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Essay On German Immigration

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As a nation built on immigration, the history of citizenship in America can be seen as a series of immigration waves from different ethnic groups, and their initial struggles in the United States, resulting in eventual assimilation into American society. Each immigrant group, whether the English, Irish, Italians, Germans, Vietnamese, etc., began life in their new nation on the bottom of the social ladder, but eventually mostly overcame the hardships of immigrant life en route to assimilation. German immigration to America peaked during the Civil War era, in which approximately 1.5 million Germans came to the United States between 1840 and 1860, making them the most prolific ethnic group to immigrate to America during this time. This paper will…show more content…
Germans lived in a rural nation, a collection of over three hundred fragmented states. Agriculture was a much larger portion of the German economy than other European economies. German society in general was much more antiquated than most of Europe, including remnants of the feudal system. America was seen as the land of opportunity to downtrodden working class Germans. They felt the ceiling in Germany was low, and America represented a promise for a better life. Simplified, there were two basic types of German emigrants during the nineteenth-century based off of class. There were the Forty-eighters, the educated elite who held prominent roles in the failed revolution of 1848 and fled to America in hopes to escape to a more democratic nation in which they could comfortably espouse their radical ideologies. The Forty-eighters desired a constitutional monarchy and national unity in Germany. Once in America, they became the wealthy, upper class of German immigrants, entering business and politics. Though much scholarship on Civil War era German immigration focuses on the prestigious Forty-eighters, they were a minority. There were only roughly between 4,000-10,000 Forty-eighters in America. The Forty-eighters were largely secular free-thinkers who derided organized religion and detested slavery. They were dismissive of previous generations of agrarian German immigrants, considering them to be uncultured and
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