A Nation of Immigrants
“From the Old to the New World” shows German emigrants boarding a steamer in Hamburg and arriving in New York.
The first American immigrants, beginning more than 20,000 years ago, were intercontinental wanderers: hunters and their families following animal herds from Asia to America, across a land bridge where the Bering Strait is today.
Among the flood of immigrants to North America, one group came unwillingly. These were Africans, 500,000 of whom were brought over as slaves between 1619 and 1808, when importing slaves into the United States became illegal.
The Statue of Liberty began lighting the way for new arrivals at a time when many native-born Americans began to worry that the country was admitting too many immigrants.
It is not uncommon to walk down the streets of an American city today and hear Spanish spoken. In 1950 fewer than 4 million U.S. residents were from Spanish-speaking countries.
Census & Demographics
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau makes a complete count, or census, of its people and industries. When the first census was taken in 1790, the new nation had fewer than 4 million people, almost all living along the East Coast.
Traditionally in America, helping the poor was a matter for private charity or local government. Arriving immigrants depended mainly on predecessors from their homeland to help them start a new life.
The United States has evolved a mixed system of private and public responsibility for health care. The vast majority of Americans pay some portion of their medical bills through insurance obtained at work.
Religion: Early in Their History
Early in their history, Americans rejected the concept of the established or government-favored religion that had dominated — and divided — so many European countries.
Americans have shown a great concern for education since early colonial times. Within 30 years of the founding of the first settlement in Massachussetts (1620), all towns were required to hire a schoolmaster.
Youth & Family Life
Belonging to a family is one bond almost everyone in the world shares, but family patterns vary from country to country.
Although American women won the right to vote in 1920, broader economic and social change has been a longer time coming, and the pace of progress has often been uneven.
Crime & Justice
Despite the respect of most Americans for law and the determination of the legal system to protect the rights of individuals, the United States, like all other countries, does experience crime.