Immigration Act (United States) (1864)

2011-02-16 12:14:31

The 1864 Immigration Act was designed to increase the flow of laborers to the United States during the disruptions of the Civil War (1861–65). In his message to Congress in December 1863, President Abraham Lincoln urged “the expediency of a system for the encouragement of immigration,” noting “the great deficiency of laborers in every field of industry, especially in agriculture and our mines.” After much debate, Congress enacted legislation on July 4, 1864, providing for appointment by the president of a commissioner of immigration, operating under the authority of the secretary of state, and immigrant labor contracts, up to a maximum of one year, pledging wages against the cost of transportation to America.