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Ellis Island Era Immigration

Ellis Island Era Immigration

Reading Quizzes

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Sample of Reading Quizzes

Big Picture


1. How did Emma Lazarus's poem transform the Statue of Liberty's meaning?
2. What is nativism?
3. How does Thomas Bailey Aldrich's poem "Unguarded Gates" represent a strain of American thought?
4. What are some examples of nativist thought in America prior to 1882?
5. What principle was established by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882?
6. Who was prohibited from entering the country by the Immigration Act of 1882?


1. The French had given it to commemorate ideals of democracy: Lazarus' poem changed it into a symbol of hope for a better life in America (even for French immigrants!).
2. The belief that large influxes of foreign immigrants will corrupt American culture, undermine American democracy, and impoverish American workers.
3. Aldrich's poem represents a strain of nativism, and there were many Americans who believed exactly what he thought – that allowing in foreigners, especially foreigners who didn't speak English, would weaken the ideals of liberty and freedom.
4. Benjamin Franklin expressed worried that German immigration to Pennsylvania would limit English colonists' ability to preserve English language or style of government; the Alien and Sedition Acts limited immigrants' influence in American politics; the Know-Nothing party briefly rivaled the Democratic party in politics; and guaranteed rights of immigration and naturalization were limited to "free white persons" – which didn't include the Irish, among others.
5. "Undesirable" classes of immigrants could and should be prevented from entering the United States or gaining American citizenship.
6. "Lunatics," "idiots," and anyone federal agents deemed "unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge – which, in practice, meant anyone without a steady income, anyone with disease, disability, or potential political radicalism, or being an unmarried woman. Or being from Asia.