USA Immigration from the Beginning Part 3: The Period 1821 – 1870

The community park had doubled in size and even included a lake thanks to donations made by four local farmers. The park president directed that the lake be converted into a large pool with a shallow end meant for families with small children and a deep end for teenagers and adults. In addition, two slides were to be built at the deepest end of the lake. The first large attraction was about to be added to the park: a carousel. This carousel would seat up to 30 passengers and would be run by local volunteers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

Now that the park included a lake as well, word began to spread across the county about the fantastic park. The number of visitors had grown substantially. With the addition of the carousel, there was great concern for the health and well-being of the visitors. Therefore, the park president made a decision for the park to have its first vendor: a lemonade stand. The only drinks to be allowed would be water and lemonade. Its hours would match that of the carousel. All profits of the lemonade stand would be used to maintain and clean the park.

Unfortunately, disputes began to occur regarding who could use the park and when. This prompted the need for advanced event scheduling until the park was better able to accommodate multiple events simultaneously. To provide safety for those in the park, the local community also established a volunteer “neighborhood watch” program to alert authorities of any mischief that occurred within the park.

While the park was limited in its available attractions overall, word continued to spread and visitors continue to flock to see the new park.

During the 1820s, the United States continued to grow but that wasn’t the only activity on the North American continent. With much reluctance, Spain ceded Florida to the United States once the Adams-Onis Treaty was deemed final. Mexico declared its independence from Spain in 1821 and later became the United Mexican States in 1824. Plus, Texas was about to become a hot topic of debate.

In 1821, Missouri became the 24th state of the Union. Immigration began to increase during this time period totaling approximately 152,000, per the Bureau of Immigration Annual Report for 1925. In fact, in 1825, the first Norwegian immigrants came to the United States. On a side note, Congress authorized the removal of Indians from all states to the western prairie.

In the 1830s, Texas was a part of Mexico. As more Americans were drawn and invited to move to Texas, the citizens became disgruntled with the leadership of Mexico, mainly Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, and they sought independence. On October 2, 1835, the first battle of the Texas Revolution began with a battle between American settlers and Mexican soldiers near the Guadalupe River over the disarmament of the town’s cannon. Eventually, Texas earned its independence and immediately looked to join the United States but this required time.

Arkansas became a state in 1836 followed by Michigan in 1837. In just 60 years, there were now 26 states in the United States, double the number of the original 13 states. Legal immigration had increased to nearly 600,000 during the 1830s.

From 1846 – 48, a great potato famine began in Ireland. While this may sound rather simplistic, this famine resulted in nearly 1.2 million immigrants to leave Ireland and come to America. The majority of these immigrants were very hard working and took position that required physical labor. During this time, the Swedes also began to immigrate to America. This rapid increase in immigration prompted action by Congress to found a Passenger Act. This act set very strict conditions upon how many passengers may be boarded upon a vessel that is en route to America. It was aimed at protecting its potential American citizens from overcrowding conditions upon transport vessels.

The 1840s also marked the beginning of the Oregon Trail and other wagon trains began to follow en route to California. Florida (1845), Texas (1845), Iowa (1846), and Wisconsin (1848) joined the United States. However, it was the need to include Texas that prompted the invasion of Mexican soldiers into Texas and ultimately the U.S.-Mexican War. In early 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, ending the U.S.-Mexican War. Mexico ceded one-third of its territory to the U.S. in exchange for $15 million. The land included California and set the boundary with Mexico at the Rio Grande. As a result of this treaty, 60,000 Mexican residents in the New Mexico Territory and 10,000 residents in California became U.S. citizens.

In the late 1840s, the German Revolution and severe drought conditions prompted German refugees to flee their nation in the hopes of becoming U.S. citizens. By 1850, the growth of the United States continued to move westward and immigration had soared to 1,713,000.

Beginning in 1852, over 20,000 Chinese immigrants began to arrive in California. These immigrants were escaping dire floods, droughts, famine, and revolutions. There were so many Chinese coming to California that a foreign miner’s tax was enacted in California, largely in reaction to this large incoming populace.

New legislation and key court decisions enabled additional citizenship while others prohibited it. In 1855, the Citizenship of Children Born Abroad and of Married Women Act established the law that women and children of U.S. parents born abroad would now be considered citizens of the United States of America. Also in 1855, another Passenger Act set additional regulations upon the carriage of passengers on steamboats and other vessels. In a stunning U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1857, it was decided that all Blacks, regardless whether they were free of slave, would never become citizens of the United States.

During the 1850s, California (1850), Minnesota (1858), and Oregon (1859) became states of America. Immigration also increased to approximately 2,598,000 in the 1950s.

1860 began with the election of Abraham Lincoln. A month later, South Carolina became the first of 13 states to secede from the Union. The American Civil War began shortly after.

The flow of Chinese immigrants continued to increase in California. This prompted the Anti-Coolie Act which would dampen transportation of Chinese immigrants upon “coolie” ships and would also post additional taxes upon Chinese immigrants.

In 1864, an Immigration Act established the Commission of Immigration and the office of Superintendent of Immigration based out of New York City. In addition, this act validated and enforced labor contracts of future immigrants.

In 1865, the Enrollment Act established groundwork for citizens to lose citizenship as a penalty for draft evasion or desertion in the Armed Forces.

In 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed which stated, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” During the following year in April, the Civil Rights Act was passed and established the U.S. citizenship of all Blacks and conferred legal equality and protection of fundamental human rights and property rights. After President Lincoln’s assassination, President Andrew Johnson declared the Civil War over on August 20, 1866.

In 1870, an additional act extended citizenship rights to former African slaves not born in the United States, called the Naturalization Act.

During the difficult period of the 1860s, Kansas (1861), West Virginia (1863), Nevada (1864), and Nebraska (1867) joined the U.S. as new states. Immigration to the United States during this period dropped but was still high at 2,315,000.

During the 1820-1870, there was a great increase in legal immigration to the United States, primarily from Europe, due to many circumstances. The United States provided an image of hope and opportunity for those who were determined to start a new life through hard work and determination. This is the true spirit that began to thrive in America as it entered the Reconstruction Period after the Civil War.

To be continued in part 4

Article by John Coder

Posted July 28, 2014

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