Old World economic interests shaped the early days of the new continent. Until the early 1800s, the forced immigration of slaves from Africa vastly outnumbered Europeans settling the New World (Kennedy, 1996; Macionis, 200?). During the period of 1800-1881, 80 to 90 percent of the immigrants came from Europe (VanZee, 2003; Schmid, 1999). Kennedy (1996) maintains that two different “disruptions” precipitated the emigration from Europe in the 1800s. One disruption was due to population growth. It more than doubled (from 200 million to over 400 million) due to improvements in diet, sanitation, and disease control. The other unsettling influence was the effect of the Industrial Revolution. Workers, who transitioned from agrarian to industrial lives, were unsuccessful at relocating in Europe, and so migrated to the United States. Keep in mind that this inflow for foreigners was tempered by the repatriation rate, which averaged almost 40 percent (Kennedy, 1996).
Immigration in the early 20th century took a new turn. The Continental frontier closed with Arizona’s admission to the Union in 1912. A quota system and, specifically, exclusion of “Orientals” in 1924 were attempts to limit immigration and maintain a superior number of Europeans over other races (Sellers, May, & McMillen, 1976). This had the effect of slowing immigration to a crawl and reducing the supply of cheap labor. The immigrants who managed entry experienced greater demand for their services and assimilated more quickly (Sellers, May, & McMillen, 1976). ...Show more