How did the "new immigration" change America at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The "new immigration" changed the United States in many ways.  Here are some of the most important ways in which it did so.

  • It provided a mass of unskilled workers to be hired by the growing factories.  This helped to drive wages down and to allow companies to provide poorer working conditions.
  • It brought political radicalism to the labor movement and the country as a whole.  Many of the new immigrants were anarchists and socialists.  They brought their radical ideas into labor unions and into the society in general.  This helped lead to political turmoil (the first Red Scare) and to the temporary success of the Socialist Party.
  • It helped to increase the population of cities.  At the same time, it caused conditions in the cities to deteriorate as they became overcrowded with poor people.  This helped to bring about the call for reform in the cities that was seen in the Progressive Era.
  • It brought about nativist sentiment.  Many of the new immigrants were Catholic and Jewish.  They were from Southern and Eastern Europe.  Many Americans were prejudiced against these kinds of people and a nativist movement arose.  This helped lead to such things as the resurgence of the KKK and the eventual passage of Prohibition.

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