7⋆Battling Nativism in the Coolidge Era

THE Age of Jazz was also an age of racial, national, and religious bigotry. It was the decade of the Scopes trial, the Sacco-Vanzetti case, and the Ku Klux Klan. The drastic curtailment of immigration became a fixed part of American law in this period, and preoccupation with "national origin" moved from the meeting halls of superpatriotic groups into the nation's statute books.

Immigration restriction was an issue which revealed a peculiar weakness in the progressive movement -- the failure on the part of many progressives to see the connection between the injustice of monopoly and that of nativism. Men who loudly denounced economic inequality remained silent on the issue of national superiority. The one progressive who consistently and loudly opposed the new quota laws was the only one who himself came from an urban community of recent immigrants -- Fiorello LaGuardia. His actions attempted to move progressivism toward maturity on this question and thus, in a series of quick flashes, illuminated the future, when the New Deal descendants of the progressive movement would woo and win the immigrant masses of the nation's great cities.

LaGuardia was not in Congress when the Immigration Act of 1921 established for the first time a quota system, limiting the annual immigration from any nation to 3 per cent of the number of that country's nationals living in the United States in 1910. His views on the subject, however, were known to all. If any-

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