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Immigration - Student Activities

Activity 2 – Push and Pull Factors

Why People Came to America

Immigrants left their homes and came to the Library of Congress, Arriving at Ellis Island LC-B2-5202-12 c 1907.United States for many reasons. They left because of economic, religious and political factors. Some came to avoid war, corrupt governments or religious persecution. Still others came because they couldn’t find work in their own country. From as early as 1620 when the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, America was seen as the land of freedom and opportunity.

In Europe, the Pilgrims were persecuted for their religious beliefs. They came to America to find religious freedom.

Economic opportunities also drew people to America. As the country grew and developed, immigrants could find jobs and the opportunity to own their own land.

The number of people immigrating to the United States was not constant during every period of American’s history. As the chart indicates, immigration grew rapidly between 1870 and 1900.

CROSSROADS: A K-16 American History Curriculum, Troy, NY: Council for Citizenship Education, Russell Sage College, 1995

During this time, most immigrants came from Europe but some came from Asia as well. Most Asian immigrants were from China but a small number also came from Korea and Japan.

It was during this time that technology was developing rapidly as well. Larger and faster steam ships brought people to America by the thousands. Railroads grew and expanded allowing people to travel quickly and efficiently. Factories were built to produce the many new products that were invented at this time.

The following list includes just a few of the inventions that were developed between 1876 and 1900:

  • telephone
  • internal combustion engine
  • cylinder phonograph
  • moving pictures
  • lightbulb
  • seismograph
  • metal detector
  • roll film for cameras
  • automatic player piano
  • rayon
  • fountain pen
  • cash register
  • steam turbine
  • machine gun
  • automobile
  • gas-engined motorcycle
  • dishwasher
  • four-wheeled motor vehicle
  • radar
  • barbed wire
  • gramophone
  • contact lenses
  • drinking straws
  • matchbook
  • escalator
  • vacuum cleaner
  • zipper
  • rubber shoe heel
  • roller coaster
Talking Machine

The rise of American industry and the growth of the railroad system created thousands of jobs both in factories and in the construction trades.

For immigrants some factors pushed them from their country while other factors pulled them toward America.

Complete this chart by identifying the correct push and pull factors.


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