On 19 February 1921 the United States Senate passed the Dillingham Immigration Bill, which for the first time set quotas on the number of immigrants coming into the country.
Three months earlier the Republican Warren Harding had defeated James Cox in a presidential election after the Democrats chose not to give the incumbent, Woodrow Wilson, the chance to run for a third term.
As one of his last acts in office Wilson vetoed the bill but it was finally passed by Congress in May 1921, with Harding’s approval.
Controlling immigration is often thought of as a 21st century issue and it was certainly one of the key reasons Donald Trump got elected in 2016 with his infamous campaign pledge of building a wall along the Mexican border.
But it became an issue in the US in the late 19th century and early 20th century.
In 1907 the Dillingham Commission was set up to investigate the number of people entering into the US.
It ran until 1911 and produced a 41-volume report containing detailed data on where migrants were coming from, which states they were settling in and what were the economic and social pros and cons.
The influx of migrants from Europe in particular had become a torrent after the passing of the 1862 Homestead Act.
The Act – which was passed during the Civil War and was partly intended to deter those in wavering states like Missouri and Tennessee from joining the “rebels” – promised 160s acres of land in Midwestern states to “any adult citizen, or…