Ethnic groups in the USA at the end of World War One

At the end of the First World War there were many identifiable groups who made up the majority of American society:

  • White Anglo Saxon Protestants (also called WASPs or ‘old immigrants’)
  • New immigrants
  • Black Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Asians
  • Hispanics

The White Anglo Saxon Protestants

This was the first immigrant group to settle in America in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. They are often referred to as the ‘old immigrants’.

WASPs originally came from northern Europe, especially from Britain, Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia. Immigrants from these countries continued to migrate to America throughout the 19th century.

The promise of cheap or free land, higher wages, better housing and assisted passage schemes enticed large numbers to follow their ancestors in the pursuit of the American Dream.

Many in this group were skilled and often had family already living in America who had arranged jobs and housing for them.

This allowed them to forge successful and prosperous lives in America. WASPs controlled the banks, industry, politics and law (among others).