Guiding Question:

How did the Immigration Restriction League (IRL) influence local, state, and federal elections/policies on immigration?



Immigration had a profound impact on the American landscape. Economically, socially and politically, immigrants transformed America in the 1800s/early 1900s, causing some Americans to called for limits on immigration to the United States. Particularly describing New Immigrants as “undesirables” groups such as the Immigration Restriction League (founded in Boston in 1894) wrote books, pamphlets, and newspaper/journal articles blaming immigrants for social ills while calling for tighter restrictions in federal law by lobbying Congress.

In this activity you will examine vintage political cartoons, and analyze official IRL documents in order to understand its efforts in curbing the flow of immigrants to the United States. You will also inspect federal legislation on immigration to investigate the impact of the Immigration Restriction League's efforts to influence federal policy in early 20th century America.


Image Credit: The inevitable result to the American workingman of indiscriminate immigration,
Judge, at Georgia State University, The Samuel Gompers Papers Project.