Immigration in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Start Free Trial

What was one reason for the mass migration of many Irish to North America in the 19th century?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The main reason why so many people from Ireland migrated to North America during the 19th century was the event that is commonly known as the Irish Potato Famine.  This was an event that began in 1845 and is commonly said to have ended in 1852.

At this time in Ireland, the peasantry was terribly poor.  Most of the peasants subsisted largely on potatoes.  These rural poor made up about half of the entire population of Ireland.  In 1845, a disease hit the Irish potato fields.  The disease killed large portions of the potato crop.  Then it kept coming back.  This meant that Irish peasants had to either leave the land or starve to death.  Huge numbers of them left Ireland and migrated to North America. 

Thus, the potato famine was the biggest reason for this migration.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial