Some of the material in is restricted to members of the community. By logging in, you may be able to gain additional access to certain collections or items. If you have questions about access or logging in, please use the form on the Contact Page.
Taken as a whole, the progressive reformers who interacted with Syrian-Lebanese and Armenian immigrants generally tried to help, rather than hinder, the two peoples as they began to adjust to life in the United States. Many of the same reformers who sought to aid the two groups were strong nativists who disliked southern and eastern European immigrants’ occupational and political choices and considered Asian immigrants too “alien” to assimilate into the United States. Yet several self-described progressives – both pluralists who accepted most ethnic groups and xenophobes who feared and detested the majority of immigrants – helped the Syrian-Lebanese and Armenians in a variety of ways. They helped the immigrants find employment in the United States. They defended the two groups as “White” and therefore as eligible to become U.S. citizens. And, when passing discriminatory legislation against immigrants from the Asian continent, progressives in Congress carved out exceptions for the two groups. When officials create immigration policy, they are drawing legal lines of inclusion and exclusion. Sometimes the divide falls along the lines of ideology, other times the line is drawn to separate groups of people by geography, class, or religion. As policy-makers work through this process, their biases can have a dramatic effect on immigrants’ lives. The Syrian-Lebanese and Armenians understood the importance of emphasizing the ways in which their socio-economic characteristics aligned with the socio-economic preferences of the era’s policy-makers. This dissertation interrogates the apparent contradiction of progressive nativists advocating in favor of Syrian-Lebanese and Armenian immigrants. By doing so, this work illustrates the intricacies of progressive era policy-making and the far-reaching impact that obscure Congressmen, a lame-duck Senator, and officials buried deep within the federal bureaucracy could have on the lives of everyday individuals trying to navigate life in their new country.