An alternative history of the United States if we had significantly liberalized immigration policies.

Media Name: an_alternative_history_of_american_immigration.jpg

Alex Nowrasteh is the immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

Most of this book imagines a more libertarian future, but I’ve decided to imagine a more libertarian past. My hope is that this approach will help readers understand how a substantially more liberalized immigration policy might have worked in practice and hint at how such a policy would affect the world today. This chapter is a brief alternative history of the United States if it had never closed its borders. To the maximum extent possible, my fictional answers to these questions in the alternate United States are adapted from actual episodes in U.S. history and social science. In those cases, I provide citations.

Alternative history is a rich subgenre of fiction that begins with a so‐​called point of departure, which is a significant historical moment that differs from what actually happened but that is preceded by factual history. Good alternative history is not utopian, thus the alternative history presented here is not utopian nor is it a vision of a perfect society molded by free immigration.

There are certain aspects of this world—such as other policies chosen by the U.S. government to “compensate” for a lack of control over immigration and other social changes—that I do not like and would never endorse but that are more likely under such an immigration system than under the one that actually regulated immigrant entry to the United States. The history of the United States is complicated, especially as it relates to immigration, so I provide a brief explanation of the facts in the shaded boxes.

Ultimately, alternative history cannot stand alone as an argument for a different policy in today’s world. This chapter is not an empirical paper that builds a rigorous model that can be tested. Instead, this format offers an alternative conclusion constructed by informed history and related social science. It is a rough model of human behavior—and a lot of fun. It may not convince you to support liberalized immigration or to believe that the United States and the world would have been better off with a substantially more open immigration policy over the past 130 years; however, I hope it will at least make you think of just how influential immigration has been on virtually every aspect of our nation’s past and how its importance will continue far into the future.

Expanding Immigration and Domestic Reforms: 1889–1913

When Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, the public supported it. Residents in the western states, labor unions, and many other Americans were worried about the growing numbers of Chinese immigrants. So Congress restricted immigration for an entire group of people for no other reason than that they were from a particular country and were not liked by American voters. A previous law in 1875 barred the immigration of criminals and some other specifically defined individuals. But never before was a restriction based on an arbitrary government determination that the population of an entire nation could never become American citizens.

The Chinese Exclusion Act was ultimately challenged; the Supreme Court famously overturned it in the case of Chae Chan Ping v. United States in 1889. The Court found that the U.S. Constitution contained no broad grant of power that permitted Congress to restrict immigration—unless it was necessarily and properly related to another enumerated power, such as restricting the movement of foreign spies and criminals, or in accordance with the Law of Nations. 1 As the Court wrote:

The Constitution enumerates the powers that sovereign states have enjoyed since time immemorial but did not include the power to ban the immigration of aliens.… The power to restrict immigration must be nested in other enumerated powers such as the power to make war.… The highest duty of the sovereign is to preserve the Constitution, which cannot be a justification for blanket immigration laws that have no reasonable relationship to that constitutional charge.

Over the following several years, a series of federal laws restricting immigration were struck down except for those barring criminals.

Fact: The Supreme Court upheld the Chinese Exclusion Act in the Chae Chan Ping case and additionally ruled that the power of Congress is not limited when setting immigration policy. The Court argued that such a degree of power comes from national sovereignty rather than its being an enumerated power.

Chinese immigration to the West Coast picked up immediately after the courts toppled each federal law. The western states—led by California and its now infamous anti‐​immigrant rage—proposed numerous constitutional amendments to restrict immigration from Asia or to create a broader general grant of total congressional power over immigration. Southern states did not go along with the amendments, northern states with large immigrant populations opposed them, and industrialists were adamantly opposed to any restriction on the flow of consumers or workers to these shores—no matter their complexion, religion, or language. The only colors they cared about were green and gold, and the only language they understood was that of profit as preached from the church of commerce. 2

Fact: These three groups were all pro‐​immigration until the early 1900s, when the southern states turned restrictionist because they realized that the new immigrants were unlikely to settle there.

Southern states were still dominated by planter elites who wanted labor. They teamed up, ironically, with an elderly Frederick Douglass, who made an impassioned natural rights appeal to defend the rights of the Chinese by reprising his famous 1869 speech in numerous venues North and South:

There are such things in the world as human rights. They rest upon no conventional foundation, but are external, universal, and indestructible. Among these, is the right of locomotion; the right of migration; the right which belongs to no particular race, but belongs alike to all and to all alike. It is the right you assert by staying here, and your fathers asserted by coming here. It is this great right that I assert for the Chinese and Japanese, and for all other varieties of men equally with yourselves, now and forever. I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity, and when there is a supposed conflict between human and national rights, it is safe to go to the side of humanity. 3

The odd coalition of the defenders of free immigration had their work cut out for them. The Immigration Restriction League (IRL), founded in 1894, rallied around the battle cry of the nation being sabotaged by “Jews, Jesuits, and steamships,” in the now infamous words of Prescott Hall, one of the IRL’s founders. But no matter their efforts, Congress and the states could never agree on a constitutional amendment that would satisfy them all.

As with most controversial issues of the time, a growing economy in the late 1890s deflected much of the anti‐​immigrant animosity. And the rapid economic integration of Chinese and other East Asian immigrants, combined with a steady return migration, took the steam out of the IRL’s national movement.

Fact: Congress narrowly failed to pass a law or override presidential vetoes to mandate literacy tests for immigrants until 1917. In the meantime, Congress passed and the president signed many restrictions on Japanese immigrants, other Asian immigrants, and African immigrants and enforcement measures to deal with illegal immigration, which was an unintended consequence of immigration restrictions.

The failure of their first attempt at a national constitutional amendment refocused the IRL’s efforts on persuading state legislatures to restrict the entry of the Chinese and other Asians in the same way that they had restricted the entry of blacks before the Fourteenth Amendment. Western states enthusiastically adopted these so‐​called Chinese Codes, which set up an immediate confrontation with the federal government in San Francisco. Several Chinese families were essentially confined to the port until their relatives in California and the ships’ captains successfully sued in federal court.

The court found that since the individuals had been legally admitted, the states had to recognize their rights to locomotion inside the United States. After several arduous court battles, the federal courts vacated the Chinese Codes in an 1897 court case that reaffirmed the right of locomotion inside the United States. The IRL lost this latest battle for restriction, but it did not give up.

Fact: The fictional Chinese Codes are based on state black exclusion laws that were invalidated by the Fourteenth Amendment and on the California Alien Land Act of 1913, which barred many Asian immigrants from owning agricultural land or holding long‐​term leases.

In the meantime, the economic boom of the 1890s and the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana focused U.S. public attention on other matters. Stoked by “yellow journalism,” the United States fought a short and successful war against Spain, gaining most of her remaining empire in the process. During that brief conflict, the U.S. Congress passed a law that banned the immigration of Spanish nationals to the United States for the duration of the war, a precedent for later immigration restrictionism.

Fact: The United States fought the Spanish‐​American War exactly as I describe it here, except I added a debate over barring the immigration of Spanish nationals for the duration of the conflict. Immigration restrictionists were inventive at this time and probably would have leapt at any opportunity to close the border.

The major political fights over immigration in the last half of the 1890s and first decade of the 20th century concerned noncitizen voting rights on the state and local level. The new Progressive movement—founded by Americans who thought a more involved government could improve American society and economy—pushed for restrictions on the immigrant franchise on the basis of racial and ethnic theories popular at the time, which posited that the waves of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and China were unsuited to republican government. Thus, they argued that state governments should have the power to restrict immigrant voting rights to protect the Constitution.

Fact: The justifications here differ little from those actually used. States did move to restrict the franchise of noncitizens during that time, and eugenics‐​inspired arguments for restriction were a major ideological factor until World War II.

The Progressives succeeded in repealing laws in many states that allowed noncitizens to vote. 4 However, opponents to their movement in the nonprogressive wings of the Democratic and Republican parties also rose in defense of noncitizen voting to protect the political power of existing machines and political arrangements. Native‐​born Americans of the so‐​called Old Stock ran these machines and were able to use immigrant votes to perpetuate their hold on political power.

Progressives were more successful in passing state‐​level sterilization laws that targeted immigrant and black criminals, as well as bans on alcohol that eventually morphed into a nationwide Prohibition movement, itself a thinly veiled attack on Catholic immigrants who clashed with the Protestant majority. Although those movements were eventually repudiated, a major Progressive achievement that endured was the reform of public schools to help assimilate immigrant and non‐​Protestant children.

At this time, the IRL teamed up with Progressives to start the so‐​called Americanization movement. They raised money and lobbied states to support civic education for immigrants and to fill the public schools with lessons in patriotism and American values, a big about‐​face as they had previously claimed that the new immigrants were unassimilable. 5 The popular sentiment at the time was summed up by the phrase, “If we can’t keep them out, we had better make patriots out of them.”

Although little evidence shows that the Americanization movement had any effect on assimilation, it provided a useful outlet for immigration restrictionists who were frustrated by the inability of Congress and the states to pass a constitutional amendment to ban immigration. 6 Large increases in immigration from Japan, China, the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, and the poorer parts of eastern and southern Europe prompted many states to adopt those progressive school reforms to satisfy nativist voters.

Fact: Anti‐​immigration Americans were discouraged by the inability of Congress to close the border, so they redirected their efforts toward assimilating those already here through the Americanization movement. However, little evidence shows that it helped boost assimilation, and some shows that it actually slowed it. 7

The Progressive movement collapsed before World War I, as its push for amendments to the Constitution to create an income tax and to allow for the direct election of senators failed. The former failed as increased budget surpluses, having been created by robust economic growth fueled by wise policies and a surge of immigrant workers, made such a radical change unnecessary. The push for the direct election of senators floundered because many voters believed that such changes would undermine the state selection of senators that was a traditional bulwark against perceived Catholic and immigrant populism.

Fact: The Progressive movement did not collapse, and it succeeded in pushing through constitutional amendments to create an income tax as well as the direct election of senators.

America as a Refuge and Growing Power: 1914–1929

World War I, which began in August 1914, changed the face of the world and greatly expanded America’s involvement in global affairs. Immigration from Europe, except from Italy, collapsed after the fighting began. European nations were eager to keep young men at home to fight; Europe’s poor had new but temporary opportunities in war industries in their home countries; and the newly treacherous Atlantic crossing, patrolled by warring navies, all served to diminish the flow from the Old World.

American economic demand for immigrants continued to build as industry and agriculture expanded to fill the gaps left by European economies that retooled for war. Chinese and Latin American immigration surged to fill the growing demand for workers in industries across the country. Regions that were used to European immigrants were suddenly populated by large numbers of Chinese and Mexican workers for the first time, many of the latter also fleeing the revolution in their home country.

Before this time, Chinese immigration was largely circular, as immigrants worked here mostly for short periods and then returned home with their earnings. As Chinese immigrants began moving east from California, many began to settle permanently in growing northern and midwestern cities, thus forming the first Chinatowns east of the Mississippi. In addition, black Americans began to migrate from the rural South to northern cities, eventually totaling three million by 1970. 8

Besides Italy, the major exception to the decline in immigration from the Old World was the exodus of Christian and Armenian immigrants from the genocidal policies of the Ottoman Empire. The economic boom and his policy of keeping America out of war allowed President William Howard Taft to end his second term with unrivaled popularity, leading to the landslide election of Republican Charles Evans Hughes in 1916. But even Hughes could not keep the United States out of the war forever.

Fact: There were no new Chinese immigrants, Mexicans did come in large numbers, fewer immigrants made it out of the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, and even more southern blacks migrated to the North.

America’s entry into World War I prompted the federal government to turn a country of 150 million Americans accustomed to peace into a society on a war footing. Congress banned immigration from the Central Powers immediately after declaring war on them in 1917 as a response to German attacks on American shipping and the exposure of the Zimmerman Telegram, which proposed that the Mexican government invade the United States. The disastrous effects of this ban were not known until later, when it became clear that Congress’s choking off the immigration of Armenians and other Christians from the Ottoman Empire allowed the Turks to slaughter almost a million of them.

Fact: The Zimmerman Telegram influenced the American government’s decision to declare war on Germany. The Turkish government murdered an estimated 1.5 million Armenians. There were also only about 100 million Americans around the time the United States entered World War I. 9

Building on precedent from the Civil War, Congress raised numerous army divisions populated by immigrants from specific countries. Those divisions—manned by immigrants of Polish, Chinese, Irish, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese descent—fought valiantly and earned citizenship more rapidly as a result of their service.

Their bravery convinced many Americans that the new immigrants had assimilated and had become Americans just like their own ancestors had. The other divisions of the American Expeditionary Force mixed Old Stock Americans with immigrants and their descendants on a scale never previously experienced, prompting their commander John J. Pershing to praise them in correspondence with local ethnic newspapers throughout the United States to boost morale on the home front.

Fact: The United States did not really raise ethnic army divisions populated by immigrants from specific countries for World War I. Furthermore, black American soldiers who served in World War I did not gain more respect after returning home and were even targeted more severely by lynch mobs than before the conflict.

Allied victory in Europe and the Versailles Treaty were marked by two big changes in immigration. The first change was the large number of immigrants from northern and western Europe who began to arrive in the United States from their devastated and impoverished homelands, the first such surge since the 1880s. This sudden wave prompted Congress to maintain wartime restrictions on immigrants from the Central Powers. Armenian American groups and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society filed lawsuits that resulted in federal courts striking down those laws as unconstitutional in 1920, which led to a large increase in German, Austrian, and Hungarian immigration as well as the revival of Arab, Armenian, and Kurdish immigration from the now‐​dissolved Ottoman Empire.

Bitter commentators at the time argued that American wartime restrictions allowed the Ottomans (and later the Turks) to kill almost a million Armenians and other Christians when many of them could have escaped to safety in the United States. “They had the ability to save themselves, and our government stopped them,” lamented American newspapers as news of the genocide spread. Ethnic cleansing in western Turkey and the infamous population exchange between that country and Greece in 1923 diverted many of the displaced on both sides to the United States, whose economy had recovered after a brief and sharp postwar recession. The American public welcomed them with open arms as an attempt to overcome the shame of locking out so many Christians who were then slaughtered.

Fact: In our world, Congress imposed severe restrictions on immigration in 1921 and even harsher ones in 1924, limiting immigration from Europe as well as maintaining a virtual moratorium on immigrants from Asia and Africa.

The Russian Revolution added another wrinkle to America’s complex relationship with immigrants. Brutal communist revolutionaries seized control of Russia in 1917 and set about building their Marxist utopia, which convinced millions to flee and seek refuge in western Europe and the United States. Congress passed an immigration restriction barring communists, anarchists, and other supporters of violent revolution as a threat to the sovereignty of the United States—a claim bolstered by the stated intentions of Soviet leaders like Vladimir Lenin who wanted to spread worldwide revolution.

Although many communists believed that revolution would not come to America for some time because it was too ethnically, religiously, linguistically, and racially diverse to begin building a labor movement that could morph into a revolution—as shown by the repeated failures of Samuel Gompers to unify American labor unions—the courts upheld immigration restrictions based on threatening ideologies. 10

Fact: Ideological restrictions to naturalization existed at this time, but restrictions on entry because of ideology did not become law until the 1950s. Samuel Gompers was also the most successful labor organizer in American history.

Fear of communism and other foreign threats represented by the renewed surge of immigrants from a devastated Europe and Middle East renewed Republican efforts in Congress and the states to pass a constitutional amendment to restrict immigration. Although Congress passed several such amendments, states with large immigrant populations voted down every state‐​level amendment. Republicans responded with the Naturalization Act of 1924, which permitted immigrants to naturalize if they were of good moral character and had resided in the United States continuously for 21 years but barred them from holding public office until they naturalized—the harshest such law ever passed in American history. 11

The Democratic Party responded by beginning to repeal state laws that restricted the franchise to citizens, restoring voting powers to noncitizens in many states, which shored up Democratic support in cities and convinced Republicans that their only chance for future electoral success was to halt their renewed push for a constitutional amendment.

It was politically impossible to maintain anti‐​immigration positions in a country where immigrants or their children made up more than half of the population. The Republicans compensated for their political weakness among immigrants by near‐​unanimous support for an amendment that granted universal suffrage to women age 21 and older in an effort to appeal to native‐​born American women.

Fact: Republicans were the anti‐​immigration party, whereas the Democrats supported liberal immigration.

The economic boom of the early 1920s produced an unusually fierce election between Republican candidate Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts and Democrat Al Smith of New York, the first Catholic candidate for office and a champion of immigrant rights. Coolidge won the contest thanks in large part to the growing economy and his promise to respect America’s traditional open‐​door immigration policy—so long as it “kept America American,” which was a reference to continuing the popular ban on communists and other radicals. Coolidge’s vice president Charles Curtis was elected in a landslide in 1928 after Coolidge decided that he wanted to retire. That smooth transition was then marred by the stock market crash of 1929.

Fact: Coolidge was an immigration restrictionist, and he chose the progressive Republican Herbert Hoover as his vice president. The election of 1924 was not close.

Depression, Recovery, and World War: 1929–1945

We now know that bad domestic monetary policy and a rickety postwar international monetary order were the proximate causes of the Long Depression, but at the time everybody focused on the stock market crash. 12 The Dow Jones declined from a high of 581 in September 1929 to 425 in December of that year. 13 The consistent increase in housing prices—largely due to the immigrant flows during the Roaring Twenties that peaked at 3.5 million in 1928—shored up household finances and provided a large base of consumers for a partial recovery by 1932. But it was not quite enough to overcome all of the damage from a bad monetary policy that shrank the nominal gross domestic product (GDP). 14

Fact: The housing market collapsed and the Dow Jones peaked at 381. The housing market also had much lower prices and recovered later.

Republicans did reform several federal laws during the early years of the Long Depression. First, the absence of an income tax combined with the prohibition of alcohol, previously a major source of revenue for the government, tightly squeezed the federal budget. Republicans avoided adopting the former by ending the latter through an amendment to the Constitution in 1931, which they did jointly with Democrats who were able to champion the repeal in order to shore up political support among their Catholic and immigrant voting base. 15

Second, Republicans passed the Smoot‐​Hawley tariff in 1930 to raise revenue and protect American industry. 16 But the tariff did neither and helped close international markets to the products of American industry via retaliatory tariffs. To its credit, the Curtis administration avoided the persistent clamoring of a shrinking number of older progressive Republicans like Herbert Hoover to institute national make‐​work schemes or to create industry cartels. But avoidance of bad policies like those weren’t enough to save the Curtis administration in the 1932 election. The subsequent rise in the price of consumer goods from the tariff and the persistently high unemployment, at about 12 percent in 1932, doomed Curtis’s reelection.

Fact: Prohibition wasn’t repealed until 1933, and Congress repeatedly raised income taxes to attempt to close the widening deficit.

Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the presidency in 1932 on a platform of stable money, free trade, and the passage of a constitutional amendment to create a national income tax to close the budget deficit. By the slimmest of margins, the Republicans held onto the Senate, scaring up the anti‐​Catholic vote in midwestern states by focusing on the prominent political deal between Roosevelt and his conservative Catholic vice president Al Smith, the first member of the Church of Rome elected to high office in the United States.

Fact: Roosevelt was more extreme; Smith was not on Roosevelt’s ticket because he was too conservative and the two did not like each other; the 1932 election was not close; and Republicans controlled neither house of Congress. The first Catholic elected president was John F. Kennedy in 1960 and the first Catholic vice president was Joe Biden, who was elected in 2008.

The beginning of the Roosevelt administration was rocky as an epidemic of bank failures momentarily shook people’s faith in the financial system. Disagreements between Roosevelt and Smith also prevented a unified Democratic Party from facing both the divided Congress and an electorate that expected new federal policies to help deal with the Long Depression.

As a result, only two portions of Roosevelt’s so‐​called New Deal became law, with the help of moderate Republicans in the Senate. The first was a scaled‐​back farm subsidy program to aid struggling farmers. This program was popular because Old Stock Americans were the main beneficiaries, as immigrants and their children tended to live in cities. The second was the resurrection and passage of a national income tax amendment, which fell just a few states shy of passage at the beginning of Roosevelt’s term. The income tax amendment that finally became law in April 1935 capped top rates at 10 percent but otherwise gave the federal government wide latitude in tinkering with an income tax code that soon became famous globally for its complexity and low rates. Never before had so much revenue been collected through such an anfractuous scheme.

Fact: The Democratic Congress rubber‐​stamped much of Roosevelt’s New Deal and was not handicapped by the lack of an income tax or by any constitutional restrictions on its top rate. The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution created the income tax in 1913. New Deal programs were geared toward aiding whites and Old Stock Americans, not blacks.

The rest of Roosevelt’s New Deal failed in Congress. Although many passionate arguments were raised against the New Deal—from comparisons with Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mussolini’s Italy to cries that it violated the Constitution—the most politically effective argument was raised by Representative James Wadsworth (R-NY) in his famous 1933 “Welfare for the World” speech. Wadsworth claimed that immigrants would stream here from around the world to take advantage of government handouts and jobs, crowding out native‐​born Americans who were the intended beneficiaries, and that the government had no way to effectively fix this problem without closing the border. 17

The New Deal died on an altar of free immigration, but the economy began to recover quickly in early 1935 anyway. Roosevelt won reelection in 1936, and the Democrats also took control of the Senate in that year. But the economic recovery dulled any latent desire for more radical reforms, especially after the Supreme Court limited the scope of the farm subsidies passed during Roosevelt’s first term.

Fact: Arguments against the New Deal that were based on immigrant abuses did not occur, because the border was effectively closed to all but the richest immigrants. The Supreme Court eventually approved the New Deal, and a second depression in 1937 extended the economic misery for years.

Economic recovery dominated Roosevelt’s first term, but foreign policy took center stage in his second. Japan’s aggression against China mobilized Chinese Americans to raise money, arms, and volunteers to fight on behalf of the Chinese Nationalist government. Remittances from Chinese Americans fueled much economic growth and industrialization before the Japanese invasion, and many prominent members of the Chinese Nationalist government who had spent several years in the United States took some governance lessons back to their home country. 18

By the 1930s, China’s growing industrial base supplied modern war materials to its large but previously underequipped armies. Historians disagree about the particulars, but the close economic, cultural, and migratory ties between our two countries played a major role in China’s resisting the Japanese invasion in the 1930s as well as the postwar communist onslaught.

Fact: China was unable to offer effective resistance to Japan and had little modern industry.

Although Asia played an important role in galvanizing the American public against Japanese aggression, most observers in the United States focused their attention on Europe and the rise of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party. Anti‐​Semitic and racial purity laws in Germany convinced over 80 percent of German and Austrian Jews to flee to the United States before the start of the war.

Nationalist movements in Poland, Hungary, Romania, the Soviet Union, and other eastern European countries convinced many Jews to flee their homeland—accelerating a Jewish outflow that had been quite large since the 1880s. This second Great Exodus saw about 275,000 Jews per year leave Europe for the United States, often with harrowing tales of being robbed of all their possession at the dock or train station and even the occasional public lynching. The number of Italian immigrants remained strong in the 1930s as Mussolini’s despotic grip tightened, transforming a largely economic‐​inspired emigration to also include some individuals and groups critical of the fascist regime.

Fact: Very few German Jews or other victims of European nationalist movements in the 1930s were able to flee to the United States because of immigration restrictions that did not create exceptions for refugees.

Anne Frank, whose best‐​selling novelized diary of coming to America after being abused by Nazi officials, came as part of this wave in 1938 aboard the MS St. Louis during one of its dozens of trips delivering refugees to New York. 19 Tens of thousands of academics, scientists, and engineers fled en masse in the late 1930s. From Albert Einstein and Joseph Rotblat to Klaus Fuchs and their families, as well as countless others, America was a haven that offered them opportunity and safety. 20 No other country stuck to its tradition of offering refuge to the persecuted of the world during the dark 1930s, a fact that Americans to this day are still proud of and that erased some of the shame felt by many after the ill consequences of locking out Ottoman Christians during the First World War.

Fact: Anne Frank’s family were denied visas to come to the United States. She and members of her family died in Nazi concentration camps, and her diary has been read by millions around the world. The MS St. Louis was infamous, as its attempt to land Jewish refugees in the United States was thwarted by the U.S. government, and most of the refugees were sent back to Europe, where many died in World War II.

On a rather smaller note ignored by most historians, the expansion of Jewish immigration in response to anti‐​Semitic regimes in Europe hobbled Roosevelt’s last major push for the New Deal. Southern Democrats were especially apoplectic in their argument that “Roosevelt’s soft‐​socialist New Deal will just attract more Jews, communists, and the bums of the world.”

The economy had recovered fully from the Long Depression, which likely took some political steam out of Roosevelt’s second New Deal push anyway. But southern Democrats and moderate Republicans would fund only Social Security, increased national defense spending, large construction projects aimed at rural areas where native‐​born Protestants of the Old Stock lived and worked, and agricultural subsidies for those farmers.

Although there was very little political interest in funding government make‐​work schemes or subsidies to help the New Americans, the private‐​option Social Security scheme was popular. Rumors had it that Roosevelt tried to kill the optional private component, which ended up being the most popular and sustainable portion of Social Security. But Congress passed the legislation with both the government and private systems included in 1937. Left‐​wing historians often view this action as the high‐​water mark of American government intervention. The Supreme Court struck down Social Security in 1939, and many Democrats still complain about that judicial stab in the back almost a century later.

Fact: Roosevelt did kill the private Social Security option, and the Supreme Court ruled the act constitutional.

The influx of Jewish and Chinese immigrants came at a terrible time for the Roosevelt administration from a political perspective. Eleanor Roosevelt spent much of her time welcoming the new refugees and speaking on their behalf, but a core group of Americans was unmoved by the plight of Jewish and Chinese refugees. They were threatened by the number of foreigners, especially non‐​Christians, who seemed to dominate the flow of new immigrants.

Charles Lindbergh became the face of the American movement to halt the flow of “non‐​Christian and non‐​Western” immigrants who threatened to “swamp our dear White Christian institutions with their Oriental paganism.” 21 Many have speculated on the origin of Lindbergh’s nativism, but he stirred up a mass populist movement against the policy of welcoming refugees and, especially, Eleanor Roosevelt’s open embrace of them.

When Roosevelt’s son James Roosevelt married Evelyn Chang, the daughter of a wealthy San Francisco real estate developer who immigrated from China in 1901, Lindbergh’s conspiracy theorists went wild. Combined with this factor, southern Democrats and urban Catholic Democrats began to disagree on fundamental issues of segregation, the New Deal, and the building tensions in Europe and Asia. Disagreements over those issues ripped the Democratic Party apart on the eve of the 1940 election.

Fact: President Roosevelt did block a large increase in Jewish immigration for political reasons even though his wife championed their cause; James Roosevelt did not marry a Chinese American woman; and the Democratic Party was unified in the election of 1940. Charles Lindbergh was a vicious nativist, although his actual quotes differ from those above.

During the chaotic American political situation, Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. That sparked fears among the American public of a new wave of refugees from Poland, which would add to the almost three million Poles who had arrived since 1930. Those fears were unfounded, of course, as the Germans closed most exit routes from Poland, while the Soviets closed the rest after they invaded. A large number of Finns, immigrants from the Baltic states, and Jews from other eastern European nations entered the country and broke monthly immigration records from October 1939 through June 1940 in anticipation of the coming war.

Roosevelt looked helpless and proposed that Congress and the states rapidly approve a constitutional amendment to allow the president to temporarily ban immigration. Charges of Caesarism split the Al Smith Democrats and the urban Catholic vote away from the Democratic Party, guaranteeing a rout by the Republicans in the 1940 election.

Fact: Smith was anti‐​Roosevelt for other reasons, and no surge of immigrants occurred.

The new Republican president Wendell Willkie won on a “Keep America Open for Business and Out of the War” platform that only made some small nods to the anti‐​Democratic and anti‐​Semitic conspiracy theories that swirled around Roosevelt’s implosion. But neither was important in his election victory, as the Democrats defeated themselves. After Willkie took power, Congress considered several immigration restrictions that were tailored to promoting national security and keeping the United States out of the war in Europe. Specifically, they made it illegal for Nazis and others likely to be spies, saboteurs, or ideological rabble‐​rousers to enter the United States.

The proposed restrictions made some Americans feel safer. However, Willkie’s request for a large naval construction program and the raising of an army and air force to defend America from Axis aggression did much more to comfort the public.

When Japan sank the American fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Willkie asked for and received a declaration of war with only a handful of dissenting voters from the pacifist congressmen and -women representing Montana and the Dakotas. Nazi Germany declared war on the United States four days later. Willkie had his work cut out for him as his administration went about mobilizing 250 million Americans for global war.

Fact: Willkie lost the 1941 election to Roosevelt, and the U.S. population at the beginning of World War II was only about 132 million.

The major battles of World War II are well known. Some ethnic‐ and immigrant‐​stocked infantry divisions were raised, as happened in the Civil War and World War I, but the infamous “Americanization Memo” limited their number to just a few symbolic units given support roles.

Better known were the American fighter squadrons manned by refugees and immigrants from countries occupied by the Axis powers. Fighter squadrons manned by Chinese American, Polish American, and Jewish American pilots fought with distinction in both theaters of war. Just as the Japanese American combat battalions fighting in Europe were the most decorated American units of the war, due to their desire to prove their loyalty while many of their family members were interned, Polish, Chinese, and Jewish fighter squadrons generally shot down more enemy planes than did other squadrons.

Fact: The U.S. military did have racially segregated units and some Japanese American combat units but no other intentionally ethnic units. The Japanese American 442nd Infantry Regiment was the most decorated in U.S. military history, and many fought while their families were interned. Other countries, like the United Kingdom, did have fighter squadrons flown exclusively by Polish pilots.

Despite those well‐​known exceptions, the American military was not divided by ethnicity or country of origin except for discrimination against blacks, a shameful policy abandoned in 1944. The authors and supporters of the “Americanization Memo” argued that mixing Americans in the armed services would help build a national identity during the war and create a more cohesive fighting force. That infamous memo would have far‐​reaching implications after the war, but many credited it at the time with building a more solid national identity that would knit together all the diverse ethnicities and countries of origin under the American flag.

Social scientists were unable to measure any shift in immigrant assimilation trends since the early 20th century, but the surges of Chinese and Jewish refugees before the war made Americans more uncomfortable than did the largely Christian and white immigrants who had arrived before.

Fact: The U.S. military did not desegregate until 1948.

Mexicans, Latin Americans, and Caribbean immigrants arrived in large numbers during the war to fill the void left by the tens of millions sucked into the armed services and the slowdown of immigration from Europe and Asia. Their work in war industries, mining, and agriculture helped make the United States the so‐​called factory of democracy that exported arms to our allies in fantastic quantities.

American troops serving abroad also helped jump‐​start immigration from areas of the world that had previously sent very few immigrants to the United States, such as North Africa, the Indonesian archipelago, India, and Iran. World War II started the phenomenon of American servicemen marrying local women who, in turn, brought members of their native communities with them to the United States.

Fact: Many temporary Mexican migrants did enter during and after World War II on the Bracero program, a temporary work visa for agricultural workers that continued until 1964.

Postwar Boom: 1946–1973

The joy of the Allied victory in World War II was soon followed by the dark specter of nuclear war. The American atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Kokura in August 1945 accomplished America’s three goals of shortening the war, saving Allied lives, and terrifying the Soviet Union. An unexpected outcome was the fear of destruction in a global thermonuclear war, made suddenly more real because of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States and the lesser powers in the soon‐​to‐​be‐​formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The lingering economic destruction of World War II and fears of renewed war restarted European emigration in earnest. From 1947 to 1950, almost 20 million Poles, Germans, Italians, and other Europeans moved to the United States. The exodus was so large that the Soviet Union used its military to close the East–West transit routes to prevent the depletion of its newly conquered territories, from which anybody with enough money for a boat ticket or who was fortunate enough to have relatives in the United States fled. Western European countries were especially eager to smooth Eastern Europeans’ transit to the United States in a misguided attempt to ease the burden of postwar recovery. The Soviets also constructed walls at common crossing points like Berlin.

Fact: The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Kokura was an alternative target. At the beginning of the Cold War, a slight uptick occurred in European immigration, but it was a small fraction of that recounted above. The East Germans built the Berlin Wall in 1961.

The situation was less extreme in Western Europe, where the reintroduction of capitalist economic institutions reinvigorated growth. However, immigration from France, the Netherlands, the British Isles, and Norway all picked up before falling substantially in the early 1950s.

Young American men on occupation duty in Germany and Japan married local women in small but significant numbers that changed the character of post–World War II immigration. The stereotype of a Japanese American or German American housewife married to a World War II veteran came to dominate popular culture much more so than the more numerous Polish, Italian, Mexican, or Chinese immigrants at the time. That stereotype peaked in the TV show Leave it to Beaver (which ran from 1957 to 1963), when the best friends of parents Ward and June Cleaver were a former American serviceman and his Japanese wife.

Fact: Leave It to Beaver had no such character couple.

Every schoolkid knows that Jews were the major target of Nazi persecution in World War II. The Nazis murdered about 3.5 million Jews during the war and millions of others whom the regime determined were not worthy of life. That number would have been even higher if the emigration of Polish, Romanian, German, and other Eastern European Jews had stopped at some point before World War II.

The uninterrupted flow of millions of people from those countries to the United States—including a disproportionate number of Jews—ended up saving them from a worse fate that few could have predicted. Many of those immigrants contributed to funds to help the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust found the state of Israel or move to the United States. Interestingly, some U.S.-born Jews emigrated to help establish Israel in the 1940s, although immigrants from Israel to the United States supplanted American emigrants to Israel by 1951.

Fact: The Nazis murdered an estimated six million Jews and millions of others.

The United States reached a record population of 300 million in 1950, fueled by a largely Catholic American baby boom and the streams of immigrants and their children from Europe, Asia, and Latin America. 22 To avoid the policy mistakes that exacerbated the Long Depression, Republican and Democratic administrations supported the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). American ethnic lobbies pushed to include many countries in the Americas, southern Europe, and the Middle East that had been excluded from the first drafts of the planned GATT. The 44 original members of GATT agreed to halving tariff rates over the next decade and eliminating over 1,500 different tariffs. 23

Fact: The population of the United States in 1950 was about 151 million, and the initial round of GATT included only 23 countries.

Chinese economic growth increased greatly after World War II. Chiang Kai-shek’s corrupt Nationalist government was domesticated by rich Chinese American entrepreneurs, who were sick of seeing foreign powers take advantage of their ancestral homeland and who worried that Chiang’s government would otherwise quickly fall to communism. Their remittances, foreign direct investment, and the selective return migration of Chinese American businesspeople helped stabilize Chinese government finances by 1947, reverse inflation, and prompt a virtual dollarization of large segments of China’s economy.

U.S. government military aid combined with a division of American volunteers, nearly all second‐​generation Chinese Americans, helped the Nationalist army surround Mao Zedong’s forces in the battle of Changchun. Mao escaped encirclement and fled to the Soviet Union, but his departure transformed the communist insurgency into a low‐​level terrorist organization mostly contained by Chiang Kai-shek’s budding dictatorship.

The continued slow reforms of the Nationalist government transformed China from a poor rural country into the economic powerhouse it is today, with almost two billion citizens. That degree of development would have been unthinkable without the technical, financial, and military skills of Chinese Americans, who had the desire and wherewithal to aid the land of their ancestors and to tie the two countries closely together in the eventual alliance of powers that helped contain communist aggression in Asia.

Fact: Hyperinflation and a civil war eventually resulted in a poor China being conquered by Mao. China’s population today is also only about 1.4 billion, a number far lower than the 2 billion I posit, because of the one‐​child policy and devastating famines caused by communist agricultural collectivization.

Several factors helped create a sense of cultural and national unity never before seen in American history: the proud legacy of winning World War II, postwar economic growth, the unifying power of the communist threat, the constant stream of refugees fleeing that threat, the huge pickup in interethnic marriages and resulting baby boom, and the continuation of the draft. Those factors combined to shrink the vigor of the American nativist movement with two small exceptions.

The first was the breaking of a handful of Soviet spy rings in the American defense industry that heightened fears of communism. Several of the spies were anti‐​Nazis who had communist sympathies, but some were refugees who had supposedly fled the spread of Soviet communism and turned out to be deep moles using that as a cover for infiltration.

The second was Catholicism’s becoming the majority religion in the United States. Generations of immigrants from Catholic‐​majority countries—given extra force by the surges of Eastern European and Mexican immigration after World War II—pushed Protestants into a minority status that they have not recovered from. Although Catholicism now seems as American as apple pie, several paranoid fringe organizations—such as the Confederation for Immigrant Selection founded by Mark K. Stein—were started in the 1950s because of fear from the communist and Catholic menace to traditional America.

Fact: Catholicism never became the largest religion in the United States, but the majority of all immigrants in most years have been Catholic. Also, widespread anti‐​Catholicism did not diminish substantially until John F. Kennedy was elected America’s first Catholic president in 1960.

Before World War II, immigrants were strongly opposed to conscription and the maintenance of a large American military force. In the translated words of one such immigrant, “We left our homelands because we didn’t want to serve in the military like serfs.” Many were disappointed when their new country created a draft to fight in the two world wars. However, the communist refugees and their coethnics formed a powerful bloc of American voters who supported the continuation of the draft after World War II. Periodic war scares—such as during many of the Berlin blockades and the Korean Peninsula crisis—delayed nascent movements to end the draft.

Another group that supported the draft was the Confederation for Immigrant Selection, which had a wing of supporters dedicated to reviving the Americanization movement that had flourished during World War I. Foreign policy hawks and refugees were never completely comfortable working with the radicals at the Confederation to push for the continuation of a draft. However, they did so anyway because they thought it necessary to show the American public that Old Stock Americans also supported the draft and other efforts at enhancing American military preparedness.

Fact: The draft was continued after World War II for other reasons.

Up until World War II, about one‐​third to one‐​half of all immigrants to the United States stayed temporarily before returning home. Many came for several years to work and then returned home with their new skills and money to start businesses. In this way, much of southern China, Italy, and Mexico developed their economies quite substantially. The communist refugees bucked that trend because their countries were occupied by a foreign power, so they couldn’t return. But new waves of immigrants from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean went to the other extreme: about 80 percent of them returned after working for a short time in the United States.

Economists later found that economic and democratic development was fastest in regions that had sent the most temporary immigrants to the United States, on both the national and subnational scales. 24 Although tens of millions of Mexican, Central American, and Caribbean immigrants eventually settled permanently in the United States by the end of the century, the flow back and forth was far more substantial and offered a taste of how American immigration would evolve in the late 20th century.

Fact: Return migration was a well‐​known component of immigration before Congress closed the borders in the 1920s and boosted border security in the 1980s. It continues to this day but at a lower rate.

The three most contentious and dramatic post‐​World War II events in the United States were the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the so‐​called Failed Society. Millions of black Americans moved to northern cities in the 20th century, but the flow was likely lower than it would otherwise have been if tens of millions of immigrants had not also arrived from Europe, Asia, and the Americas during that period. However, a small but steady stream of black African and Caribbean immigrants, some of the former from apartheid South Africa, did form a visible minority in northern cities, and they were generally aghast at the treatment they received in states still governed by Jim Crow laws.

It is important not to overstate the influence of black immigrants on the civil rights movement, as all of the major activists and organizers were native‐​born Americans and only a few were second generation. Compared with all other social movements, the civil rights movement is rightly regarded by historians as the 20th‐​century social movement most controlled and run by Americans whose ancestors had been here for a very long time.

Jim Crow segregation was overturned by a combination of legislative actions, constitutional amendments, and court rulings during the late 1960s. At the same time, American military intervention in Vietnam was faltering.

The draft was always an unstable institution in the United States, which was, at its core, a fundamentally nonmilitarized society. Waves of immigrants fleeing, in part, the rigors of military conscription in Europe had left their mark on American society. The political alliance of Old Stock Americans—who wanted military service to speed assimilation as a substitute for immigration restrictions—and the newer immigrants—who supported a strong national defense to oppose communism—faltered in the face of a new Americanized generation born in the postwar baby boom.

The boomers didn’t share their parents’ more militaristic values. Consequently, the American military setback in Vietnam and the perception that communism was generally on the retreat demilitarized their policy outlook. Communist failures in Cuba and China and chronic instability in Eastern Europe—the last fueled by the “Free Governments in Exile” movement in the United States, whereby refugees operated fake governments supported by the U.S. government to undermine communist regimes—made the Cold War seem less urgent. So why were so many Americans dying in a war in Southeast Asia?

Fact: The communist revolutions succeeded in China and Cuba, and communism was generally advancing around the world.

The 1971 Arab oil embargo exposed problems with the U.S. economy, such as growing inflation, that had been brewing for some time. Immigration subsequently slowed dramatically during the mid‐​1970s. More important, however, the recession and the growing protest movement at home prompted the United States to pull its troops out of Vietnam by 1973; Chinese Nationalist troops took their place just as the United States had taken France’s place a decade and a half earlier. Chinese troops occupying North Vietnam fought a brutal insurgency until the fall of the Soviet Union.

Fact: The oil crisis was in 1973. The United States did pull out of Vietnam in 1973 but was not replaced by Chinese Nationalists, who were limited to the island of Taiwan.

The third big event in American society at this time was the so‐​called Failed Society. Beginning in the mid‐​1960s at the height of the postwar economic expansion, some progressive Democrats began to push forward arguments for restarting the stillborn New Deal as a means to help poorer Americans. They called their movement the Great Society—a moniker that would not last. Compared with previous efforts, Great Society proponents did not want to focus on helping poor white Old Stock Americans and blacks but wanted to broaden aid to all Americans.

Senator Lyndon Johnson (D-TX) led the conservative Democratic opposition to the Great Society. In a famous television interview describing his opposition to the program, he argued that expanded welfare and government intervention to help the poor would instead be consumed by immigrants who would then come here for government benefits rather than for the promise that America held. He described such a dystopia as the “Failed Society,” and the nickname stuck until the policy experiment ended in 1970 with few federal legal changes but much acrimony. States then experimented with welfare programs on their own, but those petered out by the 1980s as the costs proved prohibitive and the benefits elusive.

Fact: The immigrant population reached its nadir in the early 1960s, which was a major reason that President Johnson could push through the Great Society programs, because there was no worry that immigrants would come just to receive welfare. In 1965, shortly after creating the Great Society, Congress liberalized immigration policy slightly, a change that resulted in more legal immigration from Asia, Africa, and, eventually, the Americas.

Recession, Retrenchment, and Victory: 1973–2000

The slow economic growth of the mid‐​1970s set off a depressing time in American history. Rising crime and terrorism from leftist radicals and Puerto Rican separatists kept everybody on edge. American policy setbacks and failures—such as the ignominious withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam and the Iranian Revolution—depressed many Americans around the time of the bicentennial.

The growing stream of Vietnamese and Iranian immigrants, especially those with skills and money, reminded many Americans of those foreign‐​policy failures, especially in the California cities where they settled. There, the Republican governor Ronald Reagan led a conservative revival that blended pro‐​immigration themes with traditional American free‐​market capitalism, anti‐​communism, and traditional social values that bridged Catholic and Protestant voters. He rode that successful blend of ideas, combined with worries about recent American foreign‐​policy setbacks, into presidential election victories in 1980 and 1984. He celebrated his 1980 election with a nod to the new census estimates that the United States had a record population of 450 million, about 35 percent of whom were foreign‐​born.

Fact: The population of the United States was about 227 million in 1980, and 6.2 percent of the population were immigrants.

The 1980s were a boom time for the United States. Renewed economic growth, partly fueled by modest tax cuts at the beginning of the Reagan administration, incentivized immigration from China, India, the Middle East, and South America. For the first time, immigrants from Sub‐​Saharan Africa also made up more than 10 percent of new arrivals in 1983.

The end of the draft during the Vietnam era prompted the U.S. military to focus more on capital‐​intensive defense strategies than on the labor‐​intensive ones enabled by the country’s huge and growing population. A Cold War arms race was then followed by American military interventions on three continents to halt nascent communist revolutions and coups. President Reagan boosted American foreign intervention into high gear with mixed results.

Reagan’s hyperinterventionism and arms buildup were followed by a gradual winding down of tensions, new arms control treaties, and the Soviet realization by 1990 that they could not compete against a country of more than 550 million capitalists with the highest standard of living on the planet. The fall of the Berlin Wall signaled the end of confinement for hundreds of millions of people trapped in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Tens of millions fled the poverty of communism, most going to the United States, while the fall of the Soviet Union sent more waves of ethnic and religious minorities, along with some Russians, who settled mostly in the New York City area. Those immigrants pushed its population over the 30 million mark and turned the Big Apple into the first officially designated “megacity,” followed by Los Angeles in 2010.

Fact: In 1990, the United States had about 249 million residents, about 7.3 million of whom lived in New York City.

The 1990s were another boom time in America. The peace dividend kicked in after a brief American military engagement in the Middle East to halt the Iraqi intervention in the Iranian Civil War. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, six million disproportionately educated and well‐​off Iranians fled to the United States, taking everything with them (except, in many cases, their religion), which caused a predictable internal political collapse in Iran.

Fact: Iran did not have a civil war, Iraq invaded the country in 1980, and many fewer Iranians immigrated to the United States.

The New Century: 2001–Present

The American population reached 700 million in 2000. The postwar baby boom did not end so much as taper off slightly and then recover by 1990. The economic boom also attracted a steady stream of immigrants, but one that showed signs of faltering as economic growth took huge bites out of poverty in Mexico, China, India, and the newly freed European countries. Return migrants from the United States took investments and know‐​how back home, reforming governments and Americanizing their cultures. In 2000, U.S. GDP per capita hit $50,000, accounting for about 40 percent of global economic output.

Fact: The United States’ population was 282 million in 2000, GDP per capita was about $36,000, and U.S. GDP accounted for only 27 percent of global output.

Islamic terrorism on U.S. soil—some of which was carried out by recent immigrants and visitors from the Middle East—threw a profound wrench into this optimistic era. It also shocked the long‐​settled American Muslim community that had immigrated in dribs and drabs over the past century when the attacks rekindled a long‐​dormant American nativist movement.

Constitutional amendments were proposed in many states after one of the largest attacks in New York in 2002; proponents argued that modern immigrants differed from those in the past and that they were unable to assimilate nearly as well. A bill banning Muslim immigrants—justified on the grounds that their religion was a uniquely violent ideology that intended to overthrow the American government—attracted lots of support in Congress before Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) came out in opposition.

On the federal level, a conservative constitutional amendment that would have allowed Congress unlimited authority to restrict the movement of people made it further than any of the proposed legislation, but it has still not been approved by enough state legislatures to become law, despite persistent efforts by American nativists.

By 2018, the U.S. population reached 800 million, but a majority of the growth since 2000 was from births, not new arrivals. Immigration from China, Europe, and Latin America was near net zero, with only India and Sub‐​Saharan Africa as likely sources of future immigration. Currently, Europe, Australia, and other developed nations are major U.S. competitors for the waning global supply of immigrants.

Fact: The U.S. population was about 325 million in 2018.


A United States that never closed its borders would be very different from the one we know. Rapid population and economic growth as well as a steady stream of return migration would have raised global economic growth substantially. More speculative are the cultural, domestic policy, and foreign policy debates that might have flared up in such a world.

On the basis of some social science research, I speculate that the United States would have had a smaller welfare state and less government intervention in the economy. The reason is that “immigrants will come here and consume all of the government benefits” serves as an effective political argument in diverse societies that do not generally support government programs to aid people different from themselves.

Less positively, I speculate that the United States would have been more involved in foreign affairs and may have had more military interventions, to everybody’s detriment, made possible by closer American cultural and immigrant ties with many more countries around the world during the Cold War. Little social science supports this speculation. However, anecdotes exist—such as Cuban Americans keeping up the pressure on communist Cuba. Since I couldn’t write a utopian fantasy, this is the policy I thought was most likely to suffer in such a world during the Cold War.

Americans have been concerned about immigration since the Founding, but immigrants and their children have always assimilated more quickly than nativists have assumed. One of the arguments for immigration liberalization today is our success at turning the huddled masses and their descendants into new Americans and the ways that they have in turn beneficially transformed American identity. Despite the problems in modern America, we’re still good at that, and we should specialize in our national comparative advantage.

1. James A. R. Nafziger, “The General Admission of Aliens under International Law,” American Journal of International Law 77, no. 4 (1983): 804–47; Ilya Somin, “Immigration, Freedom, and the Constitution,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 40, no. 1 (2017): 1–7. #ch10_​pn1

2. Claudia Goldin, “The Political Economy of Immigration Restriction in the United States, 1890 to 1921,” in The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy, ed. Claudia Goldin and Gary D. Libecap (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

3. “1869: Frederick Douglass Describes the ‘Composite Nation,’” BlackPast, January 28, 2007.

4. Tanvi Misra, “The Long, Strange History of Non‐​Citizen Voting,” CityLab, November 7, 2016.

5. Alex Nowrasteh, “The Failure of the Americanization Movement,” Cato at Liberty (blog), December 18, 2014.

6. Nowrasteh, “Failure of the Americanization Movement.”

7. Nowrasteh, “Failure of the Americanization Movement”; Vasiliki Fouka, “Backlash: The Unintended Effects of Language Prohibition in U.S. Schools after World War I,” Stanford Center for International Development Working Paper no. 591, December 2016.

8. About half of the number who actually migrated between 1916 and 1970. Wikipedia’s “Great Migration (African‐​American),” entry.

9. The real‐​world U.S. population at this time was only about 100 million.

10. Seymour Martin Lipset and Gary Marks, It Didn’t Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the United States (New York: W. W. Norton, 2000).

11. This law is modeled on the policy positions of the Know‐​Nothing Party in the 1850s. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.

12. Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States, 1897–1960 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963).

13. Wikipedia’s “Wall Street Crash of 1929” entry.

14. Tom Nicholas and Anna Scherbina, “Real Estate Prices during the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression,” Real Estate Economics 41, no. 2 (2012): 278–309.

15. Joseph Bishop‐​Henchman, “How Taxes Enabled Alcohol Prohibition and Also Led to Its Repeal,” Tax Foundation, October 5, 2011.

16. Wikipedia’s “Smoot‐​Hawley Tariff Act” entry.

17. Wikipedia’s “James Wolcott Wadsworth, Jr.” entry.

18. Michelangelo Landgrave and Alex Nowrasteh, “Voice, Exit, and Liberty: The Effect of Emigration on Origin Country Institutions,” Economic Development Bulletin, no. 25, May 26, 2016.

19. Mihir Zaveri, “Anne Frank’s Family Was Thwarted by U.S. Immigration Rules, Research Shows,” New York Times, July 6, 2018.

20. “Scientist Refugees and the Manhattan Project,” Atomic Heritage Foundation, January 27, 2019.

21. Wikipedia’s “Charles Lindbergh” entry.

22. Allan Carlson, “The Family Factors: Lessons from History about the Future of Marriage and Family in the United States,” Touchstone, January–February 2006.

23. Wikipedia’s “General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade” entry.

24. Landgrave and Nowrasteh, “Voice, Exit, and Liberty.”