Immigration Late 1890 Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1778 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: American History

Immigration Late 1890's

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, as America became known as The Land of Opportunity' at the time of 'The Rise of Industrial America' immigration peaked between 1870 and 1900. Immigrants from all over the world came to the United State during this time. China, Germany, Ireland, and England, to name a few, all contributed to the large growth in our nation's population. An estimated 12 million people came to the U.S. during this time.

During the nineteenth century, the U.S. economy was distinctly marked by the mass emigration of Europeans into the New World. In fact, it is estimated that over 40 million people came to the New World from Europe between 1850 and 1913 (Williamson). Although many eventually returned home, this mass migration represented an unparalleled population transfer that greatly effected the global distribution of population, income and wealth (Williamson). While many of the immigrants flowed into Canada and Latin America, roughly two-thirds were absorbed by the United States. Often encouraged by friends and relatives that had already arrived in America, most immigrants came due to low wages and low living standards in their homelands (Williamson).

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The majority of immigrants were young adults, in fact only 9% of the immigrants entering the U.S. between 1868 and 1910 were over 40 years of age, and only 16% were under the age of 15 (Williamson). Therefore, this population exhibited very high labor force participation rates, particularly since males accounted for roughly 64% of all immigrants entering the United States during the last half of the nineteenth century (Williamson). Females comprised more than 40% of the migrant population, especially from countries such as Ireland, Italy and Spain (Williamson). Although a small number of immigrants were families, usually young couples with small children, the vast majority of them were single individuals (Williamson).

TOPIC: Term Paper on Immigration Late 1890's Assignment

From 1830 to 1860, as the construction of large canal and railroad projects employed thousands of foreign laborers, the U.S. began to view the immigrants as indispensable to economic growth (Telzrow). This open door sentiment gave birth to a philosophy that would guide U.S. immigration policy throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Between 1820 and 1860, more than five million immigrants came to America to take advantage of the rapid territorial and industrial expansion, and by 1860, roughly one-third of the population was foreign-born or had foreign-born parents (Telzrow).

Immigrants were generally met with a somewhat hostile environment that demanded they make behavioral adjustments, accept national social structures and American ideals, and assume an American identity (Telzrow). The typical model began with economic accommodation, followed by adoption of the English language, progressive acculturation, and finally assimilation (Telzrow). It was believed that immigrants would gravitate toward ethnic communities and eventually seek citizenship and permanent U.S. residence, yet approximately 30% ended up returning home to their native countries (Telzrow).

Between 1880 and 1889, over five million new immigrants entered the United States, as the demand for cheap industrial labor unceasingly continued, however political and religious persecutions in Eastern Europe were also contributing factors (Telzrow). The first wave of immigrants was mainly from northern and western Europe (Teutonic and Celtic in origin), but beginning in the 1870's an increasing number of Latin, Jewish and Slavic peoples began arriving on American shores, and by 1900, they accounted for 70% of the immigrants in the United States (Telzrow). Like those that had come before them, the majority settled in Northeastern and Midwestern urban areas, and in some cases, these urban communities attained populations that dwarfed their European counterparts (Telzrow). For example, in 1890, New York City's Irish population was twice that of Dublin (Telzrow).

During the last two decades of the nineteenth century, a number of laws were passed prohibiting entry of prostitutes, lunatics and certain convicts, and over the years, other identified undesirables were added to the list (Telzrow). In 1882, under pressure from California legislators, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which suspended Chinese immigration for ten years and barred all Chinese from gaining citizenship (Telzrow). Due to the Chinese exclusion laws, Chinese were targeted as the first "illegal" immigrants and were subjected to repeated attempts to crack down on illegal immigration, not only in the United States, but also along the Canadian and Mexican borders (Pascoe). In 1907, Congress approved a law authorizing the deportation of immigrants receiving public assistance, and ten years later, the Immigration Act of 1917 prohibited entry to all Asian and illiterate immigrants (Telzrow). However, such partial restriction efforts produced little substantive effect and immigration continued at a record pace, peaking at over 8 million for the 1900-1909 period (Telzrow).

While early immigrants generally traveled by sailing ships which took approximately six weeks to arrive to American shores, steamships became the customary mode of transportation after the Civil War, reducing travel time from Europe to about two weeks (Cohn). Early immigrants landed in various U.S. ports, including New York, Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans and Baltimore, however in 1855 New York City established Castel Garden as a formal immigration facility, which was eventually replaced with Ellis Island in 1892 (Cohn).

Between 1850 and 1890, Galveston grew so dramatically due to immigration that it became known as the Ellis Island of Texas, serving as the entry point for scores of new arrivals (Hardwick). In fact, until the 1890 census, Galveston remained the largest city in Texas, unequaled in cosmopolitanism, ornate residences, commercial development, and booming industrial activity (Hardwick). Economic opportunities and the promise of cheap land drew many German immigrants to Texas, as did the desire for religious and political freedom (Hardwick). Susan W. Hardwick writes in the March 22, 2003 issue of the Journal of Cultural Geography the a "host of pre-departure information was directed specifically at German farmers by shipping companies that linked the German port city of Bremen with Galveston" (Hardwick). The German immigrants were soon followed by other Galveston-bound migrants, many of them Jews who were affected by the political and religious turmoil in Central and Eastern Europe (Hardwick). Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, Italian immigrants, mainly from northern Italy, began arriving in Galveston in small numbers. Many of them found work as fishermen, vendors of small businesses such as ice cream parlors, and laborers (Hardwick). Hardwick notes, "These earliest arrivals were joined by several thousand other Italian newcomers after the mid-1900s, most of whom were born in southern Italy and Sicily" (Hardwick). Immigrants from Poland, Hungary, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, also settled on the island beginning in 1854 when the sailing vessel, the Weser, arrived in Galveston carrying 150 Polish farmers (Hardwick). This group settled throughout Texas, including San Antonio and other more rural parts of the state (Hardwick).

During the nineteenth century, the majority of Irish emigrants were helped by relatives who were already in the United States and sent remittances or prepaid passage tickets back to Ireland however some had their fares paid by Irish landlords, by the British treasury, by the Irish poor law unions, or by private philanthropists (Miller).

Approximately one million Irish immigrated to the U.S. during the pre-famine era, 1815-1845, but after repeated failures of Ireland's potato crops, more than 1.8 million flooded the American ports from 1845-1855 (Kelleher). This group of Irish who reached the American shores during the mid-nineteenth century helped to create a distinctively "Irish" American lower class (Kelleher). Irish immigrants continued to arrive on a massive scale after the famine, slowing and flowing in response to socio-economic stresses in Ireland and opportunities in the United States (Kelleher).

Between 1851 and 1921, more than 3.5 million Irish arrived in North America, the majority of who were of the poorer farming classes (Kelleher). The proportions of family groups declined, while those of the working-age adolescents and adults increased. And while males dominated other ethnic immigrant groups, the nineteenth and early twentieth century Irish immigrants were distinctive in that the sexes reached near parity in numbers (Kelleher). By the beginning of the twentieth century, Irish immigrants were likely to be young, aged fifteen to twenty-four, unmarried, technically unskilled, Catholic, and from the poverty-mined west of Ireland (Kelleher). Moreover, although women constituted only 12.9% of all foreign-born workers, roughly 30% of the 1880 Irish labor force was female (Kelleher).

In the great majority of cases, Chinese immigrants were laborers hired by companies requiring their services (Hansen). For the most part, American businessmen who hired Chinese laborers intended to use their services only on a temporary basis for undertaking certain projects, and neither they, nor the rest of the United States citizens wanted them to stay as permanent settlers (Hansen). Because of the great cultural divisions between the U.S. And China, it was necessary to obtain the services of these laborers through Chinese commercial houses based in San Francisco, whose managers belonged to the Six Companies, a collective or umbrella association that embraced the entire Chinese community in the U.S. (Hansen).

Although most immigrants entered the United States through New York harbor, however Europeans docked up and down the eastern and southern coasts, as… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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