The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958

Book Reviews

in quality, in so far as most oil histories are concerned, from the
usual story of wildcats and roughnecks and boomtowns as Vernon
Louis Parrington is from Boyce House. JOE B. FRANTZ
University of Texas
American Immigration Policy, 1924-1952. By Robert A. Divine.
New Haven (Yale University Press), 1957. Pp. viii+220.
Footnotes, appendices, bibliographical essay, and index. $4.00.
Prior to the 1890o's most Americans regarded their country as
a haven for downtrodden Europeans and a "melting pot" in
which peoples of various cultural backgrounds were recast in a
typical American mold. But with the influx of the less assimilable
"new" immigrants and the subsequent surge of racism and xeno-
phobia they discarded the asylum ideal and realistically closed
the country's door to all but a handful of carefully screened
supplicants.
The climax of the restrictive movement came in the 192o's
when Congress adopted the quota system drastically limiting the
number of immigrants and favoring the countries of northwestern
Europe. During the thirties and forties, liberals succeeded in
prying the door ajar to admit some Orientals, refugees, and dis-
placed persons, but in 1952 the restrictionists, capitalizing on a
widespread fear of subversives, capped their previous triumphs
with the strongly restrictive McCarran-Walter Act. Worried over
the international repercussions of the restrictive policy, the ad-
ministration rigorously applied the literacy and public-charge
tests to forestall further demands by the restrictionists.
American Immigration Policy, 1924-1952 is a scholarly analysis
of the economic, ethnic, nationalistic, and political forces which
led Congress to abandon its laissez-faire attitude of the nineteenth
century and adopt a restrictive policy. On the one hand, it shows
how, in varying degrees, labor's fear of competition, the racists'
dread of contamination by a "barbarian horde," the fascist and
communist threats to the "American way of life," and the na-
tionalists' concern for security lay behind the quota system, the
national origins plan, the exclusion of subversives, and the dis-
crimination against Orientals and non-Nordic Europeans. On the
other hand, it shows how considerations of justice, humanity,
and international politics led Congress to place previously ex-

323

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, July 1957 - April, 1958. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101164/. Accessed April 18, 2014.