Effect of Immigration on American Population Growth
An intelligent attitude toward immigration necessarily depends on an understanding of the problems of population. An immigration policy based on restriction, as is our quota system, is inevitably a policy that affects population. It is a commonplace that the population of a country can increase in only two ways: through a surplus of births over deaths, and through immigration. Furthermore, whether the population of a country is increasing, remaining static, or declining will affect our attitude toward the desirability of immigration in general and the amount of immigration that should be permitted.
The population growth of the present area of the United States has been the most rapid in recorded history. Inhabited by a few hundred thousand Indians in the early seventeenth century, the continental United States in 1947 contains more than 141,000,000 inhabitants. By 1700 the colonial population had grown to 275,000, by 1750 to 1,207,000, and by 1790 to 3,929,000. There was continuous immigration from Europe during this period, and the native birth rate was at an extremely high level. There was a fairly high rate of increase until 1890, a slow decline in the rate until 1920, and the sharp decline for the decade 1930-1940 (see Appendix E, Table XII).
No official records were made of immigration prior to 1820. However, a reliable estimate places the number of immigrants between 1790 and 1820 at 250,000. Between 1820 and 1945 inclu