This Day in History
Abraham Lincoln

Ellis Island Opened
January 1, 1892

Immigration is the great and pervasive theme of American history. All “Americans,” except for the native Indians, were “newcomers.” All-the English, Dutch, Spanish, Swedish, French, Scots, and Germans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; the Danes, Norwegians, Finns, Italians, Irish, Poles, Greeks, Mexicans, Cubans, Asians, and Puerto Ricans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the Africans at all times-nationalities from every continent uprooted themselves (or as in the case of the Africans were forcibly uprooted) from their familiar surroundings and folkways. All had to adjust to new environments, new institutions, and a new language. We shall never know how many immigrants sought the “Promised Land,” or were brought here: the official total for the years since 1920 is a bit over fifty million; the total for three and a half centuries must be twice that.

During most of the nineteenth century immigrants were "processed" at Castle Garden in lower Manhattan; in 1892, the entry port was transferred to Ellis Island in New York City's harbor. Ellis Island became, and remains, inextricably associated in the American imagination with the gates to the promised land. This association was powerfully reinforced by the location, on adjoining Bedloe's Island, of the Statue of Liberty. This colossal monument to American freedom was a gift of the French people on the occasion of the centenary of American independence.

February's Archived Features:

Wednesday February 1, 2023
Thursday February 2, 2023
Friday February 3, 2023
Saturday February 4, 2023
Sunday February 5, 2023
Monday February 6, 2023



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.