This immigration phenomenon began just a few decades after the US declared independence. In the 19th century, these immigrants came mostly from Europe, influenced by push-pull factors that compelled these trans-Atlantic transits. Push for factors that forced the immigrants to leave their country of origin, and pull for positive factors the immigrants came for in a country. (Mason, 2010)
Sociologists observed two "waves" of immigrants during the 19th century, those who came in the early 1800s or the "old" immigrants, and those that came in the latter 1800s to early 1900s, call the "new" immigrants.
The Old immigrants are mostly from the northern and western Europe like Scandinavia, Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany. Most of them are Protestant English speakers, educated, and very skilled. They preferred the cities over the isolated countryside that is unlike their compact European village life. They were more attracted to urban jobs as they had not the capital to start farming. (Mason, 2010)
The New immigrants are mostly from the southern and eastern Europe like Italy, Greece, Croacia, Poland, and Russia. The Chinese also came then. This wave of immigrants are poorer, illiterate, and not used to a society of equal opportunity. They are mostly Catholic, Greek Orthodox, or Jewish. The inflow of the New migrants broke the patterns of the the Old migrants. They were more of them and the push factor in their situation was stronger, such as overpopulations, famine, commercial depression, and religious persecution. (Mason, 2010)
The first wave of immigrants was met with little resistance. They faced little legal oppositions that did not hamper their entrance to America and their way of living. Immigrants were blamed for getting jobs that are supposed to be for natives but no law was passed to address this. (Helium, 2010)
The second wave, however, were met with fiercer response from the Americans. They were attacked with a number of legal and political oppositions, as well as visible effort from the natives to improve their condition. They were heavily restricted to enter the country. Thay were treated as a society that needs to be "fixed". The views and treatment of immigrants were influenced by moral standards, and later on, by the war. (Helium, 2010)
The plight of the immigrants to America in the 19th century provides an interesting study to the sociological discipline, as it is now known that the country as it is today was heavily shaped by the phenomenon.
B. Mason. (2010, March 16). Urbanization and Immigration 1865-1900. Retrieved from http://teacherpages.nhcs.net/schools/hhs/billymason/Lecture%20Notes/Urbanization%20and%20Immigration%201865.htm
Helium: Where knowledge rules. (2010, May 18) Immigration patterns in North America (1800-1900's). Retrieved from http://www.helium.com/items/1836671-patterns-of-immigration-and-responses-of-americans-in-the-19th-20th-century