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In the decades following the Civil War, the United
States emerged as an industrial giant. Old
industries expanded and many new ones, including
petroleum refining, steel manufacturing, and
electrical power, emerged. Railroads expanded
significantly, bringing even remote parts of the
country into a national market economy. America
was the ideal place. In the late 1800s, people in
many parts of the world decided to leave their
homes and immigrate to the United States. Fleeing
crop failure, a shortage in land, and employment,
rising taxes, and famine, many came to the U.

S.
because it was perceived as the land of economic
opportunity. Others came seeking personal freedom
or relief from political and religious
persecution. With hope for a brighter future,
nearly 12 million immigrants arrived in the United
States between 1870 and 1900. During the 1870s and
1880s, the vast majority of these people were from
Germany, Ireland, Russian, Italy, and England
Immigrants entered the United States through
several ports. Those from Europe generally came
through East Coast facilities, while those from
Asia generally entered through West Coast centers.
More than 70 percent of all immigrants, however,
entered through New York City, which came to be
known as the “Golden Door.” Throughout the late
1800s, most immigrants arriving in New York
entered at the Castle Garden depot near the tip of
Manhattan. In 1892, the federal government opened
a new immigration-processing center on Ellis
Island in New York harbor.

Although immigrants
often settled near ports of entry, a large number
did find their way inland. Many states, especially
those with sparse populations, actively sought to
attract immigrants by offering jobs or land for
farming. Many immigrants wanted to move to
communities established by previous settlers from
their homelands. Once settled, immigrants looked
for work. There were never enough jobs, and
employers often took advantage of the immigrants.
Men were generally paid less than other workers,
and women less than men. Social tensions were also
part of the immigrant experience.

Often
stereotyped and discriminated against, many
immigrants suffered verbal and physical abuse
because they were “different.” The Irish were
called white niggers. They came to America because
of An Gorta Mor. (Thats the great hunger for those
who didnt know). The Britts hated (and still hate)
the Irish, and they made them work like slaves,
and paid them very little. The Irish, who came
because they thought they could get some land, and
be free in America, were starving in the streets,
and dying in the factories. When the Chinese
immigrated, they did it because conditions in
China were so poor, (and they were so poor), that
immigrating to the U.S.

was their only solution.
They got extraordinarily wealthy when they came
back from the U.S. They were extremely hard
workers despite the fact that they were called
names, and were low on the ladder. They were also
despised by labor unions because they refused to
join them out of principle. The Italians
immigrated in large numbers. They came because
they were dying in the streets of Italy. They were
also seeking the money that was famed in America.
The Italians were despised not only being
different in religion, and skin color, but that
they also brought with them, organized crime (the
mafia).

They banded together, and lived in
communities in New York. They spoke Italian before
English. As hard as things were, their faith kept
them together, and allowed them prosper. While
large-scale immigration created many social
tensions, it also produced a new vitality in the
cities and states in which the immigrants settled.
The newcomers helped transform American society
and culture, demonstrating that diversity, as well
as unity, is a source of national strength.
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