The period of new immigration brought in over 27 million people to the United States. This period that began in the 1880s served to add a lot of ethnic and religious diversity to the country. It also brought in a large labor force that helped grow the nation's industries and...
The period of new immigration brought in over 27 million people to the United States. This period that began in the 1880s served to add a lot of ethnic and religious diversity to the country. It also brought in a large labor force that helped grow the nation's industries and led to the rapid growth of urban areas.
Prior to this period, most immigrants to the United States were from the Britain, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands. Most were Protestant. There was a short-lived but significant wave of Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush. Otherwise, immigration was rather homogenous throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Beginning in the 1880s a large number of people from Eastern and Southern Europe began immigrating to the United States. This pattern would continue for over thirty years. Many of these new immigrants included Catholics and Jews. As a result, much more religious diversity came to the country. While there were Catholics and Jews already in the United States, the older populations were quickly outnumbered by the new influx. Also, since these new immigrants were from areas that had previously not contributed much immigration to the United States, they greatly increased the diversity of the places that they settled. This often caused animosity or even open hostility between the older populations of Americans and the new arrivals.
Many of the new immigrants were unskilled laborers. They found ample employment as low-wage workers in many of America's factories. American industry grew rapidly during this period, and the country became one of the world's greatest economic powerhouses. Working conditions were often dirty and dangerous for the laborers themselves. As a result, this period saw the growth of labor unions designed to protect the workers of America
As most immigrants settled in cities, this period also marks a shift in American settlement away from the countryside and into cities. As cities became overcrowded with tenements, many people lived in poor and unsanitary conditions. The Progressive Era was a response to this and saw many reforms which were aimed at improving the lives of the country's poor.