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American Immigrants: Part of a salad bowl or mixing pot?

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Immigration reshaped America economically, politically, and socially. Less than one fifth of American natives as a whole lived in big cities of 100,000 or more, though nearly two fifths of immigrants did. They contributed much of their own social customs when they created their nationality ghettos. Cities swelled with their arrival, and many towns even arose due to immigration, such as West Seneca, Hungary Hollow, Charleroi, Kensington, and Ford City. However, though they had to shed some of their old habits to adapt to American life, they retained much of their tradition. For example, many kept their religion, which increased the diversity of sects in America so that in the 1950's, there were 235 distinct religious bodies in the country, and at least 60 were a direct result of immigrants. ...read more.


In The Melting Pot in 1908, Israel Zangwill called America a Melting Pot, though others prefer to think of it as a salad bowl because the civilization has not been uniform. There were two big outbursts of antiforeign sentiment: 1830-60 and 1890-1914. In the 1850's there were the Know-Nothings, who came about because of the upsurge of Roman Catholics due to immigration. However, they did not seek an immigration restriction because of the need for labor. In Massachusetts, there was even violent mob action. They passed reform laws to protect slaves. Its counterpart was the American Protective Association, which was more anti-catholic, and told lies about the "evils" of Catholicism. ...read more.


Latin America excluded certain occupational groupings, but encouraged agricultural workers. Immigration was only one powerful social force, which worked alongside industrialization as well as urbanization. I believe that America was more of a salad bowl than a melting pot because the immigrants definitely retained many of their old traditions, and sometimes had trouble assimilating into their new American lifestyles because of the troubles they faced with nativism. Many kept their religion and had no intentions of becoming American, as they returned to their old country after a few years to bring back money. Though they did adapt in ways such as giving up drinking on Sundays because of pressure from Americans, they had still created their own little ethnic communities or even cities, and did not exactly melt in with the other Americans. ...read more.

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