Early American Nationalism and Reform
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Early American Nationalism and Reform
AP American History
The rise of immigration in the mid 17th century lead to a spirit of national reform in the United States. Many Europeans, particularly the Irish and the German, immigrated to America during the 1800s. There were many different reasons for their immigration, and when they came they influenced American culture greatly. The United States changed religiously, because of the German and Irish, politically because of the German and Irish, and economically/socially by virtue of the conflicts between the Irish and the blacks and the influence of the Germans on education.
When the Germans and the Irish immigrated to America, they greatly affected us religiously. With the enormous inflow of the Irish and the Germans in the 1840s and 1850s, the Roman Catholics became the powerful religious group. Seeking to protect their children form Protestant education in the public schools, these Roman Catholics began to construct a separate Catholic educational system. This was enormously expensive for the poor immigrant community, but revealed the strength of its religious commitment. “Native” Americans were concerned that this “alien riffraff” would establish the Catholic Church at the expense of Protestantism. The Americans formed a party known as the “Know-Nothing” party, given its name because it was so secretive. This party wanted rigid restrictions on naturalization and immigration and laws allowing the deportation of aliens. This group also caused occasional mob violence against the Catholic schools and churches. This lead to national reform because the Irish and the Germans had, in a way, created a new dominant religion, and helped create more religious diversity.
The Irish and the Germans were extremely influential in American politics. The Irish possessed an extreme hatred for the British. As the Irish increased their population in the United States to nearly two million, politicians often found it politically beneficial to insult and ridicule England. Most Germans who came to America came because America was one of the brightest hopes of democracy. German liberals with their ideas about slavery and public corruption contributed to the uplift of American political life. Like the Irish, the Germans were influential voters whom the American politicians took great advantage of. However, the Germans were less influential because their strength was more widely scattered.
The Irish also affected the United States economically and socially. The Irish came to America because of the horrible potato famine in Ireland. They came to America too poor to move west to buy land, equipment and livestock. Forced to live in poverty they worsened the already poor slum conditions. As competitors for jobs, the Irish fiercely hated the blacks. The Irish, along with the blacks, were at the bottom of the social ladder and competed for menial, low-income jobs. However in some cases, the Irish began to gain control of city machines, most notably, New York’s Tammany Hall. Before long Irishmen dominated police departments in a considerable amount of the larger cities. This modified the American economy because now the southern plantation owners could be less reliant on slaves. Later on, this helped the southern economy because when they made the slave trade illegal, the southern plantation owners had already become less dependent on their slaves, because now they also had cheap Irish labor. The Germans helped shape American education when they emigrated form Germany. The Germans came to America better educated them the “Native” Americans. They supported public schooling, and introduced us into one of their ideas known as kindergarten. The Germans also did many things to stimulate the learning and knowledge of arts and music. This influenced America socially by improving our education with new ideas, and better knowledge.
America was greatly influenced in the 1800’s by the rise of immigration, principally the Irish and the Germans. Immigration led to a spirit of national reform by affecting America politically, economically/socially, and religiously.
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