Immigration and Citizenship

The History of Immigration in the United States

In this lesson, students will study the nature of immigration and trace the history of immigration in the United States from its founding to the first half of the twentieth century.  They will gain an understanding of the experience of immigrants in the 1800s, the factors that brought them to the United States, and the challenges they faced upon their arrival. Students will thus be better equipped to engage in the modern conversation on immigration in the United States.

Founding Principles

Civic Virtue image

Civic Virtue

A set of actions and habits necessary for the safe, effective, and mutually beneficial participation in a society.

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Equality

Every individual is equal to every other person in regards to natural rights and treatment before the law.

Liberty image

Liberty

Except where authorized by citizens through the Constitution, the government does not have the authority to limit freedom.

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Rule of Law

Government and citizens all abide by the same laws regardless of political power. Those laws respect individual rights, are transparently enacted, are justly applied, and are stable.

Overview

In this lesson, students will study the nature of immigration and trace the history of immigration in the United States from its founding to the first half of the twentieth century. They will gain an understanding of the experience of immigrants in the 1800s, the factors that brought them to the United States, and the challenges they faced upon their arrival. Students will thus be better equipped to engage in the modern conversation on immigration in the United States.

Objectives

  • Students will analyze what immigration is and what it means to be an immigrant.
  • Students will be able to explain the fundamental factors that cause immigration.
  • Students will investigate the history of immigration in the United States from the colonial era to the early twentieth century.
  • Students will assess the history and compare it with immigration today.

Materials

  • Handout A: Family Survey
  • Handout B: Background Essay: A Nation of Immigrants – A History of Immigration to 1924
  • Handout C: Graphic Organizer
  • Handout D: Letter from Mary Garvey, Irish Immigrant, to Her Mother, October 24, 1850

Key Terms

  • Migrant
  • Customs
  • Immigrant
  • Immigration
  • Jurisdiction
  • Push factor
  • Pull factor
  • Sovereignty
  • Citizenship
  • Enumerable
  • Oppressive
  • Influx
  • Blight
  • Famine
  • New wave immigrants
  • Seminal

Background Homework10 minutes of homework and 15 minutes of class time

  1. Prior to the lesson, display a large map of the world.
  2. Distribute and assign for homework Handout A: Family Survey.
  3. Have students mark with pushpins or markers on the map, where their families originated. Discuss
    any trends or patterns revealed by the map and the surveys.
  4. Ask your students if their various backgrounds affect the class dynamic. Is this effect positive or
    negative? Why?

Activities 50 minutes total

Activity I » 30 minutes

  1. Distribute Handout B: Background Essay: A Nation of Immigrants – A History of Immigration to 1924 to your students and have them read the document and answer the critical reading questions.
  2. Divide your class into groups of three to five. Have them fill out columns one through three on Handout C: Graphic Organizer. For each section, they should highlight what they believe motivated the immigrants of that era to migrate and what challenges they faced in doing so.
  3. Bring the class back together and discuss their responses on the graphic organizer.
  4. As a class, fill out column four, “Modern Era” and discuss how modern immigrants’ experiences are similar or different than those in the past.

Activity II » 20 minutes

  1. Have students read Handout D: Letter from Mary Garvey, Irish Immigrant, to Her Mother, October 24, 1850 and answer the critical thinking questions.
  2. As a class, discuss the responses to the critical thinking questions, tying in the themes discussed in the previous activity.
  3. Have your students write a letter home from their own immigrant ancestors. In the letters they should cover the same major themes that Mary Garvey touched on in her own letter.

Homework Options

Have your students write a short response to the following writing prompt: Why do you think tensions arise or have arisen between immigrants and natives of a nation? What challenges do you think a nation faces in welcoming immigrants? List and describe any parallels to new students arriving at your school.

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