The senator's speech encapsulates a growing hostility towards immigrants in 1920s America. Society was changing rapidly, and many of those bewildered by the various changes sought to scapegoat immigrants for things happening in society that they didn't like.
The United States had always been a nation of immigrants, but the whole complexion of immigration underwent significant change in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A large percentage of this fresh influx came from Eastern and Southern Europe; the vast majority of immigrants from these areas didn't speak English. Also, a growing number were Jewish, many of them fleeing persecution.
Hostility towards these newcomers is reflected in Smith's speech when he claims, among other things, that they would become a burden on the public purse. This was, and is, a common trope in anti-immigrant rhetoric , as is Smith's suggestion that the recent wave of immigrants cannot be fully assimilated into society on account of their...
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