America has always had a historic role as a haven for immigrants from all over the globe. For many reasons, many unrestricted immigrates were seeking a new life in the U. S in the late 19 th century and early 20 th century. Not everyone was happy with this, such as a group of people called the "nativists." The nativists were largely made up of American born Protestants who disliked the idea of immigration. They had many reasons for disliking the new immigrants, such as social disagreements, religious disagreements, culture differences and many more things. The nativists did not like America's liberal view towards immigration, so many groups discriminated and despised against them.
In earlier years, immigrants had always been generally welcomed and been encouraged to immigrate, but at the turn of the 20 th century many people began to get worried about how the immigrants would assimilate in this country. Many people felt it would be almost impossible for all these immigrants to assimilate and absorb our culture. Many immigrants did not speak English or know anything about our country, so they had to go to night schools. People were worried and felt that if the immigrants did not migrate, this country will be like the old one. The big phrase used to describe nativist assimilation was "melting pot," which represented good assimilation, and "salad bowl," which represented dissimilation. Nativists looked at the new immigrants as inferior and a lower race, and people such as Senator Lodge felt that the lower race would eventually absorb and spoil the superior race.
Despite all of the worries of many nativists, the immigrants picked up American culture and language very well, and became "Americanized." Other than culture assimilation, the nativists were worried about the new religious assimilation. Most new immigrants were either Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, or Jewish in a primarily Protestant land, and that was very troubling for many. Many nativists hated the Catholics, which were mainly Irish and German during old immigration. Then there was the even more hated wave of new immigrants who came mostly from southern and eastern Europe such as Italy, Poland, Russia, China and Greece, instead of from the northwest Europe like Germany, Ireland, and England. This meant that they were even more likely to be Catholic or Jewish instead of Protestant, and religious ethical discrimination was without question and important source of wanted anti immigrant policies. In 1885, Reverend Josiah Strong described the presence of immigration in America as a disease, because these new Catholics would destroy the Sabbath, and bring in their religious customs.
Economic competition was considered to be one of the main nativist concerns. With all of the new immigrants coming in, that meant fewer jobs for the American born employer. With all of the jobs being taken away from American born people and given to immigrants, much racism and resentment was happening. Many people felt, that if immigrants, especially the Chinese were going to be allowed in this country, it would antagonize many people.
Unlike the immigrants of the old immigration, since many came from places such as China, Italy, Greece and Poland, they looked different, which always causes confrontation. One of the most notorious books about immigration was, "The passing of the Great Race," by Madison Grant. This book was written with much racism and said things like: the new immigrants contain many weak and defective people, and they lower the standard of America with their crime and vulgar lifestyles. Despite America being the land of religious and political freedom, that may of not been the case for all immigrants. Many immigrants faced ridicule and hate for their religion, race and cultural differences. The new immigrants had it much harder because of their customs and there unique look.
There were many ways reasons why the nativists felt they had the right to discriminate against the immigrants, but the did not. Many of the immigrants had a positive immediate affect on this country. The mixing of two cultures is what makes this country so great and unique.