America as a result of the Revolutionry War gained independence from Britain in 1783. The first wave of immigration after independence occurred as a result of the disorders caused by the French Revolution (1789) and subsequent Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815). Europeans fled the economic distress and battlefield horrors by emmigrationg to America. The numbers in retrospect were relatively limited. Economic distress in Ireland, especially the Potato Famine of 1845-46, caused the first major wave of European immigration. Most immigrants during the first half of the 19th century came from the British Isles and northern Europe (Germany and Svandinavia). This gradually changed and during the second half of the 19th century immigration increased from Eastern and Souther Europe. During this period, immigrants from Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Russia constituted more than half of the total. The number of immigrants gradually increased during the 19th century,. By the early 20th century about 1 million immigrants entered Ameruican annually. This sharply fell off during World War I (1914-18). After the War, immigration began to rise again until restricted by Congress in 1921 and 24 with the National Origins Avt.. Early immigration laws had primarily been aimed at the Chinese. The restrictive laws passed by Congress in the 1920s affected all countries.
Immigrants during the colonial era were primarily from the British Isles. I do not think the British authorities placed national origins limits on new arrivals, but here I do not yet have any actual information. I think that new settlers were primarily from the British Isles because of the existing trading patterns. The British did restrict trade with foreign countries. Family and kinship patterns were another factor. Many came to America because they had friends and family already there. People speaking different languages, especially from Catholic countries, were much less likely to take the enormous leap of coming to America. Many of the early setters, especially in the northern colonies, were Protestant religious disidents. This had a powerful impact on the American character which can still be seem today. Another large group was the Scotts-Irish which were largely hostile to the the English. There seems to have been no effort by the English to restrict the flow of this group which was essentially hostile to Britain. In fact, the English ruling class seems top have been releaved to be rid of these people. Many arriving in the early and mid-18th century settled in the back woods and were to play a major role in the coming Revolution. Because of the cost of traveling to America, many came as indentured servants. The term of servitude was generally 7 years. Africans were brought to America as slaves, although the legal institution of slavery only developed over time. The bulknof African slaves were brought to the southern colonies.
America as a result of the Revolutionry War (1776-83) gained independence from Britain in 1783. The Scotts-Irish essentially expelled by Britain played a major role in the American victory, especially defeating the British southern strategy. The first wave of immigration after independence occurred as a result of the disorders caused by the French Revolution (1789).
The numbers were, however, relatively small. America at the time had no real immigration controls. You simply walked off the boat amd took up life in America. The Constitutional Convention avoided the issue of slavery. Although slavery is not enshrined in the Constitution, it was tacitly recognized in voting provisions determining representation in the House of Representatives--the 3/5s rule. The Cobstitution did require an end to the African slave trade by 1808. By not mentioning slavery directly, the institution became a matter of state law.
The French Revolution was followed by the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815). Europeans fled the economic distress and battlefield horrors by emmigrationg to America. The numbers in retrospect were, however, still relatively limited. Trans-oceanic travel was still a major undertaking. There was still no real controls on immigration. The African slave trade legally ended in 1808 as a result of a Constitutional provision. Illegal importantion continued for some time.
Economic distress in Ireland, especially the Potato Famine (1845-46) and the inadequate British relief effort, caused the first major wave of European immigration to America. This proved shocking to many Americans for several reasons. The numbers of Irish seeking refuge from the Famine were very large. They tended to settle in the cities where concentrated in certain neigborhoods they were very visible. (The Scotts-Irish who came to America in the 18th century moved to the back woods where they farmed and were much less vissible. And perhaps most shocking of all to largely Protestant America, they were Catholic. Another shock to still largely European America were the Chinese that came to America after the discovery of gold in California (1848). The 1848 Revolutions caused an unsurge of immigration, especially from Germany.
The number of immigrants gradually increased during the 19th century and had reached very substantial nunbers during the late 19th century. Large scale European imigration to America began after the Civil War (1861-65). Technological change, especially steam power made low-cost and relatively safe Atlantic passages possible. Steam ship companies began recruiting immigrants. This made it possible for Europeans with very little money to safely reach America. Most immigrants during the first half of the 19th century came from the British Isles and northern Europe (Germany and Svandinavia). This gradually changed and during the second half of the 19th century immigration increased from Eastern and Southern Europe. During this period, immigrants from Austria-Hungary, Italy, and Russia constituted more than half of the total. These immigrants and the diversity they brought with them were to have a fundamental impact on the American Republic. That diversity was, however, unsettling to many Americans and Congress began enacting laws to regulate and control emmigration. The firstbwas the Chinese Exclusion Act (1892). The Act prohibited Chinese people from entering the United States. Large numbers of Chinese workers had enbtered America, attracted by the Califirnia Gold Rush (1848) When the gold petered out, the Chinese continued coming for jobs in garment factories, railroad construction, and agricultues. Anti-Chinese sentiment grew as Chinese laborers succeded with restaurants and laundries. This was the first law which placed restrictions on specific immigrant groups. The Immigration Act of 1891 established further restrictions. This included polygamists, criminals, and the sick or diseased. The Act also established the Office of Immigration to oversee immigration law enforcement through a corps of Immigration Inspectors. Ellis Island, the first immigration station, was opened im New York Harbor (1892). The first immof=grant processed was a yong Irish girl-Annie Moore from Cork. Ellis Islamd became the primary port of entry for these immigrants. Ecentially 12 million immigrants would be processed through EllisnIsland. Immigration dipped in the mid-1890s because of depression--at the time called the Panic of 1893.
Extensive European immigration continued after the turn-of- the 20th century. An imposing new building was completed on Ellis Island to process immigrants (1900). Andvwe have an extensive photographic record to document it. Not onlynbwas technology takingbthe camera out of the studio, but the Progrssive Era generated an interest in immigration as it did in other toics like slums and child labor. By the early 20th century about 1 million mostly European immigrants were entering American annually. Immigration peaked (1907). Over 1.3 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island in that year. Large numbers of immigrants continued to flow from Eastern Europe and Italy. Eastern European immigration was primarily from the multi-ethnic Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires substanially increasing America's ehnic diversity. Jewish emigration continued to be substantial from the Russian Empire which at the time included Poland. The United States acquired a Japanese population when it annexed Hawaii (1898). The Japanese were not limited by the Chinese Exclusion Act, but officials in Califormia were demanding a similar law including the Japanese. The United States and Japan signed the Gentlemen’s Agreement (1907). And sea travel was disrupted by the War. This sharply fell off during World War I (1914-18). The War broke out (1914). Countries at war did not want men of military age emmigrating. U-boars discouraged trans--Atlantic voyages. Russian ports were largely closed off by the Germans, both the German Baltic Fleet and military advances in to Poland and the Baltics. The Royal Navy blockaded the ports of the Central Powers. After the War, immigration began to rise, but not from Russia where the Civil War raged. And the Bolsheviks did not approve of emigration--it showcased the fact that that the worker's paradise they claimed did not exist in fact. Poland was, however, no longer part of the new Russian/Soviet state. Most of the immigrants settled in the growing cities, most the northeast and industrial midwest. As a result, many American cities had a much more international makeup than the country as a whole. By the end of the decade, an estimated three-quarters of New York City's population consisted of new immigrants and the newly coined first-generation Americans. The United States was still a largely rural counyty, but the urban population was growing.
Europeans began to emigrate to America again after World War I. The disruption and dislocations of the War created conditions in which there was a great desire to emigrate to America which was not only largely untouched by the War, but was increasingly prosperous. Immigration began to rise again toward pre-War levels. This created demands for restrictions on immigrants. A range of factors were involved. Unions objected to the competition with imiigrants willing to work for low wages. The influentil Euegnics movement also argued for immigration restrictions. Secretary of Labor James J. Davis played an impotant role in crafting th new restictive legislation. Immigration at the time was the the responsibity of the Department of Labor. Davies was a strong proponent of eugenics. Conservatives saw the immigrants as a potential political until restricted by Congress in 1921 and the National Origins Acts (1924). Early immigration laws had primarily been aimed at the Chinese. The restrictive laws passed by Congress in the 1920s affected all countries, establishing national quotas. The Act limited the number of immigrants allowed into the United States through nationality quotas. The quota system authorized visas to 2 percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States at the 1890 census. This favored immigration from Northern and Western European countries. Just three countries (Britain, Ireland, and Germany) this accounted for 70 percent of all available visas. Immigration from Southern, Central and Eastern Europe was sharply limited, as they largely entered (1890s-1900s). The Actyotally excludes immigrants from Asia, except Philippines, at the timean American Commonwealth.
The more restrictive quota system resulted in annincrease of ilegal immigration. The Government established the United States Border Patrol to patrol the Mexican and Canadian borders. Many of those crossing the norder illegally were Chinese and other Asian immigrantsbbecausevthey were barred from entering legally.
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