Corruption in "the Gangs of New" York by Herbert Asbury

Essay by zonoziCollege, Undergraduate April 2003

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Corruption in the Gangs of New York

The Gilded Age, or as it is commonly referred to as, the era of corruption, took place in 1877 to 1900. This time period was most effectively portrayed in the novel and movie, The Gangs of New York, which was written by Herbert Asbury. The Gangs of New York focused on a time of political corruption during a period of massive increase in immigration in New York. In this essay I will discuss three themes: immigration, Political machines, and bad situations, that helped contribute to corruptions long vibrant history.

Due mainly to famine and disease, immigration increased tremendously during the Gilded Age in three large waves to the United States. The first wave occurred from 1815 to 1860, an estimated five million immigrants, mostly English, Irish and Germanic, arrived to the United States. The second wave of immigrants started from 1865- 1890, ten million more immigrants from northwestern Europe arrived to the United States.

Finally, the third wave, between the time period 1890 and 1914 consisted of 15 million Turkish, Russian, Jewish, and Italian immigrants. The increase of immigrants created a huge competition for jobs, wages and votes. The immigrants that arrived in the first wave who began to establish themselves eventually developed a sense of citizenship that they became comfortable to call themselves "Native Americans." These Native Americans resented the newer immigrants, provoking racism and violence. The negativity towards new immigrants was portrayed best in the scene at the ship docks, where New York civilians cursed and threw objects at the Irish and other new immigrants in The Gangs of New York. The sudden increase of immigrants, increased the population of cities, where opportunities were plentiful. Naturally, jobs became scare, thus following an increase in unemployment, crime, prostitution and poor...