Early-nineteenth-century America experienced the first "wave" of immigration after Independence, when Germans, Irish, English, Scandinavians, and, on the West Coast, even Chinese began to arrive in significant numbers. These new settlers had a profound impact on such national developments as westward expansion, urban growth, industrialization, city and national politics, and the Civil War.
James M. Bergquist's chronicle of the early immigrants' experiences describes where they came from, what their journey to America was like, and where they entered the new nation, and where they eventually settled. He highlights immigrant contributions to American life as well as their struggles to gain wider acceptance by the mainstream culture. The approach, similar to David Kyvig's highly successful Daily Life in the United States, 1920–1940 (published by Ivan R. Dee in 2004), presents history with an appealing immediacy, on a level that everyone can understand.
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James M. Bergquist is professor emeritus of history at Villanova University and has written widely on American immigration. He is also editor of the Immigration and Ethnic Society newsletter. He lives in Philadelphia.Review:
Daily Life in Immigrant America, 1820–1870 examines the crucial period in which mass immigration to the United States began of large numbers of persons almost exclusively from Western Europe into America. Mr. Bergquist, by explaining when so many were willing to leave home for a new land, describes in detail the gradually improving conditions of travel as an age of sail became an age of steam. In a clear exposition he shows how the immigrants, largely German and Irish, settled on Midwestern farms and eastern and Midwestern cities, from Boston and New York to St. Louis and Chicago, as well as the beginnings of organized anti-immigrant movements and the contributions of immigrants in the Civil War era. . . . It contains many features helpful to the student, including a chronology, a glossary, detailed, topically organized bibliography, and listings of videos and useful internet sites.(Roger Daniels, University of Cincinnati)
Bergquist provides a thorough history of the immigrant experience during the 1820–1870 period. He captures the immigrants’ tumultuous movement into American life while also offering a detailed account of major events in U.S. history during this time. This book is well worth reading for students of American immigration and ethnicity.(Ronald Bayor)
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