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1920s Urbanization and Immigration

Referencing Styles : MLA | Pages : 1

1920s Urbanization and Immigration

Transformations related to the economy and the advances which took place in the field of technology had encouraged more of the Americans to move into the cities. The industrial belts advanced as well drawing the attention of millions of workers in the new cities, as well. Processes related to manufacturing needed labor in bulk and the advanced infrastructure which was only available in the cities, where the electricity kept the lights switched on and transported the number of people which was growing along with the growth of electric trolley lines and upward travelling elevators inside the large buildings made possible the new production of steel by the mass. The urban population of America increased at a rate of seven fold in the half-century after the Civil War took place. In no time, the United States had the largest number of cities than any other country in the world. The census of U.S which was taken in the year of 1920 made a revelation that, for the very first time the majority of the population belonging to America lived in the urban cities.

Much of the America’s growth in the urban sector had come from the millions of immigrants who had travelled right into nation. Between the year of 1870 and 1920, an estimate of 25 million immigrants arrived right into the state. At the initial streams of the migration. Continuous patterns have been set before the happening of the Civil War but then, by the time of entry into the twentieth century, new groups of people belonging to Italy, Poles and the Eastern European Jews made up larger percentage of arrivals while the immigration of the people belonging to Ireland and German was not supported. This mass movement of the people to the United States was greatly influenced by a large number of reasons, what historians referred to as “push” and “pull” factors. In different words, certain conditions which had upraised in the home countries had been the reason behind the encouragement of the immigrants to leave their home countries and travel to America. For example, a Swedish couple in the year of 1880, who were unable to purchase a farmland made them read an advertisement for inexpensive land in the American Midwest and they made a decision to travel to United States. There had been numerous factors behind the encouragement of people to have travelled to America, but the most important reason being the rise of American Capitalism. Immigrants had travelled into the American cities looking hungry for work.

Cities such as that of New York, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Milwaukee and St. Louis attracted a huge bulk of travelers to fill in the workplaces at factories which were emerging up. By the year of 1890, in most part of the northern cities, immigrants along with their children had been calculated to make up at least 60 percent of the population reaching up to 80 to 90 of the total population. Among some of the immigrants, few Italians had made plans about working in the factories and gathering enough money to return back to their homeland and purchase a land for their settlement. But, according to the historians, all of these people had completely adjusted to their new home and dropped down plans of getting back to their region.  

The people who had immigrated into America had built up vibrant societies and organizations to make the path easier for their transition into their new home. Example of these organizations include Italian Workmen’s clubs, Eastern European Jewish mutual-aid societies and Polish Catholic churches. Newspapers where even published in a number of languages.

Cities and the people that had contributed towards the population had become the target of the origin critics. Many of the reformers belonging to that period hugely criticized the American municipal government blaming them to be corrupt institutions that contributed a lot little to improve the ongoing city life and provided much more to the party bosses for their enrichment. New York City’s Democratic Party machine which was popularly known as the Tammany Hall, seemed to have embodied all of the worst of the city machines. In the year of 1903, journalist who was called as William Riordon had published a book, known as “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall”, which chronicled the various activities of ward heeler George Washington Plunkitt. Plunkitt elaborated to Riordon the basic difference between “honest graft” and “dishonest graft”. While the exposition of the corruption prevalent in the New York City government, Riordon had also made revelations of the hard work Plunkitt had done on behalf of the largely immigrant constituency.

Tammany hall had uplifted in the late eighteen-century as a working class alternative to some of the elite fraternal organizations such as that of the Society of the Cincinnati that had been founded after the American evolution took place. However, after that the politics intruded. Tammany provided support to the French revolution which isolated the Federalists members, forcing the society to tilt towards the emerging Democratic Republican Party by the era of the mid-1790s. Within a short span of time, Tammany made affiliations with leading democratic politicians such as Aaron Burr and made promotion of immigrant rights, universal sufferings of the male, abolition of the imprisonment debt and public education. It also promoted rising populist causes.

However, after this the politics led to corruption and power with that. The most notorious of Tammany’s acts of corruption had become the time when William “Boss” reigned and had taken the position of the Grand Sachem in 1863. In the following decades, Tammany had led to the gain of control within the common council as the city’s legislative body whose members were offered government jobs, licenses, contracts and franchises as a reward of being faithful to Tammany. The first of the Tammany’s mayor was elected in the year of 1854, the last of which left the power to the office a decade later after the election. By this time, the Americans had been consumed by the “urban crisis” and progressive reformers had begun with the exploitation of the urban problems and promotion of the various municipal reform.


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