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Movement of people

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The years between 1750 and 1901 saw the movement of large numbers of people around the world. Most of these migrations were carried out against the wishes of the people involved. First, Native Americans and, later, Africans were kidnapped or sold into slavery in the Americas. Later, British convicts were transported overseas. Even voluntary migrants often had little choice but to seek a new life in a new country.

As soon as the Spanish had colonised the Americas they needed a large workforce for their mines and plantations. The Native American population provided a ready source of labour, so they were forced to work for the Spanish. Workers were taken against their will to travel with the Spanish during the expansion of their colonies in America. European diseases took a heavy toll on the Native American population because they had no natural immunity to them. As the native population declined through disease and abuse, the Spanish were forced to look elsewhere for workers.

African slave trade worked and its importance to America because of some slaves were bought and some were either taken or kidnapped. The slave trade between Western Africa and the America’s reached its peak in the mid-18th century when it is estimated that over 80,000 Africans annually crossed the Atlantic to spend the rest of their lives in chains.

Between 1788 and 1868, around 160,000 British and Irish convicts were transported to the Australian colonies as a punishment for crime. The Industrial Revolution transformed the British economic base from agriculture to industry. In a process called ‘enclosure’ thousands of country people were forced from their home because of the wealthy buying and taking over their land. Also because of the Industrial Revolution, there were more efficient and mechanised forming practices which meant fewer agricultural workers were needed. For many families, the Industrial Revolution meant that their lives became harder to survive, they were forced to commit petty crimes; some including theft, pickpocketing and forgery. They committed these crimes for survival, they were then shipped to Australia without a choice.

The decision for migrants to travel thousands of kilometres from their homelands to a new place were based on a variety of factors. In the early nineteenth century, Britain was a very uncertain place because there were many wars and revolutions. Many people from Britain were forced from their homes through employment, rising rent taxes, grim conditions and overcrowded cities. During this time, the gold rush also attracted thousands of people because it was such an easy way to make money. Australia was better for many families because the gold rush could make their lives a lot easier.The gold rush also meant that for many people they could start their lives all over again. In the nineteenth century, the Australian government encouraged people to come to Australia through assisted migration, which meant that families would get money from the government to come to Australia.

While it appears that most people who took part in these mass migrations during the period between 1750 and 1901 did so against their will, there were some who made the decision voluntarily. The Henrys, for example, decided to start a new life in Australia. However, even many migrants were left with little choice but to move because of economic events over which they had little control.

In 1750 to 1901 there was a significant amount of people migrating around the world. Majority of these people were forced to move against their will. The native American and Africans were seized and sold into slavery, British convicts were transported overseas. Even voluntary migrants were left with little choice but to move.

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