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An Outline of American History
A Nation of Immigrants
by U.S. Department of State


By the time American independence was declared in 1776, two-fifths of all settlers were of non-English origin. The first U.S. census, taken in 1790, revealed a population of just under four million people, with about 10,000 new settlers arriving each year. When the U.S. government began keeping records of arriving passengers in 1820, the majority of immigrants were from Northern Europe; by the end of the 19th century, they came largely from Southern and Eastern Europe. Today, the majority arrive from Latin America and Asia. Their reasons for coming, however -- opportunity and freedom -- remain unchanged.

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