American Migrations 18th and 19th Century


Map Code: Ax01503

Between the 18th and 19th centuries the map of North America is dominated by migrations, many forced. President Andrew Jackson’s Removal Act (1830) pushed Native American populations progressively westwards. The first, and, most catastrophic, consequence was depopulation by disease. Often running ahead of the main body of settlers, initial contacts with trappers and missionaries unleashed devastating epidemics of smallpox, typhus, and cholera against which the Indians had no immunity. Reductions in population levels of up to 90 per cent are estimated. These forced mergers between tribes (Hidatsa and Crow) and defensive confederacies (Tuscurora and Iroquois). The decimation of the Native American tribes freed further land for white settlers, with many carving the abandoned lands into plantations, worked by African slaves. The forced migration from Africa ended in 1808, with the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, followed by a ‘local’ slave trade and internal forced migrations. Prior to the African slave trade, thousands of Native Americans were enslaved and there is evidence of Apaches being sent to the Caribbean. There were many waves of European and Euro-American migration, including British settlements in the pre-Independence eastern seaboard states. By the 18th century, Dutch, German and Swedish populations had already established themselves, with fresh waves arriving as religious migrants in the mid-18th century.

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