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Immigration- 1820 to 1860
Population and Immigration 1820-1860
America experienced a huge population growth starting around 1820. The population was not just growing, it was migrating; out of outdated New England farmlands and into industry-focused cities, such as New York. American population had
New York City around 1830
more than quadrupled by 1840, when it stood at 17 million; from when the population was 4 million in 1790. Improved sanitation combined with an astronomical birth rate, 6.14 children/mother for white women, fueled the population growth.
Immigration from Europe
Immigration had not been a truly established issue in America before 1830. There were ethnic groups that had migrated to America pre-revolution, such as the Scotch-Irish and the Germans that had settled in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, but immigration was never a "hot-button" issue in America. One reason the relatively low immigration rate pre-1820 was war in Europe, such as the Napoleonic Wars. A main cause of immigration was economic woes like the potato famine. By 1837 the number of immigrants had risen sharply. Starting in 1837 and truly booming by the end of the 1840's immigration was a major contributor to american population, in 1850 foreign born people acounted for about ten percent of the people living in the U.S. The Irish accounted for nearly half of all immigration and often came with no money, forcing them to stay in major cities to work in factories or mines. The other major immigrants were the Germans, who accounted for about 25% of all immigrants. They came with a little money and were able to move to the Northwest to serve a more agricultural lifestyle.
A cartoon illustating the appeal of immigration for Irish families
tern agriculture of the times helped fuel the rise of new cities like
, which all sprang up as
between the western supply centers and the north east industrial centers. One geographic feature that they shared was locations along major rivers and lakes, directly connectiong them to the shipping business. For example, St. Louis is located directly on the Mississippi River, while Chicago is on Lake Michigan. The rise of cities also resulted in the creation of an urban working class made up largely of immigrants, the majority being Irish, who would work for less then American-born workers would. Companies would set wages low enough that the Irish often couldn't provide basic necessities for themselves and their families, and often would end up living in run-down slums in the city. Despite the pitiful conditions immigrants often encountered in the workplace, they were better than what was the norm in Europe. German immigrants, on the other hand, were more well-off than the Irish, and often moved to the Midwest (the Northwest at that time) and settled on farmland in places such as Iowa.
Opposition Movements to Immigration
Increased immigration o
The Know-Nothings grew to have a strong base in the South
ften faced opposition from those born and raised in America, a movement known as
. Opponents to immigration often looked down at the new population, exhibiting the same racist argument that was reserved toward African-Americans. They believed that the immigrants were not as civilized and cultured as native born Americans. Opponents, in a view that can still be seen during the present day, especially in Northern Virginia, also believed that immigrants, since they would work for such low wages, were taking away job opportunities from native-born Americans. Finally, many Protestants feared that, since most of the Irish immigrants were Catholic, that Catholicism was gaining too much of an influence in America. Political groups formed out of the anti-immigrant sentiment, including the Native American party and the Know-Nothings.
. Web. 04 Dec. 2009. <
American History: A Survey
. 12th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007. Print.
The Foxearth and District Local Historical Society
. Web. 4 Dec. 2009. <
Encyclopedia of Alabama
. Web. 04 Dec. 2009. <
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