Coming to America

Our program after the meeting on July 10 was about immigration. Carol Foltz gave a short presentation and tried to answer the following questions:

Why did people come to America?
Many people came in hopes of a better life. For many reasons: religious persecution, economic hardship, famine or war. There were others who were sent as prisoners of war or criminals. My ex’s many-times great-grandfather, William Munro, was captured in the Battle of Worcester and sent to the colonies in 1651. England sent criminals until the Revolutionary War, then sent them to Australia until 1868.

When did people come to America?
There were several main waves of immigration: the colonial period, the mid-19th century, the start of the 20th century, and post-1965.

How did people come to America?
Mainly by boat, until airplanes were available. But the types of boats varied, from wind-driven sailing ships to steamboats that could cross the Atlantic in a few days. In Carol’s family, one of the latest immigrant families came over in February 1912, just two months before the Titanic.

Who came to America?
People who wanted a better life.

Where did people enter America?
We think of Ellis Island first, but it wasn’t the first port or the only port where immigrants landed. In the New York area, Castle Garden preceded Ellis Island. But other ports include Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans, as well as ports on the West Coast.

Where did people settle in America?
Many settled in cities, but many pushed West. Some would settle for awhile, then uproot and move further West.

References:
A history of immigration in the USA

The Irish potato famine

Immigration to the United States

Immigration to the United States, 1851-1900

The Immigration History of the United States (Video)

Growth, Cities, and Immigration: Crash Course US History #25 (Video, John Green talks very fast.)

U.S. Immigration Before 1965

10 Myths About Immigration in the United States

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