Immigrants Turn the United States into a mixture of ethnicity

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Kathryn Bolen

Mr. Stephens

History Research Project


Between the years 1865-1914, immigration into the United States altered the ethnic composition of the nation forever. Through the immigrants’ diverse skills and cultures, the US was transformed into an ethnic tossed salad. Different ethnic groups moved into wide-ranging geographic regions of the US and created diverse communities of people from different races, religions, and cultures. Different immigrants came to the US for different reasons; for some it was the “American Dream” and for others it was just a place to go to escape from their home country. The previous settlers accepted some immigrants more than others because of their similar cultures, race, languages and lifestyles. All of these situations helped the US become a delicious tossed salad of culture because the immigrants used their unique skills to enhance American life while, at the same time, Americans taught the immigrants new skills and a new language to help them survive in the “new world.”

        Immigrants had an enormous impact on the culture in the areas to which they moved. The immigrants who settled on the island of Manhattan created a city that overflows with different ethnic foods and lifestyles which influenced established US citizens. For example, most immigrants from Italy settled in New York City, which then created Staten Island, known for its Italian food and its citizens’ accents (American). Different areas of the US appealed to different immigrants because of the climate, the land, and the amount of space available. Since some immigrants came from very hot climates they preferred to settle in southern portions of the US (e.g., Texas) that were like their native lands. For example, the Spanish immigrants came from a warmer climate, so they mostly settled in the south (Bergen). This is why in 2007 there are many Spanish customs that are routinely observed by families in Texas and other southern states (e.g. fiestas, quinciñera). Different ethnic groups moving into different areas of the US created a country that is full of diverse cultures like a tossed salad is full of vegetables.

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        For most new immigrants, life was a struggle; yet life in America still offered opportunities that their old countries did not. One of the most important opportunities was the opportunity for their children to receive a free public education. In the schools, immigrant children learned English and skills they needed to integrate into mainstream America (american). Despite the hardship encountered by their parents, many families were able to achieve a better life for themselves as their children accepted responsibilities to care for the family’s needs that would typically be handled by the adults. For example, because immigrants’ children often mastered ...

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