chapter  1
14 Pages

Introduction

The economic, cultural, and political life of America has been often shaped by immigration. This was never more the case than in the colonial and early national periods. To comprehend the evolution of American society, the immigrant experience must be understood. Who immigrated and why, what were their social origins and characteristics, what resources did they bring with them, what was their journey like, how did they finance that journey, and  how  did  they  fit  into  established  American  society?  These  questions  guide  the investigation that follows. In particular, this book focuses on the migration experience of the Germans, the largest non-English-speaking European migration to English America during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.   The  integration  of  foreign  speakers  into  American  society  has  frequently  caused public concern and affected American immigration policy. Germans were the  first  major  wave  of  European  foreign  speakers  entering  English  America.  Their migration experience offers historical perspective on how Americans dealt with such immigrants and how such immigrants coped with their entry into American  society.  Subsequent  waves  of  foreign  speakers  entering  English  America have continued to the present day. Understanding the past may help us better comprehend the present and deal with the future.