The movement of people from rural to urban or suburban communities, as well as racial, age, and other groups moving from one part of the country to another, has significant economic and political consequences. When regions gain or lose workers, consumers, and voting power, their business interests may prosper or decline as a result.
Internal migration began in North America after the earliest immigration of hunters from Siberia across a land bridge into what would become Alaska. Gradually, during the last Ice Age and the centuries that followed it, the peoples who came to be categorized as Native Americans made their way through Alaska and the interior of western Canada or along the Pacific Coast into the middle of North America. Thousands of years later, other peoples, the Aleuts and the Inuit, crossed the Bering Strait and then migrated to make their homes in western and northern Alaska. Even later, about 400
A family head to California from Muskogee, Oklahoma, in 1939.
After the European discovery of America, the greatest internal migration of Europeans and their descendants within the present-day United States came with the expansion of settlement in the thirteen British colonies that eventually emerged on the Atlantic Coast. Traveling often up river valleys and eventually through Appalachian passes, European Americans had made homes for themselves in Tennessee and Kentucky by the time the American Revolution started in 1775. When Britain and the United States formally made peace in 1783, the new nation stretched west to the Mississippi River, and settlers soon filled the land.
When European Americans moved west, surviving
Besides Native Americans, the other big group whose members involuntarily migrated consisted of African Americans.
Although people born in the United States were migrating westward, even as far as the Pacific Coast,
The biggest influx of
By the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States was becoming heavily
With World War II came an end to economic depression, and with peace there came a massive movement of families, mostly European American, from cities proper to their suburbs–a movement made possible by an abundance of automobiles and good roads. There also came eventually, despite notable growth in the population of Alaska, a trend of moving away from areas with cold winters. Thus, for example, partly because of air-conditioning, the populations of Florida and southern Arizona grew enormously.
Flanders, Stephen A. Atlas of American Migration. New York: Facts on File, 1998. With numerous visual aids and statistics, Flanders presents for a general audience both immigration and internal migration from the Stone Age to the late twentieth century. Gregory, James N. The Southern Diaspora: How the Great Migrations of Black and White Southerners Transformed America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005. Integrated, thematically organized study of two massive twentieth century migrations from the traditional South and their political, social, and religious effects. Longino, Charles F., Jr. Retirement Migration in America. Houston: Vacation, 1995. Statistically rich study of the movement of elderly Americans after their retirement. Rodriguez, Marc S., ed. Repositioning North American Migration History: New Directions in Modern Continental Migration, Citizenship, and Community. Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press, 2004. Migrating, building a community, and forming a nation are the ideas linking these scholarly essays. Turner, Frederick Jackson. The Frontier in American History. New York: H. Holt, 1920. The first chapter is a reprint of the classic paper “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” which Turner presented in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.
California gold rush