Italian vs. Irish Immigration
This paper will contrast the two dominant populations of immigrants to the United States in the 19th and early 20th century. These two groups of immigrants were from Italy and Ireland. The reasons both of these groups immigrated to the United States are very similar, but their cultures were vastly different, and the marks they left on our society are still felt to this day. At the beginning of the 19th century the dominant industry of Ireland was agriculture. Large areas of the country were under the control of landowners living in England. Much of this land was rented to small farmers who, because of a lack of capital, farmed with antiquated implements and used outdated methods. The land was unable to sustain the population and many began to look for new lands to live. In 1816 around 6,000 Irish people sailed for America. Within two years this figure had doubled. Early arrivals were recruited to build canals and do other labor intensive jobs. In 1818 over 3,000 Irish laborers were employed building the Erie Canal. By 1826 around 5,000 were working on four separate canal projects. The peak of Irish immigration occurred in the 1840s, when half of all immigrants to the United States came from Ireland. Ireland had the highest population density in all of Europe during this time period, but the country was unable to sustain its citizens. This resulted in widespread starvation and difficult living conditions, and many Irish immigrants chose to leave their homeland and make their way in America. In 1850 there were 960,000 people in the United States that had emigrated from Ireland. The vast majority lived in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, Ohio and New Jersey. The Irish Immigrant Society tried to persuade immigrants to move to other parts of the United States, but the vast majority were very poor, and had no money for transportation or to buy land. They therefore tended to settle...
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