For the visual, I have chosen a picture of the Statue of Liberty when it was waiting to be shipped to America from France. I chose this picture because the statue is very often associated with immigration as it was the first thing they saw when they arrived in America by ship and in a way welcomed them and gave them hope for a better life. During that time immigration was a big issue in America, many laws were made against it while trying to preserve their nationality. Since these laws often excluded certain nationalities I also believe they might have shaped racist views among the citizens. And you can definitely say it shaped the US and it’s culture tremendously.
This statue also shows the relationship and friendship the two countries had built. And these friendships also determined the allies in the two World Wars.
Discovery of gold and gold mining
Gold was first discovered in 1782 in Virginia but it wasn’t until the 1st rush in North Carolina in 1799 that gold mining had become continuous. First miners were actually farmers. In 1835 president Jackson created the US mint to manifest it. The 2nd rush took place in Georgia in 1835 and resulted in the removal of Cherokee tribes from the area. The 3rd rush was in 1848 in Coloma, California.
The construction of railroads (Union Pacific Railroad Co, Central Pacific Railroad Co)
In 1862, a Pacific Railroad Act made 2 companies start building railroads that would connect the land from West to East. In 1869 the 2 sides met in Utah.
At first, people travelled from one coast to another usually by ship which took 6 months. Unless they were willing to go to the hazardous journey by foot, but people’s wish to travel increased with finding gold. Asa Whitney recommended building railroads. Engineer Theodor Judah made it happen after 20 years gaining the approval from Lincoln. The terms included that each company got 48k dollars for each mile which forced a competition early on. The construction companies included many megalomaniac businessmen who also made illegal deals for profit. Native Americans feeling threatened of white Americans’ ‘iron horse’ attacked and kept disrupting the work. Poor settlements were founded behind the railroads forming the ‘Wild West’. Railroad constructers were different immigrants. The Union Pacific railroad company managed to cover 4 times as much distance as the Central Pacific one. 2 sides met in Promontory Summit.
Industrialisation (raw materials, effect on development of economy, main industries)
The process where an agricultural economy transforms into a manufacturing one. In the USA it began in the early 1800s. After the Civil War, machines replaced much of the manual work. Industrialisation grew the economy rapidly thanks to more goods being produced more quickly by machines. America had an abundance of natural resources; especially water helped to keep the machines working. Timber, iron, coal. Communication (telephones, railways, telegraph) helped businesses to succeed. New products such as photographs, telephone, typewriter. Many jobs in the manufactures to maximize efficiency in productivity. ‘Gilded era’-Mark Twain in 1920s-30; the culture of the newly wealthy people building mansions and following Europe in its art design etc.
Formation of trusts
Trusts are formed when several businesses come together to standardize their rules and prices in order to increase profit. Great for businesses but bad for consumers. Trusts emerged when there rose a competition between different firms offering a similar product. Without trusts, companies would have to compete with each other which is not beneficial for either of them. Trusts helped to agree on rules so that no company would have to lower their prices. Famous trusts: Rockefeller’s Oil Trust, the Sugar Trust etc. Because of the negative effect on the consumer (prices not lowering), acts were made by congress that would prohibit trusts.
The role of Andrew Carnegie
He was an American industrialist and philanthropist. He worked in a Pittsburgh cotton factory where he earned 1.2 dollars a week. An also in Pennsylvania Railroad as the assistant of Thomas Scott, one of the railroad’s top officials. In 1859 he became the superintendent of the Pennsylvania Railroad. While working on the railroads he invested in iron and oil companies. By 1889, he owned Carnegie Steel Corporation (the largest steel company in the world). In 1901 he sold his business and dedicated his time to philanthropy and in1904 established the Carnegie-Mellon University.
The role of John D. Rockefeller
He was the founder of The Standard Oil Company (SOC) in 1870 which controlled 90% of US refineries. He became one of the wealthiest men in the world and was a major philanthropist. In 1911 US Supreme Court ordered SOC to be dissolved, in violation of anti-trust laws. During his life, he donated more than 500 million to philanthropy.
The role of Henry Ford
Henry Ford grew up in Michigan, at the age of 16 left home for Detroit to work as a machinist. Three years later he returned home to work on the family farm. In 1891 he went to Detroit again with his wife. There he was hired an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company(EIC) and 2 years later promoted chief engineer. In 1896 he completed the ‘’Quadricycle’’ – a metal frame with 4 bicycle wheels powered by a gasoline engine. In 1902 finally established his Ford Motor Company and a month later the first Ford car was assembled.
Statue of Liberty
(officially named Liberty Enlightening the World)
The statue was given to the US by France in 1886 to represent the friendship between the two countries established during the American Revolution. The statue commemorates the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence as it has the date of the signing on the tablet she is holding. Sculpted by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who also received a US patent for the structure. It welcomes visitors, immigrants, and returning Americans travelling by ship. The National Monument also includes Ellis Island. In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Causes of immigration from Europe in the 19th century
The US was perceived as the land of economic opportunity so many fleed from crop failure, land and job shortages, rising taxes, and famine. Others came seeking personal freedom or relief from political and religious persecution.
Different waves of immigration
One of the main waves was in around 1815 to 1865. The majority of these newcomers hailed from Northern and Western Europe. Approximately one-third came from Ireland, which experienced a massive famine in the mid-19th century. In the 1840s, almost half of America’s immigrants were from Ireland alone. In the 19th century, around 5 million Germans emigrated to the US as well. Following the Civil War, the United States experienced a depression in the 1870s that contributed to a slowdown in immigration.
Next wave was between 1880-1920. It was a time of rapid industrialization and urbanization, so about 20 mln immigrants came to the US. The majority of arrivals were from Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. Jews from Eastern Europe fleeing religious persecution also arrived in large numbers; over 2 million entered the United States between 1880 and 1920.
From 1820 to 1924 there was a quite steady flow of Jews emigrating to America. In the first half of the nineteenth century, most of the immigrant Jews came from Central Europe. Especially Germany, they left there mainly due to persecution, restrictive laws and economic hardship. They looked to America as a place of economic and social opportunity. Between 1881 and 1924, the migration shifted from Central Europe eastward. They left due to overpopulation, oppressive legislation and poverty. The immigrants tended to settle in the poorer neighbourhoods of major cities. The immigrants found work in factories, especially in the garment industry, but also in cigar manufacturing, food production, and construction. This period of immigration came to an end with the passage of restrictive laws in 1921 and 1924.
Ellis Island is a museum and former immigration inspection station in New York Harbor, within the states of New York and New Jersey. From 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island. Before being used as an inspection station, Ellis Island used to be the site of Fort Gibson and later used for storing ammunition. Between 1892 and 1934 it was largely expanded. In 1897 a fire on Ellis Island burned the immigration station completely to the ground. On December 17, 1900, the new Main Building was opened and 2,251 immigrants were received that day and all new building on the island were made fireproof. The entire island was made part of Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965 and the original main building has hosted a museum of immigration since 1990. The Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital, on the south side of the island, is closed to the general public except for occasional tours. The only public access to Ellis Island is via boat. There is a bridge from the island to New Jersey but it is closed to the public.
Reed-Johnson Immigration Act of 1924
The Immigration Act of 1924 limited the number of immigrants allowed entry into the United States through a national origins quota. The quota provided immigration visas to two per cent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States. After July 1, 1927, the two per cent rule was to be replaced by an overall cap of 150,000 immigrants annually. It completely excluded immigrants from Asia. The clear aim of this law was to restrict the entry of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe while welcoming relatively large numbers of newcomers from Britain, Ireland, and Northern Europe. Congress revised the Act in 1952.
The notion of Melting Pot vs Salad Bowl
Traditionally the US was called a Melting Pot because, with time, generations of immigrants have melted together: they have abandoned their cultures to become totally assimilated into American society.
But in the UK, where cultural diversity is considered a positive thing, immigrants have always been encouraged to maintain their traditions and their native language. This model of racial integration can be described as a salad bowl, with people of different cultures living in harmony, like the components of a salad.
Both models of multicultural societies have contradictory aspects:
– in a melting pot, there is no cultural diversity and sometimes differences are not respected;
– in a salad bowl, cultures do not mix at all. F.e New York can be considered a salad bowl.
Immigrants comprise about 14 per cent of the U.S. population: more than 43 million out of a total of about 323 million people. Together, immigrants and their U.S.-born children make up about 27 per cent of U.S. inhabitants. Illegal immigration. The undocumented population is about eleven million and has levelled off since the 2008 economic crisis, which led some to return to their home countries and discouraged others from coming to the United States. A 2017 Gallup poll found that 71 per cent of Americans considered immigration a “good thing” for the United States.
46 per cent of immigrants in 2017 reported their race as single-race White, 27 per cent as Asian, 9 per cent as Black, and 16 per cent as some other race. About 2 per cent reported having two or more races. In 2017, approximately 78 per cent (239.3 million) of the 306 million people ages 5 and older in the United States reported speaking only English at home.
Urbanisation (living conditions, labour unions)
The US was predominantly rural in the 18th century. In 1790 approximately 95% of people lived outside a city. At that time only 3 cities had more than 15.000 residents. However, urbanisation exploded during the Industrial Revolution. The nation changed from an agricultural to an urbanized and industrialized one. Before the Revolution, rich people tended to live in the centre of the city. However, rapid urbanization opened the possibilities of larger roads and mass public transport, which allowed towns to expand their borders. Because factory workers did not need to live in a close range to their workplace, suburbs were built. The North became heavily urbanized and industrialized, while the South remained rural. Only in 1920 did the number of citizens living in urban areas become bigger than in rural areas. Because of the growing number of factory workers, more people demanded tolerable working conditions. This marked the rampant start of labour unions. Eventually, labour unions played a key role in abolishing child labour and increasing wages, reducing working hours and improving sanitation in factories across the USA.
Progressive Movement: Theodore Roosevelt
The Progressive Movement, also known as the Progressive Era, was a period from the 1830s to 1920s. The later political movement supported equal conditions for everybody and it developed because of the socio-economic problems as a consequence of industrialization. Many progressives lived in cities and were well educated. Many problems, such as immigration, corruption, better education and the right to vote were tackled. The peak of the activism was when Theodore Roosevelt came to power as president. He was the governor of New York and he was aware of city problems, which only the government could resolve. He noticed the public’s outcry over rising prices in industries controlled by a monopoly. He began to eliminate monopolies, such as in the railroad, tobacco, beef and oil industries. His reforms’ purpose was to allow a free market and to end corruption and monopolism. To add, he claimed a lot of land in the west to harvest resources and develop an infrastructure for citizens. The Progressive Era ended after World War I when the horrors of people were exposed and many began to associate president Wilson’s sayings with the war. He was the creator of National Pubs in the US.
An American Empire (the Philippines, Cuba)
It was a Spanish-American war. The first battle was held in the Philippines. Americans knew nothing about Philippines culture or history so American military diplomacy was being carried out in the arrogant cover of almost total ignorance. In 1896, a riot against the Spanish had started in the Philippines. The rebels had adopted a constitution modelled after the American constitution. They had elected a government, including a president: Emilio Aguinaldo. Spain agreed on a truce but then tricked the Philippines so America sent their troops to help the rebels out. Rebels didn’t accept the help put the troops never left. Spain knew they were losing so they surrendered, but only to the US. Americans stayed there and from their point of view, Filipinos were a conquered people. They had no right, US troops searched their houses without any warrants. Americans called them “Indians” and the soldier referred to them as “niggers”. American soldiers also landed in Cuba. In less than two weeks of fighting, the Spanish were again defeated. Other American soldiers occupied Puerto Rico, another Spanish-owned island close to Cuba. In July the Spanish government saw it was beaten. It asked the Americans for peace.
When peace was signed, Spain gave most of its overseas empire to the United States – Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and a small Pacific island called Guam. Spain sold the Philippines to America for 20 million dollars. But not everything is bad, the Americans built schools and hospitals, constructed roads, provided pure water supplies and put an end to killer diseases like malaria and yellow fever in the lands they now ruled. They continued to rule most of them until the middle years of the century. The Philippines became an independent country in 1946. In 1953 Puerto Rico became self-governing but continued to be closely tied to the United States. In 1959 Hawaii was admitted as the fiftieth state of the Union. Cuba was treated differently. When Congress declared war on Spain in 1898 it said that it was only doing so to help the Cuban people to win independence. When the war ended Cuba was soon declared an independent country. Nevertheless, the US used Cuba as a military base.
Dollar Diplomacy, a foreign policy created by U.S. President William Howard Taft and his secretary of state, Philander C. Knox, to ensure the financial stability of a region while protecting and extending U.S. commercial and financial interests there. It grew out of President Theodore Roosevelt’s peaceful intervention in the Dominican Republic, where U.S. loans had been exchanged for the right to choose the Dominican head of customs (the country’s major revenue source). Under the name of Dollar Diplomacy, the Taft administration engineered such a policy in Nicaragua. It upheld the overthrow of José Santos Zelaya and set up Adolfo Díaz in his place; it set up an authority of traditions; it ensured loans to the Nicaraguan government. The hatred of the Nicaraguan individuals, however, in the long run, resulted in U.S. military intervention too. Taft and Knox also attempted to promulgate Dollar Diplomacy in China, where it was even less successful, both in terms of U.S. ability to supply loans and in terms of world reaction. The dismal failure of Dollar Diplomacy—from its simplistic assessment of social unrest to its formulaic application—caused the Taft administration to finally abandon the policy in 1912. Dollar diplomacy has come to refer in a disparaging way to the heedless manipulation of foreign affairs for strictly monetary ends.
The Monroe Doctrine was a United States policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas beginning in 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as “the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” At the same time, the doctrine noted that the U.S. would recognize and not interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. The Doctrine was issued on December 2, 1823, at a time when nearly all Latin American colonies of Spain and Portugal had achieved or been at the point of gaining, independence from the Portuguese and Spanish Empires. To simplify the Monroe Doctrine was a principle of US policy, originated by President James Monroe, that any intervention by external powers in the politics of the Americas is a potentially hostile act against the US.
The US in WWI
The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, more than two and a half years after World War I started. Before entering the war, the U.S. had remained neutral, though it had been an important supplier to Great Britain and the other Allied powers. The U.S. made its major contributions in terms of supplies, raw material, and money, starting in 1917. American soldiers under General of the Armies John Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), arrived at the rate of 10,000 men a day on the Western Front in the summer of 1918. During the war, the U.S. mobilized over 4 million military personnel and suffered 110,000 deaths, including around 45,000 who died due to the 1918 Spanish influenza outbreak. The war saw a dramatic expansion of the United States government in an effort to harness the war effort and a significant increase in the size of the U.S. Armed Forces. After a relatively slow start in mobilizing the economy and labour force, by spring 1918, the nation was poised to play a role in the conflict. Under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson, the war represented the climax of the Progressive Era as it sought to bring reform and democracy to the world, although there was substantial public opposition to U.S. entry into the war. Although World War I began in 1914, the United States did not join the war until 1917. The impact of the United States joining the war was significant. The additional firepower, resources, and soldiers of the U.S. helped to tip the balance of the war in favour of the Allies.
Versailles Treaty of 1919
The Treaty of Versailles was perhaps one of the most important treaties in all of mankind, ending the Great War, or better known as World War I. Initially, it originated from President Woodrow Wilson, with his Fourteen Points Speech to the Congress on January 8, 1918. The Treaty was signed on June 28, 1919. Under the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan, Germany was held responsible for all war crimes and damages, therefore they had to pay 132 billion marks (roughly 396 billion euros in today’s economy) in reparations. This was also the cause of the hyperinflation in Germany.
Most of the border territories were either given back to the original country or given as an entirely new land to neighbouring countries who aided the Triple Entente (Denmark, Belgium, Poland and Lithuania). The treaty demanded that Germany would lower their armies forces, all while prohibiting the use of certain class weapons and later on, be completely disarmed. However, due to the rise of Hitler in 1932, the treaty’s terms were completely avoided.
League of Nations
The League of Nations was to be formed under the first part of the Treaty of Versailles, later officially founded at the Paris Peace Conference on January 10, 1920. There were 42 original founding members and 15 other countries who joined later on. Its primary goal was to maintain world peace, by negotiation before things got worse. Their most successful achievement was the creation of the Geneva Protocol (prohibited use of biological and chemical weapons), while their other endeavours were not able to be enacted. A lot of problems were not able to be solved because of countries not believing that they were a threat to the attackers, meaning that the League had to mostly watch from the sidelines.
Even though it was Woodrow Wilson’s plan to form an intergovernmental organization to stop wars from ever happening, the US refused to join them. This and the Soviet Union joining the League and later declaring war on Finland severely lowered their reputation.
During World War II, the League of Nations’ members were supposed to stay neutral, but France and Germany did not agree to this. That shows how low the organization had fallen, and in the early to mid-’40s, it basically ceased to exist. Only 26 of them remained as part of the League until its disbandment in 1946.
Historical accuracy and review
It goes without saying that this was not a history movie. It didn’t focus on being historically accurate but instead was more of a tragic love story revolving around a polish immigrant.
The movie did have some accurate details. For example, Ellis Island was used as a checkpoint for immigrants during the European immigration wave at the time. And the opening scene of the Statue of Liberty was also quite true to what it felt and looked like to arrive in New York back then. Women becoming prostitutes or ‘dancers’ was definitely quite common for the ones who had no money or family in the states. And some were also, of course, sent back if they had no chance of surviving there on their own.
I agree with a sentence from this person’s review stating:
“The story lacks specificity and clarity.”(https://www.metacritic.com/user/amboy?page=2)
It would’ve made the movie a lot better, had they given some more context. They should’ve explained more, why they were escaping Poland, how come she speaks fluent English and how and why did Bruno’s family start this business, what was his situation. It would’ve made the movie a lot clearer and given it more depth since it seemed to focus more on feelings rather than history.
Another person wrote,
“Mr Gray is more interested in mood and feeling than in the mechanics of plot, and some of the turns in the story stumble and creak.”(https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/16/movies/the-immigrant-with-joaquin-phoenix-and-marion-cotillard.html?rref=collection%2Fcollection%2Fmovie-guide&action=click&contentCollection=undefined®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest-stories&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection)
which I also must agree with. Especially when it came to the character Emil. He seemed, to me, a bit odd in the movie and was used to hurry up the plot. I found some of his moves illogical and hasty. He didn’t feel like a person with feelings in the movie rather than a tool to evolve the plot quicker.
I did really like the actors. They played the characters extremely well and I never got the feeling that a scene was forced or unnatural by the actor. I also really liked the dialogues in polish, they could’ve really easily left that out but it added a lot to the movie.
To summarise, the movie was very well filmed and the actors were amazing. Although, I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more historical details and less melodrama.