Immigration Over Time
Many immigrants came to the United States for a better future for themselves and their families. There were four different types of waves that immigrants started to enter the United States. First wave of immigrants were the colonial settlements in the town of Jamestown and Plymouth. America quickly gained population of approximately 250,000 in the 1700s to a 2.5 million in the year 1775. When the Revolution happened, the population began to grow even more with a total amount of 9.6 million in the 1820s. Many of the immigrants were Protestants from northwestern Europe. Then came along Africans, Scottish, German, Dutch and French. English immigrants made most of the population with 50% in Jamestown. The second wave that came into the United States between the years of 1830-1880 were immigrants from Germany and Ireland. The Irish and German immigrants experienced hostility from others and organized opposition. This was all in part of the Irish and German immigrants being Roman Catholic. The third wave was between the years 1890-1920. Italians, Russians, and Austro-Hungary were part of the third wave that created Xenophobia (the fear and hatred of foreigners). The fourth wave of immigrants were from Latin America and Asia.
There were laws that had to be in place because immigrants were not being treated fairly. The first federal law was passed in 1819 which required ships to keep records of immigrants because during the first wave all immigrants were undocumented. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which stopped Chinese immigration. In 1894, the Immigration Restriction League was formed by President McKinley. President McKinley’s’ veto prevented the English language literacy requirement. In 1921, Immigration Quota Act capped annual immigration at 350,00 and set National Origins Quotas.
The initial arrival of Chinese immigrants to the United States began as a slow trickle in the 1820s, with barely 650 living in the U.S. by the end of 1849. However, as gold rush fever swept the country, Chinese immigrants, too, were attracted to the notion of quick fortunes. By 1852, over 25,000 Chinese immigrants had arrived, and by 1880, over 300,000 Chinese lived in the United States, most in California. While they had dreams of finding gold, many instead found employment building the first transcontinental railroad. Others were cooks, launderers, or miners. Hispanic citizens were relegated to the worst-paying jobs under the most terrible working conditions. They worked as peóns (manual laborers similar to slaves), vaqueros (cattle herders), and cartmen (transporting food and supplies) on the cattle ranches that white landowners possessed or undertook the most hazardous mining tasks. Many of the Hispanics were living the American southwest. Germans, settled on farms and in the cities of the Midwest and Northeast. They came to dominate the American brewing industry. Irish, immigrants settled in Eastern cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. Irish men built the Erie Canal and railroads, while Irish women worked as domestic servants. Later, the urban Irish-Americans took over many political machines, like Tammany Hall, and dominated the American Catholic priesthood and many police forces. Most of this generation of Italian immigrants took their first steps on U.S. soil in a place that has now become a legend—Ellis Island. Many Russians went to work in the growing industries of the 19th century, toiling in the mines, mills, and sweatshops of the East Coast and Great Lakes.
Immigrants made many contributions to our society. For instance, Albert Einstein who was a famous scientist was born in Germany. Albert helped informed President Roosevelt that Germany was working on an atomic bomb. Alexander Bell born in Scotland helped with developing the telephone. Immigrants also impacted our economy. As more immigrants came to our country, the demand for products and services increased. Immigrants brought new cultures to our country. We have adopted St. Patrick’s Day from the Irish, having a Christmas tree form the Germans, and fish and chips from England.
Our country is known for the American Dream and this is the reason why many immigrants moved to the United States. The move to the United States wasn’t a great success in the beginning because immigrants had to work long hours and hard labor. As the years went by our county started to grow and becoming successful. America today has an estimate of 43.7 million immigrants and will continue to grow as the years come.