Between 1900 and 1920, like Howard Zinn's parents, more than 14 million immigrants arrived in the United States. They came fleeing poverty or war, racism or religious persecution. They dreamed of a promised land, of wealth, or simply of a better life. The New World opened its arms wide to the poor and huddled masses of the Old: its unwanted, its fugitives, and even a few utopians… After all, the rapidly expanding industries of the time required cheap labor, and immigrant workers – men, women and children – were easy to exploit. But the same period also saw the birth of organized labor, with its strikes and conflicts, and the appearance of great figures like Emma Goldman, Mother Jones, Eugene Debs and the Wobblies.
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