Immigration 1840-1900

Immigration is to enter and settle in a country or region to which one is not native. The United States witnessed the immigration in large numbers in 1840 and 1900; she received the largest number of immigrants from all races and origin. Immigrants came from as far as China, northern, eastern and southern Europe, just to mention but a few. Europeans from the north first settled in the United States in 1820 and 1860. However, this pattern changed much when the southern and eastern Europeans joined in migrating to the US in the 1880s. The natives responded negatively to the immigrants, triggered by anti-immigrant and religious beliefs. There are varied reasons why they all sought refuge in the US, but they shared certain similarities. Economical challenges and a hope for a better life are the main factors that facilitated their immigration. However, religious intolerance also played a part. In 1880 and 1924, immigrants still faced the same challenges as those who came before them; admission of immigrants became even more difficult and limited. Organizations and movements, formed to fight for the immigrants’ rights; this eased the negativity that they earlier faced. Political pressure, moralistic ideals also played a role in changing the natives from being hostile to the immigrants.


Chinese immigrant came to the United States during the California Gold Rush. They settled in San Francisco, then known as the Gold Mountain, most of these immigrants came from Southeast China. This is between 1850 and 1882, just like their fellow immigrants, poverty back home triggered their emigration from their native land, coupled with war. Some of the Chinese immigrants travelled by sea, however, most of them were peasants and could not afford the passage fee, hence forced to sign term contracts and subjected to hard labor in their land of service. Trade routes and capital, characterized the location of the settlement of the immigrants. The Irish and Germans settled in the cities in the east and Midwest, since they lacked funds to start their own farms and therefore sought employment in the cities. Slavery in Germany reduced economic opportunities for the natives, hence their immigration to the Midwest cities of the United States. It is clear that the two eras of immigrants between 1840s- 1860s and 1880- 1900 were faced with similar challenges, but this changed from one era to another, with the natives embracing their settlement in their lands.

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