History of English Immigration to America: British Ancestry
According to the 1980 United States Census, 26.34% of the total population of the United States, consisting of over 49 million Americans, claimed English ancestry. This statistics place these Americans as the largest ethnic group in the United States who identify with each other by factors based on common ancestral, cultural and social experience. The majority of these people simply describe themselves as "American", the title that was so fiercely fought for in the American War of Independence.
History of English Immigration to America: The Reasons for English Immigration to America
Why did people want to leave England and why did they want to move to America? The reasons for the English Immigration to America was at first based on obtaining profit from the new lands but quickly changed as people decided to move from England to escape religious and political prosecution. The prospect of a new life and owning some land was also a major reason for the English immigration to America.
History of English Immigration to America in the 1500's: Roanoke Island
English Immigration to America began in the 1500's. Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618) led expeditions to North America in order to found new settlements and find gold and named Virginia in honor of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. In 1585 Sir Walter Raleigh sent several shiploads of colonists to the 'New World', who settled on Roanoke Island. It was here that Elinor White Dare gave birth to a daughter, Virginia Dare, the first child born of English parents in America. The first immigrants mysteriously disappeared and Roanoke was given the nickname of "the Lost Colony".
History of English Immigration to America in the 1600's: The Pilgrims and the Puritans
English Immigration to America in the 1600's recommenced in 1607 with the establishment of the Jamestown settlement in the Virginia Colony. The Virginia Colony consisted of Anglican and Baptist immigrants led by John Smith and John Rolfe. The Plymouth Colony was then founded in 1620 by the Mayflower Pilgrims. The term 'Pilgrim Fathers' is the name given to early settlers of the Plymouth Colony. The Pilgrims, were part of an English church congregation of religious separatists led by John Robinson, William Brewster and William Bradford under the military command of Myles Standish. It was the Pilgrims who celebrated the First Thanksgiving to give thanks for the arrival of fresh supplies and new colonists. In 1630 another religious group left England in search of religious freedom. This group was called the Puritans who represented the next wave of English Immigration to America. The leader of the Puritans was John Winthrop who led a fleet of 11 vessels and 700 passengers to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
History of English Immigration to America in the 1600's: The 'Great Migration' and the 13 Colonies
English Immigration to America continued as thousands of English people undertook 'The Great Migration' between 1620 and 1640. The English Immigration to America led to the establishment of the first 13 Colonies. The names of the first 13 colonies were Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. A brief description of the first 13 colonies are detailed in the history timeline of the English Immigration to America. It is estimated that over 50,000 undertook the 3000 mile journey to America during the Great Migration. In 1642, the English Civil War (1642–1651) erupted and it is estimated that up to 10% of the English migrants returned to England to fight on the Puritan side.
History of English Immigration to America in the 1600's: The Indian Wars of the 1600's
English Immigration to America was hard and dangerous. English migrants became embroiled in wars with the Native American Indians throughout the 1600's These wars included the Powhatan Wars (1622-1624) in Virginia, the Pequot War (1634 - 1638) in Southeastern Connecticut, the Beaver Wars (1640 - 1701) in the Great Lakes area, King Philip's War (1675 - 1677) in Connecticut and the French and Indian Wars (1688 - 1763).
History of English Immigration to America in the 1600's: Indentured Servants
English Immigration to America increased significantly during the period known as 'The Great Migration' and many came as Indentured Servants. It is estimated that 80% of immigrants were in this category. The Indenture system was introduced by the English to meet the growing demand for cheap and plentiful labor. The cost of travel to America was prohibitive and completely out of the reach of most English men and women. The only way to get to America was to sign a contract as an Indentured servant. Under the Indenture system Indentured servants emigrated to America under contract to work between 5 to 7 years in exchange for transportation and the prospects of employment and a new life in America. Many Indentured servants achieved what seemed an impossible dream and eventually became landowners.
History of English Immigration to America in the 1600's: Slavery
English Immigration to America also saw the introduction of slavery to the colonies. Black slaves from Africa were forcibly taken from their homes to increase the profits made on the tobacco plantations. Twenty black African slaves were were first brought to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. According to the census of 1790 the number of slaves had rocketed to 694,280. The white population of this time was 3,199,355. Nearly 1 in 4 of the population were black African slaves.
History of English Immigration to America in the 1600's: The Headright System
English Immigration to America substantially increased with the introduction of the Headright System in 1691. Headrights were granted by the London Virginia company giving 50 acres of land to colonists who paid their own way to Virginia, or paid the way for someone else to go. The prospect of owning land, an impossible dream in England, was a great incentive for English Immigration to America and enjoy the opportunities offered in the 'New World'.
History of English Immigration to America in the 1600's: The English Bill of Rights
As English Immigration to America steadily increased events occurring in England had a significant impact on the migrants. In 1688 the Catholic King James II was deposed during the Glorious Revolution and resulted in the English Bill of Rights being passed in 1689. Elements of the English Bill of Rights and the earlier Magna Carta would later feature in the American Declaration of Independence of 1776 and in the U.S. Constitution.
History of English Immigration to America in the 1700's: The Indian Wars of the 1700's
There was no restriction on immigration and the European population was over 3 million. English Immigration to America continued at a slower rate in the 1700's as the Britain became a global power and continued to build the British Empire. Wars in Europe spilled into the American colonies with the French-Indian wars that resulted in the British taking Newfoundland, Acadia, and Hudson's Bay Territory from France. Additional land and new trading opportunities became available to the English immigrants. Other Indian wars of the 1700's included the Yamasee and Tuscarora Wars (1711-1715) in Northern Carolina, the Seven Years War, the Fox Wars and the the Pontiac War (1763–66) in Ohio.
History of English Immigration to America in the 1700's: The American War of Independence
English Immigration to America continued into the 1700's but conflict began to grow between the British homeland and the English migrants in America. The English migrants demanded the same rights as the people in England believing their rights and liberties were being abused. The American War of Independence (1775 - 1783) erupted. The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776 by men who all shared the same English ancestry including the Founding Fathers whose names were George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Congress officially declared the end to the American Revolutionary War on April 11, 1783 and the United States of America were created. And the English migrants now considered themselves as Americans..
History of English Immigration to America in the 1800's: The 'Pursuit of Happiness'
English Immigration to America continued and over 2 million English immigrants moved to America in the 1800's. They were inspired by the stories of the United States and the ideals of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". They wanted to escape poverty and the class system seeking equality. Travel was easier. The sailing ships which had taken anything from 1-3 months to reach the US had been replaced by steamships and the voyage was reduced to 10 days. The 1800's heralded the First Industrial revolution, the age of iron, steam and the railroads. English migrants had no problems with moving to the United States - they had so much in common with the English-Americans.
History of English Immigration to America in the 1900's: Old Immigrants vs New Immigrants
English Immigration to America was welcomed in the 1900's although their numbers had dropped to those compared to immigrants from other countries. Between 1820 - 2000 five million English migrants settled in America. By 1910, Eastern and Southern Europeans made up 70 percent of the immigrants entering the country. English immigrants were readily accepted as "Old Immigrants" who shared the cultural heritage, history, language and ancestry of those who initially populated America. English migrants were considered superior to the "New Immigrants" who came from the south west of Europe or Asia. The 1911 Dillingham Commission report on immigration had stated that the "New Immigrants" to the US were inferior, unskilled and uneducated workers who failed to integrate with Americans.
History of English Immigration to America in the 1900's
English Immigration to America decreased in the 1900's as people who wanted to emigrate turned to Canada and Australia who had better economic opportunities and more favorable immigration policies. English immigration remained low, averaging about 6% of the total number of immigrants from Europe. However the numbers increased following WW2 the War Brides and Fiancées Acts allowed American Soldiers to bring their foreign spouses to America. The downward trend of English Immigration to America resumed after this period and has continued into the 21st century.
English Immigration to America Facts Sheet and Timeline for kids
Important facts about the history of English Immigration to America and US laws that effected the migrants from England are contained in the following Facts Sheet and history timeline.
English Immigration to America Facts Sheet and Timeline for kids
1585: Sir Walter Raleigh sponsors the first colonists who settle on Roanoke Island.
1587: Virginia Dare was born August 18, 1587 and was the first child born of English parents in America.
1607: The Jamestown settlement in the Virginia Colony was established.
1619: English migrants introduced the first African slaves to the colonies
1620: The Plymouth Colony was then founded by the Mayflower Pilgrims.
1626: New York Colony founded
1634: Maryland settled by George Calvert, Lord Baltimore. Migrants were Catholics, Anglicans and Baptists
1636: Rhode Island Colony established by Puritans Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson
1636: Connecticut Colony founded by Puritan Thomas Hooker
1642: English migrants returned to England to fight in the English Civil War (1642–1651)
1638: New Hampshire Colony founded by Puritan John Mason
1638: Delaware Colony established for Quaker, Catholic, Lutheran and Jewish migrants
1653: North Carolina Colony established by Anglican and Baptist migrants
1663: South Carolina Colony established by Anglican and Baptist migrants
1664: New Jersey Colony founded by Lord Berkeley and George Carteret. Migrants were Quakers, Catholics, Lutherans and Jews
1682: Pennsylvania Colony established by William Penn for Quakers. Other migrants included Catholics, Lutherans and Jewish
1689: The English Bill of Rights was passed many of its principles would later feature in the U.S. Constitution.
1702: Queen Anne's War (1702-1713) gained more territories for the English
1732Georgia Colony founded by James Oglethorpe and settled by Anglican and Baptist migrants
1775: The American War of Independence began
1776: The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776
1783: Congress officially declared the end to the American Revolutionary War on April 11, 1783
1783: The United States of America was created and English migrants now referred to themselves as Americans.
1892: The Ellis Island immigration center was opened where immigrants from Europe, including England, were subjected to medical and legal examinations
The 1907 Immigration Act consisted of a series of reforms to restrict the number of immigrants and established the Dillingham Commission whose report led to further stringent and specific immigration restrictions.
1911: The Dillingham Commission report was issued favoring 'Old Immigrants'
1921: The 1921 Emergency Quota Act used of quota system to restrict the number of immigrants from a given country (3% of the number of residents from that same country living in the US based on the 1910 U.S. Census)
1924: The Immigration Act of 1924 (Johnson-Reed Act) restricting the number of immigrants from a given country to 2% of the number of residents from that same country living in the US. 87% of permits went to immigrants from Britain, Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavia
1945: The War Brides and Fiancées Acts allowed American Soldiers to bring their foreign spouses to the US
English Immigration to America has declined from this time
English Immigration to America Facts Sheet and Timeline
Push and Pull Factors of English Immigration to America for kids
For specific examples and a list of political, economic, environmental and social reasons and push and pull factors of English immigration to America refer to:
Push and Pull Factors of English Immigration
English Immigration to America for kids
This article contains a brief overview of English Immigration to America from the first Immigrants through the 1800's and 1900's. Important historical events have been highlighted which had a significant impact on English Immigration to America. A brief description of the effect of the first immigrants from England. Our article on English Immigration to America also outlines subjects such as the establishment of the colonies, the Headright system and immigration trends in the 1600's, 1700's, 1800's and 1900's. A helpful educational resource for kids on the subject of English Immigration to America.
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