The Immigrant Traders

RC deWinter

Fairfield, United States

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*© 2009 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved

Stairs leading to the second-floor offices of a 19th-century mercantile agent and immigrant trader.

The firm of Samuel Thompson was established in New York City in 1825 as a shipping agent brokering cargo and passengers for commercial interests. There was a flood of immigration from Europe during the mid- and late-19th century. Some of these immigrants came as free and unencumbered persons, but many came as indentured servants, anxious to escape the grinding poverty of life in their native lands.

Poor travelers of all classes were generally treated as cargo, and their mortality rate has been estimated to have been similar to that of the slaves who were forcibly brought to America during the heyday of the slave trade.

Just as a note of interest, between 1841 and 1860 the highest American immigrant populations originated from Germany and Ireland. Almost 1,400,000 German emigrants came to America during those two decades, along with with 1,700,000 of Irish descent, with the greatest proportion of all immigrants entering through the Port of New York.

Photograph shot in Mystic, Connecticut, August 2009.

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