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The United States of America

Compare and contrast the Irish, Germans and Scandinavians during the Century of Immigration. Note the push, pull, and mean issues for each. When Britain took Ireland in to be part of its territory, it did not result in the expected development of Ireland. Rapid population increase, political instability and the repression that Catholics experienced from Protestants pushed many Irish to migrate and evade such alarming social conditions. The country of choice was the United States so that in the 1840’s, nearly 50% of all the immigrants in the country were Irish.

Consequently, the U. S. put in place certain policies aimed to discourage this phenomenon which included drastically reducing transportation costs to Canada to entice immigrants towards that country instead. However, this effort did not lead to the desired effect. Because it was more economical to travel to Canada, Irish immigrants did so but once in that country, they bought tickets to cross the border into the United States. Others who did not have the necessary finances traveled on foot towards the U. S.

Immigration presented difficult times for the Irish immigrants. They did not have the resources to put up their own businesses or operates their own farms. However, the industrialization that the U. S. was experiencing at that time posed great opportunities for the Irish in terms of employment. They participated in the excavation of the great canals which was the first phase in the establishment of transportation systems. They were also part of the large scale construction of railroads using very simple tools such as picks and shovels.

In the passage of time, the Irish immigrants were able to raise sufficient amounts to enable their relatives to follow them from Ireland. This led to the further increase of Irish immigrants in the United States allowing them to establish their own neighborhoods and construction gangs. Their positive experience in construction activities served as the motivation for their monopoly of the labor force in this industry. Because of this, the larger society started to stereotype them as construction workers. The Irish immigrants did not react strongly to being stereotyped and in a way accepted it.

They went on with their lives creating the roads where vehicles would soon traverse and further extended their economic opportunities by also becoming the first drivers and conductors. The single reliance on and mastery of manual work capacities over and above their intellect greatly improved their conditions when many of them went on to become the bosses and managers of construction outfits while the second wave of immigrants originating from Eastern Europe provided the pool of ordinary construction workers under them.

One such group of Eastern European immigrants was composed of Germans whose objective was to escape the turmoil in Germany in the 1700’s. This country was perennially the object of aggression by other countries which forced its citizens out of their livelihoods. Thus, to better their economic conditions, many Germans preferred to take migration as an alternative from dying in their country as a result of war. They saved all the money they could, traveled to the U. S. or Britain and made the most of their financial resources as capital.

The technological advancement in transportation such as the invention of steam boats and steam trains made migration a lot more convenient for the Germans. In the 1870’s, most of the Germans in the U. S. were concentrated in the rural areas because they established their own niches in agriculture. During this decade, German farmers composed a significant portion of the agricultural industry. The Germans who chose to reside in the urban areas meanwhile clustered together in communities they created and engaged in various economic endeavors which reflected diverse skills.

This included the establishment of a beer industry as well as bakeshops, furniture shops, meat shops, distilleries, machine shops, tailor’s shops and many others. These services were all made available in their communities. By 1871, unification was proposed in Germany which was viewed differently by German immigrants in the U. S. The conservative Germans who were characterized as idealistic reacted with pride for their country. On the other hand, more liberal Germans did not accord the issue much significance but instead supported moves for democracy in their country of origin.

Religion was one of the chief causes of division among German Americans back then. Majority of them were Protestants influenced by Lutheranism while one third was into Catholicism and Jews made up the rest. The Lutheran Germans did not find the Lutheran Churches in the U. S. worth attending because of language barriers as these churches used the English language in all the major parts of the service. They also found most church doctrines in the U. S. to be more liberal than what they were used to.

As with the Germans, immigrant Scandinavians also engaged in agriculture when they reached America by purchasing tracts of lands in the Midwest for low amounts. Making the most of what they had, they eventually improved their economic status. The immigration of Scandinavians from Sweden, Norway and Denmark began around 1860 prior to the end of the second wave of immigrants from Eastern as well as Southern Europe but following the first wave of immigrant Irish and Germans. Their position in the wave of immigration placed them in a rather peculiar situation.

Choosing to carve out their living in agriculture, their economic activities were much more similar to that of the native born white Americans as compared to the other groups of immigrants who went before or after them. Those from Norway were the last to enter, arriving in the U. S. in the 1900s and whose numbers peaked to almost nine hundred thousand. Those from Sweden who came in 1851 composed the majority in the group and exceeded one million in population by 1930. Their migration was primarily the result of overpopulation in their country.

The concentration of agricultural lands in the hands of a few landlords in Sweden made this class prosper at the expense of poor peasants whose lands were grabbed or who were not accorded their proper share in production. The unemployment, severe famine and hunger that beset this nation as a result pushed people to seek greener pastures abroad. This took a long process which also saw the migration of industrial workers. Those from Denmark were the minority because the country’s economic conditions during the said period were better than the other countries.

The immigration of Scandinavians was perceived to have positive effects on the U. S. economy as it resulted in the development and enhancement of agricultural production and the overall improvement of standards of living. Aside from this, their contribution to population growth, the consolidation of lands and industrialization were quite notable. B) Comment critically: “The eastern Europeans provided millions of immigrants to the United States. Yet, they were to be part of the massive restrictions imposed by immigration law. Their cultures created a rise in the ebb and flow of nativism. ”

The period from 1880 to 1914 was the time of the second wave of immigrants into the United States. The more than three decades of migration resulted in around seven million immigrants from the different Eastern European countries. Majority of them were poor farmer who experienced permanent displacement from their sources of living after serfdom was abolished in Poland which was composed of three territories then but known today as Russia, Germany and Austria. The shift from agriculture to industry saw the conversion of agricultural lands into industrial sites. Land grabbing was rampant which put the peasants at a severe disadvantage.

They migrated to the cities in efforts to find work and at the same time, they experienced persecution on the basis of their culture and religion by the rising industrial class. The large number of unemployed who flocked to the cities compared to the far lesser jobs that industry had to offer there, compelled the people to try their luck elsewhere. As usual, the U. S. was the place to go. Traveling by sea, they arrived in New York and Baltimore where they concentrated near the port areas because of limited finances for mobility and little geographical knowledge of the place.

In a similar trend as can be observed in immigrants who hail from one country, these immigrants lived together as a group in communities where they were later regarded collectively as “polish” even if their countries of origin was not exclusively Poland. The native born Americans accorded them the status of foreigners or immigrants went on to label them “polish”. Because the immigrants generally shared the same perspectives and concerns, they did not resist the common label as it provided them with a similar identity. The “polish” people also used their physical capacities in order to sustain their families.

They took on manual and hazardous jobs working in the port areas, mines and factories. They scrimped a lot in order to save for emergencies and their future. Compared to the other waves of immigrants who chose to farm their own lands or work as farm hands, the labor of Eastern European immigrants was concentrated in the construction, mining and manufacturing industries. Their hard work contributed to the development of the cities where they resided in and can not be disregarded. These contributions were commensurate to the employment and residence that their host cities provided them.

In a show of appreciation, the immigrants participated in ushering the United States into a period of economic progress. The locals or the native born Americans resisted the immigration of great numbers of foreigners who displayed a different culture, spoke a different language, hailed from a lower class background and affiliated with a different religion. These differences led to the treatment of immigrants as outsiders and it was not uncommon for some to really exert efforts to prevent the entry of immigrants into their communities. Immigration also revived dormant nationalistic sentiments that focus on the principle that the U.

S. should be exclusively for the native born and that the Anglo-American and Protestant cultural heritage should be preserved to keep society homogeneous. This concept of nativism was manifested in various levels which unfortunately included violent acts aimed at harassing and terrorizing immigrants or denying them jobs so as to push them to leave. This discriminatory treatment was not fair at all because the immigrants also had the right to live and the basic desire to survive was what forced them to leave their countries which failed to provide for their welfare as citizens.

Their being foreigners and their being different in culture, values and beliefs are not sufficient grounds for them to be accorded the inhuman treatment by the native-born. What the locals failed to recognize was the role that the immigrants played in U. S. industrialization. They were employed in the kind of jobs that locals considered to be undesirable and in this manner fulfilled the labor needs of many aspects of the economy. It can not be denied that their work in the port cities has in a way also supported the development of those places.

Many immigrants also rendered their constant labor in onion and tobacco farms which was the precondition for these farms to sustain their expansion and soon surpassed the production of corn and wheat. The nativist sentiments can be viewed as a response towards self-preservation. The immigrants were primarily perceived as a threat to the exclusive access of locals to economic opportunities and resources. They greatly feared that their way of life, beliefs and values would soon be overshadowed by those of the immigrants leaving them no other recourse but to assimilate the culture of others.

They wanted to avoid the possibility of being dominated by foreign peoples in their own neighborhoods. Nevertheless, these fears did not warrant violence and prejudice. The clamor of the natives or locals against unhampered immigration resulted in the enactment of laws pertaining to immigration which were strictly enforced as to make the entry of immigrants into the United States very difficult. State legislation also commonly adopted discriminating policies.

For instance, immigrants of various races, those inclined towards unfavorable political beliefs, immigrants suspected of or actually engaging in criminal activities as well as gay immigrants were prohibited in setting foot on U. S. territory. Immigration laws to some extent also manifested discrimination against women in the many instances wherein they were deported to their countries of origin and treated like they were persons suffering from leprosy. Sometime in the 1960’s, a congressional initiative attempted to address the racial and gender discrimination evident in immigration legislation but failed.

These efforts were only realized in the enactment of the Immigrant Act of 1990. Nativism is presently targeting non-white immigrants or illegal aliens of color. This has become a contagious condition affecting the native-born Americans as they openly display their bias against colored immigrants such as those from the Caribbean, Mexico and Asia and most especially against the Muslims and Arabs who are generalized as terrorists. C) Comment critically: “By 1976 the image that American society had of itself and wished to perpetuate had significantly changed.

” Prior to 1976, American society largely enjoyed a certain degree of satisfaction in the capacity of its citizens and its own resources. As one of the super powers in the world, America regarded itself with an air of superiority from other nations and races. Further, Americans possessed an attitude of independence and held a viewpoint that they did not need any support or assistance nor did they see the need to be involved in the affairs of other nations. Since 1970s however, this self-perception drastically changed. After the 9/11 attack, the U.

S. became preoccupied with the politics of other countries in the war against terrorism. Government shifted the country’s attention, human and financial resources more to the international scene and less to domestic affairs. This led to very grave consequences. When Hurricane Katrina hit the country, disaster and rescue operations lacked the necessary manpower and speedy response in New Orleans in contrast to what the government accorded to Iraq and Afghanistan. The concern that citizens had for each other in the 1970’s has been greatly eroded.

Today, Americans do not trust their fellow Americans and paranoia or the suspicion regarding the motives of others pervade human relationships. A smile from someone is interpreted as that someone’s discovery of a way to take advantage of you; an elder person who not once bumped into you at the store is seen as that person’s attempt to pick your pocket while the child who seems to be tailing you evokes thoughts of being spied on. In reality, those people could just have wanted to exert efforts at being nice or to ask directions because they couldn’t find their way home.

Presumed threats to life and property elicit self-preserving responses in people. Many things have changed since the 9/11 experience and to the detriment of Americans. The policy of the incumbent President is continuing to be a neglect of national affairs and too much effort at international affairs. What used to be a focus entirely on itself was transformed into a concern for the whole world. The current President initiated and led the global coalition against terrorism but forgot about the daily terrorist acts that American citizens experienced within their borders.

The tolerance and openness that used to be part of American values was replaced with deep-seated distrust and guardedness. The advancement of human rights has been one of the commitments that the U. S. has made to the world. However, its practice is yet to be concretized within its borders as the ethnic minorities and women have been waging their respective emancipation movements since the 1960’s. Although the U. S. has greatly impacted on the world through its foreign policies and has established a strong presence, its national identity is still in the process of transformation and will take more than local legislation to accomplish.

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