Immigration was nothing new to America. Except for Native Americans, all United States citizens can claim some immigrant experience, whether during prosperity or despair, brought by force or by choice. However, immigration to the United States reached its peak from
Some 12, years ago, the first indigenous people crossed the ice bridge connecting Asia to North America, yet it wasn't until the end of the 15th century that Europeans American immigration history their eyes on the New World in numbers.
The French and Spanish were the first to establish settlements before the English and Dutch, among others, founded their first permanent colonies. On the eve of the American Revolution, the land was already a kaleidoscope of languages and ethnicities. Ever since the founding of the United States, immigration laws have been put in place, reformed, dismantled.
These laws reflected the needs of the time, but often represent political statements of peoples' perceptions, which have cycled back and forth from favorable to hostile. This resource looks at the immigration policies and associated rules put in place, from the forefathers' first steps, to the challenges faced in today's globalized world.
The Colonial Period - Why Immigrate? There are multiple answers to this question. Although people nowadays face different challenges, some of the reasons why people moved to the New World during colonial times echo some of the reasons that push people to immigrate to the United States today.
Share Economic Opportunity Going to North America brought the promise of cheap land and freedom of enterprise. Incoming farmers, fishermen, tradesmen, shipbuilders and craftsmen all found work.
They set up their own institutions and self-governing bodies with minimal support or interference from the Crown, at least at first. Independence of resources the colonies produced nearly everything they needed and trade among the colonies and with the indigenous peoples led to prosperity.
To obtain passage, many poorer British and Germans worked for a fixed number of years for an employer who purchased an indenture a sort of contract from a sea captain who brought young people over.
It was beneficial to both the employer who needed labor to work on the land essentially and the employee, who did not receive a wage but was provided with food, accommodation, clothing and training.
He was then free to work on his own after the "contract" ended. The system was so successful approximately half of the white immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries were indentured.
Share Did you know? Not all Indentured Servants were in America of their own free will. Some were kidnapped or forced onto a ship, others had been deceived by recruiting agents back in Europe before boarding.
Still, these white slaves were indentured servants, meaning they could eventually obtain their freedom. Share Religious Freedom Whether to oppose persecution or to preserve their religious identity, many groups moved to the New World. The English Pilgrims, Quakers and Protestant sects, wanting to preserve the purity of their views, each set up their own religious settlements.
With no state religion or external intervention, these communities were free to lead their lives the way they wanted. The numerous faiths found in the United States today are testament to the religious freedom early immigrants enjoyed. Share Slave Trade Landowners experienced constant shortage of labor, despite the use of indentured servants who would gain their liberty after 5 to 7 years.
The cheap land meant white immigrants, no longer tied down, would then become landowners themselves. There was therefore a constant need for labor which manifested itself in the form of slavery.
The Transatlantic Slave Trade brought many West Africans to the colonies, and the well-established triangular trade route assured a constant flow of slaves from Africa.
These people did not gain their liberty. Slaves were considered as merchandise and were bought and sold at markets along with other goods and services. The slaves and their offspring were the property of their owners and had no rights.
Share Criminals in America? From to the end of the American Revolution inthe British transported over 50, prison convicts to the American colonies as part of the Transportation Act. Once the United States was born, Great Britain exported its convicts to Australia instead, a practice that continued until That same year, the first national census was launched to estimate the number of people and where they came from.
Share The Naturalization Act of Little over a year after the inauguration of President Washington, saw the first attempt at setting up control over immigration.American immigration history can be viewed in four epochs: the colonial period, the midth century, the start of the 20th century, and post Each period brought distinct national groups, races and ethnicities to the United States.
During the 17th century, approximately , English people migrated to Colonial America. Because most immigration laws of the time sought to protect American workers and wages, an Act of February 14, , transferred the Bureau of Immigration from the Treasury Department to the newly created Department of Commerce and Labor.
Americans encouraged relatively free and open immigration during the 18th and early 19th centuries, and rarely questioned that policy until the late s. After certain states passed immigration laws following the Civil War, the Supreme Court in declared regulation of immigration a federal responsibility.
Immigration History Resources: American Family Immigration History Center Explore your family history by searching through passenger records, creating a family scrapbook, or reading about the immigrant experience - and think about what makes an American.
American Family Immigration History Center Explore your family history by searching through passenger records, creating a family scrapbook, or reading about the immigrant experience - and think. Americans encouraged relatively free and open immigration during the 18th and early 19th centuries, and rarely questioned that policy until the late s.
After certain states passed immigration laws following the Civil War, the Supreme Court in declared regulation of immigration a federal responsibility.