The history of Ireland "that most distressful nation" is full of drama and tragedy, but one of the most interesting stories is about what happened to the Irish during the mid-nineteenth century and how millions of Irish came to live in America (Purcell 31). Although the high point of the story was the years of the devastating potato famine from 1845 to 1848, historians have pointed out that immigrating from Ireland was becoming more popular before the famine and continued until the turn of the twentieth century. In the one hundred years between the first recording of immigrants in
1820 and the passing of immigration restrictions in 1924, over four and one half million Irish immigrated to the United States.
Most of the pre-famine immigrants were single men who found jobs as laborers in the North and Northeast (Purcell 32). Although these were low paying jobs, they were still better than what they had in Ireland. Another thing typical of the Irish immigrants in the pre-famine years was something called the chain migration (Purcell 36). The first immigrants found jobs, saved most or all of their money, and sent money or tickets for sailing on the ships to relatives in the old country. By very hard work, immigrants made it possible to pay for their entire family to follow them to America. To save up all of the passage money was very difficult but they worked hard and did it. Many immigrants from other countries also used the chain migration idea, and it is still common for immigrants to use this system. However, the Irish were the first to use chain migration in such a big way.
During the 200 years that this country has been in existence, the United States immigration policy has developed and been modified to meet the changing needs of the nation. In 1776, right after the Declaration of independence was signed, Congress made qualitative restrictions for the immigration of people from other countries to the United States in order to make sure the good health of...