Guiding Questions:

  • What should society do about the poor and the immigrant?
  • Does religious, economic, or ethnic background influence how people are able to participate in a democracy? Should these be factors?
  • Who gets to be part of “We the People”?



Image courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Prints Division

Since the founding of the United States, the question of what to do about poorer members of society has been present. This question has to be asked each time there is a shift in the population as new arrivals could one day become citizens. Your task is to examine the laws present at a critical point in U.S. and Massachusetts history, at a time where the population shifted dramatically. You will determine what the laws were, that the immigrant population was, and in what ways the laws expressed a shift in attitude along with the shift in population (if any). Finally, you will be asked to apply what you know as you become a Massachusetts state representative and argue your opinion about what the state should do about the poor and the immigrant.


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