Ellis Island

Essay by oceangirlHigh School, 10th grade July 2006

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Ellis Island was known as 'the front doors to freedom' by the millions of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island when coming to the United States of America. This island was the major port of entry to America for immigrants from all around the world. During the mid-late 1800's Ellis Island admitted approximately 13-14 million immigrants. 3.5 million people arrived between 1891 and 1900 alone.

Most of the immigrants to pass through Ellis Island were from Europe and Asia. These people immigrated to America for a variety of reasons. The Irish immigrated to America to escape poverty and the potato famine. German's came to escape the upheaval and political repression that followed the unsuccessful 1848 liberal revolution in Europe. Jews immigrated to America from Eastern Europe to escape religious persecution as well as for the better economy of America.

The gold rush in California in 1848 and the need for cheap laborers to help build the transcontinental railroad was the reason for the majority of early Chinese immigration.

However, the white workers did not welcome the Chinese workers because they feared that the cheap wages the Chinese workers would work for would bring wages down for all, and because the Chinese did not integrate into American society the way the Europeans had. Consequently, in 1882 US Congress passed the Chinese exclusion act, which suspended new immigration by Chinese workers for ten years. This act was renewed repeatedly until 1943 when it was finally repealed.

Immigrants who were lucky enough to have arrived at Ellis Island then had to pass strict examinations to ensure they were not carrying an infectious disease. Those people who were found to be sick were deported back to their native countries.

Ellis Island has been the gateway to freedom for many. However, it also was...