Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

The 19th Century Immigrants Coming Into America History Essay

Info: 3812 words (15 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in History

Reference this

The 19th century immigrants coming into America, came from many areas of the world. Many of them wanted to forge new lives in the United States. They sought out the labor that would become available due to the massive industrialization that would take place. Economic opportunities and stability were there for the taking. In many of their homelands there were wars, religious persecution, famine, and poverty, that large numbers of Europeans were trying to escape. While labor unions and American workers saw the mass immigration as Europe dumping it’s trash [Europeans] in America, essentially the American Industrial Revolution would ironically be driven by mostly immigrant labor force. The industrialization in the United states shaped immigrants’ lives, and had various impacts and vicissitudes on their experiences after being a quintessential part of it, no matter for what reasons they came.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

The Industrial Revolution, took place especially in the mid 19th century and the decades following the Civil War, when the United States emerged as an industrial giant. The Industrial Revolution is the name given to the movement in which machines changed people’s way of life as well as their methods of manufacture, and from hand and home production to machine and factory. About the same time that Europe was undergoing a revolution, America underwent an Industrial revolution where they went from being mostly agricultural society to an industrial society. Industrial growth vastly transformed both the social and economic structures of a growing United States. It became more diverse than ever. The Industrial Revolution enabled people to travel to the United States where they would be able to get jobs working in factories, building-railroads, or doing the other things that the new industry enabled them to do. The labor force that made industrialization possible was made up of millions of newly arrived immigrants. “Europeans began to realize America’s need of labor for its public works and industrial plants. Ships brought news of glowing chances of advancement in the building of canals and turnpikes, and later, of railroads.”(Ernst 2). After the end of the Civil War in 1865, new machines could do the work that skilled workers had spent years perfecting. American cities were growing as factories opened and people came from rural areas in the hopes of finding jobs. This enabled factories to hire unskilled laborers for lower pay to run the machines, from the garment industry to coal mines and steel mills. . . etc. However, for immigrants in the cities, factory work was one of the options available. Many of the immigrants that entered America during the last quarter of 19th century became factory workers. This, not only significantly increased the unskilled to skilled labor endowment, but they also increased the diversity of skills and worker attributes important for division of labor in factories. What’s more, the competition between skilled workers among natives and immigrants persisted after the Civil War. An evidence to this is found in an 1869 report to the British Parliament which observed that “the foreign is everyday replacing native skilled labor in the United States.”(Ehrlich 177). In addition, immigration and division of labor significantly contributed to urbanization.

On the other hand, as we talk about the lure of industry in America, we cannot neglect another crucial reason of spurring immigration. In fact, while conditions in 19th Europe slumped to the worst for millions of people, the United States began industrial age and entered incredible prosperity. Millions of Europeans suffered through the Industrial Revolution long before they touched the shores of the New World, “the immigrants had already felt the impact of industrial society. Their act of emigration was a response to the big social and economic changes that were gradually transforming European society throughout the 19th century. It was also a response to changes that were affecting the basic social structures, and causing economic depressions.”(Ehrlich 2). Crushing famines as well such as the catastrophic one that swept Ireland invoked mass fleeing. That was to begin to visualize America as a land of opulent opportunity. In the late 1800s, people in many parts of Europe were inevitably compelled to leave their homes and emigrate to the United States due to the reeling conditions that inundated large parts of Europe. Those forsaking crop failure, land and job shortages, rising taxes, famine, came after economic opportunity. Others came seeking personal freedom or relief from political and religious persecution.

Before the 1880s, the primary source of immigration were Northern and Western Europe. From 1820 through 1874 annual arrivals from there always exceeded three quarters of all new aliens, usually surpassing ninety percent. But during the last quarter of the 19th century, changes, gradual but nonetheless dramatic became apparent. In 1875, for the first time, the immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe made up ten percent. “They would slip slightly below that figure, and again in 1880 and 1881, but afterward they would soar above and far beyond it, and by the turn of the century they would constitute the majority of the immigrants entering the United States.”(Parmet 47).

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

-Emma Lazarus,1883

With this sonnet engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the Statue of Liberty, “standing tall above the algae of Lake Mendota, was the first sight of America for immigrants to see as they neared what they believed to be America’s gilded shores. . . European immigrants escaping autocratic regimes wept with joy at the thought of an egalitarian, democratic society, and those escaping famines and poverty wept at the thought of riches and an easy life. . . Lady Liberty symbolized a new beginning.” (Schultz). New York was the port of entry for those coming from European shores. Le Havre and Bremen were primer ports of embarkation, as well as Liverpool which was considered to be a preferred place of departure for Irish, Scotch and Scandinavians due to the great commercial city that afforded cheap passage to America. The people during the the sea voyage usually came down to different diseases, lack of sanitary conditions caused serious weakness and diseases among the passengers, death cases rose on board. New York was the first sight, the end of such long voyages which exceeded at a rough estimate two months. “As the approaching foreigners were glad to see New York as it loomed in the distance, it meant to them at least the end of their miserable voyage across the Atlantic. For some immigrants the city was a mere way station on the long trip westward, for others it was at once the end of the journey and the beginning of new opportunity.”(Ernst 14).

German Immigrants

As people continued flocking into the United States, most significantly, after the Napoleonic wars, a tremendous movement of people expanded throughout the entire century. Many Germans were one the most of those who profound social and economic changes in the first half of 19th century, specifically during and after the revolution in 1948. Most immigrants chose to live in America because of the peace within the country. Fredrick Bultmann, an apprentice locksmith in Hanover was typical of many emigrants of those years. He decided to emigrate to America “as on the day he went to the tax collector’s office to pay his father’s taxes he remembered the gilded royal coach he had seen and he realized that that display of royal wealth had been paid for by artisans like his father. For Fredrick and other emigrants, The United States was first and foremost the land of {kein Köng da, no king there}.”(Nadel 18). One German immigrant in Wisconsin said that he “would prefer the civilized, cultured, Germany to America if it were still in its former orderly condition. . . and with the threatening prospect for the future of religion and politics, I prefer America. Here I can live a more quiet, and undisturbed life.” (German Immigration:German Immigrants in America).

Over the next ten years following the revolution, approximately a million Germans came to America. Many Germans lived in new York and Chicago. In the latter, Germans represented their culture through bands and music groups. A German theater was also present in this city. In New York where they Established the first of giant urban foreign language speaking”Kleindeutschland, Deutschlandle, Dutchtown, and Little Germany. These were the names of the main the German-American neighborhood on Manhattan’s lower east side.”(Nadel 29). It came to typify American cities by the end of the nineteenth century. In a sense it was the prototypical immigrant community. New York was the center of the early German labor movement in America. The mass of German workers lived there, and it was a primary point of contact between the German artisans in the United States and European exiles carrying revolutionary ideas to America. Nevertheless, the class consciousness so characteristic of the German labor agitation spread wherever German workers settled: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and to a minor degree in Chicago and Milwaukee. Most German immigrants headed toward the west. “The majority of the German immigrants scattered from the city almost as soon as they landed. . . they pushed westward toward communities in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and across the border to Canada.”(Ernst 61). The Germans were mostly accepted by those in America. They looked for jobs as bakers, butchers, distillers, machinists, cigar makers and tailors. Even though the remarkable success the gained from different occupations, German workers found it hard to adapt to the American pace of work due to the breakdown of traditional work patterns in American workshops that led to much faster and harder work rhythm than immigrants used to. Charles Steinway, a German tailor immigrant wrote to his brother”I cannot advise you to come here if you are able, to make a living in Germany. . .People here have to work harder than abroad.”(Nadel 70) Especially for the Artisans, they had to adjust to the new ways, and they did, but it was a hard one and had to be repeated as the years passed and the pace of work grew even faster.

As Germans became one of the predominant immigrant groups of the 19th century, it was only natural that they would come to have a powerful influence over the development of American culture. “German immigrants could be found in hundreds of different occupations in the metropolitan labor market. All of the more important skilled trades in the city had a sizable number of German workers.”(Keil and Jentz 147). The complexity of the German experience and the diversity within the immigrant groups dominated the social structure life in the United States, influencing many of the institutions, traditions, and daily habits that many today think of as being quintessentially American.

Irish Immigrants

“Nearly 2 million Irish immigrants arrived in America in the 1840s. At this time they came to America because of the potato famine when the fungus which decimated potato crops created a devastating famine which left thousands starving and homeless.”(Irish-catholic Immigration). With this exodus from Ireland, America became their dream. Those who were lucky enough to escape Ireland and survive the long terrible voyages that the ships were referred to as coffin ships didn’t stop there. They came with little money to make their way through in the united states. They had to search for work and a better lifestyle, but their dreams were dashed by the reality of the New World.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

New York and Boston were the main ports of entry into the United States. The vast majority of Irish remained in the port city where they disembarked their ships mainly because they had little money to travel any further. The living conditions, in which these newcomers landed, were dismal at best. “Newly arrived Irish immigrants became the principal occupants and they would live in slums since this was what could be afforded by them.”(Ernst 48). The slums of New York were so revolting that according to one account, a young policeman compared a neighborhood in lower Manhattan to hell. His partner replied, “Hell’s a mild climate. This is Hell’s Kitchen,” and the name stuck. (ILW.COM).

The Irish immigrants are famous for being in Boston, New York , and other New England cities, and that strained the resources of those two main cities to have such a large influx of immigrants and caused mounting discrimination. Competition for employment with the existing population was fierce and employment discrimination against the Irish became common. One honest immigrant wrote home at the height of the potato famine exodus, “My master is a great tyrant, he treats me as badly as if I was a common Irishman.” The writer further added, “Our position in America is one of shame and poverty.” No group was considered lower than an Irishman in America during the 1850s.( Irish Immigrants in America during the 19th century). The Irish were not as well received. Most places would not hire them. Ads for employment often were followed by “NO IRISH NEED APPLY”. Because of these things the Irish took jobs no one else wanted, however, they are credited to be responsible for much of the railroad being built.

The Irish brought with them the structure of their Irish heritage in the form of the Catholic Church. They were the first large group of Catholics to immigrate to what was a predominantly Protestant part of North America. With their religion as their base they created organizations to support and take care of their own. Later many Irish were instrumental in the labor union movement. The Famine Irish immigrants were the original huddled masses. They came not with dreams and plans to strike it it rich, but with the modest goal of staying alive.

Jewish Immigrants

The persecution against Jews who lived in eastern Europe for hundreds of year came to be remarkably intensive in the 1880s.The profile of Jewish immigration to the United States was profoundly changed by the pogroms directed against the Jews of Russia who were subject to the tyranny of the czars, under conditions of extreme poverty and persecution, led to an infusion of young Eastern European Jews whose lives were quintessentially shaped and colored by religion as the philosopher Isaiah Berlin remarked “the Jews of Europe put all their faith in God and concentrated all their hope either upon individual salvation-immorality in the sight of God- or upon the coming of the Messiah.” (Howe and Libo 3). They spoke Yiddish [the historical language of Ashkenazic Jews; a dialect of High German that includes some Hebrew elements]. Swept into a new and alien culture, cut off from loved ones left behind, and in many cases forced to violate religious creeds, immigrants frequently spent lifetimes trying to reconcile what they had left behind with what they had gained. Nonetheless, they remembered what had been left behind, the armies of czar, the drunken police, the peasants filled with hatred for Jews.

Over two-thirds of the Jews settled in New York, Chicago, Boston and Pennsylvania. Most were unskilled and were forced to accept low-paid jobs in factories and mines. They became especially prominent in the rapidly expanding garment industry. The long hours, low wages and insanitary conditions in this industry gave it the name sweated labor. Those who come from immigrant Jewish families remember the stories they were told about the wretched physical conditions, extreme exploitation, low wages, humiliation their forefathers endured. The testimony is overwhelming, but telling hardship and deprivation is retaining something of the great tradition of 19th century American idealism. Jacob Riis, among the generation of young writers, was one of those who responded most sympathetically to the plight of the immigrants. His book “How the Other half Lived” remains a valuable historical record, it is an eye witnessing of what happened “the homes of the Hebrew quarter are its workshops also. You are made fully aware of it before you have traveled the length of a single block in any of these East End streets, by the whirr of a thousand sewing-machines, worked at high pressure from earliest dawn until mind and muscle give out together. Every member of the family, from the youngest to to the oldest, bears a hand, shut in the qualmy rooms, where meals are cooked and clothing washed and dried besides, the live-long day. It is not unusual to find a dozen persons – men, women and children – at work in a single room.”(Jewish Immigration).

In the US, they were merely another group of people trying to make a better life, while in Europe they were always seen as the single minority. In the US, Jews were accepted members of society, sometimes even leaders of public and private groups or organizations. The story of Jewish immigration to America should be understood by the manifold challenges that immigrants faced as they sought to pursue freedom and opportunity and the promise of American life while still seeking to retain their cultural identity.

Italian Immigrants

“More Italians have migrated to the United States than any other Europeans. Poverty, overpopulation, and natural disaster all spurred Italian emigration.”(Digital History). That was in the last quarter of 19th century, when Italians sought to escape overcrowdedness, low wages and heavy taxation on goods, which later on became severe, especially in Mezzogiorno, the southern provinces of Italy, in which its economy was much more agrarian and feudal than the industrial northern economy. Italy’s troubles at the time could be attributed to the reasons mentioned above, still, it’s historically accurate to attribute the suffering to the long disturbing political and economic circumstances that overwhelmed the Italian peninsula for centuries when it was divided into feuding states, and at some stages with foreign powers ruling one or several states.

Beginning in the 1870s, “between 1880 and 1914 more immigrants, came to the United States from Italy than from any other land.”(Parmet 125). Mostly peasant young men in their teens and twenties, most of them never planned to stay in the US permanently, they often emigrated with repatriation in mind. A congressman Henry Cabot Lodge called them “mere birds of passage, who regard as home a foreign country, instead of that in which they live and earn money.”(Parmet 128). By living frugally and saving to make the return to the Old Country, the Italians were frequently compared to the Chinese, the most reviled immigrants. “Indeed, nativists-of whom Woodrow Wilson was one-regarded the Italians as the “Chinese of Europe”.”(Parmet 125).

As many Immigrants, Italians first set foot on New York port, upon arriving, most of them inhabited New York city, and the west coast cities in general, they also established remarkable communities in Chicago and Detroit and many took unskilled jobs for low wages and working long hours according to their lack of skills and literacy. They were seen, by many American observers as usually strikebreakers. Nevertheless, they found their way into the different occupations that the American industry offered. They were also noted for supplying the railroad construction as a primary source of unskilled labor.

Family ties were characteristics amid Italian families, clear connections existed between an individual’s role and his or her family role. “The Italian family has been described as father-dominated, but mother -centered.”(Ehrlich 70). For them in Industrial America, they avoided collision with a new way of life, in fact they preferred showing tradition influencing both their perceptions and their use of work option. Family members often worked together to hold off liberal influence on women and children in workplace where such contact and possibility existed, as well as maintaining parental control over their offspring. Children often worked side by side with fathers and relatives.

The immigration in late 19th was remarkably diverted from it s prior forms. Immigrants were treated horribly. “Unfortunately, the unprecedented economic turmoil that periodically swept the United States during the second half of the nineteenth century often dashed European dreams of gold-paved streets and free land.”(Schultz). Nativists, surged in the 19th century, showed the belief that favored the native-born population over immigrants, which was a response to the large immigrant influx. The sentiment sometimes contained religious and ethnic prejudice, as with anti-Catholic feelings toward Irish immigrants, but was more often about jobs and other social and economic benefits. Though employers usually welcomed immigrant workers, others in the labor force resented them. Employers and American workers generally evidenced a common belief that immigration should be restricted. Said one employer: “Keep away all impure blood from the American shores. Make a limit and not flood the country with foreigners and anti-American people”(Parmet 55). American workers, native or foreign born instinctively regarded late-arriving immigrants as threats to both jobs and wages. It was imperative to those immigrants to accept poorer conditions than their predecessors. The Chinese experience proves right to what happened to them ending up being excluded.

Looking back at the European experience of immigrating into American during the Industrial Revolution has shown that….(Major points of your paper need to be brought up and wrapped up.) 1) Europeans that ventured into America during this time were in fact skilled laborers and not the trash that the labor unions claimed them to be. 2) Public opinion and views of immigrants in this time period reflected very grim outlooks.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: