     they believed that:

           immigrants took American jobs

           they did NOT assimilate into society

           they were Catholic (which they didn’t

                approve of)


NEW IMMIGRATION 1890 to 1914:

     came in much larger numbers than earlier


     mostly southern and eastern Europeans:

           Italy, Greece, Austria-Hungary,

           Russia, Poland

     Settled mainly in cities near factories NOT


     had more difficulty assimilating as they

           were different from Americans




     Italians and Greeks fled poverty

     Austrians and Russians fled heavy

           taxation and military service

     Jews fled persecution


Reasons to Oppose the New Immigrants:

     with the frontier closed, there was no land

           for them

     new immigrants competed for jobs that

           should belong to Americans

     they were harder to “Americanize” and

           had little education

     they created ghettos and felt no need to

           learn American ways

     they were “inferior” to Old Immigrants

           (theory of Nordic Sumpremacy)


In defense of the New Immigrants:

     they DID assimilate as well as the older


     Irish and Germans had retained old ways

           and were not educated

     farmers and Irish also contributed to

           overcrowding in cities

     they provided more workers for

           expanding American industry

     increased the market for American goods

     Nordic Supremacy was proved false by