United States Immigration

The United States witnessed significant mass immigration at the beginning of the 19th century.

This took place in the colonial period, which spans the years 1880 to 1920. The immigration to the United States occurred for a variety of causes. The main driver, though, was the desire for the economic opportunity and wealth that many people anticipated finding there.

The Pilgrims came to America for a different reason—they wanted to practice their religion freely.

Between the 17th and the 19th centuries, African slaves also moved to America against their will. This essay will go over the different types of immigration to America and when each occurred.

The United States has for long been known as a country of immigrants dating back right to its original inhabitants.

The Native Americans immigrated to America by crossing the land bridge that connected Asia with North America. This happened tens of thousands of years ago. In the early 1500s, the Europeans, more specifically the French and Spanish, immigrated to the States and begun establishing settlements there. By the year 1607, the English had established a permanent settlement at Jamestown in Virginia (Daniels).

In 1620, the Pilgrims’ immigrants settled in the United States in search of freedom to practice their religious beliefs and faith.

A group of about hundred pilgrims fled from Europe to avoid being persecuted based on their religious belief. Thus, they established a settlement in the present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts. Later, even a larger group immigrated following the same reason, the Puritans, and settled in Massachusetts Bay. This happened in the period between 1630 and 1640.

Some immigrants came to the United States in search of economic prosperity and opportunities.

They arrived in America as indentured servants as the passage fee was extremely high and they had to volunteer as servants. Africans were another large group that immigrated to the United States as slaves. They arrived there during the colonial period, coming majorly from West Africa. Some of the early recorded slave Africans immigrants were taken in Jamestown, Virginia, making up approximately twenty Africans in the year 1619. By the year 1680, there were roughly seven thousand African slaves in the American colonies. By the year 1790, the number of slaves was seven hundred thousand, who were working in American plantations and as housemaids to royal families. It is believed that between 17th and 19th centuries, there were about five to seven hundred thousand African slaves who were transferred to America and sold into slavery.

Mid-19th Century Immigration

A major wave of immigration took place in the mid-19th century between 1815 to 1865. The majority of immigrants were from Western and Northern Europe. It is approximated that about one-third of the immigrants came from Ireland as a result of the massive famine that affected the country in the mid-19th century. In 1840, it was estimated that half of the immigrants settling in American were from Ireland alone. The Irish immigrants were noted to create settlements around their arrival points in the East Coast cities. It is estimated that between 1820 and 1930, the number of Irish immigrants who arrived in the United States hit the number of around 4.5 million (Perrin).

In the early 19th century, the estimated number of five million German immigrants settled in the United States.

They moved majorly to the part of the country which is presently known as the Midwest and bought firms. They were also massively involved in the construction and development of cities such as Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. In fact, when the United States' 2000 census was conducted, the majority of the Americans claimed German ancestry more than any other group in the country.

In the mid-1800s, a large number of Asian immigrants settled in the country.

They were mainly attracted by the news of California gold rush and were keen to mine the gold and sell it at a profit. It is estimated that around twenty-five thousand Chinese immigrated to the country and made settlements in California by the early 1850s.

European Immigration

Another significant wave of Europeans' immigration to the United States took place between 1880 and 1920. This time is characterized by rapid processes of urbanization and industrialization. From this time, the nation received about twenty million immigrants who were arriving in shifts. In the early 1890s, the majority of the immigrants were from Eastern, Central, and Southern Europe. In the same decade, there was an estimated number of six hundred thousand Italian immigrants who came to the United States. It is noteworthy that this number increased to four million by the year 1920. There were also a notable number of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who fled from their countries and immigrated to the United States in an escape from religious persecution. It was estimated that there were over two million Jewish immigrants who entered the nation from 1880 to 1920.

The year 1907 was considered the peak year of admission of new immigrants. An approximate 1.3 million immigrants settled in various parts of the United States on a legal basis. However, this immigration trend was cut short following the outbreak of the First World War that occurred in the following decade (1914-1918). In the year 1917, there was a set rule that required all immigrants aged sixteen and above to pass a literacy test. This led to the establishment of immigration quotas in 1920. In the year 1924, the Immigration Act created a quota system that reduced the immigration entry to two percent of the total people of the various nationality in the states (Bodnar).


In conclusion, many people around the world decided to migrate to the United States throughout many centuries, and this trend has remained until present times. Therefore, such a tendency is not something new to the nation as it has been receiving immigrants from early years. These factors that have, in fact, been associated with the country's overall performance are relative to sectors such as technological advancement, economic growth, and development activities. Immigrants from various places such as Eastern, Central, and Northern Europe, Asians, and Africans immigrated to the United States for various reasons. Some arrived there in search of religious freedom or economic development. Also, the Gold Rush attracted the Chinese, and Africans were immigrating as slaves. However, the immigrants have played a significant role in building the nation, making it one of the most powerful nations in the world and a true superpower.

Works Cited

Bodnar, John E. The transplanted: A history of immigrants in urban America. Vol. 416. Indiana University Press, 1985.

Daniels, Roger. Coming to America. Harper Collins Publishers, 1990.

Perrin, Linda. Coming to America: immigrants from the Far East. New York: Delacorte Press, 1981.

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