The New Immigration in American History

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The New Immigration in American History

In 1886 the statue of "Liberty Enlightening the World," a gift

from the people of France, was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland.

Set at the entrance to New York, the statue was just in time to greet the

biggest migration in global history.

Between 1880 and World War I, about 22 million men, women, and

children entered the United States. More than a million arrived in each

of the years 1905, 1906, 1907, 1910, 1913, and 1914.

Not everyone had to travel in steerage. Passengers who could

afford the expense paid for first- or second-class quarters. Upon arrival

these immigrants were examined by courteous officials who boarded the

ships at anchor. But those in steerage were sent to a holding center for

a full physical and mental examination. The facility at Ellis Island

which opened in 1892 could process up to 5,000 people a day. On some days

between 1905 and 1914 it had to process more than 10,000 immigrants a day.

Many arrivals had left their homelands to escape mobs who attacked

them because of their ethnicity, religion, or politics. The German,

Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman (Turkish) empires ruled over many

different peoples and nationalities and often cruelly mistreated them.

Until 1899, U.S. immigration officials asked arrivals which nation

they had left, not their religion or ancestry. So oppressed people were

listed under the countries from which they fled. Armenians who escaped

from Turkey were recorded as Turks, and Jews who had been beaten by mobs

in Russia were listed as Russians.

This so called "new immigration" was different in many other ways

from previous immigration. For the first time, Catholic an Jewish

immigrants outnumbered Protestants, and still other arrivals were Muslims,

Buddhists, or Greek or Russian Orthodox church members.

Until 1897, 90 percent of all overseas immigrants had come from

Protestant northern and western Europe. Many of these nations had

democratic traditions and education systems. Even among the poor, many

had spent a few years in school or had acquired some industrial skills on

the job, and more than a few spoke English. Many of these men and women

settled in agriculture regions of the Untied States.

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