Immigrants and Urban Challenges
In the mid-1800s, large numbers of immigrants crossed the Atlantic Ocean to begin new lives in the United States.
Many of them were fleeing economic or political troubles in their native countries.
Most immigrants from the British Isles during that period were Irish.
In the mid-1840s, potato blight, a disease that causes rot in potatoes, left many families in Ireland with little food.
Most Ireland immigrants were very poor.
Many settled in cities in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania
Many immigrants enjoyed a new feeling of equality.
The United States seemed to offer both greater economic opportunity and more freedom from government control.
German immigrants were more likely than the Irish to become farmers and live in rural areas.
Despite their funds and skills, German immigrants often were forced to take low-paying jobs.
Industrialization and the waves of people from Europe greatly changed the American labor force.
While many immigrants went to the Midwest to get farmland, other immigrants filled the need for cheap labor in towns and cities.
Yet a great deal of native-born Americans feared losing their jobs to immigrants who might work for lower wages.
Those Americans and others who opposed immigration were called nativists.
In the 1849s and 1850s some nativists became politically active.
In 1849 nativists founded a political organization, the Know-Nothing Party, that supported measures making it difficult for foreigners to become citizens or hold office.
Later, disagreements over the issue of slavery caused the party to fall apart.
The Industrial Revolution led to the creation of many new jobs