“Old” Immigration (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: In the wake of economic and political upheaval in Europe, more than one million Germans and Irish move to the United States.
Summary of Event
The years before the Civil War, during which there was an influx of Germans and Irish into the United States, was one of the most significant periods in U.S. immigration history. Of the 31,500,000 persons counted in the 1840 census, 4,736,000 were of foreign birth. The census also showed that the greatest number of immigrants had come from two countries: 1,611,000 from Ireland and 1,301,000 from Germany (principally from the southwestern states of Württemberg, Baden, and Bavaria). The migration, which had gained momentum in the years following the Napoleonic Wars, reached large numbers by the 1840’s and grew dramatically in the 1850’s, when more than one million Germans and Irish came to the United States. The Crimean War, the Panic of 1857, and the Civil War were among the events that brought an end to this wave of immigration.
When seen in broad perspective, the migration reflected the process of economic and social change that had gathered force in the period of peace after 1815. The rapid increase in the population of Europe served to magnify the evils that the factory system had brought about by displacing old societal patterns and swelling the army of paupers. Of far greater importance at the time, however, was the disruption of life for...
(The entire section is 1363 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!