Essay on Immigration and Nativism in the United States

2115 Words 9 Pages
Immigration and Nativism in the United States

In the United States, the cliché of a nation of immigrants is often invoked. Indeed, very few Americans can trace their ancestry to what is now the United States, and the origins of its immigrants have changed many times in American history. Despite the identity of an immigrant nation, changes in the origins of immigrants have often been met with resistance. What began with white, western European settlers fleeing religious persecution morphed into a multicultural nation as immigrants from countries across the globe came to the U.S. in increasing numbers. Like the colonial immigrants before them, these new immigrants sailed to the Americas to gain freedom, flee poverty and
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For instance, 20,000 Puritans from England immigrated between 1629 and 1640 in what is called the Great Migration and settled mostly in New England, but later moved to New York and the upper Midwest. New York and New Jersey were once called the New Netherlands because New York and New Jersey 8,000 Dutchmen settled there between 1609 and 1664. The last important colonial immigration was of 250,000 Scotch-Irish from Ulster between 1710 and 1775 who settled mostly in western Pennsylvania, Appalachia, and the western frontier. [3]

German immigrants tended to settle in Pennsylvania, where they made up a third of the population until the Revolutionary War. At least 500,000 Germans came to the United States during the first half of the nineteenth century including about 60,000 after a failed revolution in 1848.

Aside from social issues such as religious freedom, immigrants have come to the U.S. to escape poverty and make a better life for themselves and their children. Until immigration laws limited the amount of immigrants from certain foreign countries, the rate of immigration from other nations had been highly correlated to the difference in real wages between the U.S. and the home country as well as the economic and political conditions.[4] When the real value of money in the U.S. increased vis a vis that of a foreign nation, immigration from that