Historical content: 
Slavery and Westward Expansion
Historical skills: 
Background knowledge, Contextualization, Periodization



The following two documents about immigration were produced over fifty years apart. Read the documents and determine the order in which they were most likely written. Then explain your answers using evidence from the documents and your knowledge of history.


Document A: A quote from the Mayor of San Francisco in a newspaper article.

Document B: A passage from a book about one immigrant's journey to America.

Document A
Document B
Source text: 

Document A:

"It is my firm belief that an exclusion act, even more stringent than the present one, should be passed in the matter of the Japanese immigrants. . . . We may say that the Japanese is enlightened, and, this being true, his education prompts him to adopt American ways, and thus, with his cheap labor, dig at the foundation upon which rests the welfare of our people. Where a Chinese will work upon a farm at starvation wages, a Japanese has the ability to acquire the property itself. The Chinese are dangerous enough, but the Japanese would drive all competition out of business. It is the stern duty of the American citizen, and particularly of those of us upon this western coast, to scrutinise this evil and then suppress it with appropriate legislation."

Document B:

"Preparation was now made for landing. The quarantine doctor took the captain's word that we were all in good health; his attention was required for the inspection of some very large emigrant ships that lay near us. There had been 4,700 emigrants landed on the previous Thursday, and we learned on Monday that 10,035 had arrived on the Saturday and Sunday, principally Germans, each possessed of a small capital, and all ready to proceed instantly to the various German settlements in the interior, without staying to waste their means in New York. The Custom-house officer's duty was a mere form. We landed on the New Jersey side, and Mr. Brooks and I entered a vehicle which drove right on board a river steamer, and the moment we touched the New York shore it was driven on, and we were on the streets. . . ."

Document _____ was likely written first because_____________________________



Document _____ was likely written later because ____________________________




About the Assessment

Like Civil Rights Movement in Context, this assessment gauges students’ ability to contextualize two historical documents and place them in the correct chronological order. Document A is part of an editorial from a San Francisco newspaper published in 1916. Document B is part of a book titled A Tour in the United States by Archibald Prentice published in 1848. The assessment draws on students' knowledge about American immigration but in a way that goes beyond the simple recall of facts and dates. Students must show that they have a broad understanding of how American immigration changed over time and demonstrate the ability to use that knowledge to place the two documents in context.

In this assessment, students who correctly contextualize the documents will see that Letter B, which describes an easy immigration process for large numbers of German immigrants, was likely written before Letter A, which calls for legislation similar to the Chinese Exclusion Act to exclude Japanese immigrants.