People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. English Americans Part 1

About the English Americans in the U.S. including where they are from, why they left, how many there are, famous English-Americans and more.


Why They Left: The earliest settlers, or colonists, came to North America for political and religious freedom, for economic gain, and for adventure. The depression of 1600 left thousands of sturdy but destitute Englanders roaming the countryside. As the first settlements in Virginia opened up, these vagabonds, as well as many convicts, were willing to indenture themselves for several years of slave labor in return for their passage to the New World. The radical Puritans, on the other hand, left England rather than recognize the royal authority of the Anglican Church. For the next several decades, until the Great Revolution of 1688 lessened England's domestic problems, the New World was a dumping ground for the citizens England didn't want or couldn't care for.

Undoubtedly the greatest reason for the sudden waves of English emigration was the little nation's birth rate; from 1750 to 1850, England tripled its population. Parish authorities ejected from crowded estates those tenants who could not contribute to the "poor tax," a primitive form of social security or welfare. New farming methods--particularly the switch from "dry farming" to irrigation systems--converted all arable land into cultivated fields, displacing many people and drastically cutting down on elbow room. The threshing machine and other modern implements also left farmhands without jobs. Many poor farming areas were converted into sheep pastures that took up large tracts of land but required only a few herders.

In the growing cities, products of the industrial revolution, new textile machines--the spinning jenny, the water frame, "mules," and the power loom--put thousands of spinners and weavers out of work.

The industrial revolution, besides shearing away the social moorings of most Englanders, created a wide gulf between the upper and upper-middle classes, who benefited from it, and the working class, who kept it going. The new urban conglomerates were drab, sweaty places, blackened by the heavy soot of the "early coal age." Housing for workers was hastily built, closely packed, wretched, always in short supply. For hundreds of thousands of English people, "merrie olde England" had become a miserable, hungry, and desperate place.

No wonder the New World became a sort of promised land beyond the horizon in the popular English imagination. To farmers who dreamed about England as it had once been, America was still a vast, pastoral stretch of fertile ground. For the factory worker fed up with low wages and spirit-breaking living conditions, America was a newly industrialized nation in which he could barter his skills for better pay.

In the 20th century, two devastating wars have contributed to English emigration. Since W.W. II, however, emigration has taken on a new name; the brain drain. Thousands of professionals--doctors, nurses, scientists, engineers--leave England each year, mostly for the U.S., where wages are higher, taxes are lower, opportunities are greater, and facilities are better equipped.

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