- article - History - Nation of Nations

Nation of Nations

US Immigration 1851 – 1920
Statistical Analysis

  • Assessment: Statistical Analysis
  • Mark: B
  • Year: 2005
  • Wordcount: 1104

Imagine, my dear friend, if you can, a society formed of all the nations of the world… people having different languages, beliefs, opinions: in a word, a society without roots, without memories, without prejudices, without routines, without common ideas, without a national character, yet hundred times happier than our own. (Alexis de Tocqueville, 1830)

The source of the data used for this statistical analysis is provided by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, published in 1991, and can be found in Tindall and Shi (2004, Appendix)

A first impression of the significance of the data can be gained when having a look at the overall numbers of immigration in the period from 1851 to 1920 (see Chart 1). From 1851 to 1880 the total number of immigrants has increased only slightly, with a small setback in the 1860s. Then the numbers almost doubled between 1881 and 1890, followed by another setback towards the end of the century. The period from 1901 to 1910 saw the biggest flow of immigrants with numbers reaching almost 8.8 million people. This was followed by a decade of significantly lower immigration but numbers were still high with more than 5.7 million.

This huge and increasing number of immigrants from all different parts of the world led to an alteration of the country. This conclusion cannot only be drawn from the data provided but is also underpinned, among others, by the census of 1890 which had shown that the number of foreign-born element in the population accounted for more than 9 million of a total population of 63 million (Brogan, 1999, p. 393). Where did the immigrants come from? In the period from 1851 to 1920 an overwhelming portion of more than 88 per cent (almost 27.5 million) emigrated from Europe to the United States (see Chart 2).

There are several factors that led to these huge numbers of immigrants and obviously the causes varied from country to country…

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