Manifest of Immigrants Act (United States) (1819)


The Manifest of Immigrants Act was the first piece of U.S. legislation regulating the transportation of migrants to and from America and the first measure requiring that immigration statistics be kept. The United States maintained uninterrupted data on individuals coming into the country from the time this act was passed.
Concerned with the dramatic increase in immigration during 1818 and responding to several instances of high mortality on transatlantic voyages, Congress passed on March 2, 1819, “an Act regulating passenger-ships and vessels.” It specified
1. a limit of two passengers per every five tons of ship burden
2. for all ships departing the United States, at least 60 gallons of water, 100 pounds of bread, 100 pounds of salted provisions, and one gallon of vinegar for every passenger
3. the requirement of ship captains or masters to report a list of all passengers taken on board abroad, including name, sex, age, and occupation. The report was also to include the number of passengers who had died on board the ship during the voyage.
Six acts and a number of amendments gradually modified the requirements of the 1819 act until it was finally repealed by the Carriage of Passengers Act (1855).

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