HISTORY CORNER: Coming to America



Millions of people around the world have left their ancestral homes to come to America, believing that their lives would be better and that they could build their American dream.

“People come here penniless but not without culture,” said Mary Pipher, bestselling author and clinical psychologist. “They bring us gifts. We can synthesize the best of our traditions with the best of theirs. We can teach and learn from each other to produce a better America. “

Many of these immigrants correspond to the “congested and weary masses yearning to breathe freely” inscribed on the Statue of Liberty and written by Emma Lazarus – whose great-grandfathers were Jewish immigrants from Germany and Portugal.

Anthropologists say that the first ancestors of Native Americans were actually the first immigrants, who came to Alaska from Siberia by the land bridge that once existed across the Bering Strait, and predated Europeans by some 12,000 years.

During this long period, they migrated through what is now North and South America, developing their diverse cultures, communities and civilizations.

This journey was often a struggle for survival in the midst of nature and humanity.

Immigration remains a controversial and controversial social and political issue.

Immigrants are those who come to a foreign country to live there permanently. The early explorers were not all immigrants. And those who followed and stayed to build communities, raise families and live their lives were not always successful.

Ponce de León and Jamestown were the first examples in American history:

Ponce de León was a Spanish nobleman, very much in favor of King Ferdinand II who appointed him governor of the eastern province of Hispaniola and then first governor of Puerto Rico.

Then he began to search for a fountain of youth believed to be on Bimini Island, although most historians doubt this story.

During his travels he found himself on the east coast of Florida near present-day St. Augustine in 1513, believing it to be the island. Eight years later he returned with two ships and 200 settlers, intending to found a colony there.

This failed, however, when local natives attacked the party, fatally injuring León with an arrow in the thigh. He was taken to Havana, Cuba, where he died a few days later.

It was the Spaniards who brought the first African slaves to America, landing them in St. Augustine, the first European colony of the future United States.

“When Pedro Menéndez de Avilés established Saint Augustine in 1565, he was accompanied by free and enslaved Africans,” said the National Park Service. “They worked on the first fortifications, sawn timber and built several structures, including a church, a forge and an artillery platform. They also cleared land for planting and harvested the crops. “

In 1619, slaves were also brought to Jamestown in the Colony of Virginia, England’s first successful permanent English colony in colonial America. Founded in 1607, it lasted almost 100 years and was not abandoned until after the transfer of the colony capital from Virginia to Williamsburg in 1699.

These Jamestown slaves were captured in Angola and chained aboard a Portuguese ship transporting them to Veracruz, Mexico, when it was intercepted by two British privateers flying the Dutch flag, owned by the Duke of Warwick.

Twenty or 30 of the slaves were taken to Jamestown and sold.

In 1680, there were approximately 7,000 Africans in the American colonies, and that number increased to 700,000 over the next century. Finally, Congress banned the importation of slaves in 1807, but people continued to do so anyway.

Dark circumstances at home are almost always a catalyst for immigration.

Since the end of the Roman Empire, Europe had been plagued by the turmoil of warring nations and battles between Church and State. People were exhausted and life was dark.

Then things got better with the Renaissance, followed by the Enlightenment which the German philosopher Immanuel Kant described as a time for “Dare to know – and have the courage to use your own reason”.

The discovery of the “New World” opened the door to endless opportunities which still continue.

In Europe, people seeking more freedom, better economic opportunities and living conditions, greater social mobility and escape from danger, oppressive governments and religious persecution have started to leave for American soil – some to join their families. and their friends who had already emigrated.

The first wave of immigrants to America took place during the colonial era of the 1600s until the Declaration of Independence – this era dominated by the British building their colonies, as the Industrial Revolution approached.

The Pilgrim Separatists in England undergoing religious persecution escaped to Holland, and then finally arrived in America on the Mayflower, landing in Plymouth, Mass., In 1620.

Ten years later, an even larger Puritan group also fled England for similar reasons and began to settle in Massachusetts Bay, their number reaching 20,000 in the first decade.

At the same time, French immigration to the New World took place throughout the 1600s, starting with explorers looking for a sea passage northwest to Asia, and they were followed by the French colonizers – all failing.

Explorers found no passage to the northwest, and colonizers trying to start settlements across eastern North America from Canada, the Great Lakes to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico also failed at first, mainly because of weather, hostile Indians, disease, disease and conflict with other competing European powers.

Eventually, the French colonies survived and more and more colonialists arrived, both in modern Canada and in the present United States.

During this period, the British and the Dutch had similar stories to tell.

This would be in the 1800s, when the United States saw a huge wave of immigrants that continues to this day – though occasionally interrupted by wars and economic conditions.

A plague on potatoes in Ireland in the 1840s caused famine and disease, and coupled with indifference to the dire situation by the ruling British government, prompted 1.5 million Irish to leave for America, where they prospered, despite initially facing prejudice and discrimination in employment.

Europeans joined the flight from political unrest at home and were joined by Chinese immigrants drawn by the gold rush of 1849.

They too faced prejudice and considerable violence because they were willing to work hard for low wages, in competition with other workers.

They eventually prospered – primarily in mining, helping to build the country’s rail system, and in commerce.

Soon the Japanese, Filipinos and other Asians also came to America.

By the late 1800s, more Europeans immigrated to the United States – Germans, Scandinavians, Italians, Greeks, Poles, Slavs, Russians and others, including Jews from many countries, fleeing persecution.

In 1892, a major immigrant processing center was established on Ellis Island near the Statue of Liberty. When it closed in 1954, they had welcomed some 12 million immigrants.

After World War II, American policies changed and the doors to immigration began to open more.

More immigrants began to arrive from southern and eastern Europe, third world countries and Asia.

“Whether our ancestors came here on the Mayflower, on slave ships, whether they came to Ellis Island or LAX in Los Angeles, whether they came yesterday or whether they traveled this land a thousand years ago. , our great challenge for the 21st century is to find a way to be one America. We can meet all the other challenges if we can move forward as one America, ”President Bill Clinton said.

Radio icon Rush Limbaugh commented, “When they got here, when they managed to emigrate – and all those who came through Ellis Island weren’t accepted… If you were sick, you weren’t. not allowed to enter. If you had a disease, we were trying to eliminate all those diseases.

“We did it by keeping the people who had them out of the country. You might think of it today as “Wow, that was really nasty! “

“No, that was putting America first. It put the American people first and it was a realization that we can’t take everyone. “

Today, a survey by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, DC, states: “With about 14% of the population born abroad, about as many Americans want to increase immigration ( 29%) than to decrease it (33%)… Thirty-eight% want it to stay the same.

Immigration will undoubtedly be a controversial topic on the American scene for a long time.

It is safer to talk about the weather …

• • •

Contact Syd Albright at [email protected]

• • •

The ancestry of the Trump family …

Donald J. Trump is the son and grandson of immigrants – German on his father’s side and Scottish on his mother’s side. On October 7, 1885, Friedrich Trump, a 16-year-old German barber, purchased a one-way ticket to America in order to escape enlistment in the military. Less than two weeks later, he arrived in New York City and finally made a small fortune. Over a century later, his grandson became the 45th President of the United States.

– History.com

History of the Irish potato …

The first wave of Irish immigrants arrived in America mainly because of the potato famine in the 1840s. These potatoes were not originally from Ireland. The Englishman Sir Walter Raleigh brought them to Ireland in 1589 – after the Spanish conquistadors of the 16th century met them in Peru.

Ellis Island menu for immigrants …

“Ellis Island Dining Room Price List, November 19, 1906. Breakfast: Coffee with milk and sugar, bread and butter, crackers and milk. Dinner: beef stew, boiled potatoes and rye bread, smoked or marinated herring for Hebrews, crackers and milk. Supper: Baked beans, prune compote and rye bread, tea with milk and sugar, crackers and milk.

Ancestry Nationality in Idaho …

Of the nationalities reported, most are: German, English, Irish, American, Scottish, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, French, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Scottish-Irish, Swiss, British and Scandinavian. The remaining 43% are listed as “Other” or “Unclassified”.

– Statistical atlas

Spanish slavery laws …

As early as the 13th century, Spanish slave laws granted slaves certain, but very limited, rights and protections derived from ancient Roman traditions. Known as Siete Partidas, these laws were not based on race and established means by which slaves could become free – noting that slavery was an unnatural condition, “For God had created man free “.

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