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  • Created by: ellen
  • Created on: 08-05-13 12:40


Most people arrived in the US as they saw it as a land of opportunity. The poor wages many received were a huge improvement from the poverty at home. Many families followed relatives out to the US. They could send their high wages to their families back home or pay for their relatives to come and join them. Many Europeans longed to escape the problems of their homeland. In Ireland the potato famine in the 40’s saw hundreds of them leave for America.  Another example is in Italy where a collapse in the wine market saw an increase in Italian immigration into the US.

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At a time like this, most Europeans were denied the vote and had little or no political freedom. The liberties of the USA were very attractive and the Europeans were aware of the American declaration of independence in which it stated that ‘all men were equal’. Most European populations were rising and there was a growing disruption in the traditional way of life. There was growing urbanisation, so some decided to move to the US cities and some went to other parts of the US to continue their farming lifestyle.

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A special bureau was set up during the American civil war to encourage immigration, many American companies set out agencies to recruit cheap labour. This was known as ‘contract labour’- where workers had agreed to work for a fixed price. Many of those arriving in America had their travel paid in advance so they could be taken on as workers. The transition from sail to stream made the journey to the US much easier, the railroads opened up the American continent. Many groups who left Europe were facing persecution at home. Jews faced growing persecution in the late 19th century, especially in Poland and Russia. They had to leave as there was also a growing intolerance for socialists and a number of them chose to leave for America.

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