Who Can Participate?

Lesson Plan


Grade Level

Middle School

Author Info


Type of Lesson


Type of Project (Individual/Group/Both)



30-60 minutes

Challenge Question

How were immigrants limited in their participation in American democracy and society in the 19th and 20th centuries?


The student will be able to:
– analyze primary source quotations from early American leaders.
– apply primary source quotations of early American leaders to the concept of immigration, the issue of restricting immigration in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, and the issue of discrimination against immigrant groups in America at the turn of the century.
– create a final product that communicates an argument against the strict restriction of immigration into the US and discrimination of immigrants in the US using primary source documents from early American leaders as support.

Notes to Teacher

This historical investigation should follow lessons on immigration that address the motivations of immigrants, groups and numbers that immigrated at various times, and American response to immigration including laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the National Origins Act.


  1. It’s 1900. Your job as the president of a pro-immigrant lobbying group is to convince the President of the US to end the limitation of immigration through laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the National Origins Act and end discrimination against immigrants in the areas of voting and equal rights. You will consult the source database and will use the sources provided as evidence to support your position.
  2. For each of the resources write a sentence or two explaining how this resource from the past might link to your cause.
  3. Choose 5-10 of the 20 sources that you feel will best make the case for your position.
  4. Write a report to the President of the United States that includes compelling reasons why we should end strict restrictions on immigration and discrimination against immigrant groups in the US. Be sure to use evidence from the sources you selected from the document database to support your argument. You should explicitly reference these sources by quoting or paraphrasing.