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The status of immigration on ellis island

Ellis Island is located in the upper bay just off the New Jersey coast, within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Through the years, this gateway to the new world was enlarged from its original 3. Before being designated as the site of the first Federal immigration station by President Benjamin Harrison in 1890, Ellis Island had a varied history.

The local Indian tribes had called it "Kioshk" or Gull Island.

  • The immigrants dreaded the tests that awaited them;;;
  • First and second class passengers who arrived in New York Harbor were not required to undergo the inspection process at Ellis Island.

Due to its rich and abundant oyster beds and plentiful and profitable shad runs, it was known as Oyster Island for many generations during the Dutch and English colonial periods. By the time Samuel Ellis became the island's private owner in the 1770s, the island had been called Kioshk, Oyster, Dyre, Bucking and Anderson's Island.

In this way, Ellis Island developed from a sandy island that barely rose above the high tide mark, into a hanging site for pirates, a harbor fort, ammunition and ordinance depot named Fort Gibson, and finally into an immigration station.

From Military Fort to National Gateway From 1794 to 1890 pre-immigration station periodEllis Island played a mostly uneventful but still important military role in United States history.

  • Famous Names Many famous figures passed through Ellis Island, some leaving their original names behind on their entry into the U;
  • One immigrant recalled arriving at Ellis Island;
  • The Federal government felt that these more affluent passengers would not end up in institutions, hospitals or become a burden to the state.

When the British occupied New York City during the duration of the Revolutionary War, its large and powerful naval fleet was able to sail unimpeded directly into New York Harbor. Therefore, it was deemed critical by the United States Government that a series of coastal fortifications in New York Harbor be constructed just prior to the War of 1812.

U.S. Immigration History

After much legal haggling over ownership of the island, the Federal government purchased Ellis Island from New York State in 1808. Ellis Island was approved as a site for fortifications and on it was constructed a parapet for three tiers of circular guns, making the island part of the new harbor defense system that included Castle Clinton at the Battery, Castle Williams on Governor's Island, Fort Wood on Bedloe's Island and two earthworks forts at the entrance to New York Harbor at the Verrazano Narrows.

The fort at Ellis Island was named Fort Gibson in honor of a brave officer killed during the War of 1812. Immigration Policy Embraces the Masses Prior to 1890, the individual states rather than the Federal government regulated immigration into the United States. Castle Garden in the Battery originally known as Castle Clinton served as the New York State immigration station from 1855 to 1890 and approximately eight million immigrants, mostly from Northern and Western Europe, passed through its doors.

These early immigrants came from nations such as England, Ireland, Germany and the Scandinavian countries and constituted the first large wave of immigrants that settled and populated the United States. Throughout the 1800s and intensifying in the latter half of the 19th century, ensuing political instability, restrictive religious laws and deteriorating economic conditions in Europe began to fuel the largest mass human migration in the history of the world. It soon became apparent that Castle Garden was ill-equipped and unprepared to handle the growing numbers of immigrants arriving yearly.

Unfortunately, compounding the problems of the small facility were the corruption and incompetence found to be commonplace at Castle Garden. The Federal government intervened and constructed a new Federally-operated immigration station on Ellis Island.

While the new immigration station on Ellis Island was under construction, the Barge Office at the Battery was used for the processing of immigrants. The new structure on Ellis Island, built of "Georgia pine" opened on January 1, 1892. the status of immigration on ellis island

  1. This section depicts two examples of the trip to paint a more vivid picture.
  2. In addition to the free meals served, independent concessions sold packaged food that immigrants often bought to eat while they waited or take with them when they left the island. Create a free account to search for family arrival records and learn more about Lady Liberty and Ellis Island.
  3. Inspectors used a list of 32 questions to determine if an immigrant should be admitted to America.

Over the next 62 years, more than 12 million were to follow through this port of entry. Ellis Island Burns and Years of Records Lost While there were many reasons to immigrate to America, no reason could be found for what would occur only five years after the Ellis Island Immigration Station opened.

Ellis Island

During the early morning hours of June 15, 1897, a fire on Ellis Island burned the immigration station completely to the ground. Although no lives were lost, many years of Federal and State immigration records dating back to 1855 burned along with the pine buildings that failed to protect them.

The United States Treasury quickly ordered the immigration facility be replaced under one very important condition: On December 17, 1900, the new Main Building was opened and 2,251 immigrants were received that day. The great steamship companies like White Star, Red Star, Cunard and Hamburg-America played a significant role in the history of Ellis Island and immigration in general. First and second class passengers who arrived in New York Harbor were not required to undergo the inspection process at Ellis Island.

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Instead, these passengers underwent a cursory inspection aboard ship, the theory being that if a person could afford to purchase a first or second class ticket, they were less likely to become a public charge in America due to medical or legal reasons.

The Federal government felt that these more affluent passengers would not end up in institutions, hospitals or become a burden to the state. However, first and second class passengers were sent to Ellis Island for further inspection if they were sick or had legal problems. This scenario was far different for "steerage" or third class passengers.

These immigrants traveled in crowded and often unsanitary conditions near the bottom of steamships with few amenities, often spending up to two weeks seasick in their bunks during rough Atlantic Ocean crossings.

The steerage and third class passengers were transported from the pier by ferry or barge to Ellis Island where everyone would undergo a medical and legal inspection.

  • Ellis Island was approved as a site for fortifications and on it was constructed a parapet for three tiers of circular guns, making the island part of the new harbor defense system that included Castle Clinton at the Battery, Castle Williams on Governor's Island, Fort Wood on Bedloe's Island and two earthworks forts at the entrance to New York Harbor at the Verrazano Narrows;
  • Thousands of immigrants found work on the trans-continental railroad, settling in towns along the way;
  • After much legal haggling over ownership of the island, the Federal government purchased Ellis Island from New York State in 1808.

A Record Year for New Americans During the early 1900s, immigration officials mistakenly thought that the peak wave of immigration had already passed. Actually, immigration was on the rise, and in 1907 more people immigrated to the United States than any other year, a record that would hold for the next 80 years.

Numerous suspected enemy aliens throughout the United States were brought to Ellis Island under custody. Between 1918 and 1919, detained suspected enemy aliens were transferred from Ellis Island to other locations in order for the United States Navy with the Army Medical Department to take over the island complex for the duration of the war. During this time, regular inspection of arriving immigrants was conducted onboard ship or at the docks. Hundreds were later deported based upon the principal of guilt by association with any organizations advocating revolution against the Federal government.

  1. Seven hundred immigrants passed through Ellis Island that day, and nearly 450,000 followed over the course of that first year.
  2. The new structure on Ellis Island, built of "Georgia pine" opened on January 1, 1892.
  3. But after the outbreak of World War I in 1914, American attitudes toward immigration began to shift.

In 1920, Ellis Island reopened as an immigration receiving station and 225,206 immigrants were processed that year. Arrival at the Island and Initial Inspection If the immigrant's papers were in order and they were in reasonably good health, the Ellis Island inspection process would last approximately three to five hours.

The inspections took place in the Registry Room or Great Hallwhere doctors would briefly scan every immigrant for obvious physical ailments. Doctors at Ellis Island soon became very adept at conducting these "six second physicals.

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This document was used by the legal inspectors at Ellis Island to cross-examine the immigrant during the legal or primary inspection. On March 1, 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was restructured and included into three separate bureaus as part of the U. Department of Homeland Security. For more information on these three bureaus and their mission, visit their websites at the following: