Why Was There so Much Migration from Europe to America in the 19th Century? Essay

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In the 19th century, a total of 55 million migrants emigrated from their European homelands, with three-fifth choosing America as their land of destination. A variety of reasons as to why so much migration from Europe to America exists, they include the ease of transportation, homeland crises, economic incentives, demographic changes, and the “chain migrant effect”. The ease of transportation across the Atlantic during the 19th century contributed to the influx of European migrants to America. Technological revolution replaced sail with steamships as an ocean carrier, which not only increased safety but also decreased the cost of trans-Atlantic transport. By 1870, a migrant was able to cross the Atlantic “in relative safety, at a reasonable price …[and] in a scheduled time” (Hyde 1975 as cited in Hatton and Williamson, 1998). As a result, people who were unable to finance a move before were now able to afford the transportation cost. Consequently, more Europeans took this opportunity and immigrated to America. Crises, ranging from famines to social political unrests, that arose in European countries also contributed to the large influx of migrants. The Potato Famine that struck Ireland in the 1840’s induced a widespread famine that consequently brought about mass migration to the United States. Before, emigration from Ireland to North America was averaging less than 5000 per year. However, between 1846 and 1851, over one million Irish migrants arrived at North American Ports. The migrants saw that new life, though hard, would be better than the ones they left behind. Hence, crises in host countries also heightened the number of immigrants in America. Demographic changes as a consequence of lagged population growth also played its role in European mass migration. Population growth mobilized the population by raising its share in the prime emigration

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