& Urban Life
(1870 – 1915)
Reasons for economic transformation • Government policies of laissez-faire capitalism and special considerations (e.g., land grants to railroad builders)
• The increasing labor supply (from immigration and migration from farms)
• America’s possession of a wealth of natural resources and navigable rivers Immigrants flock to America
• Prior to 1871, most immigrants to America came from: – northern and western Europe (Germany, Great
Britain, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden).
• During the half-century from 1871 until 1921, most immigrants came from:
– southern and eastern Europe (Italy, Greece, Poland,
Russia, and present-day Hungary and Yugoslavia), as well as Asia (China and Japan).
• Like earlier immigrants, these immigrants came to America seeking freedom and better lives for their families
• Immigrants made valuable contributions to the dramatic industrial growth of America during this period. • Chinese workers helped to build the
• Immigrants worked in textile and steel mills in the
Northeast, the clothing industry in New York City, and Slavs, Italians, and Poles worked in the coal mines of the East.
• They often worked for very low wages and in dangerous working conditions to help build the nation’s industrial strength.
Coming to America
• During this period, immigrants from Europe entered America through
Ellis Island in New York harbor. • Their first view of America was often the Statue of
Liberty, standing nearby, as their ships arrived following the voyage across the Atlantic.
Western and Eastern European
The “Melting Pot”
• Immigrants began the process of assimilation into what was termed the American “melting pot.” While often settling in ethnic neighborhoods in the growing cities, they and their children worked hard to learn English, adopt American customs, and become American citizens. • The public schools served an essential role in the process of assimilating immigrants into American society.
• Despite the valuable contributions immigrants made to building America during this period, immigrants often faced hardship and