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Handout F: Immigration in the Progressive Era

Immigration in the Progressive Era

Directions: Review the Excerpt from Coolidge First Address to Congress, and President Coolidge’s Proclamation of Quota’s for the Immigration Act of 1924 below and write down 5 initial reactions.


The increasing number of immigrants arriving in the United States during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era created pressures within society that found their largest political expression in the nativist movement. Beginning with the Chinese Exclusionary Act of 1882, the United States Congress passed increasingly more restrictive and wider reaching immigration regulations. The Immigration Act of 1917 created an Asiatic Barred Zone and expanded the listed reasons, either political ideologies or illness, which immigrants could not have or be associated with if they wished to gain entrance into the country. In 1921, the Emergency Quota Act, created a national origins formula, which set quota restrictions based on the proportional population of certain immigrant groups. The United States would only permit a number totaling 3% of the total population of certain groups as noted by the census of 1910, to enter the United States. The Immigration Act of 1924 made this formula more restrictive by basing these limits on the census of 1890 instead of the 1910 census and setting the amount at 2% instead of 3%. Calvin Coolidge signed the bill into law in 1924. In both his first address to congress and his proclamation upon signing the bill into law, Coolidge reveals his reasoning behind backing the law. In reviewing his statements, we gain an insight into the thinking, right or wrong, of our nation.

Excerpt from Coolidge first address to congress – December 6, 1923:

American institutions rest solely on good citizenship. They were created by people who had a background of self-government. New arrivals should be limited to our capacity to absorb them into the ranks of good citizenship. America must be kept American. For this I purpose, it is necessary to continue a policy of restricted immigration. It would be well to make such immigration of a selective nature with some inspection at the source, and based either on a prior census or upon the record of naturalization. Either method would insure the admission of those with the largest capacity and best intention of becoming citizens. I am convinced that our present economic and social conditions warrant a limitation of those to be admitted. We should find additional safety in a law requiring the immediate registration of all aliens. Those’ who do not want to be partakers of the American spirit ought not to settle in America.

President Coolidge’s Proclamation of Quota’s for the Immigration Act of 1924

A Proclamation

Whereas it is provided in the act of Congress approved May 26, 1924, entitled “An act to limit the immigration of aliens into the United States, and for other purposes” that “The annual quota of any nationality shall be two per centum of the number of foreign-born individuals of such nationality resident in continental United States as determined by the United States Census of 1890, but the minimum quota of any nationality shall be 100 (Sec. 11a). . . .

“The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Secretary of Labor, jointly, shall, as soon as feasible after the enactment of this act, prepare a statement showing the number of individuals of the various nationalities resident in continental United States as determined by the United States Census of 1890, which statement shall be the population basis for the purposes of subdivision (a) of section 11 (Sec. 12 b).

“Such officials shall, jointly, report annually to the President the quota of each nationality under subdivision (a) of section 11, together with the statements, estimates, and revisions provided for in this section. The President shall proclaim and make known the quotas so reported” (Sec. 12 e).

Now, therefore I, Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States of America acting under and by virtue of the power in me vested by the aforesaid act of Congress, do hereby proclaim and make known that on and after July 1, 1924, and throughout the fiscal year 1924-1925, the quota of each nationality provided in said act shall be as follows:

Country or Area of Birth Quota 1924-25

Afghanistan -100

Albania – 100

Andorra – 100

Arabian Peninsula – 100

Armenia – 124

Australia (incl. Papua, Tasmania & all islands) – 121

Austria – 785

Belgium – 512

Bhutan – 100

Bulgaria – 100

Cameroon (proposed British mandate) – 100

Cameroon (French mandate) – 100

China – 100

Czechoslovakia – 3,073

Danzig, Free City of – 228

Denmark – 789

Egypt – 100

Estonia – 124

Ethiopia (Abyssinia) – 100

Finland – 170

France – 3,954

Germany – 51,227

Great Britain & Northern Ireland – 34,007

Greece – 100

Hungary – 473

Iceland – 100

India – 100

Iraq (Mesopotamia) – 100

Irish Free State – 28,567

Italy (incl. Rhodes, Dodecanesia & Castellorizzo) – 3,845

Japan – 100

Latvia – 142

Liberia – 100

Liechtenstein – 100

Lithuania – 344

Luxemburg – 100

Monaco – 100

Morocco (French & Spanish Zones & Tangier) – 100

Muscat (Oman) – 100

Nauru (proposed British mandate) – 100

Nepal – 100

Netherlands – 1,648

New Zealand (incl. appertaining islands) – 100

Norway – 6,453

New Guinea (& other Pacific islands under Australian mandate) – 100

Palestine (with Trans-Jordan, proposed British mandate) – 100

Persia – 100

Poland – 5,982

Portugal – 503

Ruanda & Urundi (Belgium mandate) – 100

Rumania – 603

Russia (European & Asiatic) – 2,248

Samoa, Western (proposed mandate of New Zealand) – 100

San Marino – 100

Siam – 100

South Africa, Union of – 100

South West Africa (proposed mandate of Union of South Africa) – 100

Spain – 131

Sweden – 9,561

Switzerland – 2,081

Syria & The Lebanon (French mandate) – 100

Tanganiyika (proposed British mandate) – 100

Togoland (proposed British mandate) – 100

Togoland (French mandate) – 100

Turkey – 100

Yap & other Pacific islands (under Japanese Mandate) – 100

Yugoslavia – 671

GENERAL NOTE.-The immigration quotas assigned to the various countries and quota-areas should not be regarded as having any political significance whatever, or as involving recognition of new governments, or of new boundaries, or of transfers of territory except as the United States government has already made such recognition in a formal and official manner.

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