Immigration to America during 1790-1820

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In the time period of 1790-1820, world events such as wars and battles in other countries and the economy diaadvantages forced people to find shelter in the new American colonies. The major groups of migration were the Africans, Scotch-Irish, English, French, Germans, and Irish. Every year, 8,000 immigrants came to the Americas.Twenty precent of the people were of African descent, 30.5% were German descent and 38.6% were from Ireland. In 1790, 85,000 Africans, 45,000 English, 40,000 French, 25,000 German, 25,000 Irish, and 50,000 Scotch-Irish settlers migrated to the colonies. A lot of the newcomers settled in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

Those of the Irish descent migrated in the mid 1800's; they settled in Chicago, New York and Boston. Others settled west of the Atlantic Ocean, in dry regions beyond west of the Mississippi River, north of the Ohio River and the woods in the upland south. Those of the German descent settled also in Chicago and New York. The English were the major ethnic group. Of the first census there were 3.9 million people counted excluding the Native Americans. There were 700,000 African descents and 400,000 from other places other than England. During the migration of the Europeans populations doubled and most of those who migrated mostly spoke English. From the year 1820, 70 million people legally migrated to the U.S to find better living.

During this time along with some of the migrations happening the Native Americans were out trying to protect their land. For example, In the year 1790 General Josiah Harmar and his troops battled with a group of Native Americans led by a chieftain Little Turtle, and the former side lost due to some disadvantage. Later the next year, the same native group battled an army led by General Aurthur St. Claire but lost. Losing yet another battle against General "Mad Anthony" Wayne, the Miami Confederacy gave up some of the land in exchange for a yearly payment of $10,000. This is an example of a major event forcing an ethnic group out of its territory.

-La'kreshea Watts & Ebony Johnson


Between the years of 1790 and 1820 there was not a significant number of immigrants to America. Most of the people who did immigrate came for economic reasons such as jobs and company transfers, and some immigrated for non economic reasons like to be with family, personal interests, refugees, war, political, religious and to escape persecution. An example of a non-economic reason is how the French came from San Domingo as refugees from the revolt of Haiti (20,000) and most of the other peoples came for opportunity.

Some of the reasons that may have influenced people to immigrate to America are the countries ideals like; freedom, independence which was gained at the Treaty of Paris (September 1783), and new found egalitarianism which was the equality of all people and what defined ones personal worth which was not wealth or family but ability, effort and virtue. Thomas Paine said, “America is becoming the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.”

The naturalization act helped make America appealing to whites, it stated: “any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States…”. An acre of land was only a dollar due to the Land Ordinance of 1785, which was a very appealing immigration factor. Farmers in Europe divided their land for their sons to make a living and soon ran out of land, America was the perfect place to come to continue agriculture. Township was used to divide land; land was specifically given for religion, education, revenue and water which was very reassuring.

America was the perfect place for people to run away to because of its abundant land that grew larger and larger through a number of contributes. The Louisiana purchase (bought from France), the gaining of Florida, the Pinckney Treaty with Spain that made France give over the land East of the Mississippi and Florida’s boundary was now to the North, the Mississippi river was opened and America now expanded west of the Appalachians. West of the Appalachians was where a lot of people settled after the Revolutionary War.
The French immigrated to America after the Fall of Napoleon (1815) and went to French colonies, the most popular being French/Spanish Louisiana because it was cheap and a French speaking land.

In 1814 immigration grew larger and port cities overflowed with people, a lot of them sick from the long journey here. African Americans were also brought over on unsanitary ships in large quantities to work as slaves during this time period. Slaves were people forced to do work for no compensation and were abused regularly. African Americas later made up a vast number of the countries population.

Although the English would like to think they “founded” America, there were actually people living here previously. These people were the Native Americans who got their land stolen from them and often had to fight to keep it, and rarely got to even if they won. For many years the natives would lose their land to sew immigrants.

This time period’s immigrants were limited by many factors.
• The French Revolution (1789)
• Napoleonic Wars (1792-1814)
• The War of 1812 (1812-1814).
• Slave trade being banned in 1808 may have prevented people from immigrating here T
• The Steerage Act called for records of who was on each boat of immigrants to improve the health conditions; some people may not want to be on record.
• An import tax was put on goods from Europe and later on the manufacture of whisky.
• Land loss to highbred taxes may have also prevented people from immigrating to America.

During the period of 1790 to 1820, many were immigrating to the United States. There were many causes for this movement. For example, The Irish immigrated to the States to escape the troubles happening back in their homelanf. With the end of the Napoleanic Wars, the nation soon became overpopulated and impoverished. Along with that, religious prejudice of Protestant Masters to the Catholic Irish combined with political subordination, drove them to the choice of immigration. Later, a potato famine came into play causing mass migration. potatos had become an unreliable source of food and nutrition that it killed many by starvation. This lasted over a span of five years. In hope of getting away, thousands immigrated within the decade to the United States. The States provided a new beggining. Many Irish found jobs as construction workers in helping build a canal that would connect to the national transportation system. As the years progressed the Irished population sky rocketed. There was now more than a third of the population that was Irish. Most found jobs as plumbers, steamfitters and boilmakers.

-Written by Jessica Hernandez, Nelson Ly


In the period of time between 1790 and 1820, many European immigrants had been forced from their original settings and were searching for a chance to start fresh in the recently established American colonies. At first many were indentured servants and endured hardships such as the difficulty passage and Indian raids. Many of these aliens were of German or Scotch-Irish decent, the Germans with a total of 2,100 people surviving the voyage, making it the largest single immigration in the colonial period. They were the first newly established European settlers allowed to buy land in the Mohawk Valley, soon occupying a 12 mile strip along both sides of the Mohawk River, which attracted the Germans with excellent soil for prosperous growth. Many of the Germans arriving came as indentured servants, but many of the group soon became known for productive domestication and agriculture and later engaged in fishing and shipping. Many of them were loyalists fearing that their royal land grants would be taken by a new republican government. Mostly Lutheran and Amish, the Germans developed a rich religious life and a strong musical culture.

German Americans:
A group that amounted to 9% of the population by 1790, together with Irish Americans and Scottish immigrants who first went to the County of Ulster in Ireland and then to America, known as Scotch-Irish, were the largest group of immigrants during the period 1790 from 1820 Each group came for economic advantages, religious reasons, and certain events that encouraged them to leave home and come to a new land. For example, the German Americans were allowed to buy land by the Mohawk Indian king. The Irish Catholic immigrants came because of the famine and the deportation laws. The Scotch Irish, who were Protestant, came at the invitation of Cotton Mather and because of the economic hardship in Ireland. It is interesting that white settlers came because of the Naturalization Act of 1790 that began to limit the number of immigrants who could come to this country to “free white people.”

The Irish and Scotch-Irish were other European immigrants who couldn’t find anywhere in the colonies to settle for reasons of ownership or profit. In so, they left to a more rugged terrain where the land was less expensive. First valued for their fighting prowess and their Protestant dogma, they were first invited by Cotton Mather to settle the frontier. Many settlements rose in Maine and New Hampshire. The Irish brought the potato with them, where in Maine it became a stable crop. Many of the Irish became involved in lumbering, canal building, and civil construction projects such as the Erie Canal, that of which they were the laboring majority. A lot of the early immigrants settled in Chester and Lancaster Pennsylvania, which later became overpopulated, forcing the Scot-Irish to settle in the Alleghenies or the Shenandoah Valley. They soon became the dominant culture of the Appalachians. Many of the Irish became involved in lumbering, canal building, and civil construction projects such as the Erie Canal, that of which they were the laboring majority.

Africans came to North America against their will which was not common. Most people came because they wanted a better life for themselves, but Africans didn’t get that chance. They were forced to come and be slaves for people who had a good life. African Americans fought for their freedom for about a century, so that they could have the freedom and rights as other people do. Since they achieved freedom, they have impacted all aspects of American culture (, pg 1). When Africans first started traveling to the New World , the traveled at their own free will and arrived at almost the exact same time as the Europeans. In the early 1500’s Africans moved across Mexico, Peru, Ecuador and conquered New Mexico. In the early 17th century, as colonialization began, Africans were brought to Jamestown colony in Virginia as indentured servants. In about 50 years after they were brought to America, they were just turned into slaves like other Africans in North America. Most Africans became slaves because they were captured by other Africans and sold to Europeans. Sometimes it took several months for them to be delivered to the coast to be sold. Some of them were sold on the way. When they got to the coast, they were put on a ship where they had to lay head to foot and were chained together. The room was only a few feet high, so the conditions were horrible.

Native Americans:
European settlers arrived in North America in the 15th century. When they arrived, they encountered Native Americans. There were 900000 Native Americans living there at the time, with 300 different languages They were mostly likely the first people to go from Asia to American. Whites wrote and broke treaties and made the Native Americans adjust to Europeans, instead of adjusting to them. Since they thought that the Native Americans were inferior, they did not ask them for input when making policies that affected them. They made it European land and pushed them out. Even the president, James Monroe, noted that treated the Native Americans the way they did, “flattened their pride, retarded their improvement, and in many instances, paved the way for their destruction” (p. 2)

-Dan Schaefer & Demetrius "Frankie" Beauchamp

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