Melting pot

At the end of the 19th century, the USA encouraged immigration with an Open Door policy. They hoped America would be a melting pot and the immigrants would be workers that would make the country richer. By 1919, more than 40 million people had arrived. As a result, there was a mixture of people from different races, cultures and religions living in America and speaking a range of different languages.

However, mass immigration contributed towards some issues in American society.

The Open Door

The purpose of the Open Door policy was to make immigration as easy as possible. There was a mixture of people living in America during this period.

  • The early immigrants
  • Native Americans
  • Black Americans
  • Eastern and southern Europeans
  • Hispanics
  • Asian people

Why did people want to come?

A combination of push and pull factors made people immigrate to the USA. The push factors made people want to leave their own countries, and the pull factors attracted them to the USA. For example:

  • escaping from poverty in their own country
  • escaping from political and economic persecution
  • a promise of religious tolerance and a chance to practice their faith safely
  • a plentiful supply of land and the hope of owning property
  • creating a better life
  • a spirit of adventure, going to a country of opportunity
  • equal opportunity

Ellis Island, New York

Most of the immigrants travelled by sea, and more than 70 per cent arrived on Ellis Island near New York. During the busiest periods, as many as 5,000 people a day arrived there. Most were young - in 1900 the average age was 24. The first view the immigrants saw as they arrived in America on their way to Ellis Island was the Statue of Liberty.