Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, George Grantham Bain Collection, 1907
From 1880 to 1924, more than two million Eastern Europeans, mainly Catholics, immigrated to the U.S. Of those, immigrants of Polish ancestry were the largest group. During the same period, roughly two million Jews came to the U.S., seeking opportunity and fleeing the political massacre taking place in Eastern Europe.
Italian immigrationthe act of entering a country of which one is not a native to become... More
to the U.S. reached its peak of over two million between 1910 and 1920. Immigration quotas passed in the 1920s tended to favor earlier generations of immigrants by giving preference to Northern Europeans.
Discriminatory immigration policies aimed at southern and eastern Europeans figured into the quota-based policies of the 1920s. With the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the National Origins Act or Johnson-Reed Act, the U.S. used restrictive immigration policies in the 1920s based on the 1890 proportions of foreign-born European nationalities. Since the 1890 censusAn official count of a population and collection of demographic data. The United States Census... More reflected higher numbers of northern Europeans, immigrants from those countries had greater opportunities to emigrate. The arguments, outlined in Madison Grant’s 1916 book The Passing of a Great Racea recent idea created by western Europeans following exploration across the world to account for... More, held that older immigrants were skilled, thrifty, hardworking like native born Americans and recent immigrants from southern and eastern Europe were unskilled, ignorant, predominantly Catholic or Jewish and not easily assimilated into American cultureThe full range of shared, learned, patterned behaviors, values, meanings, beliefs, ways of perceiving, systems... More. Madison Grant and Charles Davenport, among other eugenicists, were called in as expert advisers on the threat of “inferior stock” from eastern and southern Europe, playing a critical role as Congress debated the Immigration Act of 1924. The act attempted to control tl number of “unfit” individuals entering the country by lowering the number of immigrants allowed in to fifteen percent of what it had been previously. Existing laws prohibiting race mixing were strengthened as well. The adoption of incest laws and many anti-miscegenation lawsU.S. laws that forbade sexual relations or marriage between people of different races. Declared unconstitutional... More were also influenced by the premises of eugenicsfrom Greek eugenes meaning wellborn; The eugenics movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth... More.