School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic B. Emergence, Expansion and Changes in Nations and Empires

Indicator 4. Analyze patterns of immigration to the United States before 1877

Objective a. Identify the push and pull factors responsible for immigration to the United States, such as the forced migration of Africans and Western European migration


A variety of push and pull factors fueled immigration to the United States during the mid 1800s. Abundant land, plentiful work opportunities, and the promise of religious, social, and political freedom attracted many newcomers to the country. At the same time, unbearable conditions in their homelands also spurred many to migrate. Irish men and women, usually poor and unmarried, fled a devastating economic depression, a potato famine, and British rule, to settle in cities in the northeastern U.S. German families, usually better off financially, skilled, and often well-educated, fled religious and political persecution and bought farms throughout the Midwest. Other groups arriving in significant numbers during the mid-nineteenth century included Brits, many of whom sought careers as professionals, skilled workers, and farmers; Scandinavians, who fled religious persecution and also sought job opportunities; and Chinese, who fled political and social turmoil and sought better economic conditions.

While European immigrants came to America by choice, many Africans were forced to migrate as slaves. Captured by other Africans, enslaved Africans were sold to European traders and transported from the West Coast of Africa across the Atlantic on ships where conditions were appalling. While the majority of enslaved Africans were transported to the West Indies and South American, those that arrived in the United States usually arrived in Southern states, where labor-intensive cash crops such as tobacco, rice, and later, cotton, demanded large numbers of workers. The forced migration of enslaved Africans ended in 1808 when President Thomas Jefferson signed an act outlawing it (the Constitution had protected the slave trade until at least that year); however, traders continued to bring smaller numbers of enslaved Africans to the U.S. illegally.

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