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Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 8: Who's Land is This?
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Chinese Railroad Workers
Segment 5
At work on the railroads Know-Nothing People

But there were some Americans who didn't want newcomers in the country; and even some of the newcomers, once they got settled, didn't want any other immigrants to come. Usually the newest immigrants were poor, and willing to work hard and for less money than those who had arrived earlier. So some people wanted to stop immigration because they feared competition for jobs See It Now - "Cheap Labor". There were other reasons, too. Because the newcomers were poor and couldn't speak the language, they needed help in school. That cost money—tax money. The cities where many immigrants lived were overcrowded and filled with crime, so there was a need for extra police and extra city services. Some people said, "Why should we have to pay for the problems of those poor people?" They didn't stop to think that the newcomers were often doing jobs no one else wanted to do—scrubbing floors, or digging ditches, or building railroads See It Now - Chinese Railroad Workers. They could not foresee that the sons and daughters of poor immigrants would become some of the most productive citizens any country has ever known.

And then there was the motive of rank prejudice. People like Francis Walker opposed immigration for hateful and hurtful reasons. He once said, Hear It Now - Francis Walker "The new immigrants are beaten men from beaten races, representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence Check The Source -  "Restriction of Immigration": Francis A. Walker, June 1896."

And so, many Americans faced discrimination just because they were Catholic, or Jewish, or black, or Irish, or Asian. One group of prejudiced people actually formed a political party. Officially it was named the American Party, but most people called it the "Know-Nothing Party See It Now - The American Party Ticket." The Know-Nothings were anti-Catholic and anti-foreigner Check The Source - The Know-Nothing Party. Another group of haters, the Ku Klux Klan, was anti-black and anti-Semitic (they hated Jews). On the West Coast, the Workingmen's Party had as its slogan "The Chinese Must Go." Its members hated Asians Check The Source - "An Act to Protect Free White Labor": April 26, 1826.


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Did You Know?
Back in 1852, when Andrew Johnson ran for governor, the Know-Nothing Party was whipping up anti-Catholic feeling in Tennessee, where most people were Baptists or Methodists. Johnson would have none of that. He said American Catholics were American citizens—and won the election.


Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?



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