"Here is not merely a nation, but a teeming nation of nations."
People have been immigrating to the United States ever since the European settlers first founded the nation. The first immigrants were white European settlers who came for an assortment of different reasons, such as freedom of religion and employment opportunities. Waves of immigrants poured into the US until restrictions were made in the 1920s, which were largely for cultural and economic reasons. Many saw immigration as the only way to prevent starvation, extreme suffering and death. The US became a safe haven and melting pot for many different cultures and nationalities. However, it was not easy to be an immigrant, since they faced much racism, religious persecution, and xenia phobia from the Americans. Sensing this, they often banded closely together, settling with their own kind and forming their own tightly-knit communities where they established their businesses primarily to serve themselves. The Italians and the Jews were two such groups in the beginning of the 20th century who felt much of this racism -- as seen in Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. At this time, the majority of the immigrants were Italians, Russian and Eastern European Jews, Greeks, Slavs, and Armenians.
Before 1870 there was little Italian immigration to the US. Nevertheless, shortly afterward, many began to flee rural Italy's low wages and high taxes to seek a more prosperous income in the American cities. Many Italian settlements sprang up in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, and Detroit. By World War II, it is said that there were more people of Italian descent living in New York City than we...
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...king to immigrate to America, were not already well-represented in the population. However, in 1924, the quota was expanded to allow in northern and western Europeans, but to exclude almost everyone else. President Coolidge is quoted saying, "America must be kept American" as he was signing the 1924 quota into law. This fear and ideology was echoed throughout American society in the beginning of the 20th century.
Useful statistics and an informative timeline for the history of US immigration can be found here:
This website contains a lot of informative in depth information on Italians, Jews and many other nationalities that immigrated to the United States. It also has a lot of information on the restrictions and laws that were made against immigrants.
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