Solidarity or Survival? American Labor and European Immigrants, 1830-1924

Solidarity or Survival? American Labor and European Immigrants, 1830-1924

Solidarity or Survival? American Labor and European Immigrants, 1830-1924

Solidarity or Survival? American Labor and European Immigrants, 1830-1924

Synopsis

Tables Acknowledgments Introduction Atrisans, Ideology, and Nativism in Pre-Civil War American The Developing Response of Urban Labor to Immigration, 1860-1873 The Knights of Labor and Solidarity The American Federation of Labor, Induced Immigration, and the Literacy Test Labor and Immigration in the 1890s: A Reassessment The Undermining of Solidarity in the Labor Movement, 1880-1914 Labor's Debate on Immigration: Restrictionists versus Internationlists 1900-1917: The Turning Point in Labor's Immigration Policy The Eclipse of Solidarity, 1917-1924 Conclusion Bibliographical Essay Index

Excerpt

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries vast numbers of Europeans travelled westwards across the Atlantic in search of opportunity or refuge. Most already knew, and the rest would soon discover, how easy it was to gain entry into the most important of western destinations, the United States. After 1880, to be sure, certain categories of immigrants were refused admission by law, but those affected--paupers and criminals, contract laborers and anarchists, the physically diseased and mentally ill--never constituted more than a tiny fraction of new arrivals. For all intents and purposes, European immigrants could anticipate free entry into the United States. It was not until 1917, when Congress approved the administration of a literacy test, which was quickly followed by the tough quota legislation of 1921 and 1924, that serious obstacles were placed in the way of the admission of Europeans.

The freedom of entry characterizing the century before 1917 generally received popular approval. It was widely accepted that European immigration was consistent with America's economic advantage and system of values. Moreover, there was an understandable reluctance on the part of Americans who were immigrants or children of immigrants to deny to others the opportunities from which they themselves had benefitted. However, by the last decades of the nineteenth century, there emerged a growing body of opinion which was concerned about the consequences of mass immigration and urged the enactment of laws to limit entry. The rapid development of restrictionist sentiments coincided with, and was in part caused by, the changing ethnic composition of European immigration in . . .

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