America as a whole has beenbuilt up and formed from the risks of those who have sought new lives and morefreedoms; immigrants. They have cultivated society into a melting pot ofcultures, histories, religions, philosophies, and many more concepts that broadenthe horizons for any citizen living in the United States. As this society hadto be built up over time, most immigrants obtained their citizenships bytraveling through Ellis Island, located in New York City, to enter through theU.S. For many immigrants who escaped prosecution in their own home countries,by traveling through Ellis Island, obtaining citizenship, and following the“American Dream”, all immigrants were given opportunity and the ability to helpmold a new society.
This served to benefit America as a whole. The history of Ellis Island: Ellis Island went from a “hanging site for pirates, a harbor fort, ammunition and ordinancedepot named Fort Gibson, and finally into an immigration station”. After theBritish were able to sail easily into the New York Harbor during theRevolutionary War, the federal government bought the area from New York Statein 1808 so that fortifications could be built. These fortifications wereconverted into Castle Garden, but once it was realized that Castle Garden wasincompetent to accommodate the massive waves of immigrants, the new structurewas built on Ellis Island. Ellis Island was constructed in 1892 and open for entry onJanuary 1st. However, Castle Garden, which was the first constructedbuilding that allowed immigrants into the country, was open to immigrant entryand served as a passage for immigration in approximately 1855, and thestructure was built before 1812. It was originally built to fortify thePort of New York after British were able to sail right through with no problemsduring the Revolutionary War. In short, it was built as a precaution toinvasion through the port.
It then was converted to be a passage. The structurethat allowed for immigrant passage was built because Castle Garden was trulytoo small and couldn’t handle the traffic. So, the government stepped in andaided in the construction of a federally run immigration station. At Ellis Island,inspections of immigrants lasted about four hours.
Physicians inspectedimmigrants for any obvious physical ailments that they had, mainly concerningtransmittable diseases. Immigrants were also questioned about their intent andother personal questions, so the government employees who were working at theisland could keep the country safe from those who could be a threat to thenation. From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million immigrants entered Americathrough the small island in the New York Harbor.
Some years had a higher influxwhile in contrast, other years faced a slight deficit. These years includedthose between 1918 and 1919, as well as toward the end of World War One, duringthe Red Scare. Because Ellis Island burned down on June 15th, 1897,many of the immigration records were lost, so the numbers are truly an estimateas these records dated back to before 1855. As a majority, there were masswaves of immigrants.
In 1907, for example, approximately 1.25 millionimmigrants were processed through the island. During slow seasons however (likeduring the Red Scare), 225,206 immigrants entered the country (which wasconsidered a lower number in the grand scheme of the islandsstatistics). Immigrants from places like Germany, England, Ireland, andScandinavian countries were some of the most early documented immigrants toenter the country. Only two percent of the immigrants that tried to enter thecountry were excluded.
The reasons they would be excluded include the fact thatInterrogators or Doctors thought that they would be a threat to AmericanSociety, they would become illegal contract laborers, or that they had sometype of contagious disease that would threaten the lives of others. Immigrantsfrom other countries also attempted to get in later on, but faced morehardships as negative attitudes developed over time. 1892-1950 was a majortime period when over 12 million immigrants entered the country through the useof Ellis Island. Ensuing political instability, excessively restrictivereligious laws, deteriorating economic conditions, personal oppression,manipulation of the citizens by the government, and many others causedimmigrants to evacuate their home countries to try to find better lives in theU.S. Immigrants brought new cultural traditions and brought their nativelanguages, native traditions and customs, as well as their native knowledge,which served to diversify America completely.
As immigration began toincrease, politicians and original American citizens called for increased“protections” against immigrants. The restrictions included the ChineseExclusion Act, the Alien Contract Labor Law, and the many unfair literacy testswere examples of the discriminations that they faced when entering the island.Many Americans began to have a racist attitude towards the immigrants who werecoming into the country. Racial slurs began to be developed against theimmigrants, many were packed into slums and tenement houses because it was veryhard for an immigrant to find an exceedingly well-paying job.Though exciting atfirst, as more immigrants rolled into the country, the new immigrants from Easternand Southern Europe were considered more dangerous and inferior to theimmigrants that entered first.
Skeptics also emerged which deluded the positiveimage of immigrants and instead instilled a fear that some were solely comingto harm Americans.