Compare and Contrast


1880s: The “new immigrants” who came from eastern and southern Europe in the 1880s are considered a potential threat to the “American” character. For the first time, in 1882, Congress acts to restrict immigration on a selective basis, although standards are not very stringent. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 puts an end to the importation of cheap Chinese labor which had caused some ugly racial riots in the West. Post-World War I: Congress passes the Immigration Act of 1924; it institutes a quota system based on the U.S. population in 1920 and was an overt attempt to keep the country’s ethnic “composition” what it had been-that is, predominantly Northern European. Today: The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 gave legal status to millions of illegal aliens living in the U.S. since January 1982 and established penalties for anyone found hiring illegal aliens. Immigration preferences are extended due to family relationships and needed skills, not country of origin. In the 1990s, states like California attempt to pass legislation restricting government services to legal immigrants.

1880s: After the Civil War, the Fifteenth Amendment extended the right to vote to include black males. Women of all races remained unable to vote. An active woman’s movement in the 1880s consolidated in 1890 into the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Post-World War I:In August, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution and stated that the “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.” Today: In 1963, Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique jumpstarted a stalled women’s rights movement. Issues such as the right for equal pay, the need for child-care services, and the problem of gender stereotyping became the critical concerns on the agenda of the current feminist movement.

1880s: The Monroe Doctrine, articulated in 1823 by U.S. President James Monroe, held sway throughout the century. It represented a mood of isolation from the political turbulence of Europe as well as an increased awareness of the opportunities for expansion on the American continent. Post-World War I: At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, delegates from twenty- seven victorious nations adopted a unanimous resolution to create a League of Nations whose members would protect each other against aggression and devote themselves to such matters as disarmament, labor legislation, and world health. The United States, however, does not become a member. Today: The United Nations, which succeeded the League of Nations after World War II in 1945, includes the United States as a member of the important U.N. Security Council. Under U.N. supervision, U.S. troops participate in military missions from Bosnia (in Europe) to Rwanda (in Africa).

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