Monday, July 23, 2007

History of Immigration in the United States

Harvard has a nice little website on the History of Immigration to the United States 1789-1930.

Some interesting things in the timeline.

1. We first defined the path to naturalization in 1790, the year after ratification of the constitution.

2. There was no restriction on immigration but the residency requirement for naturalization bounced between 2 years and 14 years for a few years.

3. We did pass an immigration law in 1798 that gave the President authority to deport foreigners deemed to be dangerous. There was no restriction on entering the country, just on residency.

4. In 1819 we started counting immigrants comming in via ship.

5. The early 1840's brought large numbers of Irish immigrants because of the potatoe famine and the Gold Rush brought large numbers of Chinese because of the Gold Rush.

6. In 1850, mostly as a response to fears that Irish Catholics would elect the Pope as President or something, the census starting keeping track of country of origin of residents. During the 1850's politicians who campainged on issues of a need for restrictions on immigration got elected.

7. In 1862 Congress put the Civil War on the backburner long enough to pass a law restricting naturalization rights of Chinese. During the war many Irish went West to work on railroad construction, which eased the political pressures to restrict them.

8. Starting in 1882 new immigrants had to pay a 50c entry tax.

You can see more of the timeline here.

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