Yankeys Now: Immigrants in the Antebellum United States, 1840-1860

Yankeys Now: Immigrants in the Antebellum United States, 1840-1860

Yankeys Now: Immigrants in the Antebellum United States, 1840-1860

Yankeys Now: Immigrants in the Antebellum United States, 1840-1860

Synopsis

The first great wave of European migration to the United States before the Civil War transformed both the migrants themselves and the country they entered. The extent of this transformation has been difficult to gauge without information on migrants before and after their departure from Europe. Yankeys Now: Immigrants in the Antebellum US 1840-1860 provides the first detailed look at how these immigrants were changed by their relocation and how the American economy responded to their arrival. The book employs unique data on more than 2,400 British, Irish, and German migrants who appeared on both passenger ship rosters and US census records to document the geographic, occupational, and financial movements of Europeans who traveled to this nation in the 1840s. Contrary to other studies of antebellum immigrants, Joseph P. Ferrie's work finds substantial mobility in all three of these contexts. The ability to follow immigrants from their arrival through several censuses makes it possible to compare the experiences of immigrants who remained in one location to those of immigrants who sought opportunity in new places throughout the 1850s. The latter group's achievements, as carefully traced in this volume, account for most of the contrast with previously published work on this topic. Using information on more than 4,000 native-born Americans followed through the 1850 and 1860 US censuses, Ferrie finds little evidence that immigrants' arrival negatively affected this country's labor force, excluding craft workers in the urban northeast. Taken as a whole, his findings demonstrate the American economy's ability to absorb additions to its workforce while also illustrating the range of opportunities available to nineteenth-century migrants drawn to the United States.

Excerpt

This book is the direct result of my dissatisfaction with the quality of data available to assess the economic mobility of Americans--particularly the mobility of immigrants--in the nineteenth century. in the process of trying to improve the information about these people and their progress and trying to re-answer many old questions with new data, I have incurred a great many debts, both intellectual and personal. Though they are far too numerous to list adequately here, I must nonetheless acknowledge the most substantial.

The first scholars whose work influenced this project were the members of my doctoral committee at the University of Chicago: Robert Fogel was never too busy to offer frequent and penetrating criticism; and David Galenson, the committee chair, sparked my initial interest in this subject, read and thought about each page and idea with a care I can only hope to approach in my own supervision of doctoral students, and offered his patient encouragement, gentle prodding, and constant friendship throughout. I also had the benefit of the comments of members of the Economic History Workshop at the University of Chicago who taught me how to think like an economic historian.

The collection of data underlying this work would have been impossible without the generous assistance of other scholars who gave me unlimited access to their own data in the best spirit of intellectual cooperation: Ronald Jackson (who provided indexes to the 1850 and 1860 U.S. population census manuscripts and mortality data from the 1850 census), Ira Glazier (who provided Irish passenger ship lists), Gary Zimmerman and Marion Wolfert (who provided German passenger ship lists), and Robert Swierenga (who provided Dutch emigration records and passenger ship lists). the task of processing the census indexes was made possible by the assistance of Clayne Pope and the Economics Department at Brigham Young University.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.