Originally published by the National Archives as Copies of Lists of Passengers
Arriving at Miscellaneous Ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and Ports on the
Great Lakes, 1820-1963, this database contains more than 8300 immigrant names
from passenger lists from the port of Galveston, Texas, 1846-71.
AN ACT REGULATING PASSENGER SHIPS AND VESSELS. BE IT ENACTED, &c. That, if the master or other person on board any ship or vessel, owned in the whole or in part by a citizen or citizens of the United States or the territories thereof, or by a subject or subjects, citizen or citizens, of any foreign Country, shall, after the first day of January next, take on board of such ship or vessel, at any foreign port or place, or shall bring or convey into the United States or the territories thereof from any foreign port or place; or shall carry, convey, or transport from the United States, or the territories thereof to any foreign port or place, a greater number of passengers than two for every five tons of such ship or vessel, according to the custom-house measurement, every such master, or other person so offending, and the owner or owners of such ship or vessel, shall severally forfeit and pay to the United States, the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars for each and every passenger so taken on board of such ship or vessel, over and above the aforesaid number or two for every five tons of such ship or vessel, to be recovered by suit in any circuit or district court of the United States, where the said vessel may arrive, or where the owner or owners aforesaid may reside; Provided nevertheless, that nothing in this act shall be taken to apply to the complement of men usually and ordinarily employed in navigating such ship or vessel. Sec. 2. That if the number of passengers so taken on board of any ship or vessel as aforesaid, or conveyed or brought into the United States, or transported therefrom as aforesaid, shall exceed the said proportion of two to every five tons of such ship or vessel by the number of twenty passengers, in the whole, every such ship or vessel shall be deemed and taken to be forfeited to the United States, and shall be prosecuted and distributed in the same manner in which the forfeitures and penalties are recovered and distributed under the provisions of the act, entitled "An Act to regulate the collection of duties on imports and tonnage." Sec. 3. That every ship or vessel bound on a voyage from the United States to any port on the continent of Europe, at the time of leaving the last port whence such ship or vessel shall sail, shall have, shall have on board, well secured under deck, at least sixty gallons of water, one hundred pounds of salted provisions, one gallon of vinegar, and one hundred pounds of wholesome ship bread for each and every passenger on board such ship or vessel, over and above such other provisions, stores, and live stock, as may be put on board by such master or passenger for their use, or that of the crew of such ship or vessel, and in like proportion for a shorter or longer voyage; and if the passengers on board of such ship or vessel, in which the proportion of provisions herein directed shall not have been provided, shall at any time be put on short allowance, in water, flesh, vinegar, or bread, during any voyage aforesaid, the master and owner of such ship or vessel, shall severally pay to each and every passenger who shall have been put on short allowance as aforesaid, the sum of three dollars for each and every day they may have been on such short allowance, to be recovered in the same manner as seamen's wages are or may be recovered. Sec. 4. That the captain or master of any ship or vessel arriving in the United States, or any of the territories thereof, from any foreign place whatever, at the same time that he delivers a manifest of the cargo, and, if there be no cargo, than at the time of making report or entry of the ship or vessel, pursuant to the existing laws of the United States, shall also deliver and report to the collector of the district in which such ship or vessel shall arrive, a list or manifest of all the passengers taken on board of the said ship or vessel at any foreign port or place; in which list or manifest it shall be the duty of the master to designate, particularly, the age, sex, and occupation of the said passengers, respectively; the country to which they severally belong, and that of which it is their intention to become inhabitants; and shall further set forth whether any, and what number have died on the voyage: which report and manifest shall be sworn to by the said master, in the same manner as is directed by the existing laws of the United States, in relation to the manifest of the cargo; and that the refusal or neglect of the master aforesaid, to comply with the provisions of this section, shall incur the same penalties, disabilities, and forfeitures, as are at present provided for a refusal or neglect to report and deliver a manifest of the cargo aforesaid. Sec. 5. That each and every collector of the customs, to whom such manifest or list of passengers as aforesaid shall be delivered, shall, quarter yearly, return copies thereof to the Secretary of State of the United States, by whom statements of the same shall be laid before Congress at each and every session. March 2, 1819.--------Approved
Congress enacted the first legislation concerning the processing of immigrants in 1819. It provided that a record should be kept of the number of passengers in each customs district and mandated the registration of each person's name, age, gender, occupation and country of birth. Up to 1867, the records included all "alien passengers arrived" and did not distinguish "immigrants" from "passengers."
Beginning in the 1830s, the tide of immigration tripled and quadrupled the numbers of previous years. This was due to a large increase in German and Irish immigrants. Many "German" political refugees and intellectuals fled their native lands. They had no "German" passports, because "Germany" did not yet exist as a nation, so these immigrants had passports of their various states, such as Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, and Wurtemberg.
From 1800 to 1845, the Irish population grew with abnormal rapidity. The standard of living became so low that a large proportion of the population subsisted almost entirely on potatoes. The potato blight ruined the crop three years running, from 1845 to 1847, and half a million people died from starvation, typhus, and cholera. Millions more were barely kept alive by soup kitchens and limited aid, much from America. These conditions prompted a mass exodus of immigrants.
The 19th century was the apex of the Golden Age of Sail (1460-1860). Many types of sailing vessels carried immigrants to America. Due to the prevailing westerly winds, the passage from Europe to the United States averaged four to six weeks and included crowded, noisy, smelly, vermin-ridden confinement. Considering the appalling conditions, a total absence of hygienic facilities, questionable food, stale water from oaken casks, and no medical care, the wonder is that more did not die at sea.
The "denomination" listed in the database is the type of vessel (ship, brig, schooner, etc.) and is not part of the ship's name (ship's names include Commerce, Rose in Bloom, Boston, etc.).
shipA vessel of at least three square-rigged masts; averaging 500 tons; 130 feet in length; 30 feet in the beam.
bark or barque A three-masted vessel with the fore and main masts square-rigged and the rearmost fore and aft rigged; slightly smaller than a ship.
brigA vessel with two masts, fore and main, with square-rigged sails; averaging 250 tons; 190 feet in length; 25 feet in the beam.
schoonerA vessel with two or more masts, fore and main, with square-rigged sails; averaging 100 tons; 68 feet long; 23 feet in the beam; the largest ever built had seven masts.
sloopA small, single-masted vessel, fore and aft rigged, with a main sail and a jib; from schooner size downward.
packetA boat, of any kind, that travels a regular route along a coast or river, carrying passengers, freight, and mail.