Chapters 4-6 in our reader present a view of a state trying to establish its identity amidst rapid economic, social and demographic change. The abuses of power during the Gilded Age produced social
and political unrest which, in turn, created anxiety among middle-class, native-born white Americans. More important, this turmoil often involved immigrant populations that often were seen as a
threat to ‘American values.’ Specifically threatening were people of color and generally people who were not quite “American.” Keep in mind that “American” at the time was defined as ‘white Anglo-
Saxon Protestant’. Only white people, and, after 1870, people of African descent could become naturalized citizens, according to law. The progressive reform era was partly a response to these
anxieties about the future of the American system of capitalism and attempted to reform the worst abuses of power to prevent a more radical revolution. In addition, progressives took on immigration
reform which led to even further restrictions on immigration in the 1920s.
As you read the sources in this chapter in the context of the background provided in our lectures and the textbook, and as you write your post, take into consideration the study questions offered
at the end of each chapter of the reader.
What do the documents suggest about Californians and their concerns about peoples of color?
How did progressives view immigration and immigrants?
Do you see similarities to more recent discussions of race and ethnicity in the state? Differences? And what do these similarities and differences suggest about Californians today?
To what extent are debates about immigration also debates about our identity as Californians?