Chapter Forty-four


Americans are ethnically (that is, in culture and race)
the most heterogeneous of all nations.
To find an unrepresented nationality may be impossible.
Gypsies are well represented, coming from many
countries, from Asia Minor to Ireland ("The Irish
Travellers"). Icelanders are present. Australian
aborigines are rare.

Inasmuch as all Americans except a few unmixed Indians have
descended from immigrants arriving after 1500, and we have
already guessed at the origins of the Indians, we might well
introduce this chapter by estimating the origins of the total present
American population. This task has been rendered easier by census
inquiries of the population to determine ancestry. The results show
what had been happening demographically and culturally in the
course of four hundred years.

We would not wish to set forth all the problems of defining race; still,
race is one factor in nationality and human relations, so that some
guessing as to the ethno-racial components might be
illuminating, after which we can examine the more pertinent
national components. To speak of race we could begin to think in
terms of about three thousand years of migrations.

Before the Celts arrived in now-called France and the British Isles,
an ethno-racial group resembling the ancient Mediterranean peoples
populated the land. Their ancestors are still there in some unknown
minor part. The Celtic is a vague yet stubbornly meaningful label,
more a cultural and linguistic grouping than a physical one.
They were the earliest Central Europeans and spread from there.

Then these were overlain by new racial-cultural strata, Romanic and
Teutonic. In the grand confusion that characterized the settlement of
North America, it was probably the Celtic or partially Celtic that
was the largest fraction.

Among the Celts of America one would include the French-Canadians
(who came mostly from Bretagne, Brittany, origin of
Britain), and some of the French otherwise from all over France, the
Welsh, the Scottish, both lowland and highland, and the Irish,
whether Catholic or Protestant. A considerable part
of the immigration arriving from English ports originated
years earlier, if not just before, in Scottish and Irish
Celtic lands and was lumped with the English. Too, in America,
it appears that the Celts had higher rates of birth than the
English or Germans, and that this difference persisted
down to the present time. Moreover, when the
U.S. Bureau of the Census began two decades ago to
ask Americans to give the nationality of their ancestors,
a third of the Southern respondents claimed only American, and
this meaningless answer was not probed. In the South,
it may be assumed, the longer familial residence in America
caused a forgetting of ancestry, but to this true amnesia
must be added an evasive amnesia, such as the common
truculent assumption of being the "true" Americans, and of
being less literate and worldly, these perhaps being
more common among the Celt-derived constituents than
from the others. Hence, assigning a figure of about
25% of the total population as Celts,
or in part of Celtic derivation, as I do here,
is probably an underestimate.

We should recall once more that the French component in America
originates along at least five lines: Acadians of early Eastern Canada
dispersed by the English for security reasons and replaced by
English, Scots and Scots-Irish; the French of Louisiana and the
Midwest before and after the Revolution, the Huguenots largely
settled along the seaboard to begin with; individuals and groups of
refugees from the French Revolution, and secular workers or
utopians bent upon establishing a community according to the
doctrines of Fourier or other theorists; and finally the
French-Canadians, mostly of Northern New England, Rhode Island,
Upper Michigan, and their scattered descendants.

Peoples largely or partly of Mediterranean stock include Jews, Greeks,
Spanish and Hispanics, Lebanese, Armenians, Italians, many French,
and Portuguese; their presence would probably be manifested in 20%
of the population.

The very large Teutonic element would be divided by some physical
anthropologists into the Alpine sub-race and Nordic sub-race,
intermingling. The Alpines would carry through from Russia
through Southern Germany and Switzerland into England in some
large fraction, broad in stature, light brunette in coloring and eyes,
brachycephalic or round-headed. They might be estimated at 10%.
Nordics, the taller, less robust, more blue-eyed, would come from
the Baltic, Scandinavia, Northern Germany, Northern Poland, the
Netherlands, and to a fraction of the English, coming out of Saxony
and Normandy. There might be 15% of these in the American
population. Germanics proper, that is, by language and culture, are
to be grouped differently.

Less would be the varied African component, about 13%, described
in an earlier chapter. When the large Hispanic factor is assessed for
its Indian part, along with the Indians, usually mixed themselves,
about 10% of the population may be distinguished as in some sense
Indian. The Slavic element is scarcely distinguishable physically
from the Alpine Caucasians, but originating in East-Central Europe,
somewhat darker of eye and complexion, with perhaps
5% of the American people.

Tiny fractions are important, among them 1% from China, Japan and
East Asia, half a percent from South Asia, especially from India, and
1% from the Malayan - Vietnam and the Philippines. But 1% of the
American population amounts to nearly 2,600,000, enough, if it is
well-positioned and has a special fit, to be needed in a meaningful
description of the characteristics of the whole.

A more usual and useful way of dividing up the people is by their
historical connections. Here, it must always be borne in mind that
American history proceeded apace with other
highly active histories. The USA witnessed
the merging of Scots, Welsh and Irish into Great Britain,
at the same time as the same people came to
America during the rise and decline of the British Empire,
and then by the end of the twentieth century the emergence of
the same people into ethnic and political autonomy.

Not one German nationality arrived here, but a score of
Germanic nationalities; only after 1870 could they be arbitrarily
considered as of German nationality, serving one Kaiser. Italy was
in the same situation, a geographical expression and a state of mind.
In the broader sense of what happened later, we can speak of
Germanic and Italic origins.

Helpfully, distinctions upon entry were made between the ethnic
groups of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, such as Bohemians,
Slovaks, Hungarians, and Germanophone Austrians. But there has
been much slipping and sliding in labeling and recalling.

Now we find the principal elements to be as follows, in millions,
rounded out to the nearest hundred thousand: Germanic 57.9; Austrian
0.9; Swiss (mostly Germanophone) 1.0; English 32.7; Scots-Irish 5.6;
Scots 5.4; Welsh 2.0; Irish 38.7 (divided into about 2/3 Irish Catholic,
1/3 Scots -Irish; the question was not properly put because of official
squeamishness about asking people their religion); Africans 23.8 plus
2.0 Afro-Caribbeans; Italic with 14.6; French 10.3 plus 0.7 Acadians
and 2.1 French Canadian; Swedes 4.7; Norwegians 3.9; Mexicans
11.6; Puerto Ricans 6.0; Poles about 6 (another 3 million Poles of
origin being more usefully distinguished as Jewish); and 2.9 Russians
(almost entirely Jews emigrating from Russia);

important numbers of under 2 millions are recorded for Croatian,
Czech, Slovak, Finns, Greeks, Hungarians, Lithuanians,
Portuguese, Ukrainians, Yugoslavs, Cubans, Haitians,
Salvadoreans, Koreans, and Vietnamese. These figures changed
slightly between 1990, when they were gathered, and the year 1995,
principally in the larger proportions of East Asian, Caribbean and
Mexican immigration, as well as with fairly large contingents of
Jews from the disassembled Soviet Union.

The great ages of immigration may not be over, for in 1994 the
Census estimated the foreign-born population at 22.6 millions, or
8.7% of the total, nearly half of all who had ever come to America.
About 25% of California's people had immigrated from foreign
countries, some 16% of New York State residents.

With all of this heterogeneity of ancestry, under the compression
of the majoritarian egalitarian ideology, the
whole gathered itself into a culture unmistakably
American, speaking an American English.
Foreign languages and dialects have died out, except for a persistent
but never threatening use of other languages in enclaves, particularly
Spanish (17.3 millions), French (1.7), Chinese (1.2), Tagalog (0.8),
and other oriental tongues. German (1.5) and Italian (1.3) are spoken
almost entirely among present-day immigrants.

Attempts at forcing the learning and use of English often
caused ethnic conflicts. A more clever policy for promoting
the prompt use of the English language among all Americans
would be to officially and generally call it the American language.
Immigrants might resent learning English,
but never having to learn American.
Even dialect speakers would move toward the norm of an
American language, who otherwise resist the teaching of English.

Language generates largely from lower classes and demi-mondaine.
By persisting in their own language forms,
these groups render themselves incommunicado
to the elite and authorities,
provide themselves with a common bond.
They obtain a secret, often erotic pleasure,
Their peculiar language is a cheap weapon
against the respectable classes, achieving revenge,
and in the end actually creating the vernacular,
the reputable tongue of the future -
as the demotic against the sacred Egyptian,
modern versus ancient Greek,
Italian, French, Spanish in place of Latin,
Saxon transfusing French,
American superimposing and intruding upon English.
Centuries of suppression have not quite destroyed
Gaelic and Welsh.

Given the profuse sweep of American popular culture
around the world, America's global presence,
power and wealth, its head start with Anglophones elsewhere,
its word-proliferating technology,
the rapidly evoluting American language
would spread perhaps twice as fast, were it not for
the bedraggled esteem of its elite worldwide.

The major component of culture is language,
followed closely in historical times by religion,
which has in America also been partially disassembled.
("I am a sect of one," said Celtic Jefferson.)

The movement in and out of cults has been rapid, continuous and
large. It has been too hectic for language to keep up. Quakers of
today have lost both their original English and Welsh dialects and
their ethnic identity, without having increased numerically relative
to the total population. More will be said later about this
phenomenon of the dissociation of culture, language and religion. It
may be an unnerving thought to a people continually harping upon
their identity, but in America generally a person's history does not
emerge from what one seems to be or claims to be.

The settlement of America was a triumph of propaganda.
From the first settlements to the present day, almost all immigrants
who were not forced to come had heard or read deliberate propaganda
designed to persuade one to go to America. Word of mouth was a
most important confirmatory persuasion. American children have long
been taught that their ancestors had heard that "the streets were paved
with gold," and forthwith schemed to come over. This is not so.
Most Americans were brought to emigrate by a compelling desperation.
They did not usually suffer grand illusions.

Military conscription, the draft, probably sent over a million
immigrants to America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
(The introduction of conscription into the North German
Confederation of 1866 by Prussia sent a
wave of immigrants to America.)

They had many qualms. Many were just free enough and
autonomous enough in the old culture to be able to consider a choice
and make it in favor of trying out America. Concomitantly, a
myth of total resolve is circulated; the fact is that a great many
immigrants traveled back and forth until they got stuck one day, by
marriage, financially, by illness, etc., and many got their taste of
America and found it too bitter to tolerate, so returned home. We
are speaking of many millions of persons, not of odd cases. The
typical European village not only had its relatives in America, but
also its "Americans," persons who had
been there and returned.

A summary of their motives would have to include more than one and
sometimes many reasons to explain each case. The vast majority from
beginning to end were:

 Materially very poor, and increasingly at the mercy of a cold industrial civilization.

 Foresaw few chances for education and advancement at home.

 Unskilled or semi-skilled, except for a highly important very few.

 Without a wife or husband, or immediate prospects of one.

 Aware of any work being promptly available at their level of skill and
/or with better pay.

 Between 15 and 40 years of age.

 Intending to return if things turned out badly or very well.

 Traveling to America by the cheapest route and means possible.

 Hostile, if male, to local officials at home, and often nursing a
grudge against the old form of government.

 Wanting, if male, to loosen his dependence upon his church, if not
upon his religion or religious institutions in general.

 Healthier than the average of one's locality.

 More frequently in trouble with family, church, state, police,
creditors, and/or personal enemies than the average person left behind.

 Persuaded that Americans generally welcomed one (if not one's
personal credentials).

 Of an open (slack, some might say) and receptive character, and docile (humble), realizing that a person would receive shocks and rebuffs in the new life.

 Coming with or informally connected to groups as close to one's
kind as possible until arrived and then choosing the best possibility
available even if (and often especially if) it prolonged his identity as a
"foreigner," in a mixed or native work and settlement group.

 Homesick and missing the home culture sorely, despised as it
might be.

 Beginning to live more and more in the present, and forgetting
much of one's own culture, more so if and when one heard that one's
closest of kin at home had died.

 After a short while, surprised at how many "real Americans" were
as poor as oneself and just as ignorant and unskilled, and often more so.

 At some point feeling, if male, that they must marry and have
children who would be "real Americans" and that this had to be done
by marrying a woman as close to one culturally as possible, even
though this meant a retreat from Americanization.

To tell how all the immigrants arrived is to relate a multiplicity of
means. None of them are new to these pages - I have mentioned them
all before - I mention them here again to generalize about four
hundred years. They came as fishermen, traders, adventurers,
vagabonds, indentured servants, slaves, kidnaped, captives (Acadians
et al), convicts, expelled, exiles deported, land-bound buccaneers,
jumped ship, military troop deserters, dischargees. They might come
under arrangements with individual contractors, as pay-as-you-go
refugees, as missionaries, and even now, as clergy. They might be
contracted to be free servants, employees, and officials of companies.
They could be ex-consular employees of any
country, or entrepreneurs.

They might set out as families seeking economic betterment, or under
the leadership of a minister. Clan groups were made up,
where the primitive clan persisted, otherwise village groups,
partying groups of young men, of Irish maidens, of sectarian
groups, utopian community groups, groups of hunters, gold-digging
partnerships, trapping and fishing groups,
parties of the demi-mondaine evading close scrutiny
while passing as theatrical and musical ensembles.

Shipping agents sent consignments of workers, one such in 1864,
dispatched to Northern employers, containing British "iron puddlers
and their helpers, roughers, rollers, finishers, and blast-furnacemen;
engineers, comprising iron turners, fitters, planers,
brass turners and brass finishers... flax-dressers, woolen-cloth
weavers, carders, scourers, dyers, bleachers, colour-makers,
calico-printers, calenderers, shepherds, farmers,
and domestic servants."

They came by boat and after the 1960's by air. At the docks were
relatives, employers, agents,
contractors, friends, landladies,
cheaters, racketeers,
ethnic exploiters of international scope or of
ethnic areas, of language dialects, of all kinds of pretensions.

All were practically uncontrolled in scenes of chaos, with a few
local police, then federal immigration police after millions of horses
had escaped the immigration barns. It made hardly any difference
that convicts, prostitutes, diseased persons, mental defectives and
some other categories were barred by successive Congressional laws
beginning in the seventies; they had already come in or still came in
by various means and furthermore they changed upon arrival or
others took their place from among the mass of arrivals or they were
there from among the native population anyhow.

In deference to ideals but perhaps as much to employers and
housewives, Presidents vetoed bills by Congress to admit only
literates (a fine and difficult distinction to ask of barely literate
inspectors of immigration, and one could not face the
embarrassment of immigrants who were too conspicuously superior
to the American population itself, especially the largely illiterate South
that protested indignantly against foreigners on principle) but
finally illiterates were barred so that 2% of the flow was turned back
for this and all other reasons at the ever more grandiose halls of
reception, such as Ellis Island, with its insulting and largely
incorrect inscription by a poet, Emma Lazarus,
greeting immigrants from everywhere.

(First and second class immigrant passengers did not have to stop at
Ellis Island, but were inspected on board ship and passed on through
the penurious steerage majorities. It was well worth a costlier ticket,
if you could find the money, to avoid the bossy immigrant officers
at the main halls. Implicitly, the message on the Statue of Liberty did
not apply.)

Indeed, so considerably unfriendly were many Americans who had
landed before to those incoming later,
nd from the beginning of time in the New World, and
regardless of race, religion or condition of servitude,
that we have to wonder why immigrants were so liberally
allowed in the first place. And the answer to this question is less than
flattering to the image the nation purveyed of itself and that its people
prided themselves in. It stresses the absurdity of the
inscription on the Statue of Liberty .

The practical absence of government was a principal permissive cause
for the vast immigration to America. Realistically nobody was in
charge. When feelings against immigrants became too high, mobs or
the local police would keep boats carrying immigrants from landing,
and they would have to sail up and down to find a place to anchor or
dock. Or to get to Canada or Mexico where they could be landed and
proceed on foot to cross the frontiers. This of course still goes on
today, to the tune of half a million or more illegal immigrants per year.

Apart from the immigrants themselves, and those who brought them
in for pay or with some special social or economic motive, hardly
anyone else cared who came in so long as they did not get in one's
way and could be exploited to one's selfish ends individually.

Expectedly, one discovers noble passages in American political and
poetic literature extending a welcome to many kinds of people (usually
with a few that the particular politician or poet disliked). This genre of
expression does not wish to believe that people would have come or
be coming to America just to be irresponsible or put
more meat and whiskey on the table.

It is felt, too, by such sweet-thinking people that it is best if
schoolchildren be taught that the ancestors of some of them, at least,
came to set up a new society out of the noblest of religious and
political motives - and all had better harken to those who have
taken command of these ancestors and who speak in their name.

More to be respected are the considerable numbers of Americans who,
having once established a decent way of life for themselves, were
generous enough to let others come who thought they might be able to
do the same for themselves. Sympathy and generosity for the less
lucky and privileged, then, will persist as reasons
why immigrants were let to come in.

Once landed, many an immigrant has pondered who in the Old
Country could he possibly persuade or pay to come over to help him
endure his loneliness and miseries. So, in millions of cases, the
reason for immigrating was to join somebody already here - clan
folk, cousins, siblings, husbands, pals, home-town, acquaintances,
paesani. This is an exponential phenomenon , please note: once the
bush is planted, it sprouts leaves ever more voluminously. In a decade,
a fecund seed can bring in thousands of its kind, almost the whole of a
clan or village or sect in many cases.

Employing classes, including housewives, could always get cheaper
help by hiring immigrants off the boat, up to the present time and
beginning right away. The western movements could thus be
tolerated. Otherwise such restrictions would have made sense much
of the time: to keep the fully adapted working class in place; to
ensure Indian rights; to develop natural resources less wastefully; to
educate and train fully the working classes; to develop exporting,
capital-earning industries more rapidly; and to be more
selective about immigrant applications.

The native population scattered to the winds and immigrants came in
to take their places. Aside from considerations of character,
religion, and cultural unfamiliarity, the immigrants coming in from
nearly every country were better workers and cost less than the
native equivalents. One to three decades in America usually reduced
the docility, assiduity, morale, and permanence of workers.

Language compatibility excepted, the continental immigrants in
most cases carried a richer bundle of cultural traditions and art
forms with them. This was especially true of the Mediterranean
peoples and the Jews, no matter from where they came. It may have
been true also of the Irish and German Catholics, who did not have
to try to wipe out or caricature a thousand years of religious history
as did the Protestants.

In the final analysis, however, the main reason why the flow of
immigrants to America was not cut off upon the birth of the nation
was that the immigrants were infinitely exploitable by employers.
To all the normal disabilities of the working class in all
occupations on the land, on the sea, in the cities,
when treating with the boss over conditions of work,
skills offered, wages, hours, promises of
promotion, etc., are added the special traits of the immigrants,
nearly absolute financial, linguistic, cultural, legal and
support-group fraternal helplessness.

Few employers in their right minds and a fixation upon the bottom
line have ever in American history from 1600 onwards complained
about the number of immigrants landing in their neighborhood.

One must greatly revise views about the usually scorned,
depreciated and lampooned Irish maid who, beginning in the 30's
somehow worked her way into American civilization, usually without
a man. She was the key factor in assembling a populous and
durable Catholic Church in America, bringing over or enticing her
family and the men, marrying and bearing children, supporting the
priests in a kind of professional social service worker group,
assimilating to the ways of her "betters" from the superior learning
standpoint of the household, and pitching in pennies that ended in
towering stone churches with their ornate symbolism and colored
giant pictures storying the gospels and the saints. Orders of nuns
came from the first and fulfilled "total care" facilities - a
pretentious concept that we seek to establish today but which came
from the first as the holistic belief system of the Church - meaning
that no problem was irrelevant and untreatable (even if unwisely).

Between 1821 and 1850 about a million Irish emigrated to America;
between 1851 and 1901, another three million came. The Irish home
population diminished from starvation, plague and emigration from
nine millions to three millions. Still its people remained practically the
poorest in Europe. The oppressive English government was so
ideologically committed to free enterprise, free trade, and self-help that
it stood by and let Ireland shrivel. A small Anglo-Irish landholding
class ruled the society.

The temper of the times was such that a million Irish could cross the
channel to live and work in England without raising insurrections
and even without bringing the English citizenry into a responsible
realization of their situation. Ireland was not the only victim of
Victorian imperialism, then at its height; India, Pakistan, China,
Africa were being economically exploited and
humiliated at the same time.

Catholic Irishmen were a great set of troublemakers, to listen to their
priests; they drank excessively, shirked work, fought
continuously among themselves and with others, whether the
occasion be politics, jobs, or simple rancor. The phenomenon faded
over time; it is not strange; driven from their homeland after long
defeat and oppression, held in contempt by the English and their
Protestant cohorts, failing where their women had a certain success -
a success that was itself despised because it served the descendants
of the oppressors - they frequently exhibited this syndrome of
bellicosity, alcoholism, machoism, inferiority-feelings,
hopelessness, and low working morale - a syndrome which was so
frequently discoverable among Black males of the American Northern
cities a hundred years later.

The Irish Catholic experience of adjustment to America was
the most painful of all European groups. The Chicago Evening Post in 1868,
a bio-generation after the first famine flood of immigrants,
editorialized, "Scratch a convict or a pauper, and the
chances are that you tickle the skin of an Irish Catholic.
In 1901 the Irish, meaning Catholic Irish,
had the highest ratio of inmates of any ethnic group in the
penal and charitable institutions of the country,
this despite the hard labor of the priesthood and the women to
keep the men in order. They sometimes held well over
half the jail cells and half of the insane asylums.
They were as often the victims of rioting as the provokers,
but the latter increased over time.
Indeed in the cities of the century from 1840 to 1940, the Irish
Catholic Celts acted a disorderly role that the Irish Protestant Celts
acted in rural America and on the frontier for two centuries.

I have spoken enough of Scots-Irish (the
unsuccessfully implanted Celtic residents of North Ireland,
commemorated there even in recent decades by the most heart-wringing
forms of terrorism) emigrating to America, and may be
spared further detail here save to comment that they continued to
come along with their hostile Celtic cousins continuously, for never
were conditions settled there, there never occurred a long period of
prosperity, never a rootedness beyond challenge.

As domestic workers, Irish women dropped out over time to be
replaced by Swiss, Scandinavians, Bohemians and few others, until
there ventured North the African-American woman and the
Caribbean woman in the twentieth century to replace them.

Immigrants poured in as docile rate-busters. They were ideal
therefore for householders and employers, who felt only rarely any
responsibility for conditions of work, old age poverty, health, future
earnings, education, etc. Some critics talked about the ignorance of
the immigrants, but in fact they were no more ignorant on the whole
than the indigenous Caucasian population.

When the time came to talk of educating the young, the taxpayers
did not have to worry about the cost of educating the adult
immigrants (many millions of people for whom schools did not have
to be built). Even so, the U.S. record did not compare favorably
with the progress in building European school systems that was
going on in the same period. Nor of course were the Blacks
educated at all until late. So an enormous educational reverse
subsidy was given to the U.S. in the form of non-education of
immigrants and Blacks, even while newspaper editors, politicians,
and even and especially educators were boasting of the American
public school system. When it did get established, it suffered by
comparison with its European counterparts.

The English who came early to America were more distinguishable
among themselves by cult, dialect, and location in the Old Country
than those who came in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The
reasons are clear. England was not the same country. In the interim,
England had grown to be a world power, it had become heavily
industrialized, it had lost most of its rural population, its religions had
been watered down, its occupations had become more specialized, it
had generated a great labor movement of socialist inclination.

German immigrants of the later nineteenth century, were,
like the English, far removed from the types who
came to America in earlier times. The new
immigration Germans were inclined to be industrialized,
militarily disciplined, nationalistic, unreligious,
socialist, labor unionists, and citified - much different
from the "old immigration" Germanics.

However, they, like the late English, were pleased
to be identified with mythical ancestral American types,
instead of the massive new immigration coming from
Eastern and Southern Europe, revealing their true colors,
of course, when it came to rivalries across the sea
between the German and British Empires.

Still, although the industrial English centers were a home for the Celts
from all over the islands and for the ruralites, the Scots were still
coming as Scots (and as lowlanders and highlanders: a rich lady of
Skye in 1884 sent three hundred poor crofters to join settlements in
North Carolina still tinged as Scottish after a century and a half in
America), the Irish as Catholic Irish, Ulsterites as Scots-Irish (or
Catholics). The Cornishmen came as such, devilishly clever tunnelers
after three thousand years of practice. The Welsh arrived as Welshmen
speaking Gaelic until well toward the end of the nineteenth century,
their musical voices resounding through the
deepening galleries of West Virginia and Pennsylvania as they
probed for coal.

Britain's wealth had become even more unequally distributed since the
American Revolution; the United States following the Civil War was
slightly less unequal and in line with Western European wealth
distribution generally. Britain had seen a remarkable development of a
sizeable uniform urban middle class claiming respectability, and a
laboring class that, too, laid claim to self-respect and manners. It had
gotten used to the awkward giant of a nation across the Atlantic. It had
also developed, along with other European nations, coal-powered
ships that churned back and forth regularly,
carrying thousands of passengers.

Its emigrants to America reflected all of these conditions. And they
were by no means few in number. In the nineteen hundreds several
millions entered the United States, half of them to stay, even when
they thought they might not, until it was too late. They were a
different breed from the earlier ones, modern rather than medieval
folk. Those who bought a steerage return ticket and took a season off
to make and save some money in America, or those who stayed longer
but did the journey often, were called "sparrows." In a few cases they
were men who had criminal records or had made enemies of their
employers or of their fellow workers and took the American way out.
A federal act of 1882 excluded immigrants likely to become public
charges, so a group of unemployed men and women who were shipped
over by the Duke of Buckingham were deported. In this one decade
alone, 1881-1890, 645,000 arrivals from England,
13,000 from Wales,
150,000 from Scotland,
and 656,000 from Northern and Southern
Ireland were recorded.

Most immigrants were men under contract or of trades, where the ever
more rapid communications of the times let it be known that a surplus
of jobs was occurring in the States. Englishmen who were skilled in
the silk-making processes preceded the factories, when English
employers, bankrupting from English free trade laws, moved to the
States with its tariff walls.

Often the "sparrows" were known to particular employers. Earning
more and saving a half-dollar a day would help a man bring home a
bit for his old age and presents for his children. Surprisingly when
times were good in England, workers would all the more emigrate
to America to get the higher wages there. And when times were
bad, they heard about hard times in America and stayed home. Thus
the growth of a world that operated in parallel also operated to hold
people in place when they might better have been moving.

Speaking English and mostly literate, they could angle for the better
jobs in competition with other foreigners. They had their troubles;
sometimes their class consciousness as workers put them into the
unionizing movements; more often they could be on the employers'
side as strike-breakers. They were prone to compare America
unfavorably with England in every respect except wages;
they felt that their working-class solidarity gave them
more liberty of conduct and speech in England than in America.

They found themselves often unsteady socially;
especially did they conflict with the Irish Catholics,
who were anti-English to begin with.
But then it was a kind of war of all against all among the
ethnic groups. The Welsh and the Scots, and so, too, the
Cornishmen all had their quarrels with the English, and with the
Germans, Irish, Scots-Irish, and various continental nationalities
now making their way into American society in large numbers.
Even in the past social generation,
from 1960 to 1990,
half a million British
(including, that is, Scots, Welsh, and Ulstermen)
emigrated to America.

The floods of emigrants of the times ran not only upon the USA.
Large numbers of British were emigrating to Australia, Canada and
South and East Africa. The Americas were the focus of most nations.
Italians, while seeming to prefer the United States,
emigrated in great numbers to Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and
elsewhere in the Americas.

The Age of the Steamboat made it all more possible. Ships became
larger and safer; methods of despatching, loading, packaging and
handling personnel on boats improved, and costs per ton-mile were
greatly reduced. Never before or since has crossing the Atlantic
been so cheap and easy. Too, profitable to the ship companies.
Steerage class passengers engendered more net income
than did First Class on the Titanic --
admitted, the accounts were not kept for long.

Between 1850 and 1914 (when World War I began), some forty
million emigrants left Europe out of a population totaling 400
millions on average. Thus one out of ten Europeans moved abroad,
and probably about one-fourth of the labor force, considering that
most of the emigrants were adult males. That the European
population continued to grow is merely another indication of the
superfluity of males when it comes to birthing. What America was
experiencing was only what all the European world was
experiencing, and this may have had something to do with the lack
of mass panic at the influx of newcomers.

Between 1846 and 1932 12.5 million British and Scots emigrated
from the Isles at the peak of imperial glory. At the same time, about
five million Germans left the towering continental power and its
unsurpassed scientific and educational systems. Some
5.5 million Irishmen left home. Eleven million Italians departed
from the elegant and famous peninsula and islands.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire was at the height of its power and
glory (until 1918), but 5.2 millions left,
mostly for America, comprising Austrians, Hungarians,
Bohemians, Slovaks, and other peoples. From Sweden
exited 1.2 millions; times had been terribly hard there over many years.
The Norwegians practically emptied their country, giving off 850,000
of their people. Canadians emigrated to the States at a rate of
ten per cent per annum.

The happiest country in the world (tremendous migrations were
going on in South and East Asia) would seem to have been France:
only 519,000 French left, mostly to go to African colonies and
various spots that favored them.

The ratio of immigrants to population coming in over the years was
actually fairly steady in America. The immigration rate (in relation to
total population excluding Indians but including Africans) had always
been high. In gross numbers, beginning with the decade of the 1840's,
the number neared and passed 2 millions. It exceeded five in the
1880's, reached almost nine in the 1900 decade, and topped
ten in the 1980's.

For a hundred and fifty years at least, the percentage of foreign-born
to be found in the United States ranged between eleven and fifteen
per cent, less than one in seven. However, the foreign-born workers
constituted on the average from about 15 to 23 per cent of the total
labor force. That is, for probably all of United States history, the
ratio of foreign workers to all workers was better than one in five.
The difference was owed to the fact that a majority of foreign
immigrants were adult workers and more of them worked than did
native Americans.

Here was an enormous capital contribution of the Old World to the
New. In 1871, David A. Wells, who founded the U.S. Bureau of
Statistics, estimated that the 350,000 immigrants coming in a year
had a value in labor of $300 millions. (At the same time, a billion
acres of arable land was still unoccupied.) Human beings, male for
the most part, brought in a value not only far in excess of all money
being invested in the United States, but also a value per capita much
larger than the average native American worker was contributing.

An estimate of material value added to the nation by the immigrant
generation in American history can be conceived. Add up estimates of the
Gross Domestic Product over the full history of the country, and
multiply the total by 10%, that is one/tenth, which represents the ratio
of foreigners to the United States population over the whole period.
The resulting total should exceed one thousand billion dollars.
A better mode of calculating will be revealed later.

For the whole history of America from the beginning, Europe, Asia,
the Americas, and Africa have then contributed in the nature of three
to four thousand billion current dollars in real human effort. If
Benjamin Franklin had been alive and hired as bargaining
representative for this great aggregate, he would have been
demanding something like these sums, plus retirement pay in lieu of
interest, plus inheritance of the property produced in the appropriate
shares, plus, you may be sure, a generous commission for himself
for results achieved. Great nations don't come cheap.

To conclude the fantasy, practically all of the American population of
today would be on a regular stipend representing one's
inheritance from his immigrant forbears, as well as whatever might
have been saved up by his largely improvident native American
ancestors. In this event, the nation would be over half-way to
solving its largest welfare entitlement and distribution problems. An
intelligent reform movement of the future might well develop the
fantasy to good end.

Fourth largest element of the American population today and more or
less so for the duration of the States' history, was the African. Just as
Whites of inexperience and prejudice complain that they cannot tell
one Chinese from another or one Black from another, there is a world
of ignorance of other features of African Americans. They
came from a hundred different subcultures and several giant cultures.
They varied physically in color, stature, hairiness, eye shape, etc., as
much as the Caucasian Europeans, but were rapidly miscegenated once
in America and forced to blend and forget their cultures. They lost
their groupness, and therefore today have to be sorted out individually
if one is looking for a typical Bantu or Guinean or another type.

The belief that somehow they arrived at the same early time is also
incorrect. Africans arrived continually from 1619 to 1865, and then
afterwards from the Caribbean islands in large numbers. Just in the
past generation nearly a million new Black residents have come to
America, from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, the United
States Virgin Islands (which of course are American citizens
anyhow), some from Puerto Rico and from Cuba or Panama, then
many from the Cape Verde Islands and even from other places, so
that the African immigration has truly continued throughout the
century and a half since the Civil War. The languages of the
African-Americans were basic and numerous to begin with, and
then transformed into the British, Spanish and French
varieties found until this day.

Nor ought we forget the pure Hawaiians, of whom there are only a
few thousands left after rapid and continuous inter-racial
miscegenation, and who are typically as dark-skinned as the typical
pure sub-Saharan African, but are classified as Polynesian in race.
The haoles (cf. Creoles) or continental Americans who settled in
Hawaii mixed frequently with the Hawaiians, whom they at the
same time ambivalently rejected and grew closer to, so that they
(and the Hawaiians) were both unfriendly to African-Americans,
resisting any stress upon resemblances, whether physical,
social, or historical.

Fifth most numerous of American elements is the mixed racial and
linguistic stock based upon Spanish and Indian. Here the main element
is the Mexican, several millions by origin and increasing rapidly.
Usually the Caribbean population is regarded as either Spanish or
mixed Spanish-African, but the Indian element in the Puerto Rican and
other Caribbean peoples is not to be overlooked. Although the
Hispanic populations represent the oldest European stock on United
States territory, the large numbers to be found on the continental mass
today are the results of recent immigration, proceeding still at a rate of
perhaps a million or more a year. The increase in Hispanic-Americans
in the single decade 1980-1990 exceeded the total
population of Sweden today.

Puerto Ricans have for a century come and gone as they pleased, and
it is a commentary on mainland American culture that most Puerto
Ricans preferred to stay on the Island rather than move North
to the land of higher wages and seemingly richer material
consumption. Mexicans began to return to the lands they had
formerly settled in large numbers in the middle of the twentieth
century, as migrant workers, as small farmers, as factory workers,
as poly-occupational citizens in the second and third generation
especially in places such as San Antonio, Texas.

Largest of all immigrant stocks is Teutonic, Germanophone,
Germanic. More Americans have enjoyed and suffered Germanic
ancestry than any other kind. Their national origins are manifold:
Palatinians, Hessians, Bavarians, Prussians, Saxons, Swabians,
Pomeranians, Austrians, and Alsatians, et al. Some 350,000
emigrants left Alsace following the German seizure of the
French-governed but generally Germanophone borderland
in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Perhaps two-thirds
of these refugees entered the United States and were
classified as German, although they were obviously not happy
with the new fatherland. Austrians were and
remained a nation apart, older as such than Germany.

These variegated origins may help explain why the Germanic
elements in America did not unite into a single great German voice
or culture, and why Germanic identifications did not cause much
trouble in the two great wars in which Germany was the enemy of
the United States.

But there was also the large fact, true of all immigration to
America, that the coming was basically an individual or small-group
perception, even when forcibly caused as in slavery or
convict-shipments. Ethnicity in its nationalistic aspect was
mortally wounded on arrival. In a score of ways -
cordially, spitefully, suspiciously, arrogantly, amusedly, worriedly -
the newcomers were asked
"How long is it going to take you to become a real American?"
And the answer in word and deed, also multiform, was usually
"Just as soon as I can."

There were occasional worries. Benjamin Franklin, an old liberal,
worked well with the groups of incoming Germans, as he did with
everyone, yet was afflicted with concern, and even asked for laws to
prevent the crystallization of Germanophone centers in the country. He
felt that his English heritage was the superior and ought to be the
standard for newcomers.

Precisely this sentiment demonstrates the point, that when an ethnic
group came in a large concerted body and settled in a single area, its
ethnocentrism would be fortified. On a large scale it could become a
problem. Except for the French of New Orleans, and the Hispanics
of the Southwest, the Pennsylvania "Dutch" did become the largest
most long-lasting ethnic body with linguistic homogeneity in the
United States. New Mexico's Constitution, when the Territory
achieved Statehood in 1912, guaranteed the legitimacy of the
Spanish language. By contrast, Nebraska, during World War I, sought
to annul the teaching of German, but happily it was rebuffed
by the Supreme Court.

Language is all-pervasive of life, not a collection of words.
The American central dialect or standard American has
much of the German in it, despite its freedom of expression.
Phrases, word frequencies, syntax and breath control,
along with gestures, eye movements, and facial twitches
have to be researched to complete an inventory of
linguistic influences. The phrase "hochzeit "
means literally "high time" in German,
while the nuances are the same in both German and English.
It is a big feast, a sacral affair like a marriage,
a ripe time to get something done - this last being the
familiar usage in American.

From time to time afterwards state and local movements sought to
discourage the use of languages other than English. They gave
unnecessary trouble. American English or the American language
developed a capability for absorbing foreign terms and coining new
terms (with the participation of the immigrants) that did not insult,
degrade or force the disuse of foreign tongues. The lowliest person
might feel that one was helping to shape the language. There was to be
no "Queen's English," such as the British never spoke.

Aside from the contribution of many words to the American
language, what was the effect of the huge Germanic immigration
and settlement upon American civilization? One might argue that the
effort to assimilate to American civilization, to recover from culture
shock, to gather in the new experiences, was so great that the
Germanics could not begin to contribute in due proportion to
American institutions, habits of thought, sophisticated or popular
culture. Partly true, this is also true of the settlers from everywhere -
Sussex and Essex included.

The larger truth is that the Germanics needed only to modify
tangentially American institutions in order to feel at home with
them. When the time came to revolt against them, they were in the
lead, as in the socialist movements in the nineteenth century.
Moreover, their influence in American education, philosophy,
science, and culture, both popular and sophisticated, was great, and
continuous for two centuries until now.

The Germanic effects were not as flamboyant as the English and Irish,
because they largely did not compete in the political circuses,
they were not so restless, they stayed longer with their farms and did a
better job of maintaining the country: one almost dare say that by
comparison with general farming practices among Anglo-Celts of the
country, the Germanic farmers kept America's farmlands viable for
over a century; they then were joined by other immigrant types who
were diligent cultivators.

The Germanics moved into the heart of the new industrial world with
less commotion than other immigrant or native groups of the same
times. They filled music halls as performers and audiences;
they peopled laboratories of the new science and the new
universities; they moved from labor into clerical jobs and
management. Not so colorful, troublesome, or reckless as the
Celtics, or the Italians, Jews, Greeks, and a dozen other types
for that matter, they were the prime movers of the country, and a
balance against any number of disasters coming from other sources.

Then two distinct arguments are to be added: they were often
discriminated against, especially during two world wars, at which
time their very presence and achievements were put down and
concealed. (Frederick Stock, to whom Chicago owed its first
symphony orchestra, and its conductor for many years, resigned
under pressure during the first World War; he came back later.)
Second, there has always been a large German culture in America
(just as there has been an Italian opera distinct from the large opera
houses and a Yiddish theater ignored until recently for its
achievements). A bibliography of the Pennsylvania Dutch and other
Germanic cultural influences contains over 9000 items.

The contributions of Germanism to functionalism and pragmatism is
large (the German in a favorite stereotype being the character whose
greatest joy is to exult, "I know how to solve your problem!"). The
transmission of the great German scholars, poets, and philosophers
occurred in part directly, but more through their actual vibrancy
within Germanic America, unknown to the Anglophone media and
population. Kant, Goethe, Schiller, Hegel, Marx and many another
world figure were part of Germanic America before spreading to
other parts of America, not excepting the top-ranking
intellectual centers.

It was not possible for the largest minority of the heterogeneous
population, and the best educated upon arrival and thereafter,
to have submerged its leadership, culture, and language to a
preponderantly British-affected American culture
without a rankling effect.
Yet this tension has usually not been obvious.
Perhaps it has not been obvious because it has been
suppressed and not studied.

Often, the Germanic, like the Italic, or the Hispanic, or the
Hungarian, or for that matter one of the several British types, has
had to descend into cultural proletarianism before coming to the
surface in the new American culture, but, too, all too frequently,
this cultural ascent never happened and we had a less
cultivated type coming from the transformation of
Dr. Jeckyll into Mr. Hyde.

This difficult problem of socio-pschological adaptation was
not unknown to English immigrants until today,
who were continually asking themselves,
"How much must I give up to be an American;
how consciously and deliberately should I be trying to
make America itself distinct? Or should I be asking myself, how
little need I give up of my English heritage and behavior and
speech to be an American?"

In this brief book, neither the Germanic nor the English question can
be answered. What has happened in recent years is that many an
American, no matter how far removed her or his foreign roots, has
been impelled into self-consciousness by the ever-variegating
demography of the country and by the proliferation in the elites of
professional, academic, industrial, political, and other circles of
representatives, of groupings that had been temporarily unqualified,
submerged, and disregarded.

Culture shock, or something akin to that, will occur to a third
generation American, grandchild of the immigrant, a Greek-American,
say, who from a lower-class environment suddenly
discovers not only a sophisticated Greek-American set, but also
finds this group to be closely associated with the general American
network at a high level.

Even more common has been the awakening of Irish Catholics,
whose Catholicism had been of the blue-collar or police milieu, to
the existence of a fully Americanized cosmopolitan Catholicism
with, for them, a startling new philosophical, historical perspective,
a veritable new culture.

One may take another example from Swedish experience.
The original Swedes of Delaware are practically lost to sight. The
million Swedes who came to America beginning in the middle of the
nineteenth century headed West by Northwest. One small group led
by a minister ended up at Bishop Hill (actually originally
Biskopskulla), in Western Illinois, in 1846, and sent encouraging
messages back to would-be emigrants, who then came in larger
numbers. Erik Jansson, the founder and leader, was killed several
years later by an irate parishioner.

The colony endured, with a population of over a thousand and now of
over a hundred, but with a newly revived sense of the Swedish
heritage, reported to consist of about 65% of the population
roundabout in some part at least. It has joined the national pastime
of roots-recovery: remodeling, refurnishing, refurbishing, emulating
material culture and cuisine of ages gone by, a purposive and
meaningful antique collecting, but effectively more - as an attempt
to broaden American culture, to equalize in a sense the weights
given to the past from different sources.

The chintzy and the cutesy are there, to be sure, but the citizenry of
little Bishop Hill can also point North to larger
Scandinavian-American achievements, creation in part of the great
University of Minnesota, for example, but,
too, in part, of the whole Northwest.

As for where the Swedish leaves off and the rest begins, or vice
versa, it is well to remember that people are very much alike
wherever they come from, and most of what they do in the course of
their lives is alike to begin with. A little push here, a shove there, a
slight innovation here, another there, a new manner, a new word, a
blending is on its way, until the naked eye cannot detect
ethnicity by attitude and behavior.

The earliest Jews of America were refugees from Iberian
persecution, and became individual and small-group traders with
families and with extensive international and interstate contacts. The
German Jews who formed part of the German early nineteenth
century migrations made the first large impression upon the country.
The German-Jewish association remained fairly close - despite
many disgraceful anti-semitic episodes in Germanic history and
despite the arrival of over a million Russian-Polish Jews of
markedly different ways - until Hitler ruthlessly cut the connection
when he came to power in 1933. Jews were prominent in the
Germanic community of Cincinnati, as I've said, producing clothing
and shoes, by advanced forms of manufacturing and distribution,
in meat-packing, and in trading generally.

In fact, associated with every immigrant ethnic group from Europe and
the Near East except the Italian, Irish and Scots
have been Jews, separated from their co-travelers
by two thousand years of uneasy relations, punctuated by
massacre and discrimination. By this very fact, they could adapt to a
new culture more quickly, casting off old associations in favor of the
new. Jews differed from one country to another, but shared long
memories, and a religion that Christians, born from it,
refused to let wither on the vine of the
Enlightenment and modernity.

As is said on occasion, "Had the Jews never existed, they would
have had to be invented." (And they were often just that, invented.
Interestingly - and disgustingly - the Japanese who lacked totally
any direct experience with Jews, have a considerable anti-semitic
and anti-anti-semitic literature, as if they could not bear to witness the
European world alone treasuring such nonsense.)

The most deeply prejudiced Americans, settled or incoming, were
Central and Eastern Europeans, including Germans. Often,
however, revivalist sects thought to add an anti-semitic verse to their
clamor for a new heaven on earth. Often, too, as the Jews
descended en masse from Baltic Sea ships, in the last third of the
century and the first decades of the twentieth century, anti-semitic
cries would be taken up, some of them, incredibile dictu, from the
mouths of well-fixed Jews of the old immigration, even in editorials
of the New York Times, owned and edited by a Jewish family from
Cincinnati named Ochs, which became after a while probably the
world's greatest newspaper, certainly the fattest.

The stupid and incorrect inscription on the Statue
of Liberty was written by Emma Lazarus, herself part of a
rich family of establishment Jews, who must have viewed
her co-religionists and the others of Ellis Island with disgust,
their resembling the look of prisoners of war and refugees,
after the trauma of departure, steerage, and
processing like animals upon arrival.

Snobs discovered that, by making a distinction between Sephardic
Jews (those hailing ultimately from the Iberian Peninsula) and
Ashkenazi Jews (those descending from Russia), they could admit the
former to polite society and the Germanicized Ashkenazi as well.
With all immigrant groups, ex illo tempore, as I frequently
suggest, from the original time, there was a component that no one
would wish to be identified with.

The Eastern Jews had some of the habits of their neighbors, the
Russian and Polish serfs - "Quiet, Cattle!" cried the great Polish
pianist Paderewski one time, addressing an unruly crowd of Poles
gathered to demand independence from Russia, and
peace reigned -liberated now in law but still..., and
some of the habits that come from treating with serfs for centuries,
uncouthness, roughness, untidiness, grasping for a deal,
wariness of being the target of cheating and beatings -
by all classes of the population.

If Jews had been content to pass a generation or so in America sticking
pigs or cleaning streets, their passage into American Nirvana would
have been less noticeable, but their unquenchable thirst for
learning and clever enterprise led to their appearance on many a
scene without having transposed the proper decorum - as portrayed in
the wonderful (to viewers not up-tight) Marx Brothers cinema
phenomenon. (The Marx family came from Alsace.)

Objections were raised and are raised by eminent authorities and by
Jews themselves, because these were on each and every side of every
question, that Jews were a religious group, while others said that they
were of many nations and should be treated as ethnics of that nation,
and still others, that they should be regarded indifferently,
"just like other Americans." Of all American ethnic
groups, the Jews were the most varied, carrying, as they did,
genetic and cultural elements from every land. Despite all such
arguments, contemplation of the comings and goings of Jews in
history leads one to term them a nation everywhere else, and only in
America, and not without some hesitation, in terming them an ethnic
grouping along with all the others, characterized by various
distinctions and separateness, and probably destined to remain more
distinct and ethnic for a longer period of time than most other
groups except for the Chinese and African, but for different reasons.

Earlier Jewish strata added up to 250,000 at Civil War's end.
They seemed to be overwhelmed by the Polish-Russian
Jewish immigration after 1870 and continuing until the present time.
The new immigrants startled the old, first by appearing in such
seemingly catastrophic numbers as to threaten the
social peace, then by assimilating so rapidly, that they became more
"American" than the older group. They were, however,
troublesome and troublemaking from various points of view,
addicted to over-performance and success,
and to new ideas that were super-American
and supra-American.

Already in 1908, though 2% of the population,
Jews figured as 13% of the law students, 18% of pharmacy,
and 6% of dental students. Discrimination in
medical schools was heavy but finally gave way
after fifty years to admit the flood.

Jewish Americans produced in two memorial generations
(130 years to 2000) more than any other American component -
relative to numbers, probably 15 times more
than the English, Celtic, Italic and Germanic,
the largest four from Europe -
in the fields of poetry, literature, the performing arts,
the fine arts, social and natural science, medicine,
law, financial and business practices, banking, philanthropy, social
reform, the mass media, including publishing, music (except for
African-Americans), and education.

This did not end the Jewish effect, which had probably not yet
climaxed as the twentieth century neared its end. The most educated
and culturally productive immigration in history came with the Jews
who managed to escape the Nazi mass murderers in the years between
1935 and 1945.They came from Germany, Austria,
Hungary, indeed from all Europe. Together with those who got out
of the Stalinist communist countries after 1945, they numbered over
a quarter of a million persons.

Largely owing to its Jewish elements and influences,
America was transformed on its more sophisticated levels
into the leading cosmopolitan culture
by the end of the twentieth century,
a culture all of whose leading parts were integrated --
science, arts, literature, learning,
social attitudes, global interests, and even religion --
which at the same time was more nationally centered
in scope and derivation than the so-called nationalism
of the end of the nineteenth century.

Rather like East European Jews in some respects -
Mediterranean traditions and traits, volatility and emotionality, more
brunette than the Northern Europeans, cold minds beneath, frequent
slight stature, close familial ties, and unfamiliarity with the booming
industrial world - Italians came with twice the numbers, but about a
decade later on the average. They were largely of agricultural
occupations, unlike Jews, who pursued mercantile and crafts
occupations. The Slavs and Hungarians, with whom Jews were
associated when immigrating and in language, were generally of
agricultural background and used to dealing with Jewish merchants
and craftsmen.

The Italians came as Catholics or anti-Catholics, less devoted than the
German Catholics, Irish, Bohemians, Slovaks, Croats, and Poles as
such, and often distrusted by some of these because they were
backsliders, and yet suspected of being favored by the Italian
papacy. They were almost entirely from the Southern provinces of
Italy, once world-class in culture and life-style, but now beset by
poverty and social strife - Campania (Neapolitans), Calabria,
Abruzzi, Puglia, with numbers from here and there in the North,
but especially from Sicily.

Some brought guitars, mandolins, violins, cornets, piccolos,
and accordions. They came mostly with hands inured to picks and
shovels. They came from sulphur mining, from fishing, from arid-land
agriculture and horticulture. They had all the trades of the
traditional village, little sophistication of the modern mine and
factory (although it was the bitter miners' strikes and the
insurrectionary and anarchic troubles of Sicily that sent
hundreds of thousands of Sicilians to America
late in the nineteenth century).

They brought on the one hand their campanilismo, a dedication to
only what was within hearing of the village churchbell. They brought
on the other hand up-to-date ideologies of anarchism and socialism,
and the perspectives of the Italian-led universal Catholic Church. From
their ancient Mediterranean cities they brought also an urban
gangsterism to be inspired by and compete with the rural and city
gangs flourishing already in America.

When one Sicilian gang assembled in New Orleans to control the
harbor rackets there, several of its members were savagely killed by a
lynch mob along with other jailbirds who were innocent, in the
belief that they had murdered the Chief of Police,
himself no sweet-pea, who had been probably done in
by local gang foes with high connections. This was in 1893,
and along with several less spectacular incidents,
helped to earn a questionable reputation for
Italians, with their Sicilian-led gangs, later called mafiosi and "the
mafia" and "mobsters" and "the mob." Louisiana authorities who had
solicited the laborious and competent Sicilians for the sugar industry
desisted thereafter, but not before a large immigration had taken
place; within a political generation an Italo-American, head of
the political machine, was elected Mayor of New Orleans.
The main setting for Italic activities was
elsewhere and will be referred to in due course.

Italians reinforced the Germanic thrust in music, the Jewish
juggernaut in film-making. They built an expansive following for
the "Mediterranean diet," low on cholesterol, high on salads and
pastas. For every Italian who quit spaghetti for steak and potatoes,
ten other Americans swooped it up. Imports of
Italian pasta doubled between 1990 and 1994;
per capita consumption reached 20 pounds a year.
Zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, fennel, salami, and
pizza pies were several of half a hundred
foods that zoomed in popularity.
In California, embraced by a Mediterranean
climate, the immigrants hit their stride in agriculture.
Had they been directed Southwest to the New Mexico and
Arizona territories - or even to Georgia,
as President Theodore Roosevelt suggested, to regenerate
agriculture - they might have had more fun in the first
and second generations and worked wonders with the region.

But the industrial and transportation giants and the East Coast
sweatshops had first call on them. And after that business:
restaurants, construction, trucking, produce marketing, wastes
disposal, the docks, fishing, liquor and entertainment, and then
Catholic institutions, school-teaching, medicine, the protective
services, law and politics, a broad occupational spreading patterned
after the Irish and Jewish models, less than either and on a smaller
scale, but some of both.

Despite the agonizing conditions of early modern cities of America,
the brutal and exploitative industrial system, and the nearly complete
absence of social facilities to help the population, the Irish, Poles,
Italians and others like them did not suffer the ordeal of the Chinese in
settling America. The Chinese were one of the saddest cases, yet
ultimately triumphed. Brought over under contract as work gangs for
railroad construction, mining and other labor-intensive jobs, they were
isolated, underpaid, mistreated, overworked, given no rights -
practically total victims. Many were murdered. They responded early
in atypical American ways. They were thrifty. They remained sober.
They were non-violent. But then typically, they smuggled, gambled,
and opened houses of ill fame. They paid bribes to have their families
brought in and to get other Chinese in. (Very often a Chinese
American would have two parents: his natural parent and the one in
America who brought him in as a son under changed name.)

Some 75,000 Chinese were to be counted in California at
mid-nineteenth century, mostly of Cantonese origin, one-tenth of the
people of the state, when a self-proclaimed liberator of the White
race, himself an Irish immigrant named Kearney, aroused the public
with a White man's party so-called, and the Congress was stirred to
pass an act explicitly excluding Chinese from debarking upon
American soil. (Later it was extended to bar Japanese.)

These indignities on top of all others did not impede the progression
of the contract laborers from China and Japan in California and
Hawaii from moving out into society and establishing businesses and
farms that were models for the population at large. Finally after
World War II, oriental exclusion was repealed and immigration
resumed on a legal basis (it had never ceased illegally). A cultural
outburst from the East Asian groups then occurred, rendering them
extraordinarily creative in American arts, media,
science and the universities.

Religious persecution - although basically a cultural,
anthropological, ethnic hostility on the part of the Turks with some
response, too, from the Armenians - brought the Armenians to the
brink of genocide in the early years of the twentieth century.
Luckily, America's gates were still wide open and a million crossed
the ocean from the Caucasus and Anatolia. Strongly Christian, in
their own orthodoxy, the Armenians introduced a profoundly varied
near-oriental culture to America that affected food preferences and
artistic styles here and there - like everything else brought to
America ingested, adapted, but still a small fraction indeed of the
giant culture complex. Lebanese in large numbers came to the
States, too. They had been mostly Catholic Christian in a land mostly
Muslim, but dominated by Christians with French as well as
Arabic their language.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was splendidly productive in the arts
and industry in the nineteenth century, but wracked by ethnic
quarreling and warfare. The Empire should have given itself an
acronym, perhaps, to which all might belong, such as HAPSJIBBS,
indicating a partnership of Hungarians, Austrians, Poles, Slovaks,
Jews, Italians, Bohemians, Bosnians, and Slovenians, while indicating
the dynasty as the Hapsburgs. All of them professed strong
dissatisfaction with the ruling elite and had on
more than one occasion arisen in rebellion.

The Empire finally deceased in 1919, but had lost millions of its
subjects to the United States - to Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, a
hundred cities of the North, the mines everywhere - coal, copper,
iron, stone, the large construction projects under way in the cities such
as sewer systems, subways and roads. As with the Italians and most
others, they were farmers and manual workers, and the shopkeepers
and artisans who migrated with these often found themselves behind
the times, in America, therefore unemployed, therefore consigned to
harder, dirtier work. They made up a large part of the Iron Age
industry work force. They labored in the slaughterhouses and
packinghouses. Artisanal skills became well developed -in
printing and metal-working, for example. They supported heavily
the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party organization,
and were surprisingly conservative, given their
tough lot in the economic system.

One marvels at this distance of a century and more how this
multitude made its way. And there were also the Greeks to account
for, a million legally and illegally entering, in shipping, as seamen
(who, like their predecessors since before the Mayflower, could
jump ship and disappear until surfacing as Americans), as
shopkeepers and restaurant-keepers, as laborers, too - modern, not
recent, America was built up from the pick and shovel. Thence they
moved into store management, government and politics - "We were
the world's first democrats!" forgetting the social structure of
Athens - and a broad range of occupations and professions; like the
Jews, and to a certain extent like typical Italics, they refused to be
denied any role that others were playing.

Filipinos came, another half-million, many pausing or staying in the
Hawaiian Islands as plantation workers, then into the service
occupations in the continental States, forming communities in many
western and Northern cities, and developing shortly the usual social
group pyramid of wealth, skill, welfare and respect. A noticeable
change occurred with the immigration of East Indians; so many of
these were professionals that the first questions were raised about the
brain drain, the taking away from a foreign country of its highly trained
and badly needed personnel by better working conditions and higher
(though not equal to native) pay. Then, too,
came the Koreans and Vietnamese and the Caribbean
peoples - Jamaicans, Dominicans, Cubans - many others.

Cubans always had a foothold in Southern Florida,
but, with the exodus from Castro's socialist dictatorship,
they came within a political generation (two
biological generations) to constitute most of a million
Floridians and the same number elsewhere in the USA.
In Dade County, containing Miami, they held the
top elective offices, headed the police and
prosecuting arms, and were prominent in banking, real estate,
law, and politics - where they elected half the
county and one-third of the federal legislators.
They energized Anglo-Hispanic art and literature.

Almost everyone who came to America was compelled to come by
circumstances or authorities. Exceptions were romantics, including
utopians, and persons of high skills targeted to particular places or
jobs. Once settled and adapted they would increasingly resist the idea
of returning or emigrating elsewhere. Typically an ethnic
arrival-aggregate would split within the same generation into
"go-native" who sought to dissociate themselves from all but a token
ethnic identity such as everyone else might be said to possess, and a
fundamentalist "nostalgic" core that, for reasons both obvious and
subtle, donned the mantle of the Old Country and solicited attention,
favors, respect, and even allegiance from the "go-native" and
general population, claiming to speak for the foreigners from "the
Old Country" on issues of public policy and respect.

The offspring of both would generally feel the grip of America more
tightly, to such an extent that the difference in the "patriotic grip" on
Americans of any two generations of ancestry was from the earliest
times practically negligible. There are many proofs of this statement:
personal and group protestations; intense ritual observances; military
records; cases of treason; literature; letters; biographies and
auobiographies; testimonials; attitude tests; and public opinion surveys.

The phenomenon, though associated with similar behavior in
Canada, South America, and Australia, is uniquely grand in its scale
and complexity. The obliteration of ethnic ties is difficult even over
centuries, and to have it occur on a massive scale in all important
respects within a generation or two is perhaps the largest unique
achievement of the United States of America. (Comparative studies
need be made on this question: France assimilated large numbers of
Poles after World War I; furthermore, its Southern provinces are
heavily populated by well-assimilated recently arrived Italians. The
Italians who went to Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil in great
numbers took no more than two generations to become
indistinguishable from the citizenry, or the citizenry to become
indistinguishable from them.)

Although "Kearneyism" like "McCarthyism" was endemic in
America, the rhetoric of accommodation and assimilation always
prevailed. Even in the Southern states the infrequency of immigrants
through the years was more a product of the racial conflict
overhanging Southern life and of poor economic opportunities than
of direct and general persecution of foreigners. Strangely, the
individual foreigner has usually been more welcome in Southern
circles of his or her type than one would be in the North. It was a
Virginian, Congressman John Page, who called attention to the
appeal for "asylum for the oppressed of all nations," and said in the
agitation over the Alien and Sedition Acts, "It is nothing to us,
whether Jews or Roman Catholics settle amongst us; whether
subjects of Kings, or citizens of free states wish to reside in the
United States, they will find it their interest to be good citizens, and
neither their religious nor political opinions can injure us, if we
have good laws, well executed."

In after-chapters, as in the foregoing, the antecedents of achievers of
the American story may be identified. Two points may be added to the
treatment that they have received thus far. One concerns the effects of
the various waves of immigration insofar as they altered the course of
American culture and politics. The second bears again upon
accommodation and assimilation.

The average American and the various parameters of the physical
appearance of the American, have changed. They have never been
properly conceived anyhow. The average American today (and one
must insist upon including women and children in the average) has
achieved a grand stature of about 5 foot, 4 inches. The average natural
coloring is brunette, with brown eyes; the average
voice is a high tenor.

The per capita income per year in current dollars is $7000.00
(1995). The average adult American has had 10 years of education,
and is occupied in a service job, reads half a book a year, has 1.2
siblings. Most American young live in households without two parents
present. Few Americans know their four grandparents or
even their four family names.

The average American eats an old-fashioned heavy diet with lots of
eggs, milk, beef, white bread, Coca-Cola and ice cream, and
watches several hours of television daily. Most adult Americans do not
vote in most elections. Nor do they know the name of their
senators and congressman.

(My reader is sophisticated in the game of playing with averages, so
will appreciate that the above averages, although true, are adduced in
order to crack socially damaging mythical averages.)

It is highly unlikely, given our survey of American history thus far, and
knowing what is to come, that this average American has been made
or remade by any of the waves of immigration (including the first
boatload to row ashore), or is likely to be, by any large coming, except
the descent of a flock of angels from heaven. Yet the American is
different. One's habits and appearance have changed and will continue
to do so. But the principle of social inertia operates strongly. The total
culture keeps treading along heavily, and practically nothing socially
imaginable can turn it one way or another or stop its progression.

The principle of gravity also gives us a metaphor. When an
individual or a group - a large wave of immigrants, say - descends
upon the American culture, it is like an airplane and Earth; the
theory of gravity holds that the plane attracts Earth just as Earth
does the plane, but so vast is Earth that the plane will have no
appreciable effect upon its movement; it seems to be all one way.

Much more can be learned about such matters than is now known.
How much more quickly did America take up classical music and
science owing to the impact of the heavy German migrations. How
much more quickly did it alter some dietary habits owing to the
appetizing examples of incoming Italians, or the Japanese now
for that matter? How much has the American novel - now
contending for world supremacy - gained from the Jewish

What have English, not to mention Jewish, German,
Canadian, Chinese, Indian and other immigrants, done to advance
the study of nuclear forces and their applications? (One recalls the
coded disguise telling Washington by telegram during World War II
that at the University of Chicago, the first successful nuclear chain
reaction had occurred: "The Italian navigator has landed in the New
World," referring to Enrico Fermi and Cristoforo Colombo.)

A vast systematic research can be visualized that would be at least as
interesting as most large historical projects. Very likely, the
immigrant generation will be shown to have been unusually
productive, while suffering the most and often robbed of credit for
its accomplishments. I think of the hundreds of tricks that miners,
masons, builders, gadgeteers, publicists, writers, teachers, and
others have brought over and introduced into the mainstream or
tributaries of American culture. And subsumed under the rubric:
"Yankee ingenuity, " that conjures up Henry Ford and Robert Frost.

Now the question is accommodation and assimilation. The
immigrant accommodates. He or she somehow gets by in daily life
and from year to year (but recall the high rates of mental illness
among the Irish and other immigrants). Accommodation is an
impermanent state, and no body of American opinion has wished for
an immigrant group simply to accommodate; accommodation is
taken for granted. What most Americans ask for has always been
assimilation. Assimilation means merging into the behavior and
attitudes of the culture in a thousand ways, permanently.

By the theory of gravity mentioned above, it also means that the
assimilating party, behavior, attitude, trait, if it is forceful enough, will
impact and change the larger culture. But most of the time,
assimilation evidences movement by the newcomer rather than the
culture group into which one assimilates.

American history has shown (we might as well admit the future here)
that no group and no personality type is non-assimilable. The American
culture is an omnivorous octopus: it catches, swallows, and digests
everything that comes within reach of its multitude of
tentacles, and it has a large brain. A problem with assimilation
though is that many immigrant habits and ideas
are good, originally better than the American ones and
they are lost upon assimilation: what is to be
done about this? Perhaps all that can be done is
by way of education and publicity in the media:
de-emphasize assimilation as a hodge-podge of trivialities,
and give force to the particular preferable conduct and
attitudes being brought into the country by foreigners.

The process of assimilation, the ancient Romans said, goes from
commercium to commensalium to connubium: from commerce, to
sharing the dining table, to intermarriage. Taking into account the
hundreds of ethnic groups in America, the factors that most
influence whether any two persons, female and male, in the
population, taken at random, deal, eat together and share intimacies
are chance factors: who lives next to whom; the occupational factor:
who works next to whom? the educational factor: who goes to
school with whom? the family factor: who has been marrying whom
in the past? the fame factor, the prestige factor, the power factor,
the wealth factor: who shares the same amounts and kinds of these
values? the religious factor: who goes to church together? the
compatibility factor: who gets along with whom, who are congenial?
the lust factor: who turns whom on?

When all of these are multiply correlated, they will show many
relationships of one to the other. Ethnicity is one of these; a
person's ethnic background will always have been related to all of
these, and therefore there will have been a correlation within
ethnicity, such that persons whose ancestors came from Bath or
Kilarney or Naples or Frankfurt or Naxos or Omsk or Sierra Leone
or Juarez will find themselves more commonly connected in all
ways than if one's folks had come from another place.

The mix is stirred by social mobility of all kinds, and
as the number of enclaves in American life diminished and
continues to do so, the full measure of assimilation increases.
While, after 1960, many more people have spoken against
the melting pot and favorably about ethnic values, the processes
of amalgamation and assimilation have gone forward.
For example, the resistances and incompatibilities of Jew
and Gentile, Hebrew and Christian, might be expected to reduce
intermarriage and consorting to a low figure.
On the contrary, the rate of intermarriage alone, clocked at
15% in 1950, reached 60% in 1990.

For the whole of 260,000,000 Americans (reaching perhaps 300
million in the next century), even if immigration moves at an annual
rate of a million, probably 95% of all third-generation or earlier
Americans will be of mixed ancestry, before the granddaughter of
one's granddaughter gets to telling her little grandchild the whole
story. The remainder will be unmistakably American in culture.