Maryland Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Between the time of the American Revolution and World War I, more than one million immigrants entered the United States through the port of Baltimore. One reason for this traffic through Baltimore was that the city was the westernmost port on the East Coast, which made it closer to the inland areas where many new immigrants wished to settle. Completion of the National Road to the Ohio River in 1818 and the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad a decade later also contributed to western movement. However, there were also many opportunities for work in nineteenth century Maryland, particularly in Baltimore.

Small numbers of Germans and Irish migrated to colonial Maryland, and French political refugees came during the 1790’s, but the first large-scale immigrant waves that began during the 1830’s brought German immigrants;MarylandGermans and Irish immigrants;MarylandIrish. By 1860, 32,613 Germans were living in Baltimore, a city whose population was one-quarter foreign born. Germans worked as furniture and piano makers, butchers, brewers, and skilled craftsmen generally. The German Society of Maryland, founded in 1783, provided German newcomers with clothing, fuel, jobs, health care, and even legal assistance. By mid-century the city had Press;German AmericanGerman newspapers and German cultural organizations. Jews from southern Germany also found refuge in this community.MarylandBaltimore;as port of entry[port of entry]National RoadOhioRiverMaryland[cat]STATES;Maryland[03420]Baltimore;as port of entry[port of entry]National RoadOhio River

The Irish found work building railroads and cities. Baltimore was growing especially fast, with as many as two thousand new buildings being erected every year by mid-century. The Irish also found work as shopkeepers, clerks, and tavern owners. During the 1850’s seven Roman Catholics;BaltimoreRoman Catholic churches had opened in Baltimore; four of them were predominantly Irish. The Irish immigrants;schoolsIrish also opened their own schools. Their devotion to Catholicism led to oppression by the Know-Nothing Party in Maryland, as in many other states in this period.

Post-Civil War Immigration

After the Civil War ended in 1865, cooperation between a German shipping line and a Germanic Maryland businessman named Schumacher, AlbertAlbert Schumacher led to a large increase of Northern European immigrants who entered the United States through Baltimore on their way to western locations. However, many stayed in Baltimore. As the century waned, they were joined by Polish immigrants;MarylandPoles, Czech immigrants;MarylandCzechs, Ukrainian immigrants;MarylandUkrainians, and Greek immigrants;MarylandGreeks. Many Italian immigrants;MarylandItalian immigrants came to Baltimore from Philadelphia by rail and created a section of the city that became known as Little Italies;BaltimoreLittle Italy. Significant numbers of Jewish immigrants;MarylandJews began arriving during the 1880’s, fleeing religious persecution in Russia and Polishimmigrants;JewsPoland. Many of them established Sweatshops;Baltimoresweatshops, whose numbers reached two hundred in 1890. The shops also employed Lithuanian immigrants;MarylandLithuanians and Bohemians.

As in many other eastern states, foreign immigration into Maryland peaked shortly before World War I began in 1914. The war itself and new federal restrictions on immigration enacted during the 1920’s severely retarded immigration into Maryland until after World War II. However, it would not be until the 1980’s that foreign immigration again became significant in the state’s development.

Twenty-first Century Trends

In the year 2000, 10 percent of Maryland’s residents were foreign born. This was the same percentage that the state had had in 1870. However, in 2000, 35 percent of the immigrants were Asian immigrants;MarylandAsians and 34 percent were Latin American immigrants;MarylandLatin Americans. The bulk of the latter were Mexicans, who numbered about 40,000. Another change from nineteenth century immigration patterns was that the majority of newcomers settled not in Baltimore but in counties to its south and southwest. Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties had the largest portions of foreign-born residents.

During the early years of the twenty-first century, Latin Americans–-including Puerto Ricans who were already American citizens–overtook Asians as the largest immigrant group. However, Asians continued to enter the state in large numbers, and they were joined by African immigrants;MarylandAfrican immigrants, who accounted for more than one-fifth of all new immigrants.

China Chinese immigrants;Marylandhas supplied the largest number of Asian immigrants during the twenty-first century, followed by Korean immigrants;MarylandKorea and Vietnamese immigrants;MarylandVietnam. The Latin American group contains the heaviest concentration of immigrants who do not speak English well. Hispanic immigrants have been especially evident in the construction trades. Asians are most often found in the professional, scientific, and technical areas.Maryland

Further Reading
  • Bode, Carl. Maryland: A Bicentennial History. New York: W. W. Norton, 1978.
  • Miller, Kerby A., et al. Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan: Letters and Memoirs from Colonial and Revolutionary America, 1675-1815. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Olson, Sherry H. Baltimore: The Building of an American City. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
  • Powell, Barbara M., and Michael A. Powell. Mid-Maryland History: Conflict, Growth and Change. Charleston, S.C.: History Press, 2008.

Asian immigrants

Chinese immigrants

German immigrants

Irish immigrants

Know-Nothing Party



Washington, D.C.

Categories: History