The Dream of America: Immigration 1870-1920

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Throughout the course of America's existence, its people, culture, and institutions have been periodically challenged-and in many cases transformed-by profound historical events. Some of these momentous events invigorated the nation and strengthened American confidence and capabilities. Others have prompted heated debates about the country's core beliefs and character. But all share the same basic attribute: they transformed the United States political cultural, and social landscape for future generations of Americans.

Omnigraphics' Defining Moments series was created for the express purpose of meeting the growing appetite for authoritative, useful historical resources on the nations history. This series, which focuses on the most pivotal events in U.S. history from the 20th century forward, will be of enduring value to anyone interested in learning more about America's past-and in understanding how these historical events continue to reverberate in the 21st century.

The Dream of America: Immigration 1870-1920-like all other volumes in the Defining Moments series-is arranged in three distinct sections:

Narrative Overview-provides a detailed, factual account of the greatest sustained wave of immigration in U.S. history. It explains the economic and political forces that drove emigrants from Europe and other parts of the world, covering all aspects of their experience-their arduous ocean journeys, their passage through Ellis Island, and their struggles to build a better life in America. Finally, this section details U.S. immigration history from the 1920s through the present, including America's 21st-century struggles with illegalimmigration.

Biographies-includes valuable biographical background on leading figures involved in this era, including Jane Addams, who worked to improve the lives of immigrants: Henry Cabot Lodge, who tried to reduce the flow of immigrants into the U.S.; and Robert Watchorn and William Williams, who served as commissioners of Ellis Island in the early 1900s. Each biography concludes with a list of sources for further information on the profiled individual.

Primary Sources-collects essential and enlightening documents on U.S. immigration history. This diverse collection includes recollections of transatlantic voyages to America and arrivals at Ellis Island, reports on deplorable steerage, turn-of-the-century editorials arguing for and against open immigration policies, stories detailing the struggles that immigrants faced, and commentaries on the immigration issues confronting America in the 21st century.

Other valuable features include a glossary of important people, places, and terms; a chronology of events; a complete bibliography and annotated list of sources for future study: and a subject index.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Targeting school audiences, the "Defining Moments" series by Omnigraphics authoritatively covers events in U.S. history that have transformed the country's political, cultural, and social landscape for future generations. Each volume in the series, including this one, covers a specific event in three sections: "Narrative," "Overview," and "Biographies and Primary Sources." There are also glossaries encompassing important people, places, and terms; detailed chronologies with references to pages throughout the specific volume; annotated bibliographies for further study; bibliographies of sources consulted by the author of the specific volume; and subject indexes to the individual works. In this volume, seven chapters of narrative address immigration to America before the Civil War, the "great wave," the voyage to America, Ellis Island, the "melting pot," shutting the "golden door," and immigration from the 1920s to the present. Biographical entries profile such figures as Jane Addams and William Williams. Numerous photographs add value to the work as a primary resource and offer visual interest to users. BOTTOM LINE Written for middle and high school students, this series is also suitable for college libraries serving students of U.S. history with a rudimentary knowledge of the English language. Simple language and the judicious use of white space make this book easy to read, while notes and references indicate a high level of scholarship throughout.—Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Queensborough Community Coll. Lib., Bayside, NY

—Sara Rofofsky Marcus
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780780810709
  • Publisher: Omnigraphics, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Series: Defining Moments Series
  • Pages: 209
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin Hillstrom is an independent scholar and the author of numerous books on American history, politics, and environmental issues, including The Cold War, Defining Moments: Workers Unite!, and The Industrial Revolution. He lives in Detroit, Michigan.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

How to Use This Book xi

Narrative Overview

Prologue 3

Chapter 1 Immigration to America Before the Civil War 7

Chapter 2 The Great Wave 21

Chapter 3 The Voyage to America 31

Chapter 4 Ellis Island 43

Chapter 5 The Melting Pot 61

Chapter 6 Shutting the Golden Door 79

Chapter 7 Immigration from the 1920s to the Present 95


Advocate for Immigrants and Founder of Hull House Jane Addams 117

Co-founder of the Immigration Restriction League Prescott F. Hall 121

U.S. Senator Who Championed Immigrant Rights George Frisbie Hoar 124

Leading Advocate of Immigration Restrictions in Congress Henry Cabot Lodge 127

Commissioner General of Immigration, 1897-1902 Terence V. Powderly 132

Commissioner of Immigration at Ellis Island, 1905-1909 Robert Watchorn 135

Commissioner of Immigration at Ellis Island, 1902-1905 and 1909-1913 William Williams 138

Primary Sources

A Labor Leader Warns Against the "Chinese Invasion" 145

A Defense of Chinese Immigrants in America 148

A Native-Born American Lashes Out at East European Immigrants 152

The "Horrors" of Steerage 156

A Long and Difficult Journey 163

Forging a New Identity in America 172

Coolidge Signs the Immigration Act of 1924 180

A Criticism of "Guest Worker" Proposals 182

A Proposal to Increase Legal Immigration 185

"A Yearning That Is Timeless" 188

Important People, Places, and Terms 191

Chronology 195

Sources for Further Study 199

Bibliography 201

Photo and Illustration Credits 203

Index 205

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