Immigration History

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Cheap land, jobs were abundant, and labor was scarce. The Irish Potato Famine; crop failures in Germany; the onset of industrialization; and failed European revolutions begin a period of mass immigration. The California Gold Rush spurs immigration from China. The U.S. government recruited Chinese immigrants to work on the transcontinental railroad.


From 1830-1880 immigrants were primarily white Europeans who mostly spoke English: German, English, Irish (potato

famine and British rule) with few from Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands

In 1848, with the discovery of Gold, there was a spur of Chinese and Latin American immigrants to the west coast


Irish – NE cities; Germans – mid-West; Asians and Latin Americans – West Coast


In the first half of the century, immigrants were welcomed as workers who built railroads, worked in factories, and farmed Western lands. However, there was also a growth in Nativism. The Know-Nothing Party emerged in the 1840s as a reaction to potential loss of jobs, subversion of the Anglo culture, and fear of Catholicism.



Know Nothing party unsuccessfully seeks to increase restrictions on naturalization. 


Chinese Exclusion Act restricts Chinese immigration. 

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