Mass Migration under Sail

European Immigration to the Antebellum United States

Mass Migration under Sail

Dr. Cohn provides an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the economic history of European immigration to the antebellum United States, using and evaluating the available data as well as presenting new data. This analysis centers on immigration from the three most important source countries – Ireland, Germany, and Great Britain – and examines the volume of immigration, how many individuals came from each country during the antebellum period, and why those numbers increased. The book also analyzes where they came from within each country; who chose to immigrate; the immigrants’ trip to the United States, including estimates of mortality on the Atlantic crossing; the jobs obtained in the United States by the immigrants, along with their geographic location; and the economic effects of immigration on both the immigrants and the antebellum United States. No other book examines so many different economic aspects of antebellum immigration.


"An absorbing, lucid, and beautifully crafted book. Mass Migration Under Sail is the story of how five million Europeans committed – irrevocably for the most part – to new lives in the United States in the half-century or so before the advent of the steamship. The journey then was a riskier and more challenging experience than it would be under steam. As Raymond Cohn explains, this influenced the migration in many interesting ways. Yet the vast majority of migrants survived the long and often very unpleasant voyage, and adapted well to the manifold challenges facing them on the other side. This is international economic history at its best." —Cormac Ó Gráda, University College Dublin, author of Famine: A Short History

"Mass Migration Under Sail is a masterful and definitive account of U.S. antebellum immigration. Ray Cohn presents an insightful history about who the immigrants were, why they came, their travel experiences and how significant it was for American society and its economy. His book is highly accessible, given his clear writing style and his penchant for thorough explanations. Scholars and teachers will be able to use this book for their own scholarly work in migration history as well as for lectures on American immigration, economic and demographic history. Mass Migration Under Sail is an important contribution not only to migration history but also to the fields of economic and social history." —Simone A. Wegge, City University of New York

"...a valuable contribution to economic and migration history and gives perspective on current migration issues." -Scott A. Carson, EH. NET

"Recommended." -Choice