An immigrant is a person who comes
from other nations to live in a new country. The first immigrants to the
United States came
from England. The first African Americans came to America in 1619.
Immigrants were divided into two
groups. The Old Immigrants came around the time of the Revolutionary War.
They came from northern and western Europe. The New Immigrants came just
before the Civil War. The Irish came in the 1850's when there was a potato
famine in Ireland. The Irish settled along the East Coast. The Germans came
seeking religious freedom. They settled in the Midwest. In the 1860's,
Chinese came to work on the railroads and in the mines of the west. Many
Chinese settled in California.
The largest number of immigrants
came between 1870 and 1910. Twenty million people came during these 40
years. Most Immigrants came from eastern and southern Europe. On arriving in
the United States, most came through the New York City Harbor.
Immigrants were kept at Ellis Island
until they could prove their identity and were tested for good health. As
many as 5,000 immigrants passed from ships to Ellis Island each day.
Many immigrants took low paying jobs
and lived in slums. Immigrants added their languages, songs, and foods to
the New York melting pot.
Chinese emigration to America: sketch
on board the steam-ship Alaska, bound for San Francisco
In 1882 Congress passed a law
forbidding any more Chinese to come to America. A bill was passed in 1917
that kept any person not able to read and write English out of America. In
1924 Congress passed another law limiting the number of immigrants coming to
the United States from Europe, Asia, and Africa. The law set a quota for