My Antonia Historical Context

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Immigration

Up until 1825, less than 10,000 new immigrants came to the United States each year. By the late 1840s, revolutions in Europe and the devastating potato famine in Ireland sent people to this country by the hundreds of thousands. Immigration increased steadily during the 1850s, and by 1860, one-eighth of America's 32 million people were foreign born. While many of these immigrants settled around the mill towns of the east as well as in the larger urban centers, the promotional activities of the railroads brought many immigrants straight past them to the prairies. The railroad companies even sent scouts abroad to encourage people to come and settle the plains and prairies. It has been claimed that the transcontinental railroad could not have been built without immigrant labor. The railroad was not just crucial to economic success of the town and countryside: it was a powerful monopoly charging what it wished to...

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This section contains 692 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the My Antonia Study Guide
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Novels for Students
My Antonia from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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