Immigration Act of 1917 (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: Immigration into the United States is significantly restricted by use of a literacy test, among other measures.
Summary of Event
During the early 1600’s, the Massachusetts Puritans prohibited newcomers from settling without their permission. As the colonial population grew from 275,000 in 1700 to 3,929,000 in 1790, each colony made and enforced its own rules: Massachusetts was restrictive; Rhode Island was more lenient; Pennsylvania was a sanctuary from religious persecution. After ratification of the United States Constitution, Congress passed the first Naturalization Act, in March, 1790. The act required two years of residency and limited naturalization to “free white persons.” The residency requirement was increased to five years in 1795. The first federal legislation that dealt with the expulsion of aliens from the United States was the Alien Act of June 25, 1798. It allowed the president to deport any alien he considered dangerous, but expired two years after it was enacted.
From 1800 to 1875, no federal legislation restricted the admission into, or allowed deportation from, the United States. Congress enacted other laws related to immigration issues during the period, however. In 1819, concern about conditions for immigrants on inbound ships prompted the passing of a number of steerage acts to safeguard the passage of people en route to the United States. A limit was placed on...
(The entire section is 1545 words.)
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