Source D

SOURCE D:  Adapted from “Immigrants”    



Although a large portion of antebellum immigrants were Irish, there were also immigrants from other locations. German immigrants were another major group. Political revolts and revolution attempts in the 1840s across Europe caused many to flee to the United States. Unlike Irish immigrants of the same period, however, German-speaking immigrants came from different social and economic classes, and many were skilled laborers or professionals. In addition, the larger number of Irish immigrants made native-born Americans feel more economically threatened by them than by German immigrants. Thus, the German immigrants generally assimilated into the United States more easily than the Irish. It was not until the Civil War, in which many Irish Americans served prominently, that the new Irish immigrants were able to achieve a sense of belonging.


The other major immigrant group introduced to the American tapestry in the antebellum period was the Chinese immigrant of the West. In the late 1840s, Chinese immigrants began arriving in the United States in significant numbers. By the early 1880s, about 250,000 Chinese and Chinese Americans lived in the United States, most of whom were located in California or other western territories and states. For the first few years, Chinese immigrants, mostly men, were the objects of curiosity, but relatively little social attack. Few knew English, and most worked for one of the Six Companies, which were Chinese organizations in the United States that governed the actions of Chinese immigrants. These companies took the place of village governments and had their own laws, independent of American laws. Anyone disobeying the rules was quickly punished, regardless of relevant American laws. Living in fear, many Chinese immigrants were completely dependent on these companies, and interacted little with native-born Americans.


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