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Immigration in the Antebellum Period

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Immigration in the Antebellum Period

        During the 19th century, America was plentiful and was flourishing with jobs of all sorts and many types of immigrants. Immigrants seized the opportunity to come to America. For immigrants, America was the land of opportunity where they dreamed of holding a steady job in the city or owning a farm in the countryside. Many different immigrant groups came to the United States during the 19th century including the Irish, the Germans, and the Scandinavians. Unfortunately, once immigrants arrived, many of them were met with skepticism and outright hostility.

        There was a large influx of Irish immigrants to the United States during the 19th century due to the potato famine in Ireland. The biggest crop in Ireland, the potato, was the life source of the Irish and with the potato rot, their population severely declined. In 1845 over 1 million Irish peasants died and more than 2 million Irish migrated to the United States and Canada. (Shi, 379) The Irish frequently took some of the most dangerous jobs in American cities and proved to be very hard workers, but were stereotyped as, “filthy, bad-tempered, and heavy drinkers.” (Shi, 381)

        The Germans were also in heavy influence on America’s new immigration foundation. Alongside the Irish immigrants, German immigrants sought their way to the America. (Shi, 382). Many of the German immigrants had previous schooling and practice with several professions, including doctors, lawyers, and engineers. (Shi, 382) While most Irish immigrants were Roman Catholic, German immigrants practiced a variety of religions including Roman Catholicism, Protestantism (mainly Lutherans), and Judaism. (Shi, 383) In addition, the German immigration brought many people that eventually became famous. Those people being Ferdinand Schumacher who developed Quaker Oats, the Oatmeal Company, and Levi Strauss who developed the well know Levi denim jeans (Shi, 399).

        Other immigrants included Scandinavians, who majorly moved to the north because the frequent cold weather was like their homeland, the Chinese, who moved to California and were mainly construction workers, and the British who had continued to immigrate since the beginning. (Shi, 383) Collectively, these groups greatly contributed to the growth of the United States across the country during the Antebellum period by settling farm areas in the mid-west (Scandinavians), building railroad in the far west (Chinese), and working in factories back east (British). (Shi, 383)

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