USA Immigration from the Beginning Part 4: The Period 1871 – 1920

With the addition of the carousel, the attendance to the park increased dramatically. Sales at the lemonade stand increased so much that a second and third lemonade stand were added at opposite corners of the park. Revenue had increased to over $5,000 during the first year with the carousel.

Over the next three years, the park president, at the urging of the community, decided to add more rides to the community park: a spider, a scrambler, a Ferris wheel, a small roller coaster, a water boat ride in the lake and other medium-sized rides. A 200-car lot was created for customers to park their vehicles. The hours of operation expanded to noon to 8 o’clock in the evening. A pizza stand and a burger stand were added along with a soda stand.

As the park did not have fencing along its boundaries, it was required that all customers who wished to ride the attractions purchase an arm band. To maintain the park and to fund additional growth, an arm band fee of $5 was charged to children under twelve years of age and $10 for those over the age of twelve. A customer would not be allowed to ride an attraction without an arm band.

Still, the crowds continued to pour in from regions throughout the state and bordering states, as well! Revenues soared! If this growth continued, additional rides and full-time security would likely be necessary. Perhaps, adult roller coasters would be added next year. The community had no idea that such a small park would grow to be so popular.

Meanwhile, growth also continued within the United States. During the next fifty years, immigration increased mostly from the nations of Italy, Greece, Poland, and China.

During the 1870s, legal immigration rose to an astounding 2,812,191 per the Harvard University Library Open Collection Program. During this decade, only Colorado joined the United States as a new state in 1876.

In 1871, Congress passed the Indian Appropriation Act which abolished the Indian nations and made each Indian a “ward” of the state. Four years later, Congress attempted to protect the rights due to the African-American population with the first Civil Rights Act. It was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1875.

Even with the immigration and “coolie” laws passed into U.S. law, the immigration by the Chinese continued. As a result of the increased racial hatred, some Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles, California were attacked and 19 Chinese men and boys were massacred at the hands of over 500 anti-Chinese rioters. In 1975, the Page Act was passed to prevent Chinese men and women brought to the United States from being tricked into male slavery or female prostitution. The Page Act specified that immigration from the Far East must be free and voluntary, forbidding immigration for the purpose of prostitution, and forbidding a contract into forced slavery. And still more anti-Chinese rioting occurred in California in 1877, this time in San Francisco. The Sandlot Riot resulted because Chinese immigrants were blamed as the root cause of the depression in California. A nationwide depression had already seized the East Coast beginning in 1873. Almost one-fourth of the California labor force was unemployed.

In 1876, France offered the ultimate image that many future immigrants would remember as they approached New York Harbor: the Statue of Liberty. As a gift from France to the U.S., construction began on the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island located in New York Harbor. This statue would become a welcoming beacon for immigration: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” – Emma Lazarus.

The 1880s brought still more rioting against Chinese immigrants. On September 2, 1885 in Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory, 28 Chinese laborers were killed and hundreds more chased out of town by striking coal miners. In 1885, California passed legislation to create separate schools for Asian-Americans. In February, 1886, President Cleveland declared a state of emergency in Seattle because of anti-Chinese violence.

To protect against the incredible stream of Chinese immigrants into the United States, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress in 1882, overcoming a veto by President Arthur. The Act banned Chinese immigrants from entering the United States for ten years. The cutoff date was November 17, 1880; any Chinese immigrant to have arrived after that date were to be identified, removed from America, and sent to a foreign port. In 1884, this Act was amended to extend to a new period of ten years and included an extremely detailed list of criminal penalties and fines.In 1888, the Scott Chinese Exclusion Act banned all Chinese laborers from returning to the U.S. as well as all new immigration from China. The Act banned all Chinese persons from entry into the U.S. except traveling for pleasure. All detailed personal identification of Chinese persons would be collected and placed on file.

In 1882, the first Immigration Act was signed into law. A 50 cent duty was due from each incoming passenger to America that was not a U.S. citizen. It was stated that the duty of the State commission, board, or officers was to examine the condition of passengers arriving at the ports with each applicable State. In addition, it stated that all foreign convicts, except of political offenses, were to be sent back to the nations to which they belong. In 1885, the Alien Contract Labor Law was passed to “prohibit the importation and migration of foreigners and aliens under contract or agreement to perform labor in the United States, its Territories, and the District of Columbia.” In other words, it prohibited contractual agreements between U.S. businesses or individuals with individuals prior to becoming a U.S. citizen. The Act of 1888 required an immigrant to be deported who had landed in violation of contract labor laws.

At the close of 1890, North Dakota (1889), South Dakota (1889), Montana (1889), Washington (1889), Idaho (1890), and Wyoming (1890) became states. In 1890, Ellis Island was deemed to become the immigration station and was designed to handle up to 5,000 newcomers per day.Immigration during this period nearly doubled from the previous decade to 5,246,613.

The Immigration Act of 1891 extended exclusion from admission into the U.S. to “all idiots, insane persons, paupers or persons likely to become a public charge, persons suffering from a loathsome or a dangerous contagious disease, persons who have been convicted of a felony or other infamous crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, polygamists, and also any person whose ticket or passage is paid for with the money of another or who is assisted by other to come.” In addition, any person who attempted to bring any alien not lawfully entitled to enter the U.S. would be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned up to one year.

The Immigration Act of 1893 added additional information to be reported by immigrant arrivals such as full name, age, and sex, married or single, occupation, ability to read or write, nationality, the last residence, final destination, whether the immigrant had paid his own passage, and whether the immigrant was in possession of any money.

Since Chinese immigration continued in spite of the laws passed, in 1892 the Geary Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. For a ten-year period, any person of Chinese decent that was found to have been staying illegally within the United States would be removed from the U.S. As required by this law, legal residents were to be registered as being entitled to be in the U.S. and carry an identity card or they would be deported. The next year, deportation of illegal Chinese aliens began in San Francisco. On March 17, 1894, the United States and China signed the Gresham-Yang Treaty preventing Chinese laborers from entering the United States. The Chinese government abandoned its migrant workers in exchange for a profitable trade deal with the United States.

In 1893, President Harrison extended amnesty to Mormon polygamists. The next year, the Bureau of Immigration was established to oversee immigration since it was a growing area of concern for the nation’s well-being. When Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1900, Congress passed a law that granted U.S. citizenship to all citizens of the Republic of Hawaii.

During the 1890s, Utah (1896) joined the United States and immigration dropped to 3,687,564. In 1898, an important ruling was made in the case United States v. Wong Kim Ark. It ruled that a child born in the United States to Chinese immigrants was a U.S. citizen. As a result of this ruling, any child born on American soil would immediately become a U.S. citizen even though the parents were not.

During the early 1900s, Congress and the Supreme Court were busy with immigration issues. The Scott Chinese Exclusion Act of 1902 extended the 1888 Scott Exclusion Act indefinitely and prohibited the immigration from any U.S island territory to the mainland. A certificate of residence must be acquired within one year or face deportation. The Immigration Act of 1903 added four new classes not allowed to immigrate into the U.S.: anarchists, people with epilepsy, beggars, and importers of prostitutes. In the 1904 Gonzalez v. Williams case, the Supreme Court ruled that Puerto Ricans were not to be considered aliens and could enter the U.S. freely; however, the court stopped short of declaring them U.S. citizens. Also in 1904, the latest Chinese Exclusion Act prevented transportation from island territory to mainland territory of the U.S.

On Aprl 5, 1906, nine European steamships arrived in New York City with approximately 11,839 immigrants. In addition, another 8 ships were expected the next day with a similar number of immigrants. The facilities at Ellis Island could only handle 5,000 newcomers per day.

In 1906, the immigration laws became more detailed and structured. The Naturalization Act of 1906 required an oath at least two years prior to the alien’s admission and after the alien had reached the age of eighteen years; after two years and not beyond seven years after the oath, the alien must provide a petition in writing declaring the alien’s intent to become a U.S. citizen; prior to being admitted citizenship, the alien must declare an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and denounce all other allegiances; the alien must have resided continuously within the U.S. at least five years and within the current state or territory for at least one year; if the alien had a previous hereditary title, it must be renounced’; if death fell upon the alien, the widow and children may become naturalized without making any declaration of intent.

In February, 1907, the passenger ship Larchmont sank after she had collided with  the schooner Harry P. Knowles during a winter storm in heavy seas. The Larchmont sank quickly and only 19 men including the captain survived. It was estimated that 150 people had died.

The final legislation of this decade was passed in 1907 and was later amended ni 1910. The Expatriation Act of 1907 allowed the issuance of passports to those non-citizen persons who had resided in the U.S. for three years which would entitle the holder protection of the Government in any foreign country; it established that any American citizen shall be deemed to have expatriated himself if he has been naturalized by another nation or had resided two years in a foreign state from which he came or five years in any other foreign state; an American woman who married a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband; if a woman became an American by marriage, the woman would revert back to her previous nationality after a divorce; a child of naturalized parents would also become naturalized as long as the child was living in the U.S. This Act was amended in 1910 to include that immigration to criminals, anarchists, paupers and the sick was strictly forbidden.

Only Oklahoma (1907) joined the United States during the period 1901 – 1910 while immigration soared to 8,795,386.

The 1910s was a very difficult time in world history that began with the Mexican Revolution. In response to war activities near the border between Mexico and the U.S., 20,000 American troops were sent to maintain order along the border.

In March, 1911, a squad of immigration officials in San Francisco captured six Chinese slave girls which had been purchased for $25,000. In 1913, the California Webb Alien Land-Holding Bill was signed in California and, while it  excluded multiple nationalities from holding land, its effective aim was to exclude Japanese from owning land.

And then a horrific event occurred that devastated the world. At 2:20 a.m., two hours and 40 minutes after impact, the luxury liner RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic Ocean off Newfoundland with the loss of about 1,522 lives.

From 1914 through 1918, the Great War in Europe and around the world had commenced and immigration likely stopped altogether during this period. War is not a funny thing; however, it requires great concentration to follow the events list below occurring in order, courtesy of

1914, July 28 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia

1914, August 1 Germany declared war on Russia

1914, August 3 Germany invaded Belgium and declared war on France

1914, August 6 Austria-Hungary declared war against Russia and Serbia declared war against Germany

1914, August 12 Great Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary

1914, August 23 The Emperor of Japan sided with the Allies and declared war on Germany

1914, November 2 Russia declared war with Turkey

1914, November 5 The Great Britain and France declared war on Turkey

1915, February 18 Germany began a blockade of England

1915, February 22 Germany began “unrestricted” submarine warfare

1915, May 23 Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary

1915, August 21 Italy declared war on Turkey

1915, October 16 Great Britain declared war on Bulgaria

1916, March 9 Germany declared war on Portugal

1916, April 28 The British declared martial law throughout Ireland

1916, August 27 Italy declared war on Germany

1916, August 28 Germany declared war on Romania

1916, September 1 Bulgaria declared war on Romania

1917, January 19 British intercepted a telegram from Germany inviting Mexico to side with them in declaring war with the United States with the reward of recovering lost territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona

1917, January 31 Germany resumed unlimited sub warfare, saying that all neutral ships that are in the war zone would be attacked

1917, February 7 British steamer California was sunk off the coast of Ireland by a German U-boat

1917, February 8 The British steamship Mantola was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland

1917, March 18 The Germans sank the U.S. ships, City of Memphis, Vigilante and the Illinois, without any type of warning

1917, April 6 The US Congress approved a declaration of war against Germany and entered World War I on the Allied side

1917, August 14 The Chinese Parliament declared war on the Central Powers, Germany and Austria

1917, December 7 The US declared war on Austria-Hungary

1918, March 7 Finland signed an alliance treaty with Germany

1918, September 25 Brazil declared war on Austria

1918, September 30 Bulgaria pulled out of World War I

1918, October 30 Turkey signed an armistice with the Allies, agreeing to end hostilities at noon October 31

1918, November 3 The Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved

1918, November 4 Austria signed an armistice with Allies

1918, November 11 German and Allied negotiators signed the armistice that would end World War I

On top of all of the activities listed above, many new nations declared their independence throughout the world, particulary in Europe and Asia..

In February, 1917, the most comprehensive Immigration Act to date was signed into law. It identified the term “alien”; a tax was placed of $8 for every alien over the age of 16; it excluded admission to idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons, person with chronic alcoholism, paupers, beggars, vagrants, persons afflicted with tuberculosis, criminals, polygamists, anarchists, persons with involvement in prostitution, persons previously deported, assisted immigrants, unaccompanied children unless determined they would not become a public charge; multiple punishments were listed for those who pursued illegal immigration including up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000; advertising abroad for labor immigrants was deemed illegal.

While the U.S. began its efforts to curtail the Great War in Europe, Congress passed the Wartime Measure Act in 1918. It stated that any alien attempting to depart or enter the U.S. was required to follow the rules and regulations prescribed by the president. Anyone who attempted to transport prohibited persons was strictly forbidden. It also forbade persons from providing false documentation and false testimony for themselves or for another.

During the 1910s, immigration did indeed drop due to the Great War as 5,735,811 legal immigrants joined the United States as citizens. New Mexico (1912) and Arizona (1912) joined the now complete Continental United States.

To be continued in part 5

Article by John Coder

Posted August 4, 2014



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