Category Archives: united states

Immigration

The United States was built on immigration. The period of from 1850 to the early 1900s saw a dramatic increase in immigration. In 1820 a total of 8,385 immigrants were admitted into the country. By 1865 over 100,000 immigrants were entering the country each year. And by 1906 over 1.1 million people were coming to America, most passing through Ellis Island, the immigration nexus.

Immigrants on the Deck of Ship

Immigrants on the Deck of Ship

These immigrants were mainly European, but not from Britain. The majority were Italians or East Europeans from Poland, Ukraine and Russia. Among the East Europeans were many Jews and Roman Catholics, whose faiths were often the targets of discrimination and contempt from the established Protestant majority.

Ellis Island Immigration Station

Ellis Island Immigration Station

The influx of immigration caused problems of assimilation and accomodation. Many immigrants found themselves relegated to crowded and unsanitary apartments in inner city slums. Still, for many fleeing persecution and dead end poverty in their own country, the living conditions in the worst inner city slums were better than what they had left behind.

This is a pictorial history of some of the people that passed through Ellis island during the heyday of immigration.

Receiving Hall at Ellis Island

Receiving Hall at Ellis Island

Once the immigrants landed at Ellis Island they had to wait hours and hours in different lines while their applications for entry were processed. There were questions, and more questions, and medical examinations. For the lucky, the process ended with permission to board a ferry to New York. For those rejected, the process led to detention and deportation.

In the picture above, you can see the masses of people that went through the screening process every day. The letters in the photograph explain what each line was for:

(A) Entrance stairs; (B) Examination of health ticket; (C) Surgeon’s examination; (D) Second surgeon’s examination; (E) Group compartments; (F) Waiting for inspection; (G) Passage to the stairway; (H) Detention room; (I) The Inspectors’ desks; (K) Outward passage to barge, ferry, or detention room.

Below is a picture of some immigrants who were detained for special examination. It is not known if they were eventually let through:

Immigrants at Ellis Island

Immigrants at Ellis Island

In the picture below, an immigrant rejected for admission appeals to a special tribunal.

appealing a deportation order

appealing a deportation order

The lucky ones that made it through the immigration screening were then allowed to take a ferry that landed them in New York. Below is a picture of the newly arrived immigrants landing at Battery Park.

Immigrants arriving in New York after passing through Ellis Island

Immigrants arriving in New York after passing through Ellis Island

The immigrants were now in America, but their struggles were far from over.

Next Article: Life in America for New Immigrants

Spanish American War

The Spanish American war was a brief armed conflict between Spain and the United States in 1898. The war pitted the new battleships of the American navy against the decrepit and outclassed vessels of Spain. In the result, the United States crushed Spain and acquired most of Spain’s remaining colonial empire including the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

The American Battleship U. S. S. MAINE.

The American Battleship U. S. S. MAINE.

The war between Spain and the United States began as a result of the explosion of the American battleship the Maine, while it was docked at Havana harbour, in Cuba, which was then still a Spanish colony. Many Americans blamed the explosion on sabotage by the Spaniards, though this was never conclusively proven.

This is a newsreel documenting the funeral procession of the victims of the U.S.S. Maine.

As tensions escalated between the two nations, US newspapers whipped up anti-Spanish hysteria and urged American intervention on the side of Cuban and Fillipino rebels who were then fighting against the Spanish empire.

Some historians have charged that the newspaper barons promoted the war as a way to increase circulation for their newspapers. Many government leaders saw the war as an opportunity to rid the western hemisphere of a colonial power and also acquire possessions for the United States.

Artist's rendering of American troops storming El Canay

Artist's rendering of American troops storming El Canay

The war was fought primarily in Cuba and the Philippines, with some particularly hard fighting taking place in Cuba where the Spanish put up effective resistance. In the United States, popular support for the war was high. President McKinley called for a declaration of war which Congress soon granted.

The President of the United States During The Spanish American War

The President of the United States During The Spanish American War

“In view of the measures so taken, and other measures as may be necessary to enable me to carry out the express will of the Congress of the United States in the premises, I now recommend to your honourable body the adoption of a joint resolution declaring that a state of war exists between the United States of America and the kingdom of Spain, and I urge speedy action thereon to the end that the definition of the international status of the United States as a belligerent power may be made known, and the assertion of all its rights and the maintenance of all its duties in the conduct of a public war may be assured.

(Signed) “William McKinley.
Executive Mansion, Washington, April 25, 1898.
The Queen Regent, who was the head of the Spanish Kingdom while her son was a minor.
The Queen Regent, who was the head of the Spanish Kingdom while her son was a minor.

Popular sentiment was also high in Spain, which regarded the United States as the aggressor. The Spanish king was still an infant, and his government was entrusted to his mother and ministers. In Havana, the Spanish Captain-General Blanco called for volunteers and addressed a cheering crowd:

“Do you swear to give the last drop of blood in your veins before letting a foreigner step his foot on the land we discovered, and place his yoke upon the people we civilised?”

“Yes, yes, we do!”

“The enemy’s fleet is almost at Morro Castle, almost at the doors of Havana,” General Blanco added. “They have money; but we have blood to shed, and we are ready to shed it. We will throw them into the sea!”

The people interrupted him with cries of applause, and he finished his speech by shouting Viva Espana! Viva el Rey! “Long live the army, the navy, and the volunteers!”

One of the Spanish Commanders in Cuba

One of the Spanish Commanders in Cuba

Admiral Dewey

One of the first blows of the war was struck by the Americans against the Spanish colony of the Philippines. The islands had been a Spanish possession since the great days of exploration and empire when the Spanish galleons had ruled the oceans. Now the islands were poorly defended and threatened by a native uprising.

The American fleet crushed the Spanish fleet defending the islands in the battle of Manila Bay. Here are photographs of some of the American ships that took part in the Battle of Manila Bay.

U. S. S. OLYMPIA

U. S. S. OLYMPIA

U. S. S. BALTIMORE.

U. S. S. BALTIMORE.

THE BATTLE OF MANILA BAY.

THE BATTLE OF MANILA BAY.

U. S. S. BOSTON.

U. S. S. BOSTON.

Naval actions also took place off Cuba and Puerto Rico. These are some of the ships of the American squadron.

U. S. S. AMPHITRITE.

U. S. S. AMPHITRITE.

Bombardment of San Juan, Porto Rico by the American fleet

Bombardment of San Juan, Porto Rico by the American fleet

U. S. S. MONTEREY

U. S. S. MONTEREY

U. S. S. MASSACHUSETTS.

U. S. S. MASSACHUSETTS.

U. S. S. NEW YORK.

U. S. S. NEW YORK.

U. S. S. MARBLEHEAD

U. S. S. MARBLEHEAD

U. S. S. VESUVIUS.

U. S. S. VESUVIUS.

U. S. S. TEXAS.

U. S. S. TEXAS.

After the Spanish naval resistance had been broken, the Americans were free to land troops throughout the island of Cuba. One contingent, the Rough Riders, was led by Theodore Roosevelt, a former American President:

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

The Attack on San Juan Hill During the Spanish-American War

The Attack on San Juan Hill During the Spanish-American War

The end of Spanish resistance came when their last effective naval force was completely annihilated.

THE DESTRUCTION OF CERVERA’S FLEET

THE DESTRUCTION OF CERVERA’S FLEET

U. S. S. INDIANA

U. S. S. INDIANA

U. S. S. OREGON.

U. S. S. OREGON.

U. S. S. BROOKLYN

U. S. S. BROOKLYN

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