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Exploiting Mass Immigration to Displace Blacks


Exploiting Mass Immigration to Displace Blacks
The early twentieth century’s Great Replacement Theory
By George Fishman on May 22, 2024

We are approaching the 100th anniversary of the “Immigration Act of 1924” (“1924 Act”) enacted into law on May 26, 1924. This epochal legislation ushered in a four-decade-long pause in mass immigration that allowed the United States to assimilate the 20-plus million (including my forebears) who had arrived during the “Great Wave” beginning in the 1880s, no mean feat. And the pause fostered a national economic climate conducive to the flowering of the “American Dream”. Now, of course, the 1924 Act is famous/infamous for its national origins quota system. But we would all do well to recall famed sociologist Nathan Glazer’s reflection that “Today, we decry the restriction policies of the 1920s, but we should recall that progressives and liberals as well as conservatives and racists generally supported them.”1 And, as we shall see, so did native-born Black citizens.

To the unfortunate extent that racist thought insinuated itself into immigration thinking at the time, mass immigrationists were just as susceptible as restrictionists. Professor Daniel Tichenor, the Philip H. Knight chair of social science and director of the program on democratic governance at the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics at the University of Oregon, has written that:

During the late-nineteenth century, more than a few Southern leaders hoped to recruit European immigrant laborers to help build a “New South” defined by unprecedented agricultural and industrial development, even as native blacks migrated to Northern cities in record numbers. At gatherings like the Southern Interstate Immigration Committee, leaders from across the region planned ways to attract more European settlers.2

These Southern leaders didn’t just hope to recruit European immigrant laborers — they also hoped to use the immigrants to replace Black workers. The virulent racism at the heart of this scheme was on full display in a 1905 article by West Virginia University historian Walter Fleming. Writing in the Political Science Quarterly, Fleming exhorted the South to entice European immigrants in order to spare it from having to rely on Black workers. Fleming first went about assailing Black farmers:

the “Immigration Act of 1924”

Now there was a time when level-headed folks worked in the government and put into place immigration laws that made sense and sought to preserve the character and ethnic makeup of the United States.

Long, long gone.
What changed?

"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars... but in ourselves."


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