When my husband’s grandfathers came to this country, there was a different (lower) pay scale for Italians in factories.
The largest mass lynching in U.S. history took place in New Orleans in 1891. 9 Italians-Americans who had been found not guilty of murdering a police chief were dragged from their cells, along with two other Italians-Americans being held on unrelated charges, and lynched.
Combined with anti-catholic sentiments, Italian-Americans faced much of the same prejudice that muslims face today. On December 24, 1806, New Yorkers surrounded St. Peter’s to protest “mysterious ceremonies” going on inside, and were nothing more than Christmas Eve mass. The Christmas Eve 1806 protest led to a riot in which dozens were injured and a policeman was killed.
The cartoon below shows a man holding a top hat in one hand and gesturing toward horde of arriving immigrants labeled “German socialist,” “Russian anarchist,” “Polish vagabond,” “Italian brigand,” “English convict,” “Irish pauper,” etc., at Castle Clinton in New York City. A scowling Uncle Sam leans against a building, at his feet is a sheet of paper on which is written, “Mafia in New Orleans, Anarchists in Chicago, Socialists in New York.” The man (Judge) says to Uncle Sam: “If Immigration was properly Restricted you would no longer be troubled with Anarchy, Socialism, the Mafia and such kindred evils!”
A beautiful cinematic account can be found in Emanuele Crialese’s Nuovomondo (Golden Door). Starring Vincenzo Amato and Charlotte Gainsbourg, the film shows the difficulties of leaving everything you know behind to board a over-crowded ship and take a dangerous voyage only to end up on Ellis Island, where the object seems to be finding some reason to deport you.