Immigration from Europe and Africa to America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries created the population that existed at the time the United States came into existence. The groups that made up this original population contributed greatly to the events and traditions that would shape the nation throughout its history.
The colonies that became the United States were founded as British outposts, and most of the European immigrants to those colonies were from Great Britain. However, the early British settlers came as distinct groups to different geographic areas. In addition, early American immigrants included people from other places in northern Europe, as well as involuntary immigrants from Africa.
On September 16, 1620, the
An even greater contribution to the American population, in sheer numbers, began with the
The years 1630 to 1640 are known as the Great Migration. The largely Puritan immigrants from England settled in New England, north of the settlement at
The largest portion of Virginia’s early immigration, though, came from the humblest section of the English population. About three-quarters of the new arrivals in Virginia during the middle to late seventeenth century came as
The number of Quakers arriving in the Delaware Valley was so great that by 1750 they made up the third-largest religious denomination in the American colonies. Their growth had been assisted by Quaker leader
People from the north of England,
Northern Irish migration peaked between the 1750’s and the early 1770’s, with an estimated 14,200 people from northern Ireland reaching America from 1750 to 1759, 21,200 from 1760 to 1769, and 13,200 in the half-decade leading up to the American Revolution. Most of the Scots migration took place from 1760 to 1775, when about 25,000 new arrivals came to the colonies. The counties of North England, bordering Scotland, experienced a series of crop failures that were especially severe in 1727, 1740, and 1770. Each of these crop failures resulted in famine that sent
The most significant groups of European immigrants to the colonies of North America before the revolution came from the northern lands of Holland, Germany, and Sweden. The
Late nineteenth century depiction of Peter Minuit negotiating with Algonquian Indians to purchase the island of Manhattan in 1626.
By the time the United States won its independence,
During the early eighteenth century, other German colonists settled in
African immigration to North America dates back to the time of the first European arrivals. During the entire period of American colonial history,
Slave importation to the coastal states of the South grew rapidly during the late seventeenth century and the first half of the eighteenth century because of the growth of the tobacco and rice economies. Imports of slaves to tobacco-growing
Fischer, David Hackett. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Intended to trace the cultural contributions of different segments of British society to America, this book is also one of the best general works on the places of origin and settlement of people from Britain in America during the colonial period. Fogleman, Aaron Spencer. Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996. Excellent account of colonial German migration that divides its attention between the lands left behind in Europe, explaining why the Germans left, and the new world they found in America. It also contains informative tables on colonial immigration in general, as well as German immigration in particular. Moore, Susan Hardman. Pilgrims: New World Settlers and the Call of Home. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2007. Through looking at the life histories of the approximately one-third of English immigrants to America from 1640 to 1660 who returned to England, this book looks at motives for both migration and return. Weaver, John C. The Great Land Rush and the Making of the Modern World, 1650-1900. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003. General work on how European colonization of other lands transformed world economy and society.
History of immigration, 1783-1891
History of immigration after 1891
Pilgrim and Puritan immigrants