Driven by regional turmoil, industrialization and the dawn of the global economy, over thirty million immigrants poured into America between 1815 and 1914.

Until the early 1890s, the bulk of America's new residents came from northern and western Europe, as scores of Irish and German citizens fled, respectively, from the ravages of famine and the failed revolutions that engulfed Central Germany.

Many immigrants were locally-based laborers whose businesses were felled by technology and globalization. Railroads and cargo steamers criss-crossed the world, enabling U.S. and Russian companies to usurp local farmer's toehold over Europe's agricultural markets. Local artisans likewise wilted in the face of competition from manufactured goods produced by industrializing nations.

Hoping to secure jobs in the factories and industrial businesses that now dotted Europe, scores of people left their homes in the country and headed to the city. Along the way, many migrants decided to cross the Atlantic and search for a better way of life or, at the very least some form of work, in America.

Technology made the journey to America all the more appealing. Until the Civil War, slow and often dangerous American ships handled the bulk of cross-Atlantic transit. During the war, however, German and British companies took hold of transportation to and from America. These companies brought steamships to the Atlantic, which dramatically reduced the length and danger of Atlantic passage.

After 1896 immigration patterns shifted; eastern and southern Europeans became the dominant groups making the passage across the Atlantic. However, this wave of the European exodus was cut short by the rise of anti-immigration and nativist forces during and after World War I. Restrictionists sparked the passage of legislation, most notably the Quota Act (1921) and the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, that effectively shut America's "Golden Door". Indeed, fewer than 350,000 Europeans immigrated to America during the 1930s, and a high percentage of these were political refugees, particularly from nazi Germany and, at the end of the decade, occupied Europe.

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