Gilded Age Immigration Assignment

Gilded Age, Urbanization, Industrialization, and Immigration

Novelist that satirized American life in his 1873 novel, The Gilded Age. He depicted American Society as gilded or having rotten core covered with gold paint.
William Tweed, head of Tammany Hall, NYC's powerful democratic political machine in 1868. Between 1868 and 1869 he led the Tweed Reign, a group of corrupt politicians in defrauding the city. Example: Responsible for the construction of the NY court house; actual construction cost $3million. Project cost tax payers $13million.
Low cost multifamily housing designed to squeeze in as many families as possible
Beginning in the 1870s, immigrants come from southern and eastern Europe. i.e. Italy, Greece, Poland, Hungary, and Russia. They were often unskilled, poor, Catholic, Jewish, and likely to settle in cities than on farms. After 1900, they made up more than 70% of all immigrants. Native born Americans feel threatened by these newcomers with different languages and cultures.
These were immigrants that came during the first phase of immigration (1840s) who were usually Irish and German. These people were second generation, which meant that they have assimilated into America, gotten into politics, and opened their own shops. Their position in government and hypocritical nature made them hostile to new immigrants, passing laws against them.
Problems with solutions of Urbanization
Housing conditions in tenements deteriorates, water&sanitation pose risks because of unpaved streets filled with trash and back up of toilets(->regulate housing, sanitation, sewers, and public health by taking water from reservoirs that were separated from the polluted rivers and lakes and putting it through a filtration system),fire(open fireplaces and gas lighting caused fires that spread quickly-> professional firefighter teams built), crime(dangerous at night-> professional city police forms), and confilct between urban groups
Social reformer who worked to improve the lives of the working class. In 1889 she founded Hull House in Chicago(one of many settlement houses) , the first private social welfare agency in the U.S., to assist the poor, combat juvenile delinquency and help immigrants learn to speak English.
Inspection station for immigrants arriving on the East Coast (mainly European immigrants)
Inspection station for immigrants arriving on the West Coast (mainly Chinese and Asian immigrants)
Prohibited immigration by Chinese laborers, limited the civil rights of Chinese immigrants already in the United States, and forbade the naturization of Chinese residents.
An oil Tycoon, made deals with railroads to increase his profits. An American industrialist and philanthropist. Revolutionized the petroleum/oil industry and defined the structure of modern philanthropy. In 1870, founded the Standard Oil Company and ran it until he retired in the late 1890s. He kept his stock and as gasoline grew in importance, his wealth soared and he became the world's richest man and first U.S. dollar billionaire, and is often regarded as the richest person in history
Steel Tycoon, , Creates Carnegie Steel. Gets bought out by banker JP Morgan and renamed U.S. Steel. Andrew Carnegie used vertical integration by buying all the steps needed for production. Was a philanthropist. Was one of the "Robber barons"
practice in which a single manufacturer controls all of the steps used to change raw materials into finished products
The process of bringing together many firms in the same business to form one large company (a type of monopoly)
In a trust, companies assign their stock to a board of trustees, who combine them into a new organization. The trustees run the organization, paying themselves dividends on profits. (This was a way that Rockefeller got around the law that prevented one company from owning the stock of another i.e. buying out his competitors)
1890, outlawed any trust that operated "in restraint of trade or commerce among the several states." Began a trend toward federal limitations on corporations' power
1869, Uriah Smith Stephans founded the labor union. Included all workers of any trade, skilled or unskilled. Actively recruited African Americans. Functioned largely as a secret society, devoted to broad social reform such as relacing captialism with workers' cooperatives.
1886, Samuel Gompers formed the American Federation of Labor. Was a craft union, a loose organization of skilled worker sfrom some 100 local unions devoted to specific crafts or trades. These local unions retained their individuality but gained strength in bargaining through their affiliation with the AFL
Yale professor William Graham Sumner applied this theory to the rough-and-tumble world of American capitalism. He declared that wealth was a measure of one's inherent value and those who had it were the most "fit"
This was a book written by Carnegie that described the responsibility of the rich to be philanthropists. This softened the harshness of Social Darwinism as well as promoted the idea of philanthropy. "People had the right to accumulate as much wealth as they could, but they also had the responsibility to give it away."
He was the president and the organizer of the American Railway Union. He organized the Pullman Strike and helped organized the Social Democratic party. Ran for president in jail.
Negative term for a worker called in by an employer to replace striking laborers
an agreement some companies forced workers to take that forbade them from joining a union. This was a method used to limit the power of unions, thus hampering their development.
In Chicago, home to about 80,000 Knights of Labor and a few hundred anarchists that advocated a violent overthrow of the American government, tensions had been building, and on May 4, 1886, Chicago police were advancing on a meeting that had been called to protest brutalities by authorities when a dynamite bomb was thrown, killing or injuring several dozen people.
an industrial process for making steel using a Bessemer converter to blast air through through molten iron and thus burning the excess carbon and impurities. A way to manufacture steel quickly and cheaply
Factors Leading to Industrialization
easy access to energy (water mills, coal, petroleum) and raw materials (iron ore, cooper, wool). ease of transportation (short distances, flat land). developed banking system (investment capital: banks lend money to ppl who want to build factories) political unification and stability, Large POP. a large work force wiling to work for low wages

The idea of America as a “melting pot” of cultures, languages, ethnicities, and religions is virtually as old as the country itself. Throughout our history, immigrants have contributed to the character of major cities, rural small towns, and the country as a whole. Various waves of immigrants have crossed American borders and made this country their home, leading to parallel waves of immigration legislation and policy. This issue has been brought to the forefront of American politics in recent months with the election of President Trump and the ensuing executive orders he’s enacted. What social, political, and economic impact does immigration have on our country, and how is it best regulated by the government? In this lesson, students will research the impact of immigration and create their own immigration legislation in order to evaluate potential solutions to the issues presented by waves of immigrants. They will have the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of various solutions, as well as decide how constitutional principles can be used on both sides of the immigration debate.



  • Research immigration through social, political, and economic lenses in order to identify the benefits and challenges that accompany waves of immigration into American communities
  • Explain the challenges associated with an influx of immigrants to American communities in order to create legislation to address these issues
  • Evaluate both sides of the immigration debate through constitutional principles in order to reflect on their own views on the issue


Note: It is recommended that students complete the Bill of Rights Gilded Age Lesson, Immigrants in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era before starting this lesson.


Warm-up Activity: (15-20 min)

  1. Individually, students will answer the following question in a Think-Write-Pair-Share format: What do immigrants bring with them to their new communities? (Note: this does not need to be physical goods or items). First, students think about their answer, then write it down on their paper. After 2-3 minutes, students should turn to their partner and in pairs, discuss their responses. Students will then share answers as a whole group, while the teacher creates an anchor chart on the board of the physical and non-physical things that immigrants bring to their new communities. (10 min)
  2. Students will then complete the Prediction Chart on the “Immigration in America Today Handout” outlining the influence immigrants have on a community physically, economically, socially, and politically. These effects can be positive, negative, or neutral. (5-10 min)

Activity: 40-60 min

  1. Students will each receive a Lens Role to find an article on immigration. The teacher should assist students in finding unbiased, reliable sources for articles, especially if this is the first time students are researching in the classroom. Together three students (one of each role) will compose a “committee” group in the next steps. Therefore, there should be roughly an equal number of each lens assigned to students. Students will use their lens to research and read an article on immigration, and answer the questions on page 2 of Immigration in America Today. These questions are also found on Gilded Age Handout H. (20 min)
    1. Political Lens: Find an article on immigration and politics.
    2. Economic Lens: Find an article on immigration and its economic effects.
    3. Social Lens: Find an article on immigration and social issues.
  2. As a “committee” group of 3-4, using the Problems & Solutions Graphic Organizer, students will collaborate to outline economic, social, and political issues that arise from mass waves of immigration (i.e., why is immigration reform considered necessary by some today?). Students will then brainstorm possible solutions to these challenges. (10 min)
  3. Together, students will create their own version of immigration reform legislation. This should include at least four main points to address the issues they outlined from the article. Students must agree to accept each item into their immigration reform bill. (10 min)
  4. If time allows, students will propose their bills on the “floor” of the classroom. Other students will have the opportunity to debate the bill on the floor, ask questions about students’ reasoning and perspective on their solutions, and critique the effectiveness of the bills. Students will then vote on each group’s bill; those that can muster the majority of the class’s votes will pass. (~20 min)

Wrap-up Activity: 5 min

  1. Students should complete the debrief questions:
    1. What strategies did you use in your “committee” to get your point across?
    2. What problems did you encounter in coming to a conclusion on your bill?
    3. How can you explain the disagreements you encountered, both in your committee groups and when presenting your bill in front of the class?

Conclusions: 10 min

Students will answer the following questions to draw conclusions from the activity:

  1. Why is immigration reform viewed as necessary by some?
  2. How might critics of immigration – those who believe that immigration policy needs reform – use constitutional principles to defend their side of the debate?
  3. How could defenders of immigration – those who believe immigrants should be protected – use constitutional principles to defend their side of the debate?
  1. Which side of the debate most closely reflects your personal views? Explain your reasoning in 2-3 sendences.



Extension/Additional Resources:

Gilded Age Lesson, Immigrants in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Washington Post – Syrian immigration to the US has been a success, study finds

Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, “The Effects of Immigration on the United States’ Economy

US News & World Report, “The Economic Costs of Immigration”

NPR, “Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration, Annotated”

The Atlantic, “The Truth about Undocumented Immigrants and Taxes”

Migration Policy Institute, “Immigration in the United States: New Economic, Social, Political Landscapes with Legislative Reform on the Horizon”

Economic Policy Institute, “Facts About Immigration and the US Economy”


Filed Under: Free Lesson Plans, Teacher Resources, Teaching with Current Events

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