Unit 6 SAQ (Interpretation of Immigrants) Answers

4 min readnovember 29, 2021

AP US History 🇺🇸

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APUSH Short Answer Question Answers for the Interpretation of Immigrants

👋 Welcome to the APUSH Unit 6 SAQ (Interpretation of Immigrants) Answers. Have your responses handy as you go through the rubrics to see how you did!
⏱ Remember, the AP US History exam has a mixture of free-response questions and allotted times. For these types of questions, there will be 3 SAQs, and you will be given 40 minutes to complete the SAQ section. (This means you should give yourself ~13 minutes to go through each practice SAQ.)


“The new immigrants became laborers, housepainters, stonecutters, ditchdigggers. They were often imported en masse by contractors...their conditions led sometimes to rebellion...As immigrants became naturalized citizens, they were brought into the American two-party system, invited to be loyal to one party or the other.”
- Howard Zinn, historian, A People’s History of the United States, 2003
“The new immigrants, by contrast, were often regarded by Americans as racially inferior, culturally impoverished, and incapable of assimilating American values and traditions. This negative view of the “new immigrants” reflected in part a fear of their alien languages, religions, and economic backgrounds….and most, with the exception of the Jews, were peasants, unaccustomed to urban industrial life.”
- Gary Gerstle, historian Liberty, Equality, Power, A History of the American People, 1999

Questions with Answers & Rubric

(a) Briefly describe ONE major difference between and historical interpretations of immigrants between 1865 and 1898.

🏆 Successful answers would explain how:
  • Zinn’s account claims that the immigrants play a useful part of American life serving to help the economy in their vast array of jobs or politics.
  • In addition, immigrants were looked upon as future voters by many political machines.
  • Gerstle's interpretation implies that the immigrants are incapable of learning and contributing to the American economy or culture.

(b) Briefly explain how ONE specific historical event or development during the period 1865 to 1898 that is not explicitly mentioned in the excerpts could be used to support Zinn’s interpretation.

🏆 Successful answers would explain how:
  • Immigrants poured in from southern and eastern Europe to escape persecution and contributed by working some of the most dangerous jobs in the mining and railroad industries.
  • New Immigrants were willing and able to work and could often be used as strikebreakers, contributing to the economy while providing for their families. At the same time, they also joined unions such as the Knights of Labor to battle unfair labor conditions.
  • Immigrants often moved into large cities such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia and supported political machines like that of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall, becoming a viable part of the American political process.
  • Immigrants were not unskilled, assembly line only workers. Many became skilled hat, cigar makers, and financiers.
📄 Additional Resources:

(c) Briefly explain how ONE specific historical event or development during the period 1865 to 1898 that is not explicitly mentioned in the excerpts could be used to support Gerstle’s interpretation.

🏆 Successful answers would explain how:
  • Immigrants often settled in areas where they knew other people from the same home country creating areas like Little Italy, Chinatown, or Greektown.
  • Chinese immigrants were unwilling to assimilate and thus created districts known as “Chinatown.” In addition, Chinese immigrants were restricted as a result of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882.
  • Many of the new immigrants came from Italy and were primarily Catholic which scared many Nativists due to their fear of Popery.
  • Nativist organizations began to rise again to combat the growing immigrants who were often considered strikebreakers disrupting the ability for workers to earn an honest wage.
  • Immigrants crowded into tenement houses, were unsanitary, lacked hygiene and the children ran rampant in gangs, providing little service or value to the community.
  • Jews, Chinese and Eastern European immigrants were seen as outsiders because of their religious preferences that conflicted with protestant America.
📄 Additional Resources:

Next Steps

  • 🧠 Want to continue reinforcing your knowledge of Unit 6? Check out Unit 6 Trivia, either as a document or as a game.
  • ⏭ Ready to move on to the next topic? Take a look at the collection of Unit 7 Resources.
  • 📚 Want to review multiple units? Check out all of the APUSH SAQsLEQs, and DBQs.
  • 🤝 Got more questions? Want to help others studying the same topic? Jump into a room in Hours!
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