History ETDs


Frank DeFina

Publication Date

Summer 7-8-1959


This thesis is a study and evaluation on the premises and charges underlying the National Origins and related quota systems which restricted the so-called "new" immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. Nativists charged that these new immigrants were racially and culturally inferior to the "old" type immigrants from northern and western Europe--the Anglo-Saxons, Teutons or Aryans--and therefore harmful to economic, social and other factors of American culture. Concomitant with these broad premises were more specific charges or theories of harm such as "lower intelligence quotients," and "higher crime rates," which convinced Americans and their congress in the early 1920's of the necessity of particularly reducing the new immigrant quota.

This paper will analyze and evaluate the premises of the inferiority and harmfulness of the new immigrants, and their historical application at times of national crisis, especially during the post-World War I period when all the important immigration restriction laws were enacted. Much attention will be given to who said what (and why) regarding immigration restriction in congressional debates, hearings, proposals and other contemporary attitudes towards it after the 1880's, but particularly by the 68th congress which enacted the first effective and permanent restrictive legislation.

Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Frank Driver Reeve

Second Committee Member

George Winston Smith

Third Committee Member





Immigration, 1924 Immigration Act, Literacy Testing, 68th United States Congress, Critical Race Theory

Document Type


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History Commons