go home Immigration

Population and Environment, 19, 295-355.

JEWISH INVOLVEMENT IN SHAPING AMERICAN IMMIGRATION POLICY,
1881-1965: A Historical Review, Part I
Kevin MacDonald


ABSTRACT
This paper discusses Jewish involvement in shaping United States immigration policy. In addition to a periodic interest in fostering the immigration of co-religionists as a result of anti-Semitic movements, Jews have an interest in opposing the establishment of ethnically and culturally homogeneous societies in which they reside as minorities. Jews have been at the forefront in supporting movements aimed at altering the ethnic status quo in the United States in favor of immigration of non-European peoples. These activities have involved leadership in Congress, organizing and funding anti-restrictionist groups composed of Jews and gentiles, and originating intellectual movements opposed to evolutionary and biological perspectives in the social sciences.

PART I

INTRODUCTION

Ethnic conflict is of obvious importance for understanding critical aspects of American history, and not only for understanding Black/White ethnic conflict or the fate of Native Americans. Immigration policy is a paradigmatic example of conflict of interest between ethnic groups because immigration policy influences the future demographic composition of the nation. Ethnic groups unable to influence immigration policy in their own interests will eventually be displaced or reduced in relative numbers by groups able to accomplish this goal.

This paper discusses ethnic conflict between Jews and gentiles in the area of immigration policy. Immigration policy is, however, only one aspect of conflicts of interest between Jews and gentiles in America.The skirmishes between Jews and the gentile power structure beginning in the late nineteenth century always had strong overtones of anti-Semitism. These battles involved issues of Jewish upward mobility, quotas on Jewish representation in elite schools beginning in the nineteenth century and peaking in the 1920s and 1930s, the anti-Communist crusades in the post-World War II era, as well as the very powerful concern with the cultural influences of the major media extending from Henry Ford’s writings in the 1920s to the Hollywood inquisitions of the McCarthy era and into the contemporary era. That anti-Semitism was involved in these issues can be seen from the fact that historians of Judaism (e.g., Sachar 1992, p. 620ff) feel compelled to include accounts of these events as important to the history of Jews in America, by the anti-Semitic pronouncements of many of the gentile participants, and by the self-conscious understanding of Jewish participants and observers.

The Jewish involvement in influencing immigration policy in the United States is especially noteworthy as an aspect of ethnic conflict. Jewish involvement has had certain unique qualities that have distinguished Jewish interests from the interests of other groups favoring liberal immigration policies. Throughout much of this period, one Jewish interest in liberal immigration policies stemmed from a desire to provide a sanctuary for Jews fleeing from anti-Semitic persecutions in Europe and elsewhere. Anti-Semitic persecutions have been a recurrent phenomenon in the modern world beginning with the Czarist persecutions in 1881, and continuing into the post-World War II era in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. As a result, liberal immigration has been a Jewish interest because "survival often dictated that Jews seek refuge in other lands" (Cohen 1972, p. 341). For a similar reason, Jews have consistently advocated an internationalist foreign policy for the United States because "an internationally-minded America was likely to be more sensitive to the problems of foreign Jewries" (Cohen 1972, p. 342).

However, in addition to a persistent concern that America be a safe haven for Jews fleeing outbreaks of anti-Semitism in foreign countries, there is evidence that Jews, much more than any other European-derived ethnic group in America, have viewed liberal immigration policies as a mechanism of ensuring that America would be a pluralistic rather than a unitary, homogeneous society (e.g., Cohen 1972). Pluralism serves both internal (within-group) and external (between-group) Jewish interests. Pluralism serves internal Jewish interests because it legitimates the internal Jewish interest in rationalizing and openly advocating an interest in Jewish group commitment and non-assimilation, what Howard Sachar (1992, p. 427) terms its function in "legitimizing the preservation of a minority culture in the midst of a majority’s host society." The development of an ethnic, political, or religious monoculture implies that Judaism can survive only by engaging in a sort of semi-crypsis.

As Irving Louis Horowitz (1993, 86) notes regarding the long-term consequences of Jewish life under Communism, "Jews suffer, their numbers decline, and emigration becomes a survival solution when the state demands integration into a national mainstream, a religious universal defined by a state religion or a near-state religion." Both Neusner (1987) and Ellman (1987) suggest that the increased sense of ethnic consciousness seen in Jewish circles recently has been influenced by this general movement within American society toward the legitimization of minority group ethnocentrism.

More importantly, ethnic and religious pluralism serves external Jewish interests because Jews become just one of many ethnic groups. This results in the diffusion of political and cultural influence among the various ethnic and religious groups, and it becomes difficult or impossible to develop unified, cohesive groups of gentiles united in their opposition to Judaism. Historically, major anti-Semitic movements have tended to erupt in societies that have been, apart from the Jews, religiously and/or ethnically homogeneous (MacDonald, 1994; 1998). Conversely, one reason for the relative lack of anti-Semitism in America compared to Europe was that "Jews did not stand out as a solitary group of [religious] non-conformists (Higham 1984, p. 156). It follows also that ethnically and religiously pluralistic societies are more likely to satisfy Jewish interests than are societies characterized by ethnic and religious homogeneity among gentiles.

Beginning with Horace Kallen, Jewish intellectuals have been at the forefront in developing models of the United States as a culturally and ethnically pluralistic society. Reflecting the utility of cultural pluralism in serving internal Jewish group interests in maintaining cultural separatism, Kallen personally combined his ideology of cultural pluralism with a deep immersion in Jewish history and literature, a commitment to Zionism, and political activity on behalf of Jews in Eastern Europe (Sachar 1992, p. 425ff; Frommer 1978). Kallen (1915; 1924) developed a "polycentric" ideal for American ethnic relationships. Kallen defined ethnicity as deriving from one’s biological endowment, implying that Jews should be able to remain a genetically and culturally cohesive group while nevertheless participating in American democratic institutions. This conception that the United States should be organized as a set of separate ethnic/cultural groups was accompanied by an ideology that relationships between groups would be cooperative and benign: "Kallen lifted his eyes above the strife that swirled around him to an ideal realm where diversity and harmony coexist" (Higham 1984, p. 209). Similarly in Germany, the Jewish leader Moritz Lazarus argued in opposition to the views of the German intellectual Heinrich Treitschke that the continued separateness of diverse ethnic groups contributed to the richness of German culture (Schorsch 1972, p. 63). Lazarus also developed the doctrine of dual loyalty which became a cornerstone of the Zionist movement.

Kallen wrote his 1915 essay partly in reaction to the ideas of Edward A. Ross (1914). Ross was a Darwinian sociologist who believed that the existence of clearly demarcated groups would tend to result in between-group competition for resources. Higham’s comment is interesting because it shows that Kallen’s romantic views of group co-existence were contradicted by the reality of between-group competition in his own day. Indeed, it is noteworthy that Kallen was a prominent leader of the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress). During the 1920s and 1930s the AJCongress championed group economic and political rights for Jews in Eastern Europe at a time when there was widespread ethnic tensions and persecution of Jews, and despite the fears of many that such rights would merely exacerbate current tensions. The AJCongress demanded that Jews be allowed proportional political representation as well as the ability to organize their own communities and preserve an autonomous Jewish national culture. The treaties with Eastern European countries and Turkey included provisions that the state provide instruction in minority languages and that Jews have the right to refuse to attend courts or other public functions on the Sabbath (Frommer 1978, p. 162).

Kallen’s idea of cultural pluralism as a model for America was popularized among gentile intellectuals by John Dewey (Higham 1984, p. 209), who in turn was promoted by Jewish intellectuals: "If lapsed Congregationalists like Dewey did not need immigrants to inspire them to press against the boundaries of even the most liberal of Protestant sensibilities, Dewey’s kind were resoundingly encouraged in that direction by the Jewish intellectuals they encountered in urban academic and literary communities" (Hollinger, 1996, p. 24).

Kallen’s ideas have been very influential in producing Jewish self-conceptualizations of their status in America. This influence was apparent as early as 1915 among American Zionists, such as Louis D. Brandeis. Brandeis viewed America as composed of different nationalities whose free development would "spiritually enrich the United States and would make it a democracy par excellence" (Gal 1989, p. 70). These views became "a hallmark of mainstream American Zionism, secular and religious alike" (Gal 1989, p. 70). But Kallen’s influence extended really to all educated Jews:

Legitimizing the preservation of a minority culture in the midst of a majority’s host society, pluralism functioned as intellectual anchorage for an educated Jewish second generation, sustained its cohesiveness and its most tenacious communal endeavors through the rigors of the Depression and revived anti-semitism, through the shock of Nazism and the Holocaust, until the emergence of Zionism in the post-World War II years swept through American Jewry with a climactic redemptionist fervor of its own. (Sachar 1992, p. 427)

Explicit statements linking immigration policy to a Jewish interest in cultural pluralism can be found among prominent Jewish social scientists and political activists. In his review of Kallen’s (1956) Cultural Pluralism and the American Idea appearing in Congress Weekly (published by the AJCongress), Joseph L. Blau (1958, p. 15) noted that "Kallen’s view is needed to serve the cause of minority groups and minority cultures in this nation without a permanent majority"— the implication being that Kallen’s ideology of multi-culturalism opposes the interests of any ethnic group in dominating America. The well-known author and prominent Zionist Maurice Samuel (1924, p. 215) writing partly as a negative reaction to the immigration law of 1924, wrote that

"If, then, the struggle between us [i.e., Jews and gentiles] is ever to be lifted beyond the physical, your democracies will have to alter their demands for racial, spiritual and cultural homogeneity with the State. But it would be foolish to regard this as a possibility, for the tendency of this civilization is in the opposite direction. There is a steady approach toward the identification of government with race, instead of with the political State."

Samuel deplored the 1924 legislation and in the following quote he develops the view that the American state as having no ethnic implications.

We have just witnessed, in America, the repetition, in the peculiar form adapted to this country, of the evil farce to which the experience of many centuries has not yet accustomed us. If America had any meaning at all, it lay in the peculiar attempt to rise above the trend of our present civilization— the identification of race with State. . . . America was therefore the New World in this vital respect— that the State was purely an ideal, and nationality was identical only with acceptance of the ideal. But it seems now that the entire point of view was a mistaken one, that America was incapable of rising above her origins, and the semblance of an ideal-nationalism was only a stage in the proper development of the universal gentile spirit. . . .

To-day, with race triumphant over ideal, anti-Semitism uncovers its fangs, and to the heartless refusal of the most elementary human right, the right of asylum, is added cowardly insult. We are not only excluded, but we are told, in the unmistakable language of the immigration laws, that we are an "inferior" people. Without the moral courage to stand up squarely to its evil instincts, the country prepared itself, through its journalists, by a long draught of vilification of the Jew, and, when sufficiently inspired by the popular and "scientific" potions, committed the act. (pp. 218-220)

A congruent opinion is expressed by prominent Jewish social scientist and political activist Earl Raab1 who remarks very positively on the success of American immigration policy in altering the ethnic composition of the United States since 1965. Raab notes that the Jewish community has taken a leadership role in changing the Northwestern European bias of American immigration policy (1993a, p. 17), and he has also maintained that one factor inhibiting anti-Semitism in the contemporary United States is that "(a)n increasing ethnic heterogeneity, as a result of immigration, has made it even more difficult for a political party or mass movement of bigotry to develop" (1995, p. 91). Or more colorfully:

The Census Bureau has just reported that about half of the American population will soon be non-white or non-European. And they will all be American citizens. We have tipped beyond the point where a Nazi-Aryan party will be able to prevail in this country. We [i.e., Jews] have been nourishing the American climate of opposition to bigotry for about half a century. That climate has not yet been perfected, but the heterogeneous nature of our population tends to make it irreversible— and makes our constitutional constraints against bigotry more practical than ever. (Raab 1993b, p. 23).2

Indeed, the "primary objective" of Jewish political activity after 1945 "was . . . to prevent the emergence of an anti-Semitic reactionary mass movement in the United States" (Svonkin 1997, 8). Charles Silberman (1985, 350) notes that "American Jews are committed to cultural tolerance because of their belief— one firmly rooted in history— that Jews are safe only in a society acceptant of a wide range of attitudes and behaviors, as well as a diversity of religious and ethnic groups. It is this belief, for example, not approval of homosexuality, that leads an overwhelming majority of American Jews to endorse ‘gay rights’ and to take a liberal stance on most other so-called ‘social’ issues."3 Silberman’s comment that Jewish attitudes are "firmly rooted in history" is quite reasonable: There has indeed been a tendency for Jews to be persecuted by a culturally and/or ethnically homogeneous majority that come to view Jews as a negatively evaluated outgroup.

Similarly, in listing the positive benefits of immigration, Diana Aviv, director of the Washington Action Office of the Council of Jewish Federations states that immigration "is about diversity, cultural enrichment and economic opportunity for the immigrants" (quoted in Forward, March 8, 1996, p. 5). And in summarizing Jewish involvement in the 1996 legislative battles a newspaper account stated that "Jewish groups failed to kill a number of provisions that reflect the kind of political expediency that they regard as a direct attack on American pluralism" (Detroit Jewish News; May 10, 1996).

It is noteworthy also that there has been a conflict between predominantly Jewish neo-Conservatives and predominantly gentile paleo-conservatives over the issue of Third World immigration into the United States. Many of these neo-conservative intellectuals had previously been radical leftists,4 and the split between the neo-conservatives and their previous allies resulted in an intense internecine feud (Gottfried 1993; Rothman & Lichter 1982, p. 105). Neo-conservatives Norman Podhoretz and Richard John Neuhaus reacted very negatively to an article by a paleo-conservative concerned that such immigration would eventually lead to the United States being dominated by such immigrants (see Judis 1990, p. 33). Other examples are neo-Conservatives Julian Simon (1990) and Ben Wattenberg (1991), both of whom advocate very high levels of immigration from all parts of the world, so that the United States will become what Wattenberg describes as the world’s first "Universal Nation."

Based on recent data, Fetzer (1996) reports that Jews remain far more favorable to immigration to the United States than any other ethnic group or religion. It should be noted as a general point that the effectiveness of Jewish organizations in influencing American immigration policy has been facilitated by certain characteristics of American Jewry. As Neuringer (1971, p. 87) notes, Jewish influence on immigration policy was facilitated by Jewish wealth, education, and social status. Reflecting its general disproportionate representation in markers of economic success and political influence, Jewish organizations have been able to have a vastly disproportionate effect on United States immigration policy because Jews as a group are highly organized, highly intelligent, and politically astute, and they were able to command a high level of financial, political, and intellectual resources in pursuing their political aims.

Similarly, Hollinger (1996, p.19) notes that Jews were more influential in the decline of a homogeneous Protestant Christian culture in the United States than Catholics because of their greater wealth, social standing, and technical skill in the intellectual arena. In the area of immigration policy, the main Jewish activist organization influencing immigration policy, the American Jewish Committee (AJCommittee), was characterized by "strong leadership [particularly Louis Marshall], internal cohesion, well-funded programs, sophisticated lobbying techniques, well-chosen non-Jewish allies, and good timing" (Goldstein 1990, p. 333). In this regard, the Jewish success in influencing immigration policy is entirely analogous to their success in influencing the secularization of American culture. As in the case of immigration policy, the secularization of American culture is a Jewish interest because Jews have a perceived interest that America not be a homogeneous Christian culture. "Jewish civil rights organizations have had an historic role in the postwar development of American church-state law and policy" (Ivers 1995, p. 2).

Unlike the effort to influence immigration, the opposition to a homogeneous Christian culture was mainly carried out in the courts. The Jewish effort in this case was well funded and was the focus of well-organized, highly dedicated Jewish civil service organizations, including the AJCommittee, the AJCongress, and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). It involved keen legal expertise both in the actual litigation but also in influencing legal opinion via articles in law journals and other forums of intellectual debate, including the popular media. It also involved a highly charismatic and effective leadership, particularly Leo Pfeffer of the AJCongress:

No other lawyer exercised such complete intellectual dominance over a chosen area of law for so extensive a period¾ as an author, scholar, public citizen, and above all, legal advocate who harnessed his multiple and formidable talents into a single force capable of satisfying all that an institution needs for a successful constitutional reform movement. . . . That Pfeffer, through an enviable combination of skill, determination, and persistence, was able in such a short period of time to make church-state reform the foremost cause with which rival organizations associated the AJCongress illustrates well the impact that individual lawyers endowed with exceptional skills can have on the character and life of the organizations for which they work. . . . As if to confirm the extent to which Pfeffer is associated with post-Everson [i.e., post-1946] constitutional development, even the major critics of the Court’s church-state jurisprudence during this period and the modern doctrine of separationism rarely fail to make reference to Pfeffer as the central force responsible for what they lament as the lost meaning of the establishment clause. (Ivers 1995, pp. 222-224)

Similarly, Hollinger (1996, p. 4) notes "the transformation of the ethnoreligious demography of American academic life by Jews" in the period from the 1930s to the 1960s, as well as the Jewish influence on trends toward the secularization of American society and in advancing an ideal of cosmopolitanism (p. 11). The pace of this influence was very likely influenced by immigration battles of the 1920s. Hollinger notes that the "the old Protestant establishment’s influence persisted until the 1960s in large measure because of the Immigration Act of 1924: had the massive immigration of Catholics and Jews continued at pre-1924 levels, the course of American history would have been different in many ways, including, one may reasonably speculate, a more rapid diminution of Protestant cultural hegemony. Immigration restriction gave that hegemony a new lease of life" (p. 22). It is reasonable to suppose, therefore, that the immigration battles from 1881 to 1965 have been of momentous historical importance in shaping the contours of American culture in the late twentieth century.

The ultimate success of Jewish attitudes on immigration was also influenced by intellectual movements that collectively resulted in a decline of evolutionary and biological thinking in the academic world. Although playing virtually no role in the restrictionist position in the Congressional debates on the immigration (which focused mainly on the fairness of maintaining the ethnic status quo; see below), a component of the intellectual zeitgeist of the 1920s was the prevalence of evolutionary theories of race and ethnicity (Singerman 1986), particularly the theories of Madison Grant. In The Passing of the Great Race, Grant (1921) argued that the American colonial stock was derived from superior Nordic racial elements and that immigration of other races would lower the competence level of the society as a whole as well as threaten democratic and republican institutions. Grant’s ideas were popularized in the media at the time of the immigration debates (see Divine 1957, pp. 12ff) and often provoked negative comments in Jewish publications such as The American Hebrew (e.g., March 21, 1924, pp. 554, 625).5

The debate over group differences in IQ was also tied to the immigration issue. C. C. Brigham’s study of intelligence among United States army personnel concluded that Nordics were superior to Alpine and Mediterranean Europeans, and Brigham (1923, p. 210) concluded that "(i)mmigration should not only be restrictive but highly selective." In the Foreword to Brigham’s book, Harvard psychologist Robert M. Yerkes stated that "The author presents not theories but facts. It behooves us to consider their reliability and meaning, for no one of us as a citizen can afford to ignore the menace of race deterioration or the evident relation of immigration to national progress and welfare" (in Brigham 1923, pp. vii-viii).

Nevertheless, as Samelson (1975) points out, the drive to restrict immigration originated long before IQ testing came into existence and restriction was favored by a variety of groups, including organized labor, for reasons other than those related to race and IQ, including especially the fairness of maintaining the ethnic status quo in the United States. Moreover, although Brigham’s IQ testing results did indeed appear in the statement submitted by the Allied Patriotic Societies to the House hearings,6 the role of IQ testing in the immigration debates has been greatly exaggerated (Snyderman & Herrnstein, 1983). Indeed, IQ testing was never even mentioned in either the House Majority Report or the Minority Report, and "there is no mention of intelligence testing in the Act; test results on immigrants appear only briefly in the committee hearings and are then largely ignored or criticized, and they are brought up only once in over 600 pages of congressional floor debate, where they are subjected to further criticism without rejoinder. None of the major contemporary figures in testing . . . were called to testify, nor were their writings inserted into the legislative record" (Snyderman & Herrnstein 1983, 994).

It is also very easy to over-emphasize the importance of theories of Nordic superiority as an ingredient of popular and Congressional restrictionist sentiment. As Singerman (1986, 118-119) points out, "racial anti-Semitism" was employed by only "a handful of writers;" and "the Jewish ‘problem’ . . . was a minor preoccupation even among such widely-published authors as Madison Grant or T. Lothrop Stoddard and none of the individuals examined [in Singerman’s review] could be regarded as professional Jew-baiters or full-time propagandists against Jews, domestic or foreign." As indicated below, arguments related to Nordic superiority, including supposed Nordic intellectual superiority, played remarkably little role in Congressional debates over immigration in the 1920s, the common argument of the restrictionists being that immigration policy should reflect equally the interests of all ethnic groups currently in the country.

Nevertheless, it is probable that the decline in evolutionary/biological theories of race and ethnicity facilitated the sea change in immigration policy brought about by the 1965 law. As Higham (1984) notes, by the time of the final victory in 1965 which removed national origins and racial ancestry from immigration policy and opened up immigration to all human groups, the Boasian perspective of cultural determinism and anti-biologism had become standard academic wisdom. The result was that "it became intellectually fashionable to discount the very existence of persistent ethnic differences. The whole reaction deprived popular race feelings of a powerful ideological weapon" (Higham 1984, pp. 58-59).

Jewish intellectuals were prominently involved in the movement to eradicate the racialist ideas of Grant and others (Degler 1991, p. 200). Indeed, even during the earlier debates leading up to the immigration bills of 1921 and 1924, restrictionists perceived themselves to be under attack from Jewish intellectuals. In 1918, Prescott F. Hall, secretary of the Immigration Restriction League, wrote to Grant that "What I wanted . . . was the names of a few anthropologists of note who have declared in favor of the inequality of the races. . . . I am up against the Jews all the time in the equality argument and thought perhaps you might be able offhand to name a few (besides Osborn) whom I could quote in support" (in Samelson 1975, p. 467).

Grant also believed that Jews were engaged in a campaign to discredit racial research. In the Introduction to the 1921 edition of Passing of the Great Race, Grant complained that "(i)t is well-nigh impossible to publish in the American newspapers any reflection upon certain religions or races which are hysterically sensitive even when not mentioned by name. The underlying idea seems to be that if publication can be suppressed the facts themselves will ultimately disappear. Abroad, conditions are fully as bad, and we have the authority of one of the most eminent anthropologists in France that the collection of anthropological measurements and data among French recruits at the outbreak of the Great War was prevented by Jewish influence, which aimed to suppress any suggestion of racial differentiation in France."

Particularly important was the work of Columbia University anthropologist Franz Boas and his followers. "Boas’ influence upon American social scientists in matters of race can hardly be exaggerated" (Degler 1991, p. 61). He engaged in a "life-long assault on the idea that race was a primary source of the differences to be found in the mental or social capabilities of human groups. He accomplished his mission largely through his ceaseless, almost relentless articulation of the concept of culture" (p. 61). "Boas, almost single-handedly, developed in America the concept of culture, which, like a powerful solvent, would in time expunge race from the literature of social science" (p. 71).

Throughout this explication of Boas’s conception of culture and his opposition to a racial interpretation of human behavior, the central point has been that Boas did not arrive at the position from a disinterested, scientific inquiry into a vexed if controversial question. Instead, his idea derived from an ideological commitment that began in his early life and academic experiences in Europe and continued in America to shape his professional outlook. . . . there is no doubt that he had a deep interest in collecting evidence and designing arguments that would rebut or refute an ideological outlook— racism— which he considered restrictive upon individuals and undesirable for society. . . . there is a persistent interest in pressing his social values upon the profession and the public. (Degler 1991, pp. 82-83)

There is evidence that Boas strongly identified as a Jew and viewed his research as having important implications in the political arena and particularly in the area of immigration policy. Boas was born in Prussia to a "Jewish-liberal" family in which the revolutionary ideals of 1848 remained influential (Stocking 1968, p. 149). Boas developed a "left-liberal posture which . . . is at once scientific and political" (Stocking 1968, p. 149) and was intensely concerned with anti-Semitism from an early period in his life (White 1966, p. 16). Moreover, Boas was deeply alienated from and hostile toward gentile culture, particularly the cultural ideal of the Prussian aristocracy (Degler 1991, p. 200; Stocking 1968, p. 150). For example, when Margaret Mead was looking for a way to persuade Boas to let her pursue her research in the South Sea islands, "she hit upon a sure way of getting him to change his mind. ‘I knew there was one thing that mattered more to Boas than the direction taken by anthropological research. This was that he should behave like a liberal, democratic, modern man, not like a Prussian autocrat.’ The ploy worked because she had indeed uncovered the heart of his personal values" (Degler 1991, p. 73).

Boas was greatly motivated by the immigration issue as it occurred early in the century. Carl Degler (1991, p. 74) notes that Boas’ professional correspondence "reveals that an important motive behind his famous head-measuring project in 1910 was his strong personal interest in keeping America diverse in population." The study, whose conclusions were placed into the Congressional Record by Representative Emanuel Celler during the debate on immigration restriction (Cong. Rec., April 8, 1924, pp. 5915-5916), concluded that the environmental differences consequent to immigration caused differences in head shape. (At the time, head shape as determined by the "cephalic index" was the main measurement used by scientists involved in racial differences research.) Boas argued that his research showed that all foreign groups living in favorable social circumstances had become assimilated to America in the sense that their physical measurements converged on the American type. Although he was considerably more circumspect regarding his conclusions in the body of his report (see also Stocking 1968, p. 178), Boas (1911, p. 5) stated in his Introduction that "all fear of an unfavorable influence of South European immigration upon the body of our people should be dismissed." As a further indication of Boas’ ideological commitment to the immigration issue, Degler makes the following comment regarding one of Boas’ environmentalist explanations for mental differences between immigrant and native children: "Why Boas chose to advance such an adhoc interpretation is hard to understand until one recognizes his desire to explain in a favorable way the apparent mental backwardness of the immigrant children" (p. 75).

Boas and his students were intensely concerned with pushing an ideological agenda within the American anthropological profession (Degler 1991; Freeman 1991; Torrey 1992). In this regard it is interesting that Boas and his associates had a much more highly developed sense of group identity, a commitment to a common viewpoint, and an agenda to dominate the institutional structure of anthropology than did their opponents (Stocking 1968, pp. 279-280). The defeat of the Darwinians "had not happened without considerable exhortation of ‘every mother’s son’ standing for the ‘Right.’ Nor had it been accomplished without some rather strong pressure applied both to staunch friends and to the ‘weaker brethren’— often by the sheer force of Boas’ personality" (Stocking 1968, 286). By 1915 the Boasians controlled the American Anthropological Association and held a two-thirds majority on the Executive Board (Stocking 1968, 285). By 1926 every major department of anthropology in the United States was headed by a student of Boas, the majority of whom were Jewish. According to White (1966, p. 26), Boas’ most influential students were Ruth Benedict, Alexander Goldenweiser, Melville Herskovits, Alfred Kroeber, Robert Lowie, Margaret Mead, Paul Radin, Edward Sapir, and Leslie Spier. All of this "small, compact group of scholars . . . gathered about their leader" (White 1966, p. 26) were Jews with the exception of Kroeber, Benedict and Mead.

Indeed, Herskovits (1953, p. 91), whose hagiography of Boas qualifies as one of the most worshipful in intellectual history, noted that

(t)he four decades of the tenure of [Boas’] professorship at Columbia gave a continuity to his teaching that permitted him to develop students who eventually made up the greater part of the significant professional core of American anthropologists, and who came to man and direct most of the major departments of anthropology in the United States. In their turn, they trained the students who . . . have continued the tradition in which their teachers were trained.

By the mid-1930s the Boasian view of the cultural determination of human behavior had a strong influence on social scientists generally (Stocking 1968, p. 300).

The ideology of racial equality was an important weapon on behalf of opening immigration up to all human groups. For example, in a 1951 statement to Congress, the AJCongress stated that "The findings of science must force even the most prejudiced among us to accept, as unqualifiedly as we do the law of gravity, that intelligence, morality and character, bear no relationship whatever to geography or place of birth."7 The statement went on to cite some of Boas’ popular writings on the subject as well as the writings of Boas’ protégé Ashley Montagu, perhaps the most visible opponent of the concept of race during this period. Montagu, whose original name was Israel Ehrenberg, theorized that humans are innately cooperative (but not innately aggressive) and there is a universal brotherhood among humans (see Shipman 1994, p. 159ff). And in 1952 another Boas’ protégé, Margaret Mead, testified before the President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization (PCIN) (1953, p. 92) that "all human beings from all groups of people have the same potentialities. . . . Our best anthropological evidence today suggests that the people of every group have about the same distribution of potentialities." Another witness stated that the executive board of the American Anthropological Association had unanimously endorsed the proposition that "(a)ll scientific evidence indicates that all peoples are inherently capable of acquiring or adapting to our civilization" (PCIN 1953, p. 93). By 1965 Senator Jacob Javits (Cong. Rec., 111, 1965, p. 24469) confidently announced to the Senate during the debate on the immigration bill that "(b)oth the dictates of our consciences as well as the precepts of sociologists tell us that immigration, as it exists in the national origins quota system, is wrong, and without any basis in reason or fact for we know better than to say that one man is better than another because of the color of his skin." The intellectual revolution and its translation into public policy had been completed.

JEWISH ANTI-RESTRICTIONIST POLITICAL ACTIVITY

Jewish Anti-Restrictionist Activity up to 1924.

While Jewish involvement in altering the intellectual discussion of race and ethnicity appears to have had long term repercussions on United States immigration policy, Jewish political involvement was ultimately of much greater significance. Jewish opinion is not monolithic. Nevertheless, although there have been dissenters, Jews have been "the single most persistent pressure group favoring a liberal immigration policy" in the United States in the entire immigration debate beginning in 1881 (Neuringer 1971, p. ii):

In undertaking to sway immigration policy in a liberal direction, Jewish spokesmen and organizations demonstrated a degree of energy unsurpassed by any other interested pressure group. Immigration had constituted a prime object of concern for practically every majorJewish defense and community relations organization. Over the years, their spokesmen had assiduously attended congressional hearings, and the Jewish effort was of the utmost importance in establishing and financing such non-sectarian groups as the National Liberal Immigration League and the Citizens Committee for Displaced Persons.

As recounted by Nathan C. Belth (1979, p. 173) in his history of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL), "In Congress, through all the years when the immigration battles were being fought, the names of Jewish legislators were in the forefront of the liberal forces: from Adolph Sabath to Samuel Dickstein and Emanuel Celler in the House and from Herbert H. Lehman to Jacob Javits in the Senate. Each in his time was a leader of the Anti-Defamation League and of major organizations concerned with democratic development." The Jewish congressmen who are most closely identified with anti-restrictionist efforts in Congress have therefore also been leaders of the group most closely identified with Jewish ethnic political activism and self-defense.

Throughout the entire period of almost 100 years prior to achieving success with the immigration law of 1965, Jewish groups opportunistically made alliances with other groups whose interests temporarily converged with Jewish interests (e.g., a constantly changing set of ethnic groups, religious groups, pro-Communists, anti-Communists, the foreign policy interests of various presidents, the political need for president’s to curry favor with groups influential in populous states in order to win national elections, etc.). Particularly noteworthy was the support of a liberal immigration policy from industrial interests wanting cheap labor, at least in the period prior to the 1924 temporary triumph of restrictionism. Within this constantly shifting set of alliances, Jewish organizations persistently pursued their goals of maximizing the number of Jewish immigrants and opening up the United States to immigration from all of the peoples of the world. As indicated in the following, the historical record supports the proposition that making the United States into a multicultural society has been a major goal of organized Jewry beginning in the nineteenth century.

The ultimate Jewish victory on immigration is remarkable because it was waged in different arenas against a potentially very powerful set of opponents. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, leadership of the restrictionists was provided by Eastern patricians such as Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. However, the main political basis of restrictionism from 1910 to 1952 (in addition to the relatively ineffectual labor union interests) derived from "the common people of the South and West" (Higham 1984, p. 49) and their representatives in Congress. Fundamentally, the clashes between Jews and gentiles in the period between 1900 and 1965 were a conflict between Jews and this geographically centered group. "Jews, as a result of their intellectual energy and economic resources, constituted an advance guard of the new peoples who had no feeling for the traditions of rural America" (Higham 1984, pp. 168-169).

Although often concerned that Jewish immigration would fan the flames of anti-Semitism in America, Jewish leaders fought a long and largely successful delaying action against restrictions on immigration during the period from 1891-1924, particularly as they affected the ability of Jews to immigrate. These efforts continued despite the fact that by 1905, there was "a polarity between Jewish and general American opinion on immigration" (Neuringer 1971, p. 83). In particular, while other religious groups such as Catholics and ethnic groups such as the Irish remained divided and ambivalent on their attitudes toward immigration and were poorly organized and ineffective in influencing immigration policy, and while labor unions opposed immigration in their attempt to diminish the supply of cheap labor, Jewish groups engaged in an intensive and sustained effort against attempts to restrict immigration.

As recounted by Cohen (1972, p. 40ff), the AJCommittee’s efforts in opposition to immigration restriction in the early twentieth century constitute a remarkable example of the ability of Jewish organizations to influence public policy. Of all the groups affected by the immigration legislation of 1907, Jews had the least to gain in terms of numbers of possible immigrants, but they played by far the largest role in shaping the legislation (Cohen 1972, p. 41). In the subsequent period leading up to the relatively ineffective restrictionist legislation of 1917, when restrictionists again mounted an effort in Congress, "only the Jewish segment was aroused" (Cohen 1972, p. 49).

Nevertheless, because of the fear of anti-Semitism, efforts were made to prevent the perception of Jewish involvement in anti-restrictionist campaigns. In 1906, Jewish anti-restrictionist political operatives were instructed to lobby Congress without mentioning their affiliation with the AJCommittee because of "the danger that the Jews may be accused of being organized for a political purpose" (comments of Herbert Friedenwald, AJCommittee secretary; in Goldstein 1990, p. 125). Beginning in the late nineteenth century, anti-restrictionist arguments developed by Jews were typically couched in terms of universalist humanitarian ideals, and as part of this universalizing effort, gentiles from old line Protestant families were recruited to act as window dressing for their efforts and Jewish groups such as the AJCommittee funded pro-immigration groups composed of non-Jews (Neuringer 1971, p. 92).

As was the case in later pro-immigration efforts, much of the activity was behind-the-scenes personal interventions with politicians in order to minimize public perception of the Jewish role and provoke activities of the opposition. Opposing politicians, such as Henry Cabot Lodge, and organizations like the Immigration Restriction League were kept under close scrutiny and pressured by lobbyists. Lobbyists in Washington also kept a daily scorecard of voting tendencies as immigration bills wended their way through Congress and engaged in intense and successful efforts to convince Presidents Taft and Wilson to veto restrictive immigration legislation. Catholic prelates were recruited to protest the effects of restrictionist legislation on immigration from Italy and Hungary. When restrictionist arguments appeared in the media, the AJCommittee made sophisticated replies, based on scholarly data and typically couched in universalist terms as benefiting the whole society (e.g., Neuringer 1971, p. 44). Articles favorable to immigration were published in national magazines and letters to the editor were published in newspapers. And efforts were made to minimize the negative perceptions of immigration by attempting to distribute Jewish immigrants around the country and by getting Jewish aliens off public support. Legal proceedings were filed to prevent the deportation of Jewish aliens. And eventually the Committee organized mass protest meetings.

Indeed, writing in 1914, the sociologist Edward A. Ross had a clear sense that liberal immigration policy was exclusively a Jewish issue. Ross provides the following quote from prominent author and Zionist pioneer Israel Zangwill as clearly articulating the idea that America is an ideal place to achieve Jewish interests.

America has ample room for all the six millions of the Pale [i.e., the Pale of Settlement, home to most of Russia’s Jews]; any one of her fifty states could absorb them. And next to being in a country of their own, there could be no better fate for them than to be together in a land of civil and religious liberty, of whose Constitution Christianity forms no part and where their collective votes would practically guarantee them against future persecution (Israel Zangwill, in Ross 1914, p. 144).

Jews therefore have a powerful interest in immigration policy: Hence the endeavor of the Jews to control the immigration policy of the United States. Although theirs is but a seventh of our net immigration, they led the fight on the Immigration Commission’s bill. The power of the million Jews in the Metropolis lined up the Congressional delegation from New York in solid opposition to the literacy test. The systematic campaign in newspapers and magazines to break down all arguments for restriction and to calm nativist fears is waged by and for one race. Hebrew money is behind the National Liberal Immigration League and its numerous publications. From the paper before the commercial body or the scientific association to the heavy treatise produced with the aid of the Baron de Hirsch Fund, the literature that proves the blessings of immigration to all classes in America emanates from subtle Hebrew brains (Ross 1914, pp. 144-145).

Ross (1914, p. 150) also reported that immigration officials had "become very sore over the incessant fire of false accusations to which they are subjected by the Jewish press and societies. United States senators complain that during the close of the struggle over the immigration bill they were overwhelmed with a torrent of crooked statistics and misrepresentations of Hebrews fighting the literacy test."

It is also noteworthy that Zangwill’s views on immigration were highly salient to restrictionists in the debates over the 1924 immigration law (see below). In an address reprinted in The American Hebrew (Oct. 19, 1923, p. 582), Zangwill noted that "There is only one way to World Peace, and that is the absolute abolition of passports, visas, frontiers, custom houses, and all other devices that make of the population of our planet not a co-operating civilization but a mutual irritation society."

It is noteworthy that, despite elaborate and deceptive attempts to present the pro-immigration movement as broad-based, Jewish activists were well aware of the lack of enthusiasm of other groups. During the fight over restrictionist legislation at the end of the Taft administration, Herbert Friedenwald, AJCommittee secretary, wrote that it was "very difficult to get any people except the Jews stirred up in this fight" (in Goldstein 1990, p. 203). The AJCommittee also contributed heavily to staging anti-restrictionist rallies in major American cities, but allowed other ethnic groups to take credit for the events, and it organized groups of non-Jews from the West to influence President Taft to veto restrictionist legislation (Goldstein 1990, pp. 216, 227). Later, during the Wilson Administration, Louis Marshall stated that "We are practically the only ones who are fighting [the literacy test] while a "great proportion" [of the people] is "indifferent to what is done" (in Goldstein 1990, p. 249).

The forces of immigration restriction were temporarily successful with the immigration laws of 1921 and 1924 which passed despite the intense opposition of Jewish groups. Divine (1957, p. 8) notes that "Arrayed against [the restrictionist forces] in 1921 were only the spokesmen for the southeastern European immigrants, mainly Jewish leaders, whose protests were drowned out by the general cry for restriction." Similarly during the 1924 congressional hearings on immigration, "the most prominent group of witnesses against the bill were representatives of southeastern European immigrants, particularly Jewish leaders" (Divine 1957, 16).

Neuringer (1971, p. 164) notes that Jewish opposition to the 1921 and 1924 legislation was motivated less by a desire for higher levels of Jewish immigration than by opposition to the implicit theory that America should be dominated by individuals with northern and western European ancestry. The Jewish interest was thus to oppose the ethnic interests of the peoples of northwestern Europe in maintaining an ethnic status quo or increasing their percentage of the population. However, even prior to this period Jewish organizations were adamantly opposed to any restrictions on immigration based on race or ethnicity, indicating that they had a very different view of the ideal racial/ethnic composition of the United States than did the non-Jewish European-derived peoples.

Thus in 1882 the Jewish press was unanimous in its condemnation of the Chinese Exclusion Act (Neuringer 1971, p. 23) even though this act had no direct bearing on Jewish immigration. In the early twentieth century the AJCommittee at times actively fought against any bill that restricted immigration to white persons or non-Asians, and only refrained from active opposition if it judged that AJCommittee support would threaten the immigration of Jews (Cohen 1972, p. 47; Goldstein 1990, p. 250). In 1920 the Central Conference of American Rabbis passed a resolution urging that "the Nation . . . keep the gates of our beloved Republic open . . . to the oppressed and distressed of all mankind in conformity with its historic role as a haven of refuge for all men and women who pledge allegiance to its laws" (in The American Hebrew, Oct. 1, 1920, p. 594). The American Hebrew (Feb. 17, 1922; p. 373), a publication founded in 1867, that represented the German-Jewish establishment of the period, reiterated its long-standing policy that it "has always stood for the admission of worthy immigrants of all classes, irrespective of nationality." And in his testimony in the 1924 hearings before the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, the AJCommittee’s Louis Marshall stated that the bill echoed the sentiments of the Ku Klux Klan and characterized it as being inspired by the racialist theories of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. At a time when the population of the United States was over 100,000,000, Marshall stated that "we have room in this country for ten times the population we have" (p. 309), and advocated admission of all of the peoples of the world without quota limit, excluding only those who "were mentally, morally and physically unfit, who are enemies of organized government, and who are apt to become public charges;"8 similarly Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, representing the AJCongress and a variety of other Jewish organizations, asserted "the right of every man outside of America to be considered fairly and equitably and without discrimination."9

By prescribing that immigration be restricted to 3% of the foreign born as of the 1890 census, the 1924 law prescribed an ethnic status quo approximating the 1920 census. The House Majority Report emphasized the idea that prior to the legislation, immigration was highly biased in favor of Eastern and Southern Europeans and that this imbalance had been continued by the 1921 legislation in which quotas were based on the numbers of foreign born as of the 1910 census. The expressed intention was that the interests of other groups to pursue their ethnic interests by expanding their percentage of the population should be balanced against the ethnic interests of the majority in retaining their ethnic representation in the population.

The 1921 law gave 46% of quota immigration to Southern and Eastern Europe even though these areas constituted only 11.7% of the United States population as of the 1920 census. The 1924 law prescribed that these areas would get 15.3% of the quota slots— a figure that was actually higher than their present representation in the population. "The use of the 1890 census is not discriminatory. It is used in an effort to preserve as nearly as possible, the racial status quo of the United States. It is hoped to guarantee as best we can at this late date, racial homogeneity in the United States The use of a later census would discriminate against those who founded the Nation and perpetuated its institutions." (House Rep. 350, 1924, p. 16). After 3 years, quotas were derived from a national origins formula based on 1920 census data for the entire population, not only the foreign born. While there is no doubt that this legislation represented a victory for the northwestern European peoples of the United States, there was no attempt to reverse the trends in the ethnic composition of the country but rather to preserve the ethnic status quo.

While motivated by a desire to preserve an ethnic status quo, these laws may also have been motivated partly by anti-Semitism, since during this period opposition to immigration was perceived as mainly a Jewish issue (see above). This certainly appears to have been the perception of Jewish observers: for example, prominent Jewish writer Maurice Samuel (1924), writing in the immediate aftermath of the 1924 legislation, wrote that "it is chiefly against the Jew that anti-immigration laws are passed here in America as in England and Germany (p. 217)," and such perceptions continue among historians of the period (e.g., Hertzberg 1989, 239). This perception was not restricted to Jews. In remarks before the Senate, the anti-restrictionist Senator Reed of Missouri noted that "Attacks have likewise been made upon the Jewish people who have crowded to our shores. The spirit of intolerance has been especially active as to them" (Cong. Rec. Feb. 19, 1921; p. 3463), and during World War II Secretary of War Robert Stimson stated that it was opposition to unrestricted immigration of Jews that resulted in the restrictive legislation of 1924 (Breitman & Kraut, 1987, p. 87). Moreover, the House Immigration Committee Majority Report (House Report #109, Dec. 6, 1920) stated that "by far the largest percentage of immigrants (are) peoples of Jewish extraction," (p. 4), and it implied that the majority of the expected new immigrants would be Polish Jews. The report "confirmed the published statement of a commissioner of the Hebrew Sheltering and Aid Society of America made after his personal investigation in Poland, to the effect that ‘If there were in existence a ship that could hold 3,000,000 human beings, the 3,000,000 Jews of Poland would board it to escape to America’" (p. 6).

The Majority Report also included a report by Wilbur S. Carr, head of the United States Consular Service, that stated that the Polish Jews were "abnormally twisted because of (a) reaction from war strain; (b) the shock of revolutionary disorders; (c) the dullness and stultification resulting from past years of oppression and abuse. . . ; Eighty-five to ninety percent lack any conception of patriotic or national spirit. And the majority of this percentage are unable to acquire it" (p. 9; see also Breitman and Kraut [1987, 12] for a discussion of Carr’s anti-Semitism). Consular reports warned that "many Bolshevik sympathizers are in Poland" (p. 11). Similarly in the Senate, Senator McKellar cited the report that if there were a ship large enough, 3,000,000 Poles would immigrate. He also stated that "the Joint Distribution Committee, an American committee doing relief work among the Hebrews in Poland, distributes more than $1,000,000 per month of American money in that country alone. It is also shown that $100,000,000 a year is a conservative estimate of money sent to Poland from America through the mails, through the banks, and through the relief societies. This golden stream pouring into Poland from America makes practically every Pole wildly desirous of going to the country from which such marvelous wealth comes" (Cong. Rec., Feb. 19, 1921, p. 3456).

As a further indication of the salience of Polish-Jewish immigration issues, the letter on alien visas submitted by the State Department in 1921 to Albert Johnson, Chairman of the Committee on Migration and Naturalization, devoted over four times as much space to the situation in Poland as it did to any other country. The report emphasized the activities of the Polish-Jewish newspaper Der Emigrant in promoting emigration to the United States of Polish Jews, the activities of the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Society and wealthy private citizens from the United States in facilitating immigration by providing money and performing the paperwork. (There was indeed a large network of agents in Eastern Europe who, in violation of United States law, "did their best to drum up business by enticing as many emigrants as possible" [Nadell 1984, 56].) The report also noted the poor condition of the prospective immigrants: "At the present time it is only too obvious that they must be subnormal, and their normal state is of very low standard. Six years of war and confusion and famine and pestilence have racked their bodies and twisted their mentality. The elders have deteriorated to a marked degree. Minors have grown into adult years with the entire period lost in their rightful development and too frequently with the acquisition of perverted ideas which have flooded Europe since 1914 [presumably a reference to radical political ideas that were common in this group; see below]" (Cong. Rec., April 20, 1921, p. 498).

The report also stated that articles in the Warsaw press had reported that "propaganda favoring unrestricted immigration" is being planned, including celebrations in New York aimed at showing the contributions of immigrants to the development of the United States. The reports for Belgium (whose emigrants originated in Poland and Czechoslovakia) and Romania also highlighted the importance of Jews as prospective immigrants. In response, Representative Isaac Siegel stated that the report was "edited and doctored by certain officials" and commented that the report did not mention countries with larger numbers of immigrants than Poland. (For example, there was no mention of Italy in the report.) Without explicitly saying so ("I leave it to every man in the House to make his own deductions and his own inferences therefrom" (Cong. Rec., April 20, 1921, p. 504), the implication was that the focus on Poland was prompted by anti-Semitism.

The House Majority report (signed by 15 of its 17 members with only Reps. Dickstein and Sabath not signing) also emphasized the Jewish role in defining the intellectual battle in terms of Nordic superiority and "American ideals" rather than in the terms of an ethnic status quo actually favored by the committee:

The cry of discrimination is, the committee believes, manufactured and built up by special representatives of racial groups, aided by aliens actually living abroad. Members of the committee have taken notice of a report in the Jewish Tribune (New York) February 8, 1924, of a farewell dinner to Mr. Israel Zangwill which says:

Mr. Zangwill spoke chiefly on the immigration question, declaring that if Jews persisted in a strenuous opposition to the restricted immigration there would be no restriction. "If you create enough fuss against this Nordic nonsense," he said, "you will defeat this legislation. You must make a fight against this bill; tell them they are destroying American ideals. Most fortifications are of cardboard, and if you press against them, they give way."

The Committee does not feel that the restriction aimed to be accomplished in this bill is directed at the Jews, for they can come within the quotas from any country in which they were born. The Committee has not dwelt on the desirability of a "Nordic" or any other particular type of immigrant, but has held steadfastly to the purpose of securing a heavy restriction, with the quota so divided that the countries from which the most came in the two decades ahead of the World War might be slowed down in order that the United States might restore its population balance. The continued charge that the Committee has built up a "Nordic" race and devoted its hearing to that end is part of a deliberately manufactured assault for as a matter of fact the committee has done nothing of the kind (House Rep. 350, 1924, p. 16).

Indeed, one is struck in reading the 1924 Congressional debate by the rarity with which the issue of Nordic racial superiority is raised by those in favor of the legislation, while virtually all of the anti-restrictionists raised this issue.10 After a particularly colorful comment in opposition to the theory of Nordic racial superiority, restrictionist leader Albert Johnson remarked that "I would like very much to say on behalf of the committee that through the strenuous times of the hearings this committee undertook not to discuss the Nordic proposition or racial matters" (Cong. Rec., April 8, 1924; p. 5911). Earlier, during the hearings on the bill, Johnson remarked in response to the comments of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise representing the AJCongress that

"I dislike to be placed continually in the attitude of assuming that there is a race prejudice, when the one thing I have tried to do for 11 years is to free myself from race prejudice, if I had it at all."11 Several restrictionists explicitly denounced the theory of Nordic superiority, including Senators Bruce (p. 5955) and Jones (p. 6614) and Representatives Bacon (p. 5902), Byrnes (p. 5653), Johnson (p. 5648), McLoed (p. 5675-6), McReynolds (p. 5855), Michener (p. 5909), Miller (p. 5883), Newton (p. 6240); Rosenbloom (p. 5851), Vaile (p. 5922), Vincent (p. 6266), White, (p. 5898), and Wilson (p. 5671; all references to Cong. Rec., April 1924).

Indeed, it is noteworthy that there are indications in the Congressional debate that representatives from the far West were concerned about the competence and competitive threat presented by Japanese immigrants, and their rhetoric suggested they viewed the Japanese as racially equal or superior, not inferior. For example, Senator Jones stated that "we admit that [the Japanese] are as able as we are, that they are as progressive as we are, that they are as honest as we are, that they are as brainy as we are, and that they are equal in all that goes to make a great people and nation" (Cong. Rec., April 18, 1924, p. 6614); Representative MacLafferty emphasized Japanese domination of certain agricultural markets (Cong. Rec. April 5, 1924, p. 5681), and Representative Lea noted their ability to supplant "their American competitor" (Cong. Rec. April 5, 1924, p. 5697). Representative Miller described the Japanese as "a relentless and unconquerable competitor of our people wherever he places himself" (Cong. Rec. April 8, 1924, p. 5884); See also comments of Representatives Gilbert (Cong. Rec. April 12, 1924, p. 6261) Raker (Cong. Rec. April 8, 1924, p. 5892}and Free (Cong. Rec. April 8, 1924, p. 5924ff).

Moreover, while the issue of Jewish/gentile resource competition was not raised during the Congressional debates, quotas on Jewish admissions to Ivy League universities were a highly salient issue among Jews during this period. The quota issue was highly publicized in the Jewish media and the focus of activities of Jewish self-defense organizations such as the ADL (see, e.g., the ADL statement published in The American Hebrew, Sept. 29, 1922, p. 536). Jewish/gentile resource competition may therefore have been on the minds of some legislators. Indeed, President A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard was the national vice-president of the Immigration Restriction League as well as a proponent of quotas on Jewish admission to Harvard (Symott 1986, 238), suggesting that resource competition with an intellectually superior Jewish group was an issue for at least some prominent restrictionists.

It is probable that anti-Jewish animosity related to resource competition issues were widespread. Higham (1984, 141) writes of "the urgent pressure which the Jews, as an exceptionally ambitious immigrant people, put upon some of the more crowded rungs of the social ladder" (Higham 1984, 141). Beginning in the nineteenth century there were fairly high levels of covert and overt anti-Semitism in patrician circles resulting from the very rapid upward mobility of Jews and their competitive drive. In the period prior to World War I, the reaction of the gentile power structure was to construct social registers and emphasize genealogy as mechanisms of exclusion— "criteria that could not be met my money alone" (Higham 1984, 104ff, 127). During this period Edward A. Ross (1914, 164) described gentile resentment for "being obliged to engage in a humiliating and undignified scramble in order to keep his trade or his clients against the Jewish invader"— suggesting a rather broad-based concern with Jewish economic competition. Attempts at exclusion in a wide range of areas were increased in the 1920s and reached their peak during the difficult economic situation of the Great Depression (Higham 1984, 131ff).

However, in the 1924 debates the only Congressional comments suggesting a concern with Jewish/gentile resource competition (as well as a concern that the interests of Jewish intellectuals are not the same as their gentile counterparts) that I have been able to find are the following from Representative Wefald:

I for one am not afraid of the radical ideas that some might bring with them. Ideas you cannot keep out anyway, but the leadership of our intellectual life in many of its phases has come into the hands of these clever newcomers who have no sympathy with our old-time American ideals nor with those of northern Europe, who detect our weaknesses and pander to them and get wealthy through the disservices they render us.

Our whole system of amusements has been taken over by men who came here on the crest of the south and east European immigration. They produce our horrible film stories, they compose and dish out to us our jazz music, they write many of the books we read, and edit our magazines and newspapers (Cong. Rec., April 12, 1924, p. 6272).

The immigration debate also occurred amid discussion in the Jewish media of Thorsten Veblen’s famous essay "The Intellectual Pre-eminence of Jews in Modern Europe" (serialized in The American Hebrew beginning September 10, 1920). In an editorial of July 13, 1923 (p. 177), The American Hebrew noted that Jews were disproportionately represented among the gifted in Louis Terman’s study of gifted children and commented that "this fact must give rise to bitter, though futile, reflection among the so-called Nordics." The editorial also noted that Jews were overrepresented among scholarship winners in competitions sponsored by the state of New York. The editorial pointedly noted that "perhaps the Nordics are too proud to try for these honors. In any event the list of names just announced by the State Department of Education at Albany as winners of these coveted scholarships is not in the least Nordic; it reads like a confirmation roster at a Temple." There is indeed evidence that Jews, like East Asians, have higher IQ’s than Caucasians (Lynn, 1987; MacDonald, 1994; Rushton, 1995).

The most common argument made by those favoring the legislation, and the one reflected in the majority report, is the argument that in the interests of fairness to all ethnic groups, the quotas should reflect the relative ethnic composition of the entire country. Restrictionists noted that the census of 1890 was chosen because the percentages of the foreign born of different ethnic groups in that year approximated the general ethnic composition of the entire country in 1920. Senator Reed of Pennsylvania and Representative Rogers of Massachusetts proposed to achieve the same result by directly basing the quotas on the national origins of all people in the country as of the 1920 census, and this was eventually incorporated into the law. Representative Rogers argued that "Gentlemen, you can not dissent from this principle because it is fair. It does not discriminate for anybody and it does not discriminate against anybody" (Cong. Rec. April 8, 1924; p. 5847). Senator Reed noted, "The purpose, I think, of most of us in changing the quota basis is to cease from discriminating against the native born here and against the group of our citizens who come from northern and western Europe. I think the present system discriminates in favor of southeastern Europe (Cong. Rec., April. 16, 1924; p. 6457) (i.e., because 46% of the quotas under the 1921 went to Eastern and Southern Europe when they constituted less than 12% of the population).

As an example illustrating the fundamental argument asserting a legitimate ethnic interest in maintaining an ethnic status quo without claiming racial superiority, consider the following statement from Representative William N. Vaile of Colorado, one of the most prominent restrictionists:

Let me emphasize here that the restrictionists of Congress do not claim that the "Nordic" race, or even the Anglo-Saxon race, is the best race in the world. Let us concede, in all fairness that the Czech is a more sturdy laborer, with a very low percentage of crime and insanity, that the Jew is the best businessman in the world, and that the Italian has a spiritual grasp and an artistic sense which have greatly enriched the world and which have, indeed, enriched us, a spiritual exaltation and an artistic creative sense which the Nordic rarely attains. Nordics need not be vain about their own qualifications. It well behooves them to be humble. What we do claim is that the northern European, and particularly Anglo-Saxons made this country. Oh, yes; the others helped. But that is the full statement of the case. They came to this country because it was already made as an Anglo-Saxon commonwealth. They added to it, they often enriched, but they did not make it, and they have not yet greatly changed it. We are determined that they shall not. It is a good country. It suits us. And what we assert is that we are not going to surrender it to somebody else or allow other people, no matter what their merits, to make it something different. If there is any changing to be done, we will do it ourselves (Cong. Rec. April 8, 1924; p. 5922).

The debate in the House also illustrated the highly salient role of Jewish legislators in combating restrictionism. Representative Robison singled out Representative Sabath as the leader of anti-restrictionist efforts, and, without mentioning any other opponent of restriction, he also focused on Reps. Jacobstein, Celler, and Perlman as being opposed to any restrictions on immigration (Cong. Rec. April 5, 1924, p. 5666). Representative Blanton, complaining of the difficulty of getting restrictionist legislation through Congress, noted "When at least 65 per cent of the sentiment of this House, in my judgment, is in favor of the exclusion of all foreigners for five years, why do we not put that into law? Has Brother Sabath such a tremendous influence over us that he holds us down on this proposition?" (Cong. Rec. April 5, 1924, p. 5685). Representative Sabath responded that "There may be something to that." In addition, the following comments of Representative Leavitt clearly indicate the salience of Jewish congressmen to their opponents during the debate:

The instinct for national and race preservation is not one to be condemned, as has been intimated here. No one should be better able to understand the desire of Americans to keep America American than the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Sabath], who is leading the attack on this measure, or the gentlemen from New York, Mr. Dickstein, Mr. Jacobstein, Mr. Celler, and Mr. Perlman. They are of the one great historic people who have maintained the identity of their race throughout the centuries because they believe sincerely that they are a chosen people, with certain ideals to maintain, and knowing that the loss of racial identity means a change of ideals. That fact should make it easy for them and the majority of the most active opponents of this measure in the spoken debate to recognize and sympathize with our viewpoint, which is not so extreme as that of their own race, but only demands that the admixture of other peoples shall be only of such kind and proportions and in such quantities as will not alter racial characteristics more rapidly than there can be assimilation as to ideas of government as well as of blood. (Cong. Rec., April 12, 1924; pp. 6265-6266)

The view that Jews had a strong tendency to oppose genetic assimilation with surrounding groups occurred among other observers as well and was a component of contemporary anti-Semitism (see Singerman 1986, pp. 110-111). Jewish avoidance of exogamy certainly had a basis in reality (MacDonald 1994, Ch. 2-4). Indeed, it is noteworthy that there was powerful opposition to intermarriage even among the more liberal segments of early twentieth-century American Judaism and certainly among the less liberal segments represented by the great majority of Orthodox immigrants from Eastern Europe who had come to constitute the great majority of American Jewry. For example, the prominent nineteenth-century Reform leader David Einhorn was a lifelong opponent of mixed marriages and refused to officiate at such ceremonies, even when pressed to do so (Meyer 1988, 247). Einhorn was also a staunch opponent of conversion of gentiles to Judaism because of the effects on the "racial purity" of Judaism (Levenson 1989, 331). Similarly, the influential Reform intellectual Kaufman Kohler was also an ardent opponent of mixed marriage. In a view that is highly compatible with Horace Kallen’s multi-culturalism, Kohler concluded that Israel must remain separate and avoid intermarriage until it leads mankind to an era of universal peace and brotherhood among the races (Kohler 1918, 445-446). The negative attitude toward intermarriage was confirmed by survey results. A 1912 survey indicated that only seven of 100 Reform rabbis had officiated at a mixed marriage, and a 1909 resolution of the Central Council of American Rabbis declared that "mixed marriages are contrary to the tradition of the Jewish religion and should be discouraged by the American Rabbinate" (Meyer 1988, 290). Gentile perceptions of Jewish attitudes on intermarriage therefore had a strong basis in reality.

The Involvement of Jewish Immigrants in Radical Politics.

The Congressional debates of 1924 reflected a highly charged context in which Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe were widely perceived to not only avoid intermarriage but also to retain a separatist culture and to be disproportionately involved in radical political movements. The perception of radicalism among Jewish immigrants was common in Jewish as well as gentile publications. The American Hebrew editorialized that "we must not forget the immigrants from Russia and Austria will be coming from countries infested with Bolshevism, and it will require more than a superficial effort to make good citizens out of them" (in Neuringer 1971, p. 165). The fact that Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe were viewed as "infected with Bolshevism . . . unpatriotic, alien, unassimilable" resulted in a wave of anti-Semitism in the 1920s and contributed to the restrictive immigration legislation of the period (Neuringer 1971, p. 165). In Sorin’s (1985, 46) study of immigrant Jewish radical activists, over half had been involved in radical politics in Europe before emigrating, and for those immigrating after 1900, the percentage rose to 69%.

Jewish publications warned of the possibilities of anti-Semitism resulting from the leftism of Jewish immigrants, and the official Jewish community engaged in "a near-desperation . . . effort to portray the Jew as one hundred per cent American" by, e.g., organizing patriotic pageants on national holidays and by attempting to get the immigrants to learn English (Neuringer, 1971, p. 167).

Similarly, in England, the immigration of Eastern European Jews into England after 1880 had a transformative effect on the political attitudes of British Jewry in the direction of socialism, trade-unionism, and Zionism, often combined with religious orthodoxy and devotion to a highly separatist traditional lifestyle (Alderman, 1983; p. 47ff). The more established Jewish organizations fought hard to combat the well-founded image of Jewish immigrants as Zionist, religiously orthodox political radicals who refused to be conscripted into the armed forces during World War I in order to fight the enemies of the officially anti-Semitic Czarist government (Alderman, 1992, p. 237ff).

The Jewish Old Left, including the unions, the leftist press, and the leftist fraternal orders (which were often associated with a synagogue), was a part of the wider Jewish community, and Jewish members typically retained a strong Jewish ethnic identity (Howe 1976; Liebman 1979; Buhle 1980). This phenomenon occurred within the entire spectrum of leftist organizations, including organizations such as the Communist Party and the Socialist Party whose membership also included gentiles (Liebman, 1979, p. 267ff; Buhle 1980).

Werner Cohn (1958, p. 621) describes the general milieu of the immigrant Jewish community in the period from 1886-1920 as "one big radical debating society":

By 1886 the Jewish community in New York had become conspicuous for its support of the third-party (United Labor) candidacy of Henry George, the theoretician of the Single Tax. From then Jewish districts in New York and elsewhere were famous for their radical voting habits. The Lower East Side repeatedly picked as its congressman Meyer London, the only New York Socialist ever to be elected to Congress. And many Socialists went to the State Assembly in Albany from Jewish districts. In the 1917 mayoralty campaign in New York City, the Socialist and anti-war candidacy of Morris Hillquit was supported by the most authoritative voices of the Jewish Lower East Side: The United Hebrew Trades, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, and most importantly, the very popular Yiddish Daily Forward. This was the period in which extreme radicals— like Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman— were giants in the Jewish community, and when almost all the Jewish giants— among them Abraham Cahan, Morris Hillquit, and the young Morris R. Cohen— were radicals. Even Samuel Gompers, when speaking before Jewish audiences, felt it necessary to use radical phrases.

In addition, The Freiheit, which was an unofficial organ of the Communist Party from the 1920s to the 1950s "stood at the center of Yiddish proletarian institutions and subculture . . . [which offered] identity, meaning, friendship, and understanding" (Liebman, 1979, pp. 349-350). The newspaper lost considerable support in the Jewish community in 1929 when it took the Communist party position in opposition to Zionism, and by the 1950s it essentially had to choose between satisfying its Jewish soul or its status as a Communist organ. It chose the former, and by the late 1960s it was justifying not returning the Israeli occupied territories in opposition to the line of the American Communist Party.

The relationship of Jews and the American Communist Party (CPUSA) is particularly interesting because a concern with Communist subversion under the direction of the Soviet Union was a feature of the immigration debates of the 1920s and because a substantial proportion of the CPUSA were foreign born.12 Beginning in the 1920s Jews whose backgrounds derived from Eastern Europe played a very prominent and disproportionate role in the CPUSA (Klehr, 1978, p. 37ff). Merely citing percentages of Jewish leaders probably does not adequately indicate the extent of Jewish influence in the CPUSA, since active efforts were made to recruit gentiles as a sort of "window dressing" to conceal the extent of Jewish influence in the movement (Klehr, 1978, p. 40; Rothman & Lichter, 1982, p. 99).

Klehr (1978, p. 40) estimates that from 1921 to 1961, Jews constituted 33.5% of the Central Committee members and the representation of Jews was often above 40% (Klehr, 1978, p. 46). In the 1920s a majority of the members of the Socialist Party were immigrants and that an "overwhelming" (Glazer 1961, 38, 40) percentage of the CPUSA consisted of recent immigrants, a substantial percentage of whom were Jews. In Philadelphia in the 1930’s, fully 72.2% of the CP members were the children of Jewish immigrants who came to the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (Lyons 1982, 71). As late as 1929, 90% of the members of the Communist Party in Philadelphia were foreign born and in June of 1933 the national organization of the CPUSA was still 70% foreign born (Lyons 1982, 72-73). Jews were the only native-born ethnic group from which the party was able to recruit. Glazer (1969; p. 129) states that at least half of the CPUSA membership of around 50,000 were Jews into the 1950s and that there was a very high rate of turnover, so that perhaps 10 times that number of individuals were involved in the Party and there were "an equal or larger number who were Socialists of one kind or another." Writing of the 1920’s, Buhle (1980, p. 89) notes that "most of those favorable to the party and the Freiheit simply did not join— no more than a few thousand out of a following of a hundred times that large."

There was also great concern within the Jewish community that the overrepresentation of Jews within the CPUSA would lead to anti-Semitism from the 1920s through the Cold War period: "The fight against the stereotype of Communist-Jew became a virtual obsession with Jewish leaders and opinion makers throughout America" (Liebman 1979, p. 515), and indeed, the association of Jews with the CPUSA was a focus of anti-Semitic literature (e.g., Henry Ford’s [1920] International Jew; John Beaty’s [1951] The Iron Curtain Over America). As a result, the AJCommittee engaged in intensive efforts to change opinion within the Jewish community by showing that Jewish interests were more compatible with advocating American democracy than Soviet Communism (e.g., emphasizing Soviet anti-Semitism and Soviet support of nations opposed to Israel in the period after World War II) (Cohen, 1972, p. 347ff).

Continued in Part II