Chapter

‘Nation of Many Nations’? The United States and Immigration, 1880–1930

R. D. Grillo

in Pluralism and the Politics of Difference

Published in print July 1998 | ISBN: 9780198294269
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599378 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198294263.003.0007
 ‘Nation of Many Nations’? The United States and Immigration, 1880–1930

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Between 1880 and 1930 a ‘new immigration’ of some 28 million people entered the US, mainly from southern and eastern Europe, posing serious questions for the body politic: could, should, the USA assimilate them, and what would their assimilation mean? A minority opposed their entry in the belief that their social, cultural, and racial background made them unassimilable. The prevailing view was that immigrants were required for the country's burgeoning industries, but should undergo ‘Americanization’. Despite policies that encouraged immigrants and their descendants to submerge their ethnic and cultural differences in the ‘melting pot’, a century later ethnicity remained a powerful force in urban America. The politics of the 1960s, the changing composition of urban populations, and the arrival of new waves of immigrants from Asia and Hispanic America combined with long‐term social and economic changes to create a framework within which ethnic and cultural pluralism continued to be significant in a post‐industrial society.

Keywords: Americanization; assimilation; cultural difference; ethnicity; immigration; melting pot; pluralism; post‐industrial society; USA

Chapter.  13326 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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