Conservapedia:American History Lecture Eleven

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We begin by reviewing the homework returned today (week 9). In the first question, there was an error in the book. In World War I, Italy was initially on the side of Germany, but later joined the war on the side of the Allies (England, France, Russia and United States). Please review the model answers for this and all the questions.

What is uniquely American? Jazz. Baseball. Fast food. Nuclear weapons. Country and Western music. Motion pictures. Basketball and football. Two that the class missed identifying: (1) the Mormon religion and (2) national parks. They are also uniquely American. And how about this one: a constitutional form of government?

Why study history? To avoid repeating mistakes of the past. Also, history is fun. History can give us vision about what we should be doing. It is useful and enriches our experiences. Learning history provides insight into the future. Studying history is one of the best hobbies that one can develop. Much of the Bible is history, and many study it constantly. History can also be inspirational, providing motivation for us to do more after learning how others sacrificed so much to accomplish things.

Let’s turn to a topic in the news: immigration. Immigration was free and unlimited for most of our history. William Penn actually advertised in Germany for immigrants to settle in his colony of Pennsylvania in the late 1600s. There was some hostility to immigrants in the early United States, as illustrated by the “Alien and Sedition Laws” (1798) which authorized the deportation of subversive “aliens” or immigrants who had not yet become citizens.

Nevertheless, up until the 1850s immigration was mostly welcomed in America. But after a huge influx of immigrants from Ireland due to the potato famine there, in 1854 the “American Party,” also called the “Know-Nothings” because of how they would describe themselves, was founded in order to oppose immigration. Ever since, there has been political pressure to limit immigration.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) ended the Mexican War and allowed Mexicans residing in territories acquired by the United States to become American citizens. However, segregation in the public schools of Mexicans was common until the Supreme Court abolished it for African-Americans in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). After 1890, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans entered the United States illegally and were called “wetbacks”.

The big flood of immigration occurred between the end of the Civil War and 1921. Up to one-third of Americans today are decedents of immigrations to America during that period. The vast majority was from Europe, but the Burlingame Treaty with China in 1868 gave Chinese unlimited rights to immigrate, and many did. Labor unions then complained about the influx of Chinese immigrants (who had built the transcontinental railroad over the Sierra Nevada mountains). In 1879, the moderate Republican Rutherford Hayes vetoed a bill restricting Chinese immigration, but three years later the new Republican president Chester Arthur signed a bill prohibiting the immigration of Chinese laborers. This bill was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

In 1891 the federal government established the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which supervises lawful immigration to this day. In 1892, INS established Ellis Island in New York harbor as the primary screening point for legal immigrants before they settled in the United States. Medical tests and oaths of allegiance to the United States were administered there.

The high point of lawful immigration to the United States was 1905-14, when more than a million legal immigrants entered in each of six separate years. Most were from southern and central Europe. By origin the percentage immigration to the United States from 1890 to 1917 was:

Central, Southern and Eastern Europe – 70%
Northwest Europe – 20%
Central and South America – 3%
Canada and Newfoundland – 4%
Asia – 3%

That very high percentage of immigration from European countries other than England and Ireland caused alarm among many Americans of English descent. By the 1920s, the United States was increasingly concerned about anarchists and communists entering from southern and eastern Europe. Recall that President McKinley was assassinated in 1901 by an anarchist whose family had immigrated from Eastern Europe, and the American trial of anarchists from Italy named Sacco and Vanzetti for senseless murders had gripped our nation in 1920-21 and during the lengthy appeals afterwards. The Red Scare of 1919-20 further alarmed Americans about immigration from Eastern Europe. After the great wave of immigration leading up to World War I, Americans wanted to limit it. The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 limited immigration to 3% of that originating country’s immigration levels in 1910.

The Immigration Act of 1924 (also known as the National Origins Act) reduced the 3% further, to 2%, and changed the baseline from 1910 to 1890 in order to give preferences to immigrants from Great Britain, Germany and Ireland. Immigration from Italy, Russia and Asia was thereby sharply reduced. Strict quotas were enforced, but applied to unskilled laborers rather than professionals. President Calvin Coolidge signed the bill into law.

In 1946 immigration from India was allowed up to an annual quota, and in 1952 immigration from Asia was allowed again for the first time since 1917.

In 1965 the Immigration and Nationality Act abolished quotas for each foreign country and instead established an overall limit on visas for immigrants in the eastern hemisphere, and in 1968 a limit on visas from the western hemisphere was also established on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Illegal immigration from Mexico grew in the early 1980s and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 allowed most illegal aliens who resided in the U.S. continuously since 1982 to apply for legal status. Employers were prohibited from hiring illegal aliens, in order to discourage future illegal immigration.

Court decisions made it difficult or impossible for states to deny government benefits (such as free public education) to illegal immigrants and their entry into the United States continued to grow. Estimates are that 10-20 million people now live in the United States illegally, most having arrived by crossing the United States-Mexico border but not all of whom are Mexican. Congress is bitterly divided about how to address this, and some propose building a wall along that border.

What is your view?

After our dropping of the atom bombs on Japan ended World War II, nations came together to form the United Nations, first in San Francisco and ultimately in New York, where it exists to this day. Alger Hiss, who was secretly a communist but served as a top aide to President Franklin Roosevelt, played a key role in founding the UN.

Meanwhile, President Truman kept government controls on wages and prices in effect even after the war ended. This infuriated voters, who wanted to return to normal life as quickly as possible. In the fall elections of 1946, voters dealt President Truman a huge loss and returned the Republicans to control of Congress for the first time since before the Great Depression.

The Republicans then moved quickly to pass important legislation. They passed (and the states ratified) the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution in order to limit future presidents to two full terms in office, so that no one could ever again repeat what President Franklin Roosevelt did in dishonoring President Washington’s precedent of no more than two terms. President Roosevelt died in office during his fourth term as president.

The Republicans also passed, over President Truman’s veto, the Taft-Hartley Act to limit the power of unions. This was one of the most important pieces of legislation in the entire century of the 1900s, and by far the most significant labor legislation in our history. By 1947 unions had risen to the zenith of their power, having membership of nearly 10.5 million nationwide.

The Taft-Hartley Act did the following:

  • established the right of employees NOT to join unions
  • a union could represent all employees only if state law permitted it and a majority of workers voted for it
  • unions must give 60 days notice before striking
  • the federal government could prohibit a strike for 80 days if it endangered national health or safety
  • a later amendment in 1959 prohibited “secondary boycotts,” which were devastating “sympathy strikes” against additional companies to increase pressure on target company

For the purposes of American history, simply remember that the Taft-Hartley Act finally ended the unions’ enormous power. And not a moment too soon, because crippling strikes hurt the country’s economy in 1946 after the end of World War II. Ever since passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, Democrats have tried to repeal it, without success.

The United Nations has remained controversial to this day. In the 1990s, an American soldier named Michael New was ordered to fight under command of the United Nations. He refused, and was court-martialed (harshly punished) for it. He then sued, and lost. Many complain that the United Nations encroaches on the right and duty of nations like the United States to remain true to their own principles. Defenders of the United Nations say that it provides an important meeting place to discuss and defuse tensions before they escalate into wars. The United Nations did arrange for many countries to send troops to defend South Korea against invasion by communist North Korea. But as in Vietnam and most major international wars since World War II, the United States sent the vast majority of the soldiers to the battlefront.

President Woodrow Wilson would have been a supporter of the United Nations, just as he supported the League of Nations. His motto was to “make the world safe for democracy.” Today, the “neoconservatives” adopt a similar worldview. They seek to expand and install democracy in countries all around the world, such as Iraq and Iran. Others, however, argue that democracy is not compatible with religions in other parts of the world, such as Islam. Conservative Congressman Ron Paul recently wrote an essay entitled, “Making the World Safe for Christianity,” observing that democracy in Iraq has increased the persecution of Christians there.

By the way, Congressman Paul blames the treaty after World War I (Versailles Treaty) as the cause for World War II and the rise of communism. The U.S. Senate never ratified that treaty.

Communism secretly invaded the United States during the Great Depression in the 1930s. After serving secretly as a communist then, Whittaker Chambers had a religious conversion to Christianity (the Quaker religion). He then went to federal law enforcement officials and identified fellow communists, including Alger Hiss. Law enforcement agents informed President Franklin Roosevelt, but he reacted by swearing at Whittaker Chambers, and Roosevelt refused to do anything about Hiss.

Hiss remained in powerful government positions until a series of internal memos generated by J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI finally forced Hiss out. But the public never learned about this until Congressman Richard Nixon (like Chambers, a Quaker) held public hearings before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1948, after the Republicans had gained control of Congress in the 1946 elections. At first Hiss made the public laugh at Nixon’s committee, but when Chambers produced microfilm stored in a pumpkin on his Maryland farm to prove Hiss’s involvement the last laugh belonged to Nixon. He rode his anti-communism success to become Vice President under Eisenhower and eventually President in 1968. Hiss went to jail for perjury. Democrats never forgave Nixon’s combative tactics and eventually they caught Nixon doing something illegal, whereupon the Watergate scandal forced him to become the only president ever to resign (in 1973). The anti-communist reaction movement was also important in shaping the career of Ronald Reagan, who became president in 1980.

Several in our class have described communism as being good in theory, but bad in practice. But consider that communism requires coercion and force to enforce its requirement of equal wealth regardless of talents and efforts. That is anti-Christian in several important ways, starting with free will and ending with the unimportance of wealth to God. Also, communism inevitably requires suppressing religion, churches, private schools and even homeschooling in order to ensure conformity of beliefs.

This week’s homework asks students to identify a prior president most like: Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

Hints: A Democrat, President Truman was impulsive, not very bright, and identified with the common man. President Eisenhower was a war hero and general who did not exercise much control. He served two terms and was Republican. From Massachusetts, President Kennedy was bumbling in his foreign policy before being assassinated. President Johnson was an arrogant man from Texas who greatly expanded the size of government, mishandled a war and was too unpopular to be reelected in 1968.