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US Immigrant and Ethnic History

The perspective of this essay is to highlight the major problems and disturbance faced by the immigrants in the United States. Keeping in track with the historical timeline of major problems in American history, a close overview will be drawn towards the Cobbs Hoffman and Jon Gjerde contributions as social editors. Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman and Jon Gjerde have contributed one of the finest writings to form a volume that highlights the major problems faced during the timeline of American history.

Instructors who wish to emphasis on historical based topics should ideally give the volume their careful consideration. As the United States expanded between 1865 and 1900, the significant timelines comprise Reconstruction, Western settlement, Industrialization, U. S. expansion, Progressive Era, World War I, and then onwards the 1920s. The Irish Americans Millions of Irish people migrated to America on the basis of chain of consequences caused by Britain’s exploitation, the landlords and the poor classes.

The Irish migrated in search of a better life even though the migrations did not restrict to the famine years of 1845 to 50, however a sharp rise was pretty evident. The growing dependency on a single crop – potato and then the lack of managing this crop’s constant growth was one of the significant reasons to drive Irish people to migrate. It is said that the calamity was more or less man-made, a result of blind politics, significant ignorance, rural suppression and enforced poverty. The British Government was the foremost to promote migrations to USA and Canada and lowered the passage costs.

The belief that emigration was the best solution to Irish starvation, was not only evident in Ireland but many other countries as well. Irish Dreams as compared to Realities The passage over the Atlantic was everything but safe: danger, uncertainty, sickness and death reduced the number of passengers by half. Those who did survive the long journey realized that life will be a battle against survival yet again. If they did not get picked up by the large greedy men to their tenement houses were left to starve in the oozing rotten smell which caused sickness and early deaths.

It was estimated that 80% of all infants born to Irish immigrants in New York City died. The most common danger for all the others was to become thieves or prostitutes if they landed in the wrong hands. Irish dreams in search of better life as immigrants were shattered against the reality that awaited them on the crucial basis of racism and poverty. Nevertheless the Irish people realized they had to first overcome their lack of education and skill before they could fight for a higher social class.

With constant comparison with the blacks, the Irish had to overcome this common welcome granted by the Americans. They had to face bold advertisements which clearly stated “No Irish Need Apply”. They were given jobs which were highly risk oriented such as at the docks. Many Irish men labored in coal mines and built railroads and canals. Men were taken as unskilled laborers and women as domestic servants. Cities like Boston and San Francisco were perhaps established homes of anti-Irish feeling.

The Know Nothing party rose to prominence at the zenith of Boston’s anti-Irish feeling in the 1840s and 50s. Despite fewer opportunities for Irish in social status, they had progressed to the middle and upper classes by the middle of the 19th Century. Many Irish men had by then become lawyers, merchants, and politicians. Slowly the Irish racism started to decline in the latter half of the 19th Century. The Germans Americans Likewise Irish being motivated to migrate for better life, the economic and political facts similarly motivated the Germans to migrate.

The fascination impelled to become a farmer with one’s own land or a craftsman with one’s own business by far brought large numbers of Germans to America. For enough inspiration the letters sent back home in Germany from the pioneer migrants were read aloud in villages. Then several benefits such as complete relief from the head tax also called the Personensteue, free access to sessions of the State Assembly, relief from all uncompensated road and rail work, freedom from the school tax and other ecclesiastical taxes, and improvement of the common schools, and more.

Hence, the 18th century marked largest number of German immigrants in the United States in search of betterment of lifestyle. The strength at which Germans as ethnic groups submerged across the length and breadth of the entire country into the English-speaking American middle class is quite apparent. They preferred to head for a region where they could still acquire reasonably priced farm land in areas where German-language churches and perhaps German schools already existed. The Germans naturally formed neighborhoods with their countrymen where they felt at home far away from home.

For skilled craftsmen, the booming cities of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, St. Louis and Chicago offered job opportunities, which could be said also for East Coast cities like New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. However, if a passenger was not able to pay out the passage debt they were liable to be sold off in the form of servitude as a combined family for three to four years. German Dreams as compared to Realities The close proximity of German immigrants settling within their ethnic and familiar lifestyles encouraged and sustained their heritage.

Significant problems of assimilation and adjustment were more easily solved when at least some behavioral patterns of everyday life were more or less retained. In colonial times already, especially in harbor cities such as Philadelphia and New York, well to-do Germans founded charitable institutions to better assist newcomers. The dream of most German immigrants in the 18th and 19th centuries was the debt-free ownership of a farm. Taking up city residence initially often was a strategy to build up savings of $50 to $150.

By comparison, German farmers were far more attached to their farms than others, succumbing less frequently to speculative fever. Instead, they tried to buy up land in their own vicinity for their siblings and children in order to be able to farm together for several generations. Categorically speaking one of the largest group of German immigrants in any given period were those in the skilled crafts. Also, well paid indeed were mechanics, plumbers, and plasterers. Potential emigrants from certain other occupational categories were well advised not to leave Germany, for they were not in demand.

Scandinavian Settlements It was in the 19th century, however, that the great migration of Scandinavians to the U. S. took place. The once-prosperous Scandinavian nations were rocked by political strife and social upheaval as regional wars and agricultural disasters created tremendous instability in everyday life. Before the 19th century, the people of the Scandinavian lands had often visited North America for varied reasons like exploration, to launch colonial adventures, or to stay and follow their faith.

However, soon enough Scandinavians began to flock by the tens of thousands as immigrants to start new lives for themselves. Reasons such as official corruption, the policies of powerful state churches, and an increasing disparity between the rich and the poor drove many thousands of Scandinavians to seek a better life elsewhere. When mass immigrants’ arrivals from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland-arrived at large ports they took different path to life in the United States. As immigrants from Scandinavia flooded into sparsely populated areas of the U. S.

, they helped create a particularly Scandinavian way of life, melding the varied religious, culinary, literary, and linguistic traditions that they brought with them with those that they found in their new country. As Scandinavian immigrants arrived in the U. S. , they brought a diverse group of native languages with them, and they quickly established institutions to nurture and promote their linguistic heritage. Wherever Scandinavians settled, Scandinavian-language newspapers and publishing houses quickly sprang up. The Scandinavian immigrants not only built new lives in the United States; they also built a new culture.

As the 20th century moved forward, Scandinavian America moved forward as well, and Scandinavian immigrants and their descendants took leading roles in all areas of American life. The Scandinavian tradition of collective action also led many immigrants to take active roles in American social reform movements. At the same time, they promoted the language and culture of the immigrants’ homelands and served as all-purpose community centers, hosting local choirs, cooking clubs, sports teams, and, in many Finnish social clubs, a community sauna.

As the Scandinavian-American communities became more established, some of these clubs became important forces in electoral politics, and local politicians were eager to win their endorsement. Whether Irish, Germans, or the Scandinavians immigrants, they all shared their own triumphs and anguishes in search of better lives. While the Irish migrants were the most affected with racisms and social acts, the others dispersed themselves amidst the vast lands of America.

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