Manifest Destiny and Immigration
By: Oakley O'Dell
In 1862 the Homestead Act was signed by President Lincoln and remained in effect over 100 years. The act stated that any any citizen could occupy 160 acres of government land. If the settler improved the land by making a home and growing crops, after 5 years the homesteader would own the property. The land was free so it really interested Europeans and promoted western expansion. Homestead land was located in 30 states and 10% of United States land was given away under the act. The majority of the homesteads were west of the Mississippi River. The Homestead Act was a major help in expanding the United States west.
The Transcontinental Railroad was complete in 1869. The railroad was built by two railroad companies: the Union Pacific built from the east, and the Central Pacific built from the west. The two tracks met in Utah. Its construction was made possible by the United States government. The railroad stretched all the across the United States and reduced the journey from New York to San Francisco from 6 months down to 10 days. This was great for the settlers because they could now ship their crops. The railroad made the economy way more flexible than it was before. The Transcontinental Railroad was a major success for the United States.
Farming in the Plains
Farming in the Plains was very difficult in the late 1800's. The settlers got land from the Homestead Act but the land was very dry with little rain, few trees, rough soil, extreme temperatures, and many other obstacles. Some families starved because of the harsh farming conditions and moved back to the east. The strong-willed families that stayed had endless work everyday like making sod houses, putting up barbed wire, and caring for their crops of course. With all that being said the farmers overcame all of those obstacles thanks to technological advances. During this time the steel plow, drilling equipment, windmills, and transcontinental railroad were invented and simplified work a lot. Farming the Plains started off very rough but smoothed out as the inventions came along.
Political & Religious Persecution
Political and religious persecution was a push factor that lead immigrants to the United States. The Jews in Eastern Europe were treated very bad in the late 1800's. They were stripped all their legals rights so that meant no school, no land ownership, and no renting. They couldn't worship the way they wanted to our have their own opinion on government. The Jews left Europe and came to the United States because in the United States offered way more rights. The Jews wanted to be able to believe what they wanted to believe without getting punished so they immigrated to the United States. Two million Jews (1/3 of Europe's population) came to the United States to seek freedom and a new beginning.
The Lure of Life in America
The lure of life in America was a pull factor because it made people see America greater than it actually was. The american businesses sought out immigrants because they needed more workers. The companies would grow but the amount of workers couldn't keep up so they needed immigrants to come to the United States to work. In order to make this happen they portrayed America as something so great to lure the immigrants in. Newspaper articles would refer to the United States as a "Magicland". They would write that there was "gold on the sidewalk" and "lollipops on every corner". The immigrants believed the information they were being heard because they didn't know better. The lure of life in america brought in immigrants because the media portrayed it as the greatest place on earth.