Immigration to the United States is a complex demographic phenomenon that has been a major source of population growth and cultural change throughout much of the history of the United States. The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants, settlement patterns, impact on upward social mobility, crime, and voting behavior. American immigration history can be viewed in four epochs: the colonial period, post-1965, the mid-19th century, and the start of the 20th century. Each period brought distinct national groups, races and ethnicities to the United States. During the 17th century, approximately 175,000 Englishmen migrated to Colonial America. Over half of all European immigrants to Colonial America during the 17th and 18th centuries arrived as indentured servants. The mid-19th century saw mainly an influx from northern Europe; the early 20th-century mainly from Southern and Eastern Europe; post-1965 mostly from Latin America and Asia.
The history of immigration to the United States is a continuing story of peoples from more populated continents, particularly Europe and also Africa and Asia, crossing oceans to the new land. Historians do not treat the first indigenous settlers as immigrants. Starting around 1600 British and other Europeans settled primarily on the east coast. Later Africans were brought as slaves. During the nation's history, the growing country experienced successive waves of immigration which rose and fell over time, particularly from Europe, with the cost of transoceanic transportation sometimes paid by travelers becoming indentured servants after their arrival in the New World. At other times, immigration rules became more restrictive. With the ending of numerical restrictions in 1965 and the advent of cheap air travel immigration has increased from Asia and Latin America. Colonial era 1600-1775
The first, and longest, era from 1607 to 1775 brought European immigrants (primarily those of British, German and Dutch descent) and African slaves. British
By far the largest group of new arrivals comprised the British. They were not exactly "immigrants" for they remained within the British Empire. Over 90% became farmers. Large numbers of young men and women came alone, as indentured servants. Their passage was paid by employers in the colonies who needed help on the farms, or shops. They were provided food, housing, clothing and training but did not receive wages. At the end of the indenture (usually around age 21) they were free to marry and start their own farm Chesapeake
The first successful English colony started in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia. Once tobacco was found to be a profitable crop, many plantations were established along the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and Maryland. New England
A few hundred English Pilgrims, seeking their religious freedom in the New World, established a small settlement near Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. Tens of thousands of English Puritans came to Boston, Massachusetts and adjacent areas from about 1629 to 1640 to create a land dedicated to their religion . The earliest New England colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire were established along the northeast coast. Large scale immigration to this region ended before 1700, but a small steady trickle of later arrivals continued. The peak New England settlement occurred from about 1629 to about 1641 when about 20,000 Puritan settlers arrived mostly from the East Anglian parts of England (Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, and East Sussex). In the next 150 years, their "Yankee" descendants largely filled in the New England states and parts of upstate New York. Dutch
The Dutch established settlements along the Hudson River in New York starting about 1626. Wealthy Dutch patroons set up large landed estates along the Hudson River and brought in farmers who became renters. Others...
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