March 6

Blog #166 – Final Exam – Immigration and Assimilation Theories

As more and more immigrants come to America, it’s worth looking at three different theories as to what immigrants are / were expected to do when they come here.  The majority of this article comes from “Assimilation in America” by Milton M. Gordon, 1961.

The first wave of immigrants came between 1620 – 1775.  This group is predominantly English, with some Scots-Irish, Germans, Swedes, and French and Dutch.  About 20% of the American population was Africans who were forcibly brought here or descendants of enslaved Africans.

The second wave arrived between 1840s and 1850s and were predominantly Irish, German Catholics, Chinese, and Scandinavians.  This group has been called the “old immigrants” when talking about 19th Century immigration.

The third wave of immigration hit American shores between 1870 – 1924.  The earliest group comprised Chinese, French Canadians, Irish, German, Dutch and other northern and western European immigrants.  However, after 1890, the newer arrivals came from southern and eastern Europe: Italians, Poles, Russians, Jews, and Slavs and on the West Coast, the Japanese.  This group has been called the “new immigrants.”  The wave was brought to an abrupt halt by the National Origins Act of 1924.

The latest wave started in the 1960s and hasn’t stopped.  Initially, people came from Asia and Eastern Europe, but for the past twenty years or so, more Latin Americans have arrived.  Unfortunately, like the previous two waves, there also been an uptick in nativist rhetoric, actions, laws, and sentiments in the past 15-20 years.  And like in past waves, immigrants, legal and undocumented, have become scapegoats for the nation’s problems and used as a political tool against their oppponents.  For instance, in this ad for the U.S. Senate, one Republican goes after another for not being tough enough on immigration: https://x.com/SandyPensler/status/1003758667806715905?s=20

Nativism, immigration, and the Know-Nothing party

Anglo-Conformity (Superiority?)

This theory concerns itself with the adoption of Anglo-American institutions like the English language, culture and customs.  However, negative attitudes towards other ethnic groups have often come hand in hand with this theory, including the belief that Anglo-American ways are the only way to assimilate and are superior to other cultures.  Ben Franklin and other founding fathers expressed “reservations about large-scale immigration from Europe” though they most likely could not have envisioned the role immigration would have on American history.  During the second and third waves, nativist attitudes reared their ugly heads at the Irish and Germans (see cartoon) including a violent anti-Catholic campaign.  Even the cranky John Quincy Adams basically said, “if they don’t like it here, they can go back where they came from.”   When the third wave arrived, Social Darwinism arose as a way of asserting the older groups’ inherent genetic dominance over the eastern and southern European  and Asian groups.  They weren’t English, had strange religions and customs, and were very slow, if not reluctant, to adopt American ways.  There was a pressure-cooker Americanization process undertaken during World War I which ended with hundreds being deported during the “Red Scare” of 1919-20 for un-American ideas like anarchism and socialism.  Also near the end of the 3rd wave, the Klan came back like a dreaded disease and expanded its hatred of anyone not WASP (white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant), and promoted itself as the party of pure Americanism.

 

Melting Pot

We read about this melding of European people in America in the pre-Revolutionary era in Hector St. John Crevecouer’s Letters from an American Farmer when he said, “Who is this American?  He is either an European, or the descendant of an European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country.”    The attitude concerning the new American society was “not a slightly modified English but rather a totally new blend… in which the stocks and folkways of Europe….were mixed in a pot of the emerging nation and fused by the fires of American influence and interaction…”   Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about America in the 1840s as “an asylum for all nations” that would make a new type of individual.   Frederick Jackson Turner broke with the Anglo-conformity mold when he wrote his historic essay in 1893, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” saying that American institutions and democracy were not an offshoot of Europe but something uniquely itself.   In 1908, an English-Jewish writer named Israel Zangwill wrote a drama called (oddly enough) The Melting Pot in which a young Jewish immigrant / composer comes to America in order to complete a symphony about his amazing new country where all ethnic groups are united.

 

Cultural Pluralism

This theory recognizes the concept that when new immigrant groups come to the United States (or wherever, for that matter), the groups tend to clump together in similar groups based on language, culture, and region.  For instance, in the 1840s, the Irish bonded together in Boston as American society initially rejected them.   By the late 1800s, middle class reformers came to the city to help the new arrivals from eastern and southern Europe get acclimated to America.  Women like Jane Addams respected an ethnic group’s language and culture but also taught them the English language.   The children of the new immigrants, because of rapid Americanization, looked down upon their parents who couldn’t speak English and clung to the old ways, thereby alienating each generation from the other.   But Jane Addams, reflected in her biography, Twenty Years in Hull House, that by creating a “Labor Museum” at her settlement house, she showed the younger generation of immigrants what the older group prized (like sewing and weaving).  “The daughters…began to appreciate the fact that their mothers had their own culture too.”

 

In 1915, Horace Kallen wrote articles on immigration in The Nation which rejected both the melting pot and Anglo-conformity “as models of what was actually transpiring in American life.”   He pointed out how the immigrants have participated in American society by learning English but while still preserving their culture and traditions.  Kallen felt that by allowing immigrants to keep their culture and traditions, we were actually being more democratic than if we had imposed an Anglo-conformist attitude on them.  Kallen came up with the term “cultural pluralism” in later essays in which he rejected the Klan, the Red Scare and other attempts at ultra-Americanization and stated that cultural pluralism was the “cure for these ills.”

Diversity, Pluralism, Multiculturalism!?| National Catholic Register

As you’ve grown up, you’ve probably come to realize that America is a land of immigrants; you may be the first generation of your family born here in the United States.  In this blog response, describe at least two examples of where you’ve seen or experienced at least two of these three immigration theories in action.   Talk to your family and ask older relatives about what kinds of stories have been told about the history of your family.  If applicable, please include your own family’s stories in your response.

Your response should be a minimum of 300 words. Due Sunday, March 10 by midnight. 

January 28

Blog #127 – Debate Over Expansion

Before, during, and after the Spanish-American War in 1898, Americans were debating whether or not America should go beyond its borders and become an imperial empire, much like the European countries had done during the 19th Century w/ Asia and Africa.  Below are the arguments for and against imperialism and some of its proponents and opponents.

Image result for cartoons imperialism 1898

For Imperialism

People for it: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Alfred T. Mahan, President William McKinley, Judge William Howard Taft, Admiral George Dewey, Reverend Josiah Strong, former Secretary of State William Seward, and Senator Albert Beveridge.

Arguments for imperialism:

  1. To give back the Philippines to Spain would be cowardly and dishonorable.
  2. To let other imperial powers have the Philippines was bad business and discreditable.
  3. Granting the Filipinos their independence was irresponsible because they are unfit to rule themselves.  They need America to civilize, uplift, and Christianize them.
  4. Imperialism is good for America.  It invigorates a nation and keeps it healthy.  A slothful nation will victim to those countries that maintain soldierly virtues.
  5. Annexation of the Philippines would put America into a position to dominate trade with China and the rest of Asia.
  6. We need the markets and raw materials now.  It doesn’t matter that the Philippines are non-contiguous.  We didn’t need the purchases and additional areas in the continental U.S., but look at us now!  We produce more than we can consume.
  7. Annexation would be so easy because we already control the islands.
  8. Filipinos don’t  have to become citizens of the U.S., we will treat them as dependents (like we do with the Native Americans).  The 14th Amendment won’t apply to them.
  9. Republicans favored annexation because it made the party look good after winning the war.

Image result for cartoons imperialism 1898

Against Imperialism

People against it: Author Mark Twain, former president Grover Cleveland, Speaker of the House Thomas “Czar” Reed, journalist Lincoln Steffens, Jane Addams, former Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, AFL chief Samuel Gompers, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, Harvard professor William James.

Arguments against imperialism

  1. Imperialism is immoral.  It repudiates our commitment to human freedom and liberty.  We instead think we know what is best for the Filipinos, and that is wrong.
  2. Nativists fear the pollution of the white American population with inferior Asian races, especially when they are allowed to move to the U.S.  Acquisition of the Philippines may require that they become citizens.
  3. Industrial workers feared the flood of additional cheap labor which would further undercut job opportunities.
  4. Imperialism puts us in the international stage of world politics and is a constant menace for war.  War carries off the physically and mentally fit and leaves behind the lesser fit.  It threatens our security, internally and externally.
  5. The “civilizing” mission some claim is really a cover for a desire to loot the colonies and their natural resources.  This misson is self-righteous and pretentious.
  6. We will inherit Spain’s task of suppressing the native peoples when they rebel.  They will NOT want our cultural ways.  We will end up like Spain – a shriveling power.
  7. Can’t we just trade without having to annex other territories?
  8. Imperialism would involve the need for a large standing army which would become a heavy tax burden.

The country chose imperialism, and the Senate voted for the Treaty of Paris, 1898, 57 to 27, one more vote needed for the 2/3 approval.

Your job:

Pretend you are a senator back in 1898 (yes, you have to do this even if you’re female – we’re time traveling, so you can pretend to be a different gender).  Pick a region of the country and a party (both parties were for expansion, especially Southern Democrats).  Which arguments hold more sway with you and why?  Explain.

Here is some info on the 1898 U.S. Senate elections.  Maybe choose your senator from someone who ran and look up his views on the war.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1898_and_1899_United_States_Senate_elections

350 words total for your answer.  Due by Monday, February 3 by the beginning of class.