History USA- Part one 1865-1890 - American Society

  • 1865-90 dynamic expansion in territory, population and economic growth caused social and cultural changes, had positive effects but transformation exacerbated existing divisions and caused new ones
  • US was nation of immigrants before 1865
  • the original 13 colonies were populated by northern Europe settlers
  • 19th century was a new wave of german, swede, Irish and Scottish settlers
  • 1860-90 more than 10 million immigrants came, pulled in by social and economic forces - empty land to be filled, expanding industries and willingness among most Americans to welcome into 'land of free'
  • 1886 - statue of liberty
  • immigrants were recruited by shipping companies
  • Reception centre for arriving immigrants at Castle Garden
  • early waves of German/Scandis settled in rural - Irish more likely to settle in urban
  • industrialisation and urbanisation developed
  • not all immigrants were from Europe, Chinese constructed western sections of great transcontinental railroad
  • 'melting pot' of United States would forge new American citizens - pessimists worried about possible tensions due to many languages and religions
  • Mass immigration = signifi. demographic change, pop. increased due to immigrants, death rate dropping and people living longer
  • shift in this pop. through urbanisation
  • Districts of big cities became 'Irish'/'German'/'Chinatown'
  • Milwaukee in Wisconsin was a German American city of breweries and german lang. newspapers
  • speed and intensity of immigrants created tensions and social divisions - suspicion and hostility as threat to jobs, or existing social/cultural norms
  • Nativism grew (People of 'American stock' whos parents were born in the US who wanted to protect American values against 'aliens' ways of immigrants
  • tensions between 'new' immigrants and those settled previously
  • tensions often reflected class/racial/religious prejudices
  • strong reactions against Chinese immigrants in newspaper and by politicians - 'Yellow Peril' - Chinese Exclusion Act 1882 stopped immigration of 'skilled or unskilled' workers, didn't allow Chinese already I US to gain citizenship and made it difficult to return if they visited China
  • Attitudes towards Chinese in 1870-80s were complex - started coming after 1849 Gold Rush to West Coast cities
  • 1860s thousands of Chinese to work on constructing west section of Union Pacific Railroad - Chinese provided half the labour force for San Francisco's key industries (boots and shoes, wool textiles, tobacco, cigar-making and sewing) also worked on farms an, fruit picking
  • Chinese were cheap, hard-working, caused few social disturbances, were disciplined - some S plantation owners felt CHinese made better workers than freedmen
  • Chinese, Natives and A-A were grouped as 'alien' and 'coloured'
  • Depression after 1873 stock market panic caused fears Chinese would undermine white labourers
  • 1879 Hayes warned US of 'Present Chinese Invasion' and Chinese exclusion act came 3 yrs later (Originally for 10 yrs but renewed in 1892 and 1902 - repealed 43) act was first restriction on specific ethnic group of immigrants
  • Against rise of industrial capitalism, farmers and workers set up organisations like Granger Movement and the Knights of Labor to defend their interests
  • emerging middle class organised pressure groups to fight back big business
  • Another division was struggle for female suffrage & social equality for women…


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