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American Immigration 1607-1830 Essay

Ever since its founding in 1776, and even before then, the United States has attracted immigrants from around the world. For well over two centuries, people have flocked under this nation’s protective wings as opportunists, sojourners, missionaries, refugees, and even illegal aliens. With the Statue of Liberty greeting Europeans entering Ellis Island, and The Golden Gate Bridge greeting Chinese and other Asians into San Francisco, the U. S. has long since been a refuge of the world, with opportunities abound and freedom for all.

Over time, millions around the world have found emigrating to the U. S. as the only alternative to starvation, death, or a life full of hardship and suffering. With thousands from nations spanning the globe, America has become a mosaic of people, culture, and hope. The Regulations and Laws In 1862, the first measure restricting immigration enacted by Congress was a law forbidding American vessels to transport Chinese immigrants to the U. S. 20 years later in 1882, Congress upped the constraint, passing the Chinese Exclusion Act restricting all Chinese immigrants entry into the U. S.

At about the same time, acts passed by Congress in 1875, 1882, and 1892 provided for the examination of immigrants and for the exclusion from the U. S. of convicts, polygamists, prostitutes, person suffering from loathsome or contagious, diseases, and persons liable to become public charges. Also passed were the Aline Contract Labor Laws of 1885, 1887, 1888, and 1891, prohibiting the immigration to the U. S. of persons entering the country to work under contracts made before their arrival. The English

Out of all the ethnic groups in the world, most consider the English to have had to most crucial role in paving the way for U. S. immigration. The English were the ones to establish colonies of which the United States of America sprung from. Their offspring formed the largest component of the Republic and the foundations they laid influenced all subsequent newcomers. The first successful permanent English settlement was Jamestown, founded in 1607 by the Virginia Company. Jamestown was founded on May 14, 1607, by a small group led by Captain Christopher Newport, who was hired by the London Company to transport colonists.

Many settlers died from famine and disease in the winter of 1609-10. The survivors were encouraged to stay in Jamestown by the arrival of new settlers and supplies the following June. In 1612 tobacco growing was started. The colony prospered and became the capital of Virginia. In 1619 the first representative assembly in America was held here. In the same year, at Jamestown, the first black slaves were introduced into the original 13 colonies. The village was often attacked by Native Americans. In 1622, 350 colonists were killed; 500 in 1644.

Colonists rebelling against the rule of Governor William Berkeley burned Jamestown in the seat of government was moved to the Middle Plantation (now Williamsburg) in 1699, and Jamestown was deserted. The National Park Service and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (which owns 9 hectares/23 acres of the island), have excavated and restored the area. The Jamestown Archaeological Laboratory contains relics unearthed by National Park Service excavations. Jamestown Festival Park, adjacent to the national park, has full-scale replicas of early ships and a re-creation of James Fort (1607).

Pavilions depict Native American and English cultures. (Microsoft, 1998) Immigration to New England began with the migration of Pilgrims who established Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts Bay in 1620. In 1629, a large mount of English Puritans with charter and a mission to set up a Puritan commonwealth establish a settlement on the Massachusetts Bay. The following decade from 1630 to 1640 marked the period of time known as the Great Migration. During this time, Massachusetts’s population skyrocketed with the migration of approximately 21,000 immigrants to New England, about a third of them being Britons.

However, by 1660, large-scale migration from Britain to New England rapidly decreased and immigration to the New World was officially discouraged. But during 1700’s, Britain began to restrict emigration out of England to the U. S. In 1718, the British Parliament prohibited immigration of skilled workers from the British Isles to migrate to the U. S. and in 1775, an outbreak of revolutionary violence stops immigration from Britain. From that point on, only a trickle of British immigrants came to the USA, compared to the rest of western Europe. The Germans

Around the year 1700, many Germans were fleeing their homeland to find an easier life in other European countries, the Western Hemisphere, and Australia due to extremely violent conditions. Unlike most immigrants, German immigrants mostly did not immigrate for political reasons. In fact, the country was repeatedly being attacked by armies of various nationalities. Inhabitants of the southwestern part, especially, were constantly robbed and tortured. Entire villages were often burnt down and their inhabitants killed. During the flood of emigrants from Germany, its rulers tried to stop the flow, but to little effect.

In fact, the flow increased, and in 1709 about 15,000 Germans left for Britain, and 3,000 crossed the Atlantic to New York. In 1745, there were an estimated 45,000 Germans living in Pennsylvania alone. After the year 1800, Germans still poured into the US, but for different reasons than the earlier generations. Modernization and population growth forced many Germans from their respective family businesses. Also, modernization made immigrating more convenient and faster with inventions such as the steam boat and steam train.

Many Germans took long, complicated, but cheap routes through Great Britain by way of train and boat to get to the United States. In the United States, most Germans lived on the countryside. Only about two fifths lived in cities larger than 25,000 people. In 1870, German-born farmers made up one third of the agricultural industry in the region. This does not include most Pennsylvanian Germans who were born native to the US. German farmers didn’t just stay in the east. Large numbers of German farmers could be found in the Midwest and in Texas. Some even went as far west as Anaheim, California.

West coast German farmers, though, didn’t live up to the east coast stereotype of a German farmer. Most of the west coast farmers would sacrifice fertile land for a closer location to other Germans. Also, in cities, Germans would cluster together to form communities not unlike the Chinese Chinatowns. These replications of Germany would house prominent German businesses such as the lager beer industry. German entrepreneurs such as bakers, butchers, cabinetmakers, cigar makers, distillers, machinists, and tailors also could be found in abundance in these “Miniature-Germany” towns.

German women, however, were less likely than the average American woman to enter the labor force. Very few German women could be found holding jobs in a factory, or as a clerk. Instead, they sought after work as bakers, domestic workers, hotel keepers, janitors, laundry workers, nurses, peddlers, saloon keepers, and tailors. Not all Germans got along in large groups, though. During much of the nineteenth century, divisions among Germans seemed more significant those between German Americans and other groups.

These divisions were based on geography, on ideology, and on religion. The first two were most apparent before 1871, when the push for German unification tended to unite most but certainly not all German Americans in feelings of pride in their fatherland and its achievements. Initially, German immigrants tended to identify themselves as Bavarians, Wurttembergers, Saxons, and so on, although intellectuals and those who politicized yearned for some kind of German unification. Most of these were liberals of one kind or another, who dreamed of a more-or-less democratic Germany.

Even so, when unification did come to Bismarckian, autocratic terms after the wars of unification, all but the most ideologically committed German Americans rejoiced: Liberals and conservatives, as well as the more numerically important apolitical, were united in a feeling of pride. (Roger Daniels, 1990) Religious differences were more enduring. Most German immigrants were Protestants, with Lutheranism by far the most denomination; perhaps a third of German immigrants were Catholics, and around 250,000 were Jewish. With the Lutheran community in the United States there was considerable friction.

Nineteenth-century German Lutheran immigrants found that the existing German Lutheran churches in the US had developed into what, to them, were unwelcome tendencies. Most had been Americanized enough so that English was used for all or part of their services. Even worse, doctrine had been liberalized. The older churches and their offshoots, established by immigrants who had come before the Revolution, had come closer to Reformed and even Anglican churches and in many instances had adopted preaching styles similar to that of the Methodists. These trends were, not surprisingly, more pronounced in the cities than in the country.

In New York and Philadelphia, for example, Lutheran bodies had adopted new constitutions in which all reference to the Augsburg Confession had disappeared. The result was, eventually, schism. By 1847, under the leadership of a recent immigrant pastor, C. F. W. Walther, whose enemies called him “the Lutheran pope of the West,” the newer Lutheran arrivals who wished to maintain the old-style doctrine had organized the Missouri Synod. Over the years it has remained the bulwark of the more conservative American Lutherans, regardless of where they live. The Italians

During the mass emigration from Italy during the century between 1876 to 1976, the U. S. was the largest single recipient of Italian immigrants in the world. However, their impact was not as great as countries like Argentina and Brazil. That was due to the fact that hundreds of thousands of immigrants from nations all over the world were migrating to the U. S. at the same time and American born natives already made up the majority ethnic group. The Italians did play a major role though, socially with individuals rising to national stature in many different fields.

In 1850, less than 4,000 Italians were reportedly in the U. S. However in 1880, merely four years after the influx of Italian immigrants migrated, the population skyrocketed to 44,000, and by 1900, 484,027. From 1880 to 1900, southern Italian immigrants became the predominant Italian immigrant and stayed that way throughout the mass migration. Despite the increase numbers, the Italians were not the largest foreign-origin group in American cities. Outnumbered by groups migrating for decades before them. Italians only made-up 1. 5% of the U. S. population at its peak.

In the U. S. where the abundance of cheap land could no longer be found, the mostly agricultural Italians in Italy, became mostly urban. Starting from the bottom of the occupational ladder working up, they worked jobs such as shoe shinning, ragpicking, sewer cleaning, and whatever hard, dirty, dangerous jobs others didn’t want. Even children worked at an early age, as in Italy, even at the expense of their educations. The Italians were known for rarely accepting charity or resorting to prostitution for money, another reflection of patterns in Italy.

As in many other places in the world, Italians in America clustered into groups related to their place of origin. For example, the Neapolitans and Sicilians settled in different parts of New York, and even people from different parts of Sicily settled on different streets. However, what seldom occurred in U. S. were Italians enclaves, or all-Italians neighborhoods. The Italians would disperse themselves in other immigrant groups, such as, the Irish, the Jews, the Germans, and the Poles, while remaining in their clusters. Also, immigrants usually settled in different regions of U. S. based in where they came from in Italy.

The Sicilians resided in New Orleans, the Neapolitans and Calabrians in Minnesota, and mostly northern Italians in California. However most of the Italians were concentrated in the mid Atlantic states in 1910 with 472,000 in New York and nearly 200,000 in Pennsylvania at the time. The living conditions for the Italians tended to be over crowded and filthy all over the U. S.. Italian laborers also tended to skimp on food in a desperate attempt to save money. However, after time and new generations of Italians, the dirtiness of their homes disappeared along with the complaint of weak Italians from lack of nutrition.

The Italians were noted for their diligence and sobriety as workmen. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, Italians often became fishermen, shoemakers, waiters, fruit sellers, and tradesmen. Most were unskilled laborers though, working in mines and construction jobs. Over the years, the Italians rose up the economic scale but acquiring job skills in blue-collar job rather than by becoming educated and entering that profession. The Irish The Irish were unfortunately divided during much of the nineteenth century and was therefore helpless in the face of its grave problems.

The Act of Union of 1803 incorporated the island into British polity, but was useless in easing the difficult situation of the people.. With an overly large population as the result of the Napoleanic Wars, the Irish soon became impoverished. And with the religious prejudice of Protestant Masters to the Catholic Irish, plus political subordination, many had no alternative by to emigrate to the United States for relief. Between 1820 and 1860, the Irish were never less than a third of all immigrants.

The British Passenger Acts attempted to deflect the immigration from the British Isles to Canada instead of the U. S. , making the fare a cheap 15 shilling compared to the 4 or 5 pound fare to New York. Many Irish soon found it convenient to take the affordable trip to Canada, where they could buy cheap fares to the U. S. , or cheaper yet, they could walk across the border. By 1840, the Irish constituted nearly half of all entering immigrants, and New England found it self heavily foreign born. By 1950, the Irish consisted of one fifth of all foreign born in the originally homogenous region. In 1845, the great potato rot touched off a mass migration.

The disaster eliminated the sole ubsistence of millions of peasants, thrusting them over the edge of starvation. For five weary years, the crops remained undependable, and famine swept through the land. Untold thousands perished, and the survivors, destitute of hope, wished only to get away (Handlin, 1972). The only mode of escape was emigration. Starving families that could not pay landlords faced no alternative but to leave the country in hopes of a better future. And thus the steadily scaling number of Irish who entered the U. S. between 1820 and 1830 skyrocketed in the 1840s, nearly 2 million came in that decade.

The flow persisted increasingly for another five years, as the first immigrants began to earn the means of sending for relatives and friends. The decade after 1855 showed a subside in the movement, but smaller numbers continued to arrive after the Civil War. Altogether, almost 3. 5 million Irishmen entered the U. S. between 1820 and 1880. Emigrating to the U. S. wasn’t the magical solution for most of the immigrants. Peasants arrived without resources, or capital to start farms or businesses. Few of them ever accumulated the resources to make any meaningful choice about their way of life.

Fortunately for them, the expansion of the American economy created heavy demands for muscle grunt. The great canals, which were the first links in the national transportation system were still being dug in the 1820s and 1830s, and in the time between 1830 and 1880, thousands of miles of rail were being laid. With no bulldozers existing at the time, the pick and the shovel were the only earth-moving equipment at the time. And the Irish laborers were the mainstay of the construction gangs that did this grueling work. In towns along the sites of work, groups of Irish formed their small communities to live in.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, as American cities were undergoing rapid growth and beginning to develop an infrastructure and creating the governmental machinery and personnel necessary to run it, the Irish and their children got their first foothold- on the ground floor. Irish policemen and firemen are not just stereotypes: Irish all but monopolized those jobs when they were being created in the post-Civil War years, and even today Irish names are clearly over-represented in those occupations (Daniels, 1990).

Irish workmen not only began laying the horsecar and streetcar tracks, but were some of the first drivers and conductors. The first generations worked largely at unskilled and semiskilled occupations, but their children found themselves working at increasingly skilled trades. By 1900, when Irish American mend made up about a thirteenth of the male labor force, they were almost a third of the plumbers, steamfitters, and boilermakers. Industry working Irish soon found themselves lifted up into boss and straw-boss positions as common laborers more and more arrived from southern and eastern Europe- Italians, Slavs, and Hungarians.

In years after 1860, Irish Immigration persisted. More than 2. 6 million Irish came in the decades after 1860. However, larger numbers of immigrants from elsewhere masked the inflow of Irish people. Those Irish who did continue to flow into the U. S. tended to settle in the already existing Irish communities, where Catholic Churches had been built, and cultural traditions were carried out. However materialistically poor they were, the Irish were rich in cultural resources, developing institutions that helped them face hardship without despair.

Cultural events such as St. Patrick’s Day were regarded by most Americans as evidence of the separateness of these immigrants, but helped hold the Irish culture together. Their desire for self-expression showed that the Irish understood their group identity. Poor as they were, they drew strength from a culture that explained their situation in the world and provided spiritual resources to face if not to solve the problem. Aside from the church, the most important media of that culture were the press and the stage. All Irish newspapers had either a nationalistic or a religious base, some published as church organs, other drawing support from patriotic societies.

Their newspapers interpreted news, accommodated information, and printed popular poems and stories. The stage was even more appealing because it did not demand literacy, presenting to attentive audiences dramas as real as life but not as painful. By the late 1800s, the painful initial Irish transplantation into American society had ended. Second and third generation born and educated in the U. S. replaced the immigrants, but their heritage still stemmed from the peasants’ flight from Ireland and of the hardships of striking new roots in the New World.


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