History of Religion in the United States

By Clifton E. Olmstead | Go to book overview
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Americanism and the Immigrant Faiths

A DEEPENING SENSE OF AMERICAN NATIONALISM AND OF AMERICA'S REDEMPtive mission in the years which followed the Civil War contributed to a more favorable attitude toward unrestricted immigration. The majority of immigrants after the Revolution had been farmers and workingmen from the British Isles, Germany, and later the Scandinavian countries. By 1880 there were 6,680,000 foreign-born persons living in the United States; among these were about 2,000,000 Germans, 1,855,000 Irish, 717,000 Canadians, 664,000 English, and 440,000 Scandinavians. For the most part the newly arrived aliens took up farming; many were attracted to the Upper Mississippi Valley where by 1880 a larger percentage of immigrants were living than in any other region of the nation. Assimilation of these people was not difficult inasmuch as they had descended from the same stock as the Anglo-Saxon people. The influx from northern and western Europe, which was greatly encouraged by under-populated states, reached its crest in 1882 and henceforth declined.

It was prophetic that in 1882, the year in which immigrants first ap


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