“We were told that the streets of America were paved with gold. Upon arriving, we found that the streets were not paved with gold, nor paved at all, and that we were expected to pave them.”
--Italian Immigrant circa 1890

Between 1607 and 1915, the desires of immigrants, and what they received in America both changed. From about 1607 to the late 1700’s travel between the old and new world was a matter of exploration and colonization, with intent to exploit new lands (and new riches). These early pioneers in the new world often found riches; however, not without hardship and sometimes, death. Beginning in the early 1800’s, America experienced a massive immigration movement, from much of Europe. Between 1800 and 1924 fifty-million immigrants left Europe, and went to America in search of a better lifestyle. In some cases immigrants received just that, more work, at higher pay, and better living conditions; however, life for immigrants in America was not ideal. Many immigrants faced problems in their workplaces, as well as hostility.

In the early 1600’s immigration into America was a matter of exploration and colonization in order to increase mercantilism for their home country, as well as fleeing the religious persecution in many European countries. Many early explorers went to the new world in order to find raw materials to bring back to their mother country. The same was true for many early colonization efforts in the 1600’s. Southern colonies were expected to grow tobacco to send back to their home country. These southern colonies were not nearly as successful as the New English colonies, which were populated by immigrants who came to America seeking religious freedom, which was not granted in many European countries until much later. As opposed to Southern settlers (who sought riches through raw materials), which was colonized primarily by men, the Northern colonies were settled by entire families who left Europe together in search of a more stable religious life. The result of this difference led to hardship, suffering, and death for unsuccessful southern colonists, and a somewhat more prosperous life for many families in the New English colonies. Immigrants between 1607 and 1800 were coming to the new world in search of either raw materials for their home country, or religious freedom. In most cases, mercantilist colonization resulted in hardship and often death for colonists. However, those immigrants seeking religious freedom were pleased to learn that they could worship freely in the new world.

Beginning in the early 1800’s immigrants came to America in search of a higher standard of living, which was spurred by famine, poor harvest, and various wars in much of Europe. The potato famine in Ireland, and poor harvests in other areas of Europe led to increased immigration to America, as did political and religious oppression. Immigrants came to America in search of better jobs, at higher pay, which in many cases, they found, because America was in the midst of an Industrial Revolution. Due to increased industrialization in America, and therefore more factories, there were many factory jobs available to immigrants. Due to the tyrannical rule of many central European monarchs, political disturbances would be followed by a tightened grip on society from European kings. This oppression led to increased migration from Europe to America. However, immigrants rarely received exactly what they desired. Immigrants who received jobs in factories were faced with long hard hours, poor and unsafe working conditions, and often meager pay. Immigrants were also slow to accept American ways, and accepted low wages. Other factory workers would loose their jobs to immigrants who would work for less, which lead to hostility towards immigrants. Immigration from the early 1800’s to early 1900’s was spurred by a desire for a higher standard of living, free of the political oppression which they found in Europe.

The changes experienced between 1607 and 1915 in what immigrants desired in their new lives in America, was a result of prior hardships in their home countries in Europe. Religious oppression and monarchial desire for raw materials in order to perpetuate mercantilism led to most early migration between 1607 and 1820. Political oppression, and a search for better jobs and higher standards of living led most colonists to America between 1820 and 1915. When arriving in America; however, immigrants often were surprised to find that life in America would be filled with hardships and plight. Early southern settlers in the 1600’s were faced with difficult planting conditions, and many died. Later, in the 1800’s immigrants in search of better jobs were faced with unsafe working conditions in factories, and low wages. Also, new immigrants were confronted by older immigrants, often of different ethnic origin. The desires of immigrants and what they actually received in America changed dramatically between 1607 and 1915.

If you notice any glaring factual errors, please let me know via /msg.

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