Great Migration

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Great Migration,

in U.S. history. 1 The migration of Puritans to New England from England, 1620–40, prior to the English civil warEnglish civil war,
1642–48, the conflict between King Charles I of England and a large body of his subjects, generally called the "parliamentarians," that culminated in the defeat and execution of the king and the establishment of a republican commonwealth.
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. As a result of the increasingly tyrannical rule of King Charles I and the oppression of PuritanismPuritanism,
in the 16th and 17th cent., a movement for reform in the Church of England that had a profound influence on the social, political, ethical, and theological ideas of England and America. Origins

Historically Puritanism began early (c.
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 under Archbishop William Laud and the hierarchy of the Church of England, some 20,000 people, mostly in family groups, left England and settled in what is now Massachusetts, where they founded a deeply religious and insular community. One of their most important leaders was John WinthropWinthrop, John,
1588–1649, governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, b. Edwardstone, near Groton, Suffolk, England. Of a landowning family, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, came into a family fortune, and became a government administrator with strong Puritan
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2 The initial migration of settlers into the Oregon territory along the Oregon TrailOregon Trail,
overland emigrant route in the United States from the Missouri River to the Columbia River country (all of which was then called Oregon). The pioneers by wagon train did not, however, follow any single narrow route.
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 in 1843. Setting out from Independence, Mo., a wagon train, comprising about 1,000 people along with with their livestock, was led as far as Fort Hall, in SE Idaho, by John Gantt, a former U.S. Army captain. The missionary Dr. Marcus WhitmanWhitman, Marcus,
1802–47, American pioneer and missionary in the Oregon country, b. Federal Hollow (later Rushville), N.Y. In 1836 he left a country medical practice to go West as a missionary for the joint Presbyterian-Congregationalist board.
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 led them the rest of the way to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, an arduous journey totaling more than 2,000 miles. The term Great Migration is sometimes extended to include the thousands more who made the trek in the following years.


See study by L. Coffman (2012).

3 The movement of some six million African Americans from the rural South to industrialized urban areas of the North during the 20th cent. From about 1910 to 1940, when legislation severely limited immigration, the cities of the Midwest and the Northeast, especially Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Philadelphia, experienced a need for factory laborers. Word spread throughout the South that conditions would be better farther north, offering an escape from tenant farming and sharecropping, and segregation and Jim Crow lawsJim Crow laws,
in U.S. history, statutes enacted by Southern states and municipalities, beginning in the 1880s, that legalized segregation between blacks and whites. The name is believed to be derived from a character in a popular minstrel song.
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. Although African Americans also encountered racism in the North, the migration produced a lasting influence on the music, arts, literature, religion, and cuisine of urban America; the Harlem RenaissanceHarlem Renaissance,
term used to describe a flowering of African-American literature and art in the 1920s, mainly in the Harlem district of New York City. During the mass migration of African Americans from the rural agricultural South to the urban industrial North
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 was one of its results. During and after World War II (1940–70) the need for workers again increased and a new, even larger migration of African Americans from the South to northern urban centers and to Los Angeles and other cities of the West as well occurred. This second migration lasted until northern cities began losing industries, and some blacks began a reverse migration to the South, drawn by the job growth and lower costs of living there.


See studies by N. Lemann (1991), I. Wilkerson (2010), and L. P. Boustan (2016).

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References in periodicals archive ?
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