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IMMIGRATION ACT OF 1924

In the 1920s, new laws to slow immigration relieved the nativist fear of being overwhelmed by immigrants. (See Chapter 15 for more on nativism.) The Immigration Act of 1924 capped the number of immigrants allowed in the U.S. each year at 2 percent of the number of a home nation's citizens already in the United States as of 1890. For example, if 3 million Americans of German

descent lived in the U.S. in 1890, 60,000 Germans (2 percent of 3 million) could come to the country each year under the 1924 act. This quota barred the door to many hopeful immigrants from countries that didn't have a lot of people in the U.S. in 1890.

One such country was Italy. Lots of Italian people wanted to come to America, but the whole country was only able to send fewer than 6,000 people a year. This number still made the Italians better off than the Japanese, who were completely locked out of the U.S. The various groups that actually got into the U.S. tried to maintain their national cultures, but their children learned to speak English and made friends with kids from all over. Radio and movies accelerated the melting pot by teaching standardized language and culture. The number of immigrant children who were forced into child labor declined as individual states began to require school attendance and forbid underage employment.

Example

Question: Why did fewer immigrants come to the United States in the 1920s?

Answer: The Immigration Act of 1924 limited new Americans to a low quota of

2 percent of the number of citizens by national origin in the United States by 1890.

Example

Question: What reduced child labor in the 1920s?

Answer: States passed laws that required children to attend school and prohibited underage labor.

THE JAZZ AGE

During the 1920s, radios, record players, magazines, and movies began to bring the world to average working people who could never have afforded to go to plays, concerts, or college. Telephones, electricity, and indoor plumbing all made life more comfortable. More people had cars than bathtubs. (After all, you can't drive a bathtub to town.) Young people left the farm; for the first time in history, more people lived in cities than in the country. The 1920s were called the Jazz Age because popular music shared influences from big band, ragtime and rhythm, and songs that encouraged dancing.

 
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