American Ethnic History

Essay by BlaBla4University, Bachelor'sA+, July 2004

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The United States has been notorious for welcoming peoples from all over the world onto its lands in order to facilitate the growth of a diverse nation and generations of families have traveled to America in search of creating lives more fulfilling than those they had escaped. During the years of the late 1800s and early 1900s, the United States allowed the highest rates of immigration in it's history as groups from a number of different countries sought an escape from the economical, political, and religious hardships their own nations bequeathed.

This massive influx of such a myriad of ethnicities irreversibly changed the evolution of the newly formed United States and challenged existing ideas and attitudes of what constituted an American citizen. In addition, immigrants were faced with the difficult task of finding equilibrium in what seemed, and often was, a world full of chaos. Although those traveling to America came from contrasting origins, the trials and tribulations they endured were much the same.

Reasons for immigration, arrival, living and working conditions, socialization, and increasing assimilation into the American culture were experiences common to all immigrating groups.

Edward Steiner

One can easily see the change in Edward Steiner's attitude by comparing "On the Trail of the Immigrant" written in 1909 and "From Alien to Citizen" written in 1914. In the first work Steiner seems very critical of the process of becoming an American. He talks of immigrants who failed the inspections and were sent back to the port from which they had come. If it was a child under 12 being deported for sickness, a parent had to travel with them. Quite often, families had to decide which parent would stay with a healthy child and which one would return with a deported child. Those who passed the medical inspection...