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The New Immigrants Previous Next
Digital History ID 3289


Some 334,203 immigrants arrived in the United States in 1886, the year of the statue's dedication. A Cuban revolutionary, Jose Marti, wrote: "Irishmen, Poles, Italians, Czechs, Germans freed from tyranny or want--all hail the monument of Liberty because to them it seems to incarnate their own uplifting."

The immigrants who would catch a glimpse of the statue would mainly come from eastern and southern Europe.

In 1900, 14 percent of the American population was foreign born, compared to 8 percent a century later. Passports were unnecessary and the cost of crossing the Atlantic was just $10 in steerage.

European immigration to the United States greatly increased after the Civil War, reaching 5.2 million in the 1880s then surging to 8.2 million in the first decade of the 20th century. Between 1882 and 1914, approximately 20 million immigrants came to the United States. In 1907 alone, 1.285 million arrived. By 1900, New York City had as many Irish residents as Dublin. It had more Italians than any city outside Rome and more Poles than any city except Warsaw. It had more Jews than any other city in the world, as well as sizeable numbers of Slavs, Lithuanians, Chinese, and Scandinavians.

Unlike earlier immigrants, who mainly came from northern and western Europe, the "new immigrants" came largely from southern and eastern Europe. Largely Catholic and Jewish in religion, the new immigrants came from the Balkans, Italy, Poland, and Russia.

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