How did the immigration of the late 1800s differ from earlier immigration?

Immigrants all over the world are the same. But you might have heard of old immigrants and new immigrants and could be confused if these two types are now present. Old and new immigrants are relevant when talking of immigration to the U.S.

It was in the 19th century that immigration was on a rise to the United States. The immigrants who reached the U.S. during the early 1800s were known as old immigrants, and those who immigrated during the late 1800s were known as new immigrants. The difference can be seen in the type of people that immigrated. Not only this, there were also differences in the reasons that paved the way for immigration.

The old immigrants generally came from Northern and Central Europe especially England and its territories. Apart from these people, there were also slaves who were immigrating in search of work in the plantations. Though these immigrants were from almost the same region, the reason for their immigration differed. The greatest motivation for immigration to the U.S. was the search for new land. Most of the people in England felt that the church was exerting more power on the land and wanted to have free land. Some others who immigrated were seeking religious freedom.

After the first immigrants to the U.S., the second batch of immigrants flocked to the country. The new immigrants included people from Eastern and Southern Europe especially Italy, Poland, Greece, and Russia. People from China and Japan also immigrated to the U.S. at this time. The new immigrants were in search for better economic opportunities. This was because the country began to have a substantial industrial growth after the cold war.

This summary of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century immigration describes the "new immigration" that originated from Southern and Eastern Europe. The essay also outlines American responses to the new wave of immigration, including some of the laws designed to restrict immigration that were adopted between 1880 and 1910.

Between 1880 and 1910, almost fifteen million immigrants entered the United States, a number which dwarfed immigration figures for previous periods. Unlike earlier nineteenth century immigration, which consisted primarily of immigrants from Northern Europe, the bulk of the new arrivals hailed mainly from Southern and Eastern Europe. These included more than two and half million Italians and approximately two million Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as many Poles, Hungarians, Austrians, Greeks, and others.

The new immigrants’ ethnic, cultural, and religious differences from both earlier immigrants and the native-born population led to widespread assertions that they were unfit for either labor or American citizenship. A growing chorus of voices sought legislative restrictions on immigration. Often the most vocal proponents of such restrictions were labor groups (many of whose members were descended from previous generations of Irish and German immigrants), who feared competition from so-called “pauper labor.” 

After the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barred Chinese immigration and made it nearly impossible for Chinese to become naturalized citizens, efforts to restrict European immigration increased. In the same year, the Immigration Act for the first time levied a “head tax” (initially fifty cents a person) intended to finance enforcement of federal immigration laws. The act also made several categories of immigrants ineligible to enter the United States, including convicts, "lunatics" (a catch-all term for those deemed mentally unfit) and those likely to become “public charges,” i.e., those who would place a financial burden on state institutions or charities. A second Immigration Act in 1891 expanded these categories to include polygamists and those sick with contagious diseases, and established a Bureau of Immigration to administer and enforce the new restrictions. In 1892, Ellis Island opened in New York Harbor, replacing Castle Garden as the main point of entry for millions of immigrants arriving on the East Coast. In accordance with the 1891 law, the federal immigration station at Ellis Island included facilities for medical inspections and a hospital. 

While business and financial interests occasionally defended unrestricted immigration, viewing a surplus of cheap labor as essential to industry and westward expansion, calls for measures restricting the flow of the new immigrants continued to grow. Although President Grover Cleveland vetoed an 1897 law proposing a literacy test for prospective immigrants, further restrictions on immigration continued to be added. Following the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901 by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz, xenophobia and hysteria about political radicalism led to the Anarchist Exclusion Act, which excluded would-be immigrants on the basis of their political beliefs. 

In 1907, immigration at Ellis Island reached its peak with 1,004,756 immigrants arriving. That same year, Congress authorized the Dillingham Commission to investigate the origins and consequences of contemporary immigration. The Commission concluded that immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe posed a serious threat to American society and recommended that it be greatly curtailed in the future, proposing as the most efficacious remedy a literacy test similar to the one President Cleveland had vetoed in 1897. Ultimately, the Commission’s findings provided a rationale for the sweeping immigration laws passed in the years after World War I.

How did immigration change in the late 1800s?

Prior to the late 1800s, many immigrants to the U.S. were of Western or Northern European descent. In the late 1800s, a new wave of immigration began. Known as new immigrants, many of these people came from Southern and Eastern Europe, places like Italy, Poland, Greece, and Russia.

How was the wave of US immigration in the late 1800s different from the previous wave of immigration in the mid 1800s?

Between 1861 and 1890, 10.4 million immigrants arrived in the United States, mainly of Southern and Eastern European descent. This wave was more than twice the size of the previous wave, which had 4.9 million immigrants of mostly Northern European descent, who migrated to the United States between 1831 and 1860.

How did immigration change from the 1800s to the early 1900s?

In the years between 1880 and 1900, there was a large acceleration in immigration, with an influx of nearly nine million people. Most were European, and many were fleeing persecution: Russian Jews fled to escape pogroms, and Armenians looked to escape increasing oppression and violence.

How did immigrants in the late nineteenth century differ from earlier immigrants to the United States?

What is the difference between New and Old immigrants? Old immigrants came to the U.S. and were generally wealthy, educated, skilled, and were from southern and eastern Europe. New immigrants were generally poor, unskilled, and came from Northern and Western Europe.