Open, Cracked, or Slammed Shut: Immigration Policy During the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt

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Presentation Date/Time:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017; 10-10:50am CT and 1-1:50pm CT

Presenter Contact Info:

Pamla Kukla,

The Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University

Program Description:

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” reads the poem The New Colossus inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty.  But has the U.S. always opened its doors freely to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free?  Will the U.S. continue to do so?

The tide of immigrants entering the U.S. is not without controversy and isn’t just a modern day problem.  Theodore Roosevelt would comment on immigration throughout his lifetime, but during his presidency he had to deal with the most restrictive immigration policy in U.S. history to date – the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Students will examine this issue through primary sources of those involved on both sides of the questions, including Chinese diplomats, investigations into Chinese boycotts of American goods, political cartoons, and letters of Theodore Roosevelt.  What conditions would have led to such a restrictive immigration act?  What were the effects on the American and Chinese people and other immigrants?  What were the effects on the economy and borders of the U.S.?  Students will discuss these questions and more using the primary sources found in the Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library.

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Date and Time: 
Wed, March 15, 2017 - 10:00 AM
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