In the first half of the 19th century, the influx of European immigrants into the United States formed the first immigrant climax in American history. European immigrants in the United States has its profound historical background: the in-depth development of the European industrial revolution destroyed the traditional economy of Europe, making the migration of surplus labor to the outside world; the failure of the European revolutionary movement and the political and religious persecution on the European continent. The rapid development of industrialization in the United States and its urgent need for a large number of labor make it an ideal place for European immigrants; European immigrants have made a significant contribution to the development of the US economy.
In the early of 17th century, the Europeans have started to migrate to North America. But in the 17th and 18th centuries, the size of the immigration was very limited due to natural conditions and traffic conditions. In the British colonial period (1607-1776), the immigrants are about 100 million people. In the first few decades after the independence of the United States, due to the sparsely populated society, the social and economic development needed a lot of labor force urgently. The federal government welcomed the foreign immigrants very much. The influx of European immigrants to the United States began in the 1920s and 1930s, especially after the European Revolution in 1848.
In the first half of the 19th century, the historical reasons for the large relocation of European immigrants to the United States were multifaceted.
First of all, the in-depth development of the European industrial revolution destroyed the traditional European economy, leading to surplus labor to migrate overseas.
After the mid-18th century, Britain, France, Germany and other countries had the industrial revolution and agricultural revolution. By the 1840s, the British industrial revolution had been completed, and the French industrial revolution was developing rapidly, although Germany was lagging behind the British, it also developed a large industry. In addition, through the technological revolution, Russia and other Eastern European countries has made a leap in productivity development. These developments have deeply impacted the traditional social-economic structure, requiring the traditional agricultural economy to adjust the means of production and the distribution of labor. As a result, from the early British enclosure movement, the Prussian serf reform in the early nineteenth century to the mid-term Russian serfdom reform, the wave of agricultural capitalism reform for the needs of industrial capitalism swept across most parts of Europe.
Due to the extensive application of scientific and technological achievements in the industrial revolution in the first half of the 19th century, European agriculture began to use agricultural machinery such as thresher, sowing machine, harvester, lawn mower and so on, improving the cultivation techniques, carrying out artificial irrigation and drainage, applying natural fertilizer, per unit of agricultural area production greatly improved. The development of large-scale agriculture has led to a rapid decline in the agricultural population, and the percentage of the total agricultural population has fallen from 35% in 1811 to 22% in 1841(Cheng, 1981). Moreover, there are more people and less land in European people more and less, land relations have changed dramatically in the development of agricultural capitalism. Many small farmers have lost their land and the development of capitalist farms has made more and more employees lose their livelihoods. Compared with Europe, the United States has a lot of land for development. At this time the European agricultural surplus labor force is difficult to have livelihood in the country, and thus they had to go overseas to survive.
Second, the failure of the European revolutionary movement and frequent wars, making people want to move to America.
In the 1830 to 1840, revolutionary movement swept throughout Europe. Britain’s Charter movement, the German revolution, the French revolution in February and so on once again set off a revolutionary climax, except Russia, the whole of Europe have shoot armed uprising gunshots. However, under the government’s high pressure policy, these campaigns have failed. Many working class was also disappointed and tired of the failure of the movement, then immigrated to the United States.
At the same time, the continuous war spent a lot of money of the country and increased people’s tax burden. In the United Kingdom, for example, from 1793 to 1815, the British have formed anti-French alliance for seven times with some feudal countries on European continent to against Napoleon. During the war, the British paid a £ 50 million grant to the feudal states which stand against France. Britain captured the Malta, Mauritius, Ceylon and the Cape of Good Hope and other strategic locations, and turn them into the future stronghold in the war. However, after the end of the war, the industrial production fell, a large number of factories closed down, unemployed workers increased. In 1815 the Congress passed the “Grain Act”, which stipulated that the grain can only be imported when the wheat prices in the domestic market reached 80 shillings or more per quart of, resulting in rising of grain prices and put the mass in suffer. The industrial bourgeoisie is also dissatisfied with this because the rise in the cost of living will increases the price of the labor force and affects the profits of the capitalists.
Third, the political and religious persecution of the European continent, so that a large number of immigrants moved to the United States.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, there are political and religious persecutions prevailed in many feudal countries in Europe. In order to escape this persecution, many people came to the United States. The German Revolution in 1848 forced about five thousand European revolutionaries to flee to the United States, among them the famous Karl Schultz and Jimmy Weiderme. In the 1930s, revolutionary exiles in Poland and France, as well as England and Scotland’s constitutionals seeks political asylum in the United States.
90% of the early immigrants to the United State are Protestant. European traditional religion has a deep-rooted social influence and status. Officially recognized religion are the tool of the ruling class, pagans have always been excluded and persecuted. After the reunification of Germany, the “Cultural Struggle” campaign was carried out to clear the Catholic power and made the German Catholics to move to the United States. Compare to Europe, the United States is a free paradise. As early as June 1776, the Virginia Parliament passed the Virginia Bill of Rights drafted by George Mason. Then, with the joint efforts of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, on January 16, 1786, Virginia passed the famous Act on Religious Freedom. Under the strong appeal of American religious freedom policy, Irish people were reluctant to believe Joint evangelical churches and most believed in Catholicism, foreign landlords believed in the Anglican Church. The Catholic Irish would pay a tax to keep the church of the landlords they hated.
Fourth, the rapid development of American industrialization produce the urgent need for a lot of labor, superior natural, human environment undoubtedly attracted a large number of European immigrants.
From the end of the eighteenth century, the industrial revolution in the United States has made some progress, coupled with the vast territory, sparse population, rich resources, forms a stark contrast with Europe of surplus population. At this point, the mine, railways, manufacturing, construction and other industries in the United States need a lot of skilled craftsmen and cheap labor. In order to sell a large number of land along the railway and the recruit for the factories American railroad companies and large enterprises have set up agents in the European countries, on the one hand, they publicize that immigrants have easy access to cheap land and picture the wonderful scene of their homes, on the other hand, they widely publicized the United States have more job opportunities with high wages and favorable conditions. Adam Smith published in 1776, “The Wealth of Nations”, “In North America, wages are much higher than anywhere in England, and although North America is not as rich as England, it is more prosperous and moving at a faster rate.”
In addition, the Westward movement of United opened up an infinite broad prospects for more immigrants. By the 1940s, the United States, through the war of aggression and cheap purchase, extended the frontier to the Pacific coast, increasing its territory to three times the size of its independence. In 1848, California found gold, gold rush made the immigrants flocked around. In the outside world, North America has inexhaustible treasure, vast boundless land, which is full of opportunities and is simply earth paradise. Thus more people moved to the United States. In this regard, the American immigration history expert Marcus Lee Hansen has made it clear that: “when the immigrants first come to the United States, it is a flourishing time for development;; the formation of each influx of people would kiss with the extraordinary business activities. “ (P263)
Fifth, the surge in European population and changes in official immigration policies have contributed to the migration of European migrants.
One of the most significant changes in Europe since the development of modern capitalism is the rapid growth of the population. According to statistics, from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century, the total population of Europe increased from 140 million to 250 million, an increase of 80 %( Thomas, 1983). According to Oscar Handler statistics, to the First World War, the total population of Europe has reached 400 million, the land area for the 1 person in1750 needs to support 3 individuals in 1910. (Oscar, 1973). The surge in population make the agricultural area faces greater pressure, the outflow of population outside is imperative.
Western Europe and Northern Europe gradually realized that the outflow of population could alleviate the burden of overpopulation in the country and achieve the goal of treating poverty, and thus gradually abolished the decree and measures to restrict immigration to promote large-scale immigration movement. In 1788, UK had issued the decree of the ban of immigration on the artisans, then abolished the decree in 1825, and abolished other laws in 1827, such as the Passenger Act, which prevented the Irish people from migrating outward. After the revolution in 1848, Germany abolished restrictions on immigration regulations, simplifying the immigration procedures abroad in order to achieve the purpose of evacuation of revolutionary forces. In Sweden, in 1840, the law enacted to restrict immigration was abolished in order to encourage the poor to leave the country. The loosening of government immigration policy has undoubtedly led to the outflow of a large number of immigrants.
Sixth, the natural disasters of the 1940s, as well as the improvement of transport conditions, played a role in fueling the rise of the climax of European immigrants.
In the 1940s, there was famine in Europe, the poor harvest of potato on the international level caused by potato pests and diseases made the poverty of the farmers even worse. In 1845, about 8% of the farmland planting potatoes were ill, in 1846 and 1847, the pests’ situation were still serious. In this natural disaster, Ireland suffered the biggest blow. One quarter of Ireland’s arable land was used to plant potatoes. (Thomas, 1993) In 1945, the potatoes both in the field and in the cells fall the victims of pests and diseases. In this devastating disaster, one million people died from hunger or other diseases caused by hunger, and more people migrated to other country. Between 1846 and 1851, about one million people left Ireland(Yang,1993) By 1914, the Irish population was only half of that of 1940s(Thomas, 1993) American food is the only aid to eliminate the whole European disaster, many victims survived the starvation, which aroused the yearning for the Americas.
In the 30’s and 40’s, shipping conditions have been greatly improved between the ocean Europe and the United States. Due to the use of steam engines, fast sailors have been very popular. The famous US shipping industry’s fastest cruise ships, takes about half of the time for the British sailboats crossing the Atlantic (Marcus, 1986). The ships from North America to Europe carries timber, cotton and other bulk cargo, when return, it carries the European manufacturing products and there are vacancies. To reduce transport costs, Ship-owners and businessmen try to attract immigrants on boat, facilitating the immigration to the United States. To the sixties and seventies later, ocean-going vessels further replaced the sailing, greatly shortening the voyage. It takes less than a few months to across the Atlantic the voyage only takes 10 days or so, which is more convenient for the immigration. At the same time, Europe’s land and inland traffic has been improved, immigrants can gather in the big harbor and depart. British Liverpool is the main port for Irish, Scots and many German and Norwegian immigrants to go abroad.
The influence of many of the above factors lead to the European migration movement. Among them, there are the “pull” role of US economic prosperity, and the “push” role of European economic recession to impact of immigrants. It also reflects the dramatic changes in the traditional social structure caused by the deep expansion of capitalism, it is the product of the development of economic, political and cultural of capitalist society.
Large number of immigrants means rich human resources. It takes a lot to nurture a young labor force from birth to working age. The United States did not spend any cost and easily get so many labor resources, which is the United States unique advantage as immigrant country. It is estimated that the additional capital formed by immigration is 10-20% of the gross national product of the United States (Glem, 1980). In addition, European immigrants have a significant impact in promoting the inflow of foreign capital, driving the development of American agriculture, enriching many other aspects of American multiculturalism. As some American historians have said, immigration is “the theme of American history.” which is more important than “the existence of aristocratic politics, the existence of frontier, the affluence of natural resources, the impetus of entrepreneurs or the isolation of the two oceans.”(James, 1979).
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