The Great Transatlantic Migration Meghan Barry Bridget Stanford
The Great Transatlantic Migration The Transatlantic Migration was an anomaly in history that took place from1870 to 1914. During this time there was an extreme spike in immigration where over 23 million migrants arrived after taking the boat trip across the Atlantic Ocean. These migrants came to the “New World”, for the most part, to improve their economic status; they came to countries that could supply them with the opportunity and resources to do so. Migrants sometimes came permanently with their families or by themselves, other times men came alone to earn money only to return to their native country; whether finding permanent residency or flying through the immigrants made an impact on history. North America and South American saw increased migrants due advancements in technology or something called the “chain effect”. This is when people from the same families and villages would follow other migrants to their destinations. Another reason for the high influx was due to the improved transportation methods which made traveling more comfortable and reliable for the common traveler. The dangerous sail boats were replaced with powerful steamships that more efficient, safe, and could hold more people. Now the trip took almost half the time, and more passengers could squeeze onto the ship’s deck. Also, during this time period health regulations were being enforced; it less likely for contagious disease to occur on the ship, which would kill many immigrants. Now that the journey was safer, more immigrants could finally set foot on new soil.
Due to the growing population of immigrants, port cities and receiving countries had to adapt to the incoming numbers. They enforced new sanitary regulations, ports added quarantine and reception centers to their facilities. The immigrants passed through receiving areas like Ellis Island, where they were processed and checked. From the vast amount of incoming people there was a need for jobs, things like innkeepers, porters, ticket agents, and more. The migration was now supporting the growing economy, by providing more job opportunities. The great migration made increased the labor force and helped the boost various economies. The migrants were mostly Europeans (Poles, Irish, English, etc.) settling across the Atlantic in places like the United States, Canada, and South America. To understand transatlantic migration, one must understand migration within Europe. For years Europeans have migrated from country to country to find labor and work to support themselves; they would move from village to village, province to province, and then across national boundaries. These migrants then came in masses, hoping to get a piece of the American Dream. They came for various job opportunities such as railroad work, mining, factory work, and construction work. A few migrants came to work on skilled trades and services. Farming opportunities were available from northern Argentina to northwestern Canada. The railroad infrastructure was rapidly growing at the time, this required workers, and this is where the migrants came in. The migrants were not always looking for permanent work; they were more looking for work that would supply them with money before returning back to their home country.
“Native” Americans were hostile to the idea that migrants would return back to their home country. They thought this to be unmoral, to gain riches from the country and return; they believed that it showed no loyalty. The reading stated, “There was tremendous hostility…toward temporary or return migrants”. These underlying issues provoked imperial attitudes that immigrants were lower than the “native” Americans. After inflamed tensions it was decided that once migrants arrived they were expected to stay. Due to this discrimination and World War II the great transatlantic migration began to slow. America had the most vocal anti-immigrant movement, and passed some highly restrictive legislature which slowed the flow of immigrants. Nevertheless, The Great Transatlantic Migration changed the world, it changed cultures and the way people lived. These migrants took the risk to seek out an improved life; they created a new definition for what it means to be American.
Immigrant migration across the Atlantic, in the late 19th century to early 20th century, was at an all time high. These migrants came for improved economic opportunity, that the United States and other dominant countries in the west could offer.
After being taken from the docks, this masses were packed into immigration offices were they would be questioned and inspected. After passing through station like Ellis Island, migrants could move deeper into the country to find work.
From the mass amounts of migrants, port cities became overcrowded. New York City was greatly affected as Ellis Island was a processing center off the shore of Manhattan. After leaving their processing station, immigrants would reside in the port cities until job opportunities were made available. It was said that wherever the labor was you find immigrants. The migrants would stay in cities for industrial work or other refined jobs, while others ventured out west to try their hand in farming.
Migrants came for farming opportunity, which was a more permanent type of occupation, meaning that the farming migrants would be more likely to stay in their new home. Farming opportunity was prevalent through South America through southern Canada.
Migrants also came to work on the railroad. During the time of The Great Transatlantic Migration, railroad companies were growing their infrastructure and needed labor to keep their system running. To the migrants job opportunities like being on the railroad provided quick money to take back home to their families in their native countries.
Closer to the end of the era of the boom in transatlantic migration, women immigrants were becoming more common. In the beginning of the migration, mostly men were coming off the ships; leaving their wives at home expecting to go home at some point.
At first, they became domestics in their new homes and then took on more jobs. This push for women in the workplace helped to begin movements like feminism and women's rights. Women, in the beginning, often came over with their children to meet their already settled husbands.
The United States was not the only country to be receiving immigrants in mass; South America also received an abundance of the migrants crossing the Atlantic. The Spanish workers went to Argentinian construction sites, Germans to homesteads, Chinese and Japanese migrants often went to Hawaii, Peru, and California
At the time the coffee plantations were lively and needed labor to keep up with the new demand. Italian laborers went to meet the demand of the plantations on Brazil. An immigrants hotel was built in São Paulo to house the incoming immigrants.
Not Wanted Closer to the end of the era of great migration, concerns in America grew of the masses flocking to their nation. People were developing feelings that as “native” born Americans should receive priority over the immigrants. “Birds of Passage” soon came under fire, when Americans accused them of lacking loyalty to their new home. The great era soon came to a close due to World War I, restriction immigration policies. The movement to restrict immigration began earlier: Know Nothing Movement in mid-1850’s, Immigration Restriction League of the 1890s, the anti-Asian movements in the West, resulting in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the "Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907“.
Immigrants traveled across an ocean, sometimes leaving their only family behind, to find a better life. When traveling to America their first site of America would be the Statue of Liberty, a sign of the American spirit. Immigrants embodied the American spirit and believed in the American Dream. The immigrants came to prosper, and changed what it truly meant to be an American.
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