• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent was the impact of WW1 a key factor in the US decision to restrict immigration 1917-29?

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐To what extent was the impact of WW1 a key factor in the US decision to restrict immigration 1917-29? Before WW1, the USA was famous for its open door approach to immigration. The country was a melting pot of nationalities where immigrants and citizens alike shared a common goal: the attainment of the American Dream, which argued any person, from any background, could succeed in achieving their goals if they worked hard enough. The majority of immigrants ? poor, uneducated and unskilled ? jumped at the opportunity to make the crossing to Ellis Island. However, after America?s entry into the war in 1917, federal government decided to impose restrictions on immigration in the form of the 1917 Immigration Act. This was followed by further laws in 1921, 1924 and 1929 which made it increasingly hard for immigrants, in particular those without desired skills, to enter the US. There is debate as to the true intention behind this move: some argue it was reactionary, in response to the Red Scare of 1919-1920. ...read more.


America, as a country built around the concept of liberty and independence, greatly feared any form of strong left wing view that centres on providing equality at the expense of freedom. Therefore, the ?Red Scare? of 1919-1920 ? a period of heightened fear of communists, socialists and anarchists ? prompted further controls on immigration in an attempt to stop more ?revolutionary reds? entering the country. Although this seems rash, the action can be justified as an appropriate response to this fear as most of the reds were indeed immigrants or of recent immigrant descent. In 1919, only 7% of the American Communist Party could speak English. The ACP, alongside the Communist Party of America, was supported by Russian giant the Comintern, who later supported the Chinese Communist Party in their rise to power in China. This link was a significant worry for the US: they were concerned by the success of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and the influence it was having on the revolutionary minds of America. ...read more.


introduced tighter controls on immigration. Although pre-existing racial tensions may have added pressure to moves to restrict immigration, they are unlikely to have been a significant primary cause because they had been present in America for so long: before 1917, attitudes to immigration were liberal despite the strains in society between immigrants. It would seem more legitimate to argue that tough circumstances, i.e. WW1, created a natural need for a scapegoat which, as they were a relatively powerless minority, was realised on the immigrants. Fear, poverty, loss of life and general turmoil combined to create resentment for any part of society which reminded WASPs of the outside world they were fighting. This was only exacerbated by the employment and housing race that appeared to be dominated by immigrants. Furthermore, fear of reds ? again a symbol of a threat from the outside world, namely Russia ? caused immigrants to be scapegoated in the name of the comforting notion of a proactive fight against the perceived danger. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 essays

  1. Cause of WW1

    The second big factor in WWI was the arms race between Brittan and Germany. This was a race to see who could have the most modernized guns, but also who could have the largest navy. The seas took a major roll in WW1 because once you had control over the

  2. To what extent does a fear of Communism explain the changes in American policy ...

    John Kerr argues that a fear of Communism was a greatly significant factor in the changing policy towards immigration; "Many Americans feared that Communism might spread", however Tindall and Shi would argue that the War was a more significant factor; "surging post-war nativism generated new efforts to restrict immigration".

  1. To what extent was slavery the key cause of the US Civil war?

    It aggravated the north greatly, many sympathised with slaves and the north gave any fugitives a place to stay where they would be protected and most importantly free.

  2. Civil Rights Revision Cards 1945-68

    Source of ideas for black militants. Encouraged black leadership from the grass roots and local organisations. Inspired new generation of black leaders ? eg ? Stokely Carmichael. Many of the aims of the OAAU became central to Black Panthers.

  1. Reasons for the American entry into WW1

    This message told America to not hate any side. This led to a better idea and thought about staying neutral, at the time. The chart ?United States Exports to Europe 1910-1915? shows the exports we sent to Europe for war, before 1915, stayed about the same. Germany, UK, France, and Austria/Hungary were all sent millions of dollars? worth of exports for the war.

  2. Prohibition - The Importance of January 16th 1920 to the US.

    Alcohol caused a lapse in judgment and endangered men at work. To ensure that civilians both moral and alcoholic were kept safe, the banning of alcohol needed to be legalized. Another social reason for prohibition would be the crime rates.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work