The belief in Nativism was a prejudicial attitude towards immigrants based on their national origin, their ethnic background, their race or religion. The doctrine of Nativism in America resulted in a widespread attitude that rejected alien persons, or culture, and led to xenophobia and new, stringent laws being passed to restrict immigration.
Nativism in America in the 1800's and early 1900's: What caused Nativism in America?
The belief in the "Manifest Destiny" of America, based on the belief of cultural and racial superiority over other nations, was deeply rooted in the minds of many Americans and helped sew the seeds of Nativism.
Various US Laws were passed aimed at the Restriction of Immigration, which to many Americans sanctioned the belief in Nativism. The US Immigration Laws were first aimed at restricting "undesirable" immigrants, then specifically targeted the Chinese, then unskilled foreigners, then European immigrants when, in 1892, the Ellis Island Inspection Process was adopted.
The Gilded Age, and the Industrialization of America, had seen the emergence of new industries that clamored for cheap labor, which fed the surge in Immigration
The massive increase in immigration is shown in the following statistics:
The massive increase in immigration gave rise to significant social changes and huge disparities in wealth between the rich and the poor. Attempts were made to justify this by citing the theory of Social Darwinism that embraced the belief that some races were superior to others due to their inherent characteristics and moral attributes and advocated the "survival of the fittest" and the adoption of unfair business practices.
Squalid, appalling working conditions led to riots, strikes and anarchy which were blamed on new immigrants.
Immigrants came from different parts of Europe and Asia and flocked to urban city areas where they congregated in poor, congested neighborhoods created by the unplanned and rapid Urbanization in America.
The terrible working conditions imposed by the Robber Barons during the Gilded Age saw the emergence of the Labor Unions whose members were opposed to the employment of immigrants who worked for lower wages and undermined American workers
The Assassination of the President McKinley in 1901 had spread the fear of Marxism (a form of communism) that advocated revolution and anarchy (hence the 1901 Anarchist Exclusion Act).
The Immigration Act of 1907 was passed further restricting the number of immigrants and established the Dillingham Commission to investigate the effects of immigration in the US.
The subsequent Dillingham Commission report discriminated between "Old" and "New" Immigrants concluding that immigrants from southern and eastern Europe posed a serious threat to American society and should therefore be greatly reduced.
Nativism in America for kids: Nativism, Xenophobia and Ethnocentrism
Nativism in America for kids: The Dillingham Commission Report and the 'Dictionary of Races of People'
The dictionary classified immigrants in racial terms and people were placed into ethnic groups. The Dillingham Commission Report favored "old immigrants" who had come from North and West of Europe and opposed "new' immigrants" who came from the east and south of Europe and other parts of the world. The 1911 Dillingham Commission Report further fuelled Xenophobia, Ethnocentrism and Nativism in America during the 1900's by concluding that immigrants from southern and eastern Europe posed a "serious threat to American society and culture" and should therefore be greatly reduced. This opened the debate on "Old immigrants vs New Immigrants"
The Effects and Significance of the Nativism in America
|US American History|
|Immigration Laws History|