The definition of immigration is as follows, "the voluntary movement of people from one country to another, usually with the aim of permanent settlement in the adopted country."  In the 200 some years America has been a country, over 55 million immigrants have immigrated to our country. All of these groups had reasons to come here and hardships to face.


    Between 1880 and 1920 around four million Italians came to America in search of the "American Dream." Of all the Italians only 10% made a living in agriculture even though back in Italy 75% had been peasant farmers. Some Italian Immigrants founded  vineyards in California and the Finger Lake region of New York, while others worked on cotton and sugar plantations in the South. Still the majority of these immigrants were unskilled laborers, who worked on construction projects, loading and unloading ships in the docks, and on the railroads. The Italians developed completely Italian neighborhoods called " Little Italy's." Some well known " Little Italy's" were Boston North End and Chicago Near West Side.       


    Chinese immigrants came to America mostly in the time between the California Gold Rush in 1849 and 1882, when federal law stopped their immigration. Many of these immigrants were men coming to work for short times, sending money back home to their families. First Chinese immigrants came to America during the Gold Rush in hope for striking it rich. Then they came to America trying to start restaurants, laundries, and other small businesses, or to work on the railroad. In the 1870's European immigrants began to compete for the jobs usually done by Chinese immigrants. With hard times beginning, people began to feel hatred and suspicion towards the Chinese causing Congress to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882.



    In 1830, 5% of the population in Cincinnati, Ohio were German immigrants. Ten years later they were up 30% and a few years later, the German population in Cincinnati went from 46,382 to 115,435. In the mid 1800's many came to America in search for better jobs and better living conditions than what they had in Germany. Many Germans settled in Over-the-Rhine, a district in Cincinnati. They were known as hard workers, working in mines and starting auto mobile and steel mills in Ohio. The German immigrants were content with their new lives shopping in stores ran by German Americans and eating in German restaurants.                            


    From 1830 to 1890 many Irish and British fled to America. The Irish came trying to flee the potato famine, that killed over a million people, and their British landlords. In Ireland it was a time of depression and social hardships, with the average age of death 19, in rural areas. The British came to America in search of better opportunities. They were mostly professionals, independent farmers, or skilled workers. While the Irish had little money and little experience in farming, nor any interests in it. The age of Irish immigrants coming to America, was teens to adults and the British were young but not as young as the Irish.


         Ellis Island, in New York City, welcomed over 12 million immigrants to the U.S. from 1892 to 1954. Third class passengers were ferried over from New York Harbor to the island, where they underwent medical and legal examinations. The doctors were famed for their ability to identify dangerous diseases in their "six second physicals." Even though the island is known as the "Island of Tears", only 2% of all immigrants were sent away from America because of medical reasons or if a legal inspector believes he/she would be a menace to society. All inspections were held in the Registry Room also known as the Great Hall.  

    America has been shaped by the coming of these immigrants. They have done everything they could to have a better life here and in doing so they have made America everything she is today. I can almost guarantee that every person who reads this website is descended from an immigrant on at least one side of the family. What New Yorker could survive without Chinese food? Where would men take their dates for romantic dinners if not for the Italians? Who would we be if these people had not come to America?


The Book of Knowledge, "Immigration," <> (5-10-05)
The National Park Service- Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, "Ellis Island," <> (5-9-05)
"Who Were/Are the Immigrants to the US?," <> (5-10-05)
Rise of Industrial America, "Chinese Immigration to the United States," <> (5-10-05)
"Cincinnati Immigrants," <> (5-9-05)
Lakota McCune
8th American History
2005 Project