Neil Diamond wrote the song “America” in tribute to the impact of
immigration in America. It speaks of the quest for opportunity that
embodied million who crossed into our nation.
here to listen to the song. It is an MP3 file (4 megs and should take
2-3 minutes with a Cable Modem.)
Choose open to play the song or
save to save it to a disk and listen later. Let me know if the link
stops working.


Written by Neil Diamond

We’ve been traveling far
Without a home
But not without a star
Only want to be free
We huddle close
Hang on to a dream
On the boats and on the planes
They’re coming to America
Never looking back again
They’re coming to America
Home, don’t it seem so far away
Oh, we’re traveling light today
In the eye of the storm
In the eye of the storm
Home, to a new and a shiny place
Make our bed, and we’ll say our grace
Freedom’s light burning warm
Freedom’s light burning warm
Everywhere around the world
They’re coming to America
Every time that flag’s unfurled
They’re coming to America
Got a dream to take them there
They’re coming to America
Got a dream they’ve come to share
They’re coming to America
They’re coming to America
They’re coming to America
They’re coming to America
They’re coming to America
Today, today, today, today, today
My country ’tis of thee
Sweet land of liberty
Of thee I sing
Of thee I sing

Immigrants came to America for many reasons. Beginning in the 1600’s
and 1700’s America was seen as the land of opportunity. The Pilgrims
came for the opportunity to have religious freedom. The Quakers and
French Huguenots did as well. Economic opportunity was also a goal
of many early immigrants. Whether it was the search for gold, the
chance to own land and a farm or the chance to start a new life…
even as an indentured servant; America was the “new world” and full
of opportunities.

Immigration Before 1865

Before the Civil War America had an open immigration policy.
Anyone could come here with no restrictions. Immigrants at this time
were considered the “OLD IMMIGRANTS.”

Old Immigrants – Came from northwestern
Europe. These immigrants were mostly English and German. There were
some French. These immigrants were light skinned and had light eyes
and hair. They were Protestant.


Immigration After 1865

After 1865 Americans began to restrict immigration. Groups called
nativists formed to oppose immigration. The Ku Klux
and the Know Nothings were nativists groups.


Immigration from 1890 – 1920

A look at the statistics below shows that immigration increased
tremendously in the early 1900’s until it was slowed by the Emergency
Quota Act (also known as the National Origins Act) in 1920. These
immigrants were different from the Old Immigrants and were called NEW

New Immigrants – Came from Eastern and Southern
Europe. These immigrants were from Russian and Polish Jews, Italians
and Irish. Their religions were different from the Old Immigrants
(Catholic and Jewish). They were typically darker in color with
darker hair and eyes.


Immigration from Asia

Chinese and Japanese immigration occurred throughout the periods
listed above. It was Chinese labor that built the transcontinental
railroad. Because of their unique racial background, however, they
were discriminated against a great deal. As a result Asian

immigrants are neither old or new immigrants.