ELLIS ISLAND LESSON
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comprehension passage and questions (see
Students should read the story silently,
then answer the questions about the story that follow.
Excerpt from passage
The United States is a melting pot. Immigrants from all over the world first entered the United States through Ellis Island. Ellis Island is located in New York near the shores of New Jersey. Ellis Island was originally owned by the Native Americans. They called Ellis Island Gull Island. It was also known by the Native American word Kioshk. This is because the primary occupants of the island were seagulls.
In the 1600s, Ellis Island was purchased by the Dutch who owned the land that is currently New York City. At that time, New York was known as New Amsterdam. The island was renamed the Little Oyster Island. This is because the sands on the beach of the island were filled with oysters. The small island didn't have many other uses so many people owned it after the Dutch.
In the 1700s, near the time of the Revolutionary War, a man by the name of Samuel Ellis owned the island. Though Samuel tried to get rid of the island he was unsuccessful. When Samuel died the state of New York was eventually seeking ownership of Ellis Island. The state wanted to give the island to the federal government. There was a threat of war between the United States and Britain, so the government wanted to use Ellis Island for military training, to build a fort, and to store weapons.
On June 8, 1808 the State of New York purchased Ellis Island from the Ellis family for the price of $10,000. At that time $10,000 was a lot of money. The same day the federal government paid New York $10,000, and ownership was transferred again.
During the Revolutionary War the United States government faced the harsh reality that the British naval fleets could access New York Harbor easily. Prior to the war of 1812, it was incredibly important for the American government to find a way to prevent other nations from having access to New York so easily. This was the primary motivation for purchasing Ellis Island. As a result, Fort Gibson was built with 182 gunners and 13 guns on the island. (continued...)
Ellis Island Lesson
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