Why did 19th century carpet weavers immigrate to the US?
This paragraph from the Enfield (CT) Historical Society website will shed some light .... [http://home.att.net/~mkm-of-enfct/EHS/EHScarpet.html] "The carpet industry in Enfield was started by Orrin Thompson. Thompson obtained a charter and, with $35,500 in capital investment from both New York carpet importers and Scottish carpet weavers he built a 14 foot high, 118 foot long dam on Freshwater brook in 1828, then proceeded to construct the first of Enfield's carpet mills - the "White Mill" - astride the brook. The mill was completed in early 1829 and, manned by skilled weavers brought over from Scotland, was in operation by summer of that year." Originally, SKILLED weavers were recruited from other countries, initially Scotland and Ireland, to operate the looms. These weavers often brought more family members over to work in the mills. As the mills grew in number and size, more jobs became available and more people were needed as mill workers. Not just carpet mills, but woolen mills, cotton mills, silk mills, shoddy mills, belt mills and their associated finishing mills dotted the country, especially New England. They represented jobs, jobs, and more jobs. And that's why people came. Anyone who could learn and was willing to work could have a job. Few people now realize the large roll which the textile industry played in the growth of America. For example, by 1900, Amoskeag Mills (Manchester, NH) employed nearly 17,000 people in 30 different mills. That's just one mill complex in one city. Another 17,000 were employed at the vast mill complex in Lowell, MA. By 1910, the Enfield, CT carpet mills employed about 2,900 people. They came for the jobs.
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There was virtually no Irish immigration in the 18th Century. During the 19th Century the Irish emigrated to many countries because of the depression and lack of opportunity in Ireland, accentuated by the potato famine mid-century. The real numbers were masked by a transportation quirk. Irish would catch the pig boats which plied from Wexford to London, and en route transfer to an immigrant ship in Portsmouth, and so were often recorded as English.