During the hundred and fifty years with which this survey is concerned, the reception of immigrants arriving in North American ports has undergone remarkable changes. In the earliest times, no legislation of any kind dealt with the entrance of people arriving from British shores; the condition of the labour markets was then such that all who arrived were speedily provided with work; in fact, the demand for able-bodied men and women was in excess of the supply. When necessitous or ailing people were landed, either the charitable residents took pity on them and attended to their wants or prospective employers gave them succour in the hope of subsequently securing their labours. The system permitted few people to become a public burden, and thus there was little or no reason for State interference.