to Ellis Island in the twentieth, people born elsewhere came to
were fleeing religious persecution and political turmoil. Most,
for economic reasons and were part of extensive migratory systems that
responded to changing demands in labor markets. Their experience in the
States was as diverse as their backgrounds and aspirations. Some became
and others toiled in factories. Some settled permanently and others
their homeland. Collectively, however, they contributed to the building
nation by providing a constant source of inexpensive labor, by settling
regions and industrial cities, and by bringing their unique forms of
and cultural expression.
The volume of immigration before the 1960s was staggering. Figures for
colonial period are imprecise, but by the time of the first census of
nearly 1 million Afro-Americans and 4 million Europeans resided in the
States. The European population originated from three major streams:
and Welsh, Scotch-Irish, and German.
After 1820, the data became exact enough to document the volume of
more reliably. From 1820 to 1975 some 47 million people came to the
States: 8.3 million from other countries in the Western Hemisphere, 2.2
from Asia, and 35.9 million from Europe. The stream was relatively
from 1820 to 1924 with only brief interruptions caused by the Civil War
occasional periods of economic downturns such as the depression of the
the panic of 1907-1908, and the Great Depression of the 1930s. World
War II, of
course, also greatly reduced the numbers emigrating. In fact, 32
million of the
35.9 million Europeans who came to the United States between 1820 and
prior to 1924.
Immigration on such a large scale resulted in greater... [continues]
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