Why Did People Immigrate to the United States?


Quick Answer

Reasons for immigration are seemingly as numerous and diverse as the people who come to the United States. Since the first English settlers established Jamestown in 1607 on land that would later be part of the United States, some primary reasons for immigration have included religious freedom, famine and better wages or profits.

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Why Did People Immigrate to the United States?
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Full Answer

Many early settlers came to America simply to establish new lives in an open land. English Pilgrims established Plymouth, Massachusetts, as a settlement in 1620, hoping to establish a new colony where they would be free to practice their religion. Puritans followed them shortly thereafter, settling in various parts of New England.

In the mid-1800s, Ireland experienced its Great Famine, which wiped out the country's potato crops. Potatoes, though not native to Ireland, had become the main crop for much of the poor population. When the famine struck, more than 1 million people died, and 1 million fled to the United States.

In the late 1800s, steam ships began making immigration more feasible, and large masses from Europe and Asia came to the United States to find prosperity. When the Industrial Age began, many came to work in the nation's factories, often for low wages, which were usually more than they were paid in their native countries.

In the early 21st century, many immigrants from Mexico immigrated to the United States for better wages and working conditions. As of 2014, the issue of immigration regulation continues to be a topic of political and social debate.

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