Britain to America : Mid-nineteenth-century Immigrants to the United States
From 1820 to 1860 the United States and Great Britain were the two most closely interconnected countries in the world in terms of culture and economic growth. In an important addition to immigration history, William Van Vugt explores who came to America from Great Britain during this period and why. Disruptions and economic hardships, such as the repeal of Britain's protective Corn Laws, the potato famine, and technological displacement, do not account for the great mid-century surge of British migration to America. Rather than desperation and impoverishment, Van Vugt finds that immigrants were motivated by energy, tenacity, and ambition to improve their lives by taking advantage of opportunities in America. Drawing on county histories, passenger lists of immigrant ships, census data, and manuscript collections in Great Britain and the United States, Van Vugt sketches the lives and fortunes of dozens of immigrant farmers, miners, artisans, skilled and unskilled laborers, professionals, and religious nonconformists.
- Hardback | 264 pages
- 160 x 237.5 x 26.9mm | 622.06g
- 01 May 1999
- University of Illinois Press
- Baltimore, United States
"One of the great strengths of this book is the imaginative way that the author has turned the numbers into real people, chiefly by an adroit use of county histories to provide life stories for a number of the new arrivals... A noteworthy addition to immigration history ... well worth reading." -- John M. Bumsted, Journal of American History "A highly successful blend of quantitative data ... painstaking research in regional archives, and lively, impressive, and informative quotes from life-writings, mostly migrant letters. It is easy to read and well illustrated... Highly recommended." -- Dirk Hoerder, American Historical Review "A nicely written and easily read history of the motives for the migration from the British Isles to the United States immediately before and after 1850." -- Journal of the West "Van Vugt's book will be a valuable read for anyone doing family history research on their British ancestors and for those interested in the Fox Valley's settlement patterns." - Roger Matile, Kendall County Record "An important contribution. Many of [the author's] findings can logically be applied to settlement in the area surrounding the old Northwest." - Brian Coffey, The Annals of Iowa ADVANCE PRAISE "Lucid and coherent... Van Vugt offers a very perceptive picture of British immigration to the U.S. during the crucial years of early industrialization."-Robert P. Swierenga, author of The Dutch in America: Immigration, Settlement, and Cultural Change "The strength of Van Vugt's work lies in his assessment of the economic issues, the forces for migration, the settlement and work patterns in the United States, and especially the very interesting material he has on rural life in England and farmers in America. His book is especially important because he is writing about an immigrant group that has not received extensive coverage by historians."-David Reimers, author of Still the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to America