Immigration 1700-1800

Immigration 1700-1800

By 1700 the French established settlements in what it called New France in Detroit, St. Louis, Memphis, Natchez, and Mobile. The largest colonies were in the lower Mississippi Valley where the fertile soil and warm climate enabled the settlers to establish successful farms and plantations. New Orleans, founded in 1718, became a busy seaport and trading centre.

French immigration to Louisiana was restricted to Roman Catholics and so French Protestants (Huguenots) who wanted to live in America tended to settle in English colonies. As a result of the work of French missionaries and priests, the Catholic Church became well established in the Mississippi Valley.

By the middle of the 18th century the population of New France was 80,000. This was scattered over a wide area whereas the English population of 1,500,000 was concentrated in thirteen colonies along the Atlantic seaboard.

In 1754 war broke out between the French and English settlers. General Edward Braddock was sent to America to command the English forces. In his first campaign he led an army of English regulars and colonial militia against the French controlled Fort Duquesne. However, they were defeated by a combination of French and Native American forces.

When William Pitt became prime minister in 1757 he sent reinforcements to America. This enabled the English to capture Fort Duquesne and Fort Niagara. The following year he appointed General James Wolfe as commander of the English forces and in 1759 he defeated the French led by by Louis Joseph Montcalm at Quebec. In 1760 the English took Montreal and France's empire in North America was at an end.

The early arrivals in America were known as colonists or settlers. The term immigrant was first used in 1787. However, it was argued at the time that there was a difference between the colonists who "established a new new society, and those foreigners who arrive only when the country's laws, customs and language are fixed."

In 1798 Thomas Malthus published his Essay on the Principles of Population. In his book, Malthus claimed the population of Britain was growing faster than food production. Malthus predicted that unless something was done about this, large numbers of people in Britain would starve. His book created panic and for the first time in history, the government agreed to count the number of people living in Britain. The 1801 census revealled that Britain had a population of 10,501,000. It was estimated that the population of Britain had doubled since 1750.

The move towards large-scale scientific farming greatly increased output but made many agricultural workers redundant. Some moved to the fast-growing industrial areas in search of work, whereas others decided to emigrate to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the United States.