The Market Revolution, Industrialization, and New Technologies

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How did the Industrial Revolution impact immigration to the United States?

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When the bloody Civil War ended in 1865, the United States was not yet industrialized. In addition, large-scale immigration to the country both preceded and followed the period of intense industrialization (1870–1900).

After 1850, the Know-Nothing party emerged as an opponent to immigration. Although this political party was short lived, anti-immigrant sentiment would intensify during industrialization.

The railroads were an important part of industrialization. The completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 was of paramount significance. This railroad linked California to the East Coast. The railway construction was done by Chinese immigrants, who also worked in mining, another component of industrialization.

Workers on the West Coast resented the Chinese workers and blamed them for low wages and other economic problems. The result was the first significant anti-immigration legislation in American history: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Japanese immigrants then began arriving to replace the Chinese workers. By 1924, they would also be barred from entering the United States.

Immigrants from Europe were frequently employed in the numerous factories that sprang up during industrialization. The working conditions in the factories were as abysmal and dangerous as those on the railroad. In New York, in March of 1911, a fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory (which was essentially a sweatshop) killed 146 immigrants, mostly young European females. The factory owners had ignored safety considerations, and the result was disastrous. The horrible accident led to the passage of numerous safety laws in New York and the nation as a whole.

Immigrants who worked in the factories also lived in slums. Overwork and poor nutrition were perennial problems. Their children received little education because they had to help support the family.

Although immigrants were needed to help fuel industrialization in America, they were not treated well. The immigrants, like most American laborers, did not enjoy a high standard of living during industrialization.

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The Industrial Revolution had a tremendous impact on immigration to the United States. Many Europeans were suffering from poverty. Others were trying to escape religious and/or political persecution. When the Industrial Revolution began in the United States, this provided an opportunity for these people to come to our country.

The Industrial Revolution led to the need for many workers. Since factories could produce many more products than an individual could produce by hand, we needed people to work in the factories. Some of these workers came from the rural areas of the United States. Others came from other countries, especially European countries. These people who came to the United States heard there was tremendous economic opportunity in our country. They heard the streets were paved with gold, and there was a lot of opportunity in the United States. Thus, they left the poverty and persecution of Europe to come to the land of opportunity in the United States.

There were two major waves of European immigration. This first wave came from 1820-1860 from North and West Europe. People came from Germany, France, Ireland, and Great Britain to name a few countries. Between 1880-1920, another wave of immigrants came from South and East Europe. They came from Italy, Greece, and other Eastern European countries. 

The Industrial Revolution had a huge impact on immigration to the United States.

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During the industrial revolution era, rapid changes took place that transformed America’s economic situation a great deal. The discovery of the mineral wealth, technological innovation, and the construction of a nationwide railroad transport network among others breathed a new life to the economy. The above changes paved the way for the establishment of manufacturing factories. Unlike in the past when skilled artisans played a key role in manufacturing in artisan shops, factories required an intensive unskilled labor workforce which was insufficient in America.

With the world aware of the rapid economic changes happening in America and the need for unskilled laborers, immigrants flocked to America for employment opportunities that offered a decent wage. Indeed, the labor force supplied by the immigrants played a key role in the increase of factories and the economic wellbeing of America.

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The Industrial Revolution in the US helped to attract many more immigrants to the country.  Immigrants tended to leave their home countries because they hoped that there would be more economic opportunity in the US.  The fact that there was more opportunity in the US was due largely to industrialization.

Most of the immigrants who came to the United States ended up staying in big cities.  Most of those who did so worked in industry.  Because the US was industrializing rapidly, there were lots of factory jobs for these immigrants.  Their relative success, economically speaking, inspired still more immigrants to come.

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