Reporting: Immigrants

Reporting: Immigrants

by Thomas Streissguth (Editor)
Reporting: Immigrants

Reporting: Immigrants

by Thomas Streissguth (Editor)


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Outrage concerning immigrants in the United States began after independence, and probably well before 1802, the year of this collection's first article. The argument laid out in an anonymous letter to the Lancaster Intelligencer was economic: immigrants would compete for jobs and threaten the livelihoods of the citizens, whose families should enjoy the privileges that came with stepping ashore at an earlier date. It seems a self-evident argument and hard to refute, until one considers the problem of settling a continent-sized nation without immigrants to do most of the settling.

By the 1840s, the debate took on new dimensions on ethnic, social and religious grounds. Catholic Irish fleeing starvation were considered of lesser benefit to the nation than good Protestant stock from northern Europe and England. The arrival of city-dwellers also raised an issue. Immigration opponents became concerned critics of the overcrowded, unhealthy conditions that resulted when immigrants remained in the ports of their arrival, rather than taking to the land.

Gambling and opium brought by San Francisco's Chinese immigrants gave rise to Chinese exclusion, written into federal law in 1882. The corruption of public bureaucrats and railroad officials profiting from trade in immigrant transport and labor also made for good reads in the San Francisco Call and other papers.

Various strains of anti-immigrant ideology can be further traced through newspapers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dark and ominous headlines brooded over many stories of murder and gang warfare among the clannish Italians. "Is the Famous Italian 'Black Hand' Organization a Myth?" from the 1909 Los Angeles Herald treats the burning debate over the existence of a criminal underworld imported by Sicilian arrivals.

The sensational revelations in the press goaded lawmakers to act: immigration laws of the 1890s and 1920s restricted new arrivals as a percentage of those already arrived from the same country. These laws were inspired by the compulsion to reset the country's social makeup to an imagined better past, well before steamship travel made the voyage to New York and other ports easy, even for the poor, for Asians, for southern Europeans.

Excluding immigrants on the basis of limited wealth arrived later. The problem, as laid out in "The Problem of Immigration" from the Wilmington Morning News, and other articles of the 1920s, was simply one of cost and benefit. The poor, in this view, were naturally less desirable than the rich, on the basis that they were more likely to become a "public charge." This ignored the fact that the rich also posed their costs to the public finances--and the poor were required to pay taxes that supported them, like anybody else.

The menace of undesirable political views was another major theme of immigration stories in the years after World War I. Russians in this era were associated with anarchists and Communists, and socialism provided grounds for deportation, no matter the raised lamp before the land of liberty and the promise of breathing free. The newspapers were, by and large, glad to see them go, and had little argument with the government's often-violent enforcement of patriotism and political correctness.

The familiar arguments are startlingly revealed in these columns, letters and stories. Reporting: Immigration includes 36 articles, reprinted complete and unedited, as well as a timeline of US immigration laws and history, and a thorough bibliography of scholarly and popular books on the subject

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780990713777
Publisher: Archive LLC
Publication date: 10/15/2019
Series: Reporting , #2
Pages: 210
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)

Table of Contents





Lancaster Intelligencer and Journal/March 24, 1802

Immigration from Ireland

New York Daily Herald/July 6, 1844

Our Country and the Future

Athens Post (Athens, TN)/October 4, 1850

The Chinese in California

Louisville Daily Courier/June 12, 1852

Chinese Immigration–What Will Be Its Effect?

Meigs County Telegraph/August 30, 1859

Chinese Immigration and the Cause of Free Labor

The National Era/March 24, 1859

The Chinese In America

The Guardian (London)/August 19, 1868

The Philosophy of Migration

Western Home Journal (Lawrence, KS)/September 8, 1881

Mongolian Immigration

Hartford Courant/May 22, 1882

The Germans In America

New York Times/October 9, 1883


Western Home Journal (Ottawa, KS)/January 9, 1886

Labor Bureau Report

Weekly Commonwealth (Topeka, KS)/January 14, 1886

The Slaughter Continues

San Francisco Examiner/November 11, 1891

Crime Among The Chinese

San Francisco Examiner/March 13, 1893

How Whites Smoke Opium in Chinatown

San Francisco Call/August 4, 1895

Huntington and Schwerin Employ Washington Lobbyists to Protect the Dishonest Chinese Passenger Traffic of the Pacific Mail

San Francisco Call/April 29, 1899

Italian Laborers

Pacific Commercial Advertiser/August 22, 1899

Grave but Uncorroborated Accusations are Made Against

Chief Sullivan and Captain Wittman

San Francisco Call/February 10, 1901

Strong Speeches to the Delegates

San Francisco Call/November 23, 1901

Memorial of the Exclusion Convention

Addressed to the President and Congress

San Francisco Call/November 23, 1901

Some of the Peculiarities, Both Picturesque and Otherwise,

Of Our Italian Fellow Citizens

New York Tribune/July 12, 1903

The South to Get Them

The Irish Standard (Minneapolis)/May 5, 1906

What Are Our Immigrants Worth in Dollars and Cents?

San Francisco Call/August 25, 1907

Honolulu’s Highways and Byways–

Among the Opium Dens of Chinatown

Pacific Commercial Advertiser/March 16, 1908

Is the Famous Italian “Black Hand” Organization a Myth?

Los Angeles Herald/January 17, 1909

Detective Pelosino Black Hand Victim

New York Tribune/March 14, 1909

Chinese Slayer Eludes Officers

Los Angeles Herald/June 22, 1909

The Black Hand Scourge

The Daily Democrat (Anadarko, OK)/September 27, 1909

Reds Rush Here from Mexico

New York Sun/November 24, 1919

3 Hundred Reds Sail for Russia

The Brainerd Daily Dispatch (Brainerd, MN)/December 21, 1919

How Shall the Alien Be Made Into a Good American?

New York Tribune/April 4, 1920

The Problem of Immigration

Wilmington Morning News/December 28, 1920

How the International Rogues Greet the Immigrants

New York Herald/April 30, 1922

Hardships Third Class Immigrants Have to Bear At Ellis Island

The New York Times/December 17, 1922

Immigration Law Defended, Also Scored

Evening Journal (Wilmington, DE)/January 24, 1929

Farrington Attacks Stand of McClatchy

Honolulu Star-Bulletin/October 3, 1931

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