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The Mobilization of Immigrants in Urban America*
    by John Higham (Volume 31: Page 3)

* This paper was originally presented at a conference at St. Olaf College, October 26-2 7, 1984, on “Scandinavians and Other Immigrants in Urban America.” The present article is a revised version of the paper as it was published in the proceedings of that conference.

Early in the twentieth century sociologists inaugurated the scholarly study of immigrant communities in urban America. A whole new world came into view, especially well disclosed in the masterpiece by William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America. {1} Historians, however, paid no heed. The discovery of the immigrant as a major theme in American history was made later, in the 1920s, and made by historians with no interest in urban sociology. It was made not in great cities like Chicago or New York but rather in midwestern state universities by young scholars still close to a small-town or rural background, who had gained their essential vision of American history from Frederick Jackson Turner. Between the two world wars the “Turnerverein” (as it was affectionately called) was so preeminent in our discipline that a Greek from Milwaukee, Theodore Saloutos, made his reputation as a student of American agriculture and shifted only in the 1950s to the history of his own forebears. The immigrants who fired the imagination of historians in the 1920s and 1930s were those whose odyssey could be understood as part of the westward movement - people who belonged to the earth like Antonia Shimerda in Willa Gather’s Nebraska and Per Hansa struggling to endure the Dakota plains. The pioneers of American immigration history, above all Marcus Lee Hansen and Theodore Blegen, gave an international sweep to the Turnerian theme of the impact of the natural environment on the people it receives. This approach connected American history with European history; yet it left the familiar motifs of the American story undisturbed. {2}

A specifically urban approach to immigration history - by which I mean a focus on processes of social interaction in a dense and complex milieu - awaited the discovery of urban sociology and anthropology by historians whose own roots were in the great cities. By the 1940s a new generation, for whom the Turnerian vision of the American past would no longer suffice, was emerging from the graduate schools. Among these “asphalt flowers” (to use the sobriquet some Turnerites applied to them) was Oscar Handlin. His doctoral dissertation, Boston’s Immigrants, published in 1941, offered a model of how the insights and methods of sociology could be adapted to the materials of American history. Guided by a sociological understanding of ethnic communities, Handlin looked - as no historian had before - at how immigrants coped with the process of urbanization and how a major city changed under the stress of their coming. {3}

After this superb beginning, progress was curiously slow. In the next two decades only one comparable monograph attempted, as Handlin’s had, to embrace the multiethnic structure of an American city at a significant moment of transition; and this second effort was an implicit warning of the difficulty of the task, for it touched on too many disparate matters to make a strongly focused argument. The tremendous complexity of the modern American city discouraged comprehensive studies. An adequate successor to Boston’s Immigrants materialized only in 1962, when Handlin’s student, Moses Rischin, published The Promised City, but limited his subject to the experience of a single ethnic group, the eastern European Jews. {4}

Several more of Handlin’s early students studied immigrants in urban or industrial contexts, as did some of Merle Curti’s. {5} Gradually scholars overseas - activated by the spread of American Studies and the widening horizons of modern history - were attracted to the history of European emigration. Sources were close at hand, and the subject touched their own national histories in vital ways. Although foreign scholars have written mostly about the backgrounds and movement of emigrants, their contribution has been essential and is being continually enlarged. {6} Leadership, however, remained in the United States, and in the late 1950s it visibly waned.

Addressing this problem some years ago, Rudolph Vecoli ventured a partial explanation. In that expansive era after World War II, Vecoli pointed out, dazzling opportunities for academic careers were opening up for urban Catholics and Jews who could identify themselves with a professoriat that had previously been out of reach. Instead of studying their own origins, these newly arrived academics demonstrated their fervent commitment to the goal of assimilation by giving ethnic history a wide berth. {7} To this I would add a further thought. The process of assimilation was in actuality proceeding so rapidly and widely in the 1950s that even some scholars who were not escaping from their origins became doubtful of the enduring significance of ethnic differences. In the atmosphere of the late 1950s I myself found ethnic history less interesting than I had a decade earlier, and moved away from it.

Another factor that retarded the development of immigration history in the 1950s and 1960s was the paradigm that shaped the general contours of American historiography during those decades. Reacting against an earlier fascination with deep-cutting social conflicts, leading historians now reveled in discovering underlying uniformities and similarities. {8} By incorporating the immigrants within a national consensus, historians stripped away much of their differentness.

If young scholars were first attracted to the story of the immigrants - as I was - because it vibrated with dramatic social contrasts, a perspective that reduced the salience of those contrasts could only be discouraging.

Three examples suggest how the erosion occurred. During the 1950s Oscar Handlin turned against the view of the immigrant as an outsider, “a foreign element injected into American life.” {9} Instead, he cast the immigrant as a type of American, undergoing as all Americans have a painful but liberating transition to modernity and freedom. By the 1960s Handlin was writing mostly about the American character and American institutions, and so were his students.

One of the earliest of those students, Rowland Berthoff, had begun by studying British and Slavic coal miners in America. In 1960, after some years of unexciting toil, Berthoff found his own way to display the whole of American history against a medieval background. He has never gone back to the mines. {10} At the University of Minnesota two years later Timothy L. Smith launched a wide-ranging study of eastern European immigrants with special reference to their assimilation. His chief contribution was to trace the immigrants’ pursuit of the American dream back to predisposing experiences in Europe, experiences that made their entry into an American mainstream virtually foreordained. {11} This approach stimulated some valuable research, but it yielded a history that was peculiarly free from conflict. After a decade of study of the history of migration, Smith returned to the history of religious beliefs.

Thus for several decades the leading scholars in American immigration history emitted an ambivalent message. They called for research in a new field that seemed strikingly different from what historians had customarily studied, yet the lessons they extracted from it simply reinforced the conventional wisdom. Historians brought a new group of characters onto the stage; but the new characters usually behaved in accordance with traditional scripts. Immigration historians needed a perspective that could accentuate the distinctiveness and therefore the differentness of their subjects.

Not until the late 1960s did such perspectives become widely available. Against a tumultuous background of riots and protests the consensus paradigm was severely shaken. A new insistence on the power and persistence of the ethnic bond came to the fore.

Again social scientists led the way. Nathan Glazer and Daniel P. Moynihan inaugurated in 1963 a sustained critique of the melting-pot idea, a critique that became more and more insistent in the late sixties and early seventies. Beyond the Melting Pot argued that Americans are not and never have been a single people. Ethnic differences, originating in peculiar cultural inheritances, become fortified in the course of time by diverse economic and political allegiances. Ethnic groups survive not only as cultural vehicles but also as interest groups. {12} Here was a perspective that young historians, disillusioned with the promise of assimilation and aroused by the collapse of consensus, had been waiting for.

The resulting production of specialized scholarship on dozens of American ethnic groups has been abundant; and most of this outpouring has concentrated on the urban world from which our younger historians now largely derive. Even some of the earliest immigrant groups - the Palatine Germans and the French Huguenots - have now been studied in urban settings. {13} It is not easy to say what general conclusions these studies yield, but four special features that many of them share may be identified.

1. Intra-ethnic conflicts. Historians during the last fifteen years have diligently explored many disputes and rivalries within groups previously seen as more cohesive: struggles between generations among the Japanese, between tongs and other rival societies among the Chinese, between secular nationalist and Roman Catholic leaders among the Poles, between Uptown and Downtown Jews, between socialist Finns and church Finns, and so on. {14} Ethnic scholarship flourished in the 1970s as a means of particularizing identities. It exposed the cleavages that abstract ideological labels had obscured - labels such as American, Catholic, Indian, Negro, or even German-American and Italian-American. What mattered now was the tangible community of shared experience within sub-groups like Italian-American working-class women or the members of a German Catholic parish. Accordingly, serious scholarship did not often substitute an idealized ethnic nationalism for the Americanism it was undercutting. Some of the more fervent ethnic studies programs failed to appreciate the double-edged character of this particularizing imperative which made the divisions within an ethnic sector as vivid and significant as its overall identity. But a recognition that internal conflict is part of the life of every community was widely characteristic of the scholarship of this period.

2. Contrasting responses of different ethnic groups to the American milieu. Until the 1960s immigration historians had generally avoided making comparisons between ethnic groups. Such comparisons were thought to be invidious, potentially inflammatory, and misleading in view of the presumed dominance of environment in human affairs. Boston’s Immigrants had featured a striking cultural contrast between the Irish and the Yankees, but Handlin had thereafter shifted to a more inclusive style of generalization, and the contrast was not followed up. But the pluralist mood of the 1960s finally legitimized the explicit examination of ethnic differences, and Glazer and Moynihan in Beyond the Melting Pot provided a bold example of the attractions as well as the dangers of such inquiries.

Simultaneously the opportunity materialized to probe these ethnic responses to American life at an altogether new level of scholarly rigor. The sudden popularity of quantitative methods, which historians had not hitherto used, enabled them to investigate the strategies of different groups in a way that demanded a hearing. The ethnocultural school of political historians, springing from the pioneering work of Lee Benson and Samuel P. Hays in the early 1960s, made clear how the cultural and religious traditions of various groups affected their political behavior. {15} From the point of view of the immigration historian much of this work had an important limitation. It was designed to explain how the American political system has worked; it was not intended to contribute to a larger history of the ethnic groups, and thus it did not probe the relation of politics to other aspects of their communal life. But historians who are primarily interested in ethnicity have begun to do just that. {16}

Another quantitative discipline that has encouraged the comparative study of ethnic groups is historical demography. Beginning with Stephan Thernstrom’s doctoral dissertation, Poverty and Progress (1964), historians learned how to use unpublished census schedules and other records of private life to reconstruct the decisions that immigrants and others made about the size and character of their families, the education of their children, and the work they did. Thernstrom showed that the Irish differed significantly from the older American working class in the trade-off they made between education and the acquisition of property. Josef Barton then showed that the Slovaks differed in similar ways from Italians and Rumanians, and so on. {17}

These quantitative studies of mobility and adaptation addressed a central question that had fueled immigration history from the beginning. How have immigrants joined in the American pursuit of success, and to what avail? Measuring the material and social advancement of one generation over the previous one was extremely fashionable for a few years but then seemed increasingly out of place in a climate of opinion that scorned the old myths of assimilation and progress. After the mid-seventies a reaction against mobility studies set in. This happened, I believe, because such studies demonstrated too much success to fit the prevailing critique of the melting pot. Mobility studies had been born out of a sympathy for failure as much as a respect for success; they had offered a means of putting defeat and achievement side by side. Pluralistic historians cooled rapidly toward such studies when Andrew Greeley and Thomas Sowell used them to demonstrate that all ethnic groups succeed in America sooner or later. {18}

3. A search for ethnic continuities. In challenging the homogenizing myth of the American melting pot, immigration historians in the last two decades have looked hard for distinctive traditions, customs, and capabilities that did not yield easily to assimilative pressures but instead sustained a group in its encounter with a new and alien land. None of our immigration historians has produced a study of cultural continuity that is as powerful as Lawrence Levine’s Black Culture and Black Consciousness or as imaginative as Herbert Gutman’s The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, {19} but many have worked along the same lines. Some have examined sympathetically the continuities imbedded in religious beliefs and institutions. Others have shown how sturdily the immigrant family coped with the shocks of migration and how strongly it molded the next generation. In what may be the finest book in this mode, From Italy to San Francisco, Dino Cinel takes a dialectical approach to continuity and change, pointing to ways in which Italian emigrants strove to hold on to a crumbling world and in doing so found the strength to make a new one. {20}

Numerous historians have traced ethnic continuities into the sphere of work - some to explain the immigrants’ choice of occupations, others to account for the way workers responded to the kind of discipline they encountered in factories and mines. Especially influential has been Herbert Gut-man’s theory that what he calls “premodern values,” brought to industrial America by a constant influx of newcomers, account for much of the resistance of workers to employer demands. {21}

4. The relation of ethnicity to class. The fascination of many historians in the late 1960s and 1970s with questions of exploitation and injustice inevitably called attention to the problematic relation between ethnic loyalties and class struggles. Following up ideas that Gutman borrowed from E. P. Thompson, historians of labor and of radicalism have probed diligently for the contributions specific ethnic groups have made to wider movements of social protest. {22} This line of inquiry meets considerable resistance from more traditional Marxists, who regard the emphasis on culture and ethnicity as romantic traditionalism and propose that labor history should concern itself more largely with political and economic power. {23}

While labor historians have disagreed about the importance of ethnicity, as a group they have been fully aware of the significance of the issues it poses for them. Immigration historians have been more parochial. Few of them, at least until recently, have looked squarely at the problem of class. In the 1980s this situation has begun to change. Independently of one another, John Bodnar and Olivier Zunz have proposed what seem to me exciting new interpretations of the coalescence of previously distinct ethnic groups into a white working class in the twentieth century. {24} Their interest in class formation can lead us beyond the labor historian’s preoccupation with class antagonisms. Nevertheless, it remains true that immigration historians, unlike their colleagues in labor history, have not yet joined in any ongoing debate or theoretical argument on the interaction in American history between ethnicity and class. Why this is so deserves an explanation.

A simple answer might be that the influence of Marxism and other economic theories has long given labor history an aggressively interpretive edge that immigration history does not have. Immigration history has drawn on the less systematic concepts of empirical sociology. For immigration historians the basic question has always been the question of assimilation - the extent and direction of it, resistance to it, and myths about it. {25} In asking this question immigration historians have ordinarily concentrated on the immigrants’ behavior and have tended to view American society “as a constituted and integral whole.” {26} Understanding the changing structure of the larger society has not been, for immigration historians, a major objective. For labor historians it has.

As a means of contrasting the intellectual antecedents of two fields that now find themselves occupying common ground in the study of the American city, this explanation will do well enough. But something more should be said to account for the special condition of immigration historiography in the 1960s and 1970s. Historians of American ethnic groups during those years were simply less interested in the shape and structure of the host society than their predecessors had been. Under the spur of the ethnic revival, historians turned inward. Each tended to become a specialist in one particular group. In studying the chosen group, scholars reaped a harvest of knowledge about specific ethnic institutions, responses, and attainments. As to how those phenomena might have altered a larger context, very little was said.

The exceptional attraction of this internal approach to immigration history in the period just past becomes dramatically apparent in looking back at the four features of the period that I have just reviewed. The study of intra-ethnic conflicts, the comparative study of immigrant reactions to the American environment, and the search for ethnic continuities: all three of these features gave priority to what was happening within the experience of particular groups. The fourth feature - relating ethnicity to class - leads outward from the ethnic community to the larger society; but most of that job was not done by immigration historians. All in all, it seems fair to say that during the ethnic revival the scholars who opened to us so much of the inner world of the immigrants left their impact on America largely unexamined. In the 1980s a renewed assessment of how immigration and ethnicity have affected other aspects of American life belongs near the top of the agenda of immigration historians.


Rather than survey the numerous ways in which the impact of immigrants on urban America needs reappraisal, I have chosen in the remainder of this essay to dwell on one that has never received the attention it deserves. People make themselves felt in a society on many different levels, some complex and subtle, others blatantly obvious; some fully intentional, others unplanned and unforeseen. The most forceful and outspoken demands for power or influence occur when previously apathetic or uninvolved people are aroused to feverish activity and intense commitment. This is what I mean by ethnic mobilization. It is a good place to begin to look at the immigrant as a causal agent in American history.

In recent years the concept of mobilization has come into fairly widespread use in political science and sociology to designate the process by which submerged elements in society attain political consciousness and begin to make political demands. {27} Historians have occasionally employed the term “ethnic mobilization” in talking in a very general way about the formation of group consciousness. One speaks, for example, of the “ethnic mobilization of what became America’s immigrant peoples” as beginning “in their homelands.” {28} For my purpose ethnic mobilization does not refer to the genesis of ethnic consciousness or to its earliest political expression. Instead, I have in mind a more advanced stage of militancy.

Not every ethnic group in America has experienced a militant phase, nor have all sections of a group participated in the militancy when it occurs. But mobilization can be a contagious process, and I shall therefore concentrate on those dramatic occasions in American history when two or more ethnic minorities have joined in a common struggle. On such occasions mobilization sweeps across some ethnic boundaries, then stops at others, and thus reveals like a bolt of lightning the geography of discontent. To study ethnic mobilization as historians have studied other recurrent phenomena, watching it rise and fall, spread and contract, and take new forms as it taps new demands, is to observe how insecure minorities have striven at certain times to shape the course of history.

Since mobilization requires an internal change in the people it activates, one might suppose that it should have attracted considerable interest during the ethnic revival. That it did not may be partly attributable to the conventions that govern the writing of ethnic histories. The prevailing historiographical convention assumes that each group has its own separate history. That history is thought to consist of certain prescribed stages, which vary little from one group to another. The common pattern begins with the origins of the group, the reasons for its departure from the homeland, and the form its migration took. The second stage is the creation of a community: finding an area of settlement, gaining a livelihood, and transplanting essential institutions. In the third stage the ethnic community matures. The historian accordingly devotes successive chapters to a topical treatment of various aspects of its developed life. The fourth and last stage concerns the survival and/or decline of the ethnic group in later generations. Mobilization can sometimes be discovered, if the reader ferrets it out, in aspects of the third stage and even the fourth; but the overall sequence of stages does not lead us to expect it. Quite the reverse: the history of each single group unfolds through an inner dialectic of growth and adaptation. Mobilization, however, springs from external incitements that strike a group in a particular state of ethnic readiness. To study mobilization is to study the foreign relations of ethnic groups with one another. It is to move decisively beyond the particularistic parameters of the immigration history inspired by the ethnic revival.

To readers of Scandinavian background a warning is in order. In what follows, the Finns are the only Scandinavian nationality who play a prominent role. Other Scandinavians are conspicuous by their near-invisibility. Although further investigation may show that I have unjustly neglected some Norwegian or Swedish involvement in inter-ethnic mobilization, on the surface the very limited participation of Scandinavian Americans in the great episodes of ethnic assertiveness seems an important and hitherto unnoticed feature of their American experience.


Mobilization depends crucially on leadership. It is hardly surprising that the earliest significant mobilization of European minorities occurred in the sphere in which a vigorous inter-ethnic leadership first came into being. Only in their religion did the immigrants in antebellum America have a leadership willing and able to challenge existing institutions. In the 1840s and 1850s Catholic immigrants rallied behind their priests and bishops to oppose the Protestant character of public education in towns and cities where they were sufficiently numerous to have some effect.

Surprisingly little is known about Catholic efforts to alter the public schools in the mid-nineteenth century or about the counter-mobilization of urban Protestants in the Know-Nothing movement. Although we now have good studies of the development of public education in those years and some valuable political analysis of the Know-Nothing party, {29} the basic confrontation of Catholic and Protestant has not been reexamined on a national scale since Ray Billington wrote The Protestant Crusade in 1938. What we know is that a tremendous surge in the growth of the Catholic population - increasing 142 percent in the 1840s alone - coincided with a growing belief among older Americans in the necessity of a unified public school system to maintain a stabilizing morality in a highly volatile society. The common school emerged in the mid-nineteenth century as one of the essential symbols of American nationality. Immigrant Catholic leaders, however, loathed the state schools that threatened to separate children from their parents and their pastors. In the early 1850s Catholic clergy and the Democratic legislators who represented them began to agitate for a cessation of Bible-reading in public schools and the allocation of a share of the public school funds to parochial schools so that the taxes Catholics paid could be used to support their own institutions. {30}

Nearly everywhere these demands were repelled. In the cities Protestants remained in control of the public schools. Although this first mobilization seemed to fail, the bloodshed and animosity it produced taught both sides a lesson in pragmatic accommodation. Catholic authorities were much more cautious thereafter about taking political initiatives. School boards, for their part, gradually made the public schools more attractive to Catholic parents by informal concessions on curricula and textbooks. {31}

Another major mobilization of immigrants in defense of their culture occurred from 1889 to 1893. This time the immigrant coalition was wider than it had been in the 1850s. German Lutherans were roused and joined forces with Irish, German, Polish, and French-Canadian Catholics. The basic alignment of immigrants upholding their specific heritage against Protestant nationalists who insisted on greater cultural uniformity was unchanged, but the issues were broader. Prohibition was at least as important as the school question, which entailed for many Lutherans and Catholics a special struggle to retain their language. But the chief difference between the mid-century phase and this later phase of cultural mobilization was the strictly defensive character of the latter. By 1889 the immigrants were simply protecting the institutions they had painfully built in the preceding decades.

Why did the school problem revive in the late eighties, unprompted by the kind of initiatives that immigrant leaders had taken in the 1850s? One explanation stresses Anglo-Protestant alarm at a vigorous expansion of the Catholic school system, which the bishops had ordered at the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884. {32} Another explanation, one that accounts better for the prominence of German Protestants in the new mobilization, is that the outside world was closing in on ethnic enclaves in a sudden, unexpected way.

Two sets of demands for greater state control of private life converged on Republican state legislators in the late 1880s. One set, originating among evangelical Protestant women and reformers, called for some form of local or statewide prohibition of the liquor traffic. According to Richard Jensen, the prohibition question became the paramount local issue, year in and year out, throughout most of the Midwest and large parts of the East. {33} A second set of demands, though less noisy, was actually more explosive. It came from professional educators who wanted more effective supervision and centralization in education. Compulsory school laws, already enacted in half the states, had never been enforced. At least partly to enforce school attendance and prevent child labor, Illinois and Wisconsin in 1889 enacted laws requiring children to attend a school approved by their local board of education. The laws further stipulated that certain basic subjects should be taught in English. {34} To ethnic groups whose survival might depend on the local autonomy American institutions had always allowed, prohibition and the regulation of private schools seemed frontal attacks on their culture and their rights as parents.

The new school legislation envisaged only limited regulation. Why it deeply outraged vast numbers of immigrants may be hard to understand unless one bears in mind the wider alarm in late nineteenth-century America over a loss of independence and a decline in local autonomy. Old-stock Americans as well as immigrants felt that great forces beyond their control were invading their communities. {35} The intrusive, centralizing state that evangelical Republicans sponsored presented to Catholic and Lutheran minorities a threat similar to that which the “trusts” were beginning to pose to other Americans. Through the Democratic party the immigrants rallied to defend their “personal liberty.”

Their triumph was stunning but short-lived. Beginning in 1889 with dazzling victories in Iowa and New Jersey, the Democrats swept state after state where temperance and school issues were central. They repealed the new school laws in Illinois and Wisconsin, turned back the prohibition movement, and in 1892 rolled up huge majorities in German, Swedish, Italian, Polish, and Bohemian districts. {36} For the time being, the parochial schools and the saloons were safe. After repelling the Republican onslaught, though, the immigrant coalition quickly broke up. Quarrels between the major ethnic groups within the Catholic Church, having subsided somewhat with the united front of the early nineties, flared up with new bitterness. In politics the depression of 1893 sidetracked evangelical moral reform and turned attention to national economic issues on which there was no ethnic consensus. {37} The party loyalties of many immigrant voters weakened. When the depression lifted, the political system of the northern states was firmly in the grasp of a nationally oriented middle class. In most of the larger cities outside the South the Republican party had gained a clear predominance. Among the ethnic groups that had supported the Democratic party so vigorously in the early nineties voting now declined substantially; the newer immigrants entering the United States voted even less. {38} The mobilization of ethnic dissent by a major political party was out of the question for a generation.

So the cultural battles of the nineteenth century subsided in a tolerable truce, and ethnic militancy shifted to different terrain. While the political defense of religion and culture slackened, many immigrants threw themselves into movements for control of the workplace. They endeavored to mobilize as a class. Whether to join in the struggle or to stand aloof was the first critical decision that the new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe had to make after deciding to stay in America.

At least from the 1840s European immigrants had decisively shaped the American labor movement. Since many northern European immigrants arrived in America with experience in industrial crafts and with a well developed class consciousness, they joined trade unions readily and rose quickly to leadership. The Germans, for example, comprised 36 percent of the Chicago trade unions in 1886, though they were only 22.5 percent of the Chicago working class. {39} But while the immigrants brought stamina and dedication to American unions, disharmony between ethnic groups discouraged industry-wide organization. Working-class action was confined to the narrow and immediate objectives of autonomous craft unions. In 1897 just 2 percent of those gainfully employed outside of agriculture were organized.

By the turn of the century this modest figure doubled; a momentous change was under way. Between 1897 and 1919, two great waves of unrest rippled through the motley ranks of semiskilled and unskilled workers from southern and eastern Europe. Total union membership in the United States soared from 447,000 to more than five million, or about 16 percent of the labor force outside of agriculture. {40} The first of the two waves of unrest, extending from 1897 to 1904, began among the Slavic coal miners in the anthracite fields of eastern Pennsylvania, where the uncharacteristic perseverance of the strikers apparently owed a good deal to a legacy of peasant insurgency which rebellious priests who formed the Polish National Catholic Church brought from Galicia. {41} The second wave began in 1909 among immigrant steel workers at McKees Rock, Pennsylvania, and among Jewish and Italian women in the shirtwaist shops of New York. Here again the embattled workers had at the outset, within their own ethnic groups, leaders who brought experiences and radical convictions from the Old World. The McKees Rock workers included several veterans of European radical movements, who constituted themselves an executive committee to stiffen the equivocal stand of the American skilled workers. The shirtwaist-makers gained the backing of the rising socialist movement on the lower East Side and most especially of new emigrés who came to America after the failure of the Russian Revolution of 1905. {42}

To stress radical leadership is inevitably to call attention to the gathering strength of the Socialist party during these years, and particularly to the importance of its foreign language federations. The largest of the federations, proportionately, were Finnish, Slovenian, and Jewish. They grew not because of, but almost in spite of, the national leadership of the Socialist party, which did little in the early years of the twentieth century to cultivate its new-immigrant constituencies. Their activation sprang directly from European socialism through the migration of young Marxist firebrands who, on fleeing to the United States to escape arrest or military service, established the first socialist clubs and newspapers for their respective nationalities. {43} World War I brought this immigrant radicalism to a culmination. The foreign language federations swelled to 35 percent of Socialist party membership in 1917, then to 53 percent in 1919. Carried over into peacetime, the apocalyptic mood of the war years nerved the immigrant masses to attempt against all odds to unionize the steel industry. {44} When the great steel strike of 1919 failed, immigrant radicalism collapsed. The era of class mobilization was over.

How shall we account for the fervent militancy of those years? Obviously the presence of dynamic leadership will not by itself explain the tremendous response that came forth from hundreds of thousands of vulnerable little people, who put their livelihood, and in some cases their lives as well, on the line. Historians are far from having answers to such questions, but there may be an intriguing clue in the curious fact that a third type of ethnic mobilization emerged in the climactic years of class mobilization and reached a peak at the same time. This was nationalist mobilization.

At various times in American history members of one or another ethnic group have organized to affect the destiny of their homeland. {45} These efforts may be intense, but ordinarily they occur separately and have only scattered, episodic effects. The First World War was unique in exciting passionate nationalist movements among a dozen ethnic groups simultaneously, each resonating to the others and all together awakening in the usually fatalistic immigrant masses a level of collective expectation that was unprecedented. Thousands of Poles, Serbs, Czechs, Slovaks, and Jews returned to the Old World to fight for the nationalist cause, many of them in special units whose exploits were followed eagerly by their compatriots in America. Although the number of German-American publications declined, the rest of the foreign-language press increased about 20 percent between 1914 and 1918. Nationalist heroes like Ignace Paderewski, the famous Polish pianist, and Thomas Masaryk, the exiled philosopher-statesman of the Czechs, toured American cities. In Washington ethnic lobbying designed to influence the peace settlement became, for Jewish Zionists, Ukrainians, Yugoslavs, Italians, Greeks, and others, a new style of politics. {46}

None of these mobilizations was more impressive than that of eastern European Jews in behalf of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. For almost two decades before World War I little Zionist societies had been helpless in the face of the Jewish immigrants’ overwhelming preoccupation with their new American home. “America is our Zion,” intoned the principal Jewish spokesmen, to which the socialists added, “The world is our fatherland.” But the outbreak of war created such enormous needs for relief, both in Palestine and in eastern Europe, that anxiety about divided loyalties was swept aside. In this context of concern for fellow Jews dislocated by war, Zionism acquired an American relevance. Linking itself with the Wilsonian ideal of national self-determination, the goal of a Palestinian homeland for Jews suddenly seemed almost as American as apple pie. It gained the endorsement of President Wilson, widespread public sympathy, and the fervent support of the Jewish immigrant masses, who began through Zionism to exercise a new influence in American Jewish affairs. {47}

Similarly among American blacks the First World War transformed a previously inconsequential ethnic nationalism into a spectacular mass movement. Through Marcus Garvey the flickering vision of an African homeland suddenly became, in the black ghettoes of America, a palpable prospect. Like the socialist agitators who came in the same years from southern and eastern Europe, Garvey arrived in 1916 from Jamaica to proselytize among West Indians in Harlem. His primary object was to gain support for a conservative racial improvement society he had founded at home. Only after the United States entered the war did Garvey comprehend the messianic power of the nationalist idea. Identifying Africa as the subjugated homeland of blacks everywhere, Garvey began to link the redemption of his race in America to the creation of a powerful black state in Africa. “The Irish, the Jews, the East Indians and all other oppressed peoples are getting together to demand from their oppressors Liberty, Justice, Equality,” he pointed out, “and we now call upon the four hundred millions of Negro People of the world to do likewise.” {48} Before Garvey, the principal black protest movements had not reached much beyond an educated elite. It remained for a flamboyant Jamaican immigrant - attuned to the international scale of the ethnic ferment in American cities - to galvanize a million urban blacks into collective action. {49}

One of the attractions of nationalist mobilization was the usually welcome visibility it gave to ethnic groups yearning for greater recognition on the crowded stage of American life. Rallying opinion and raising funds for overseas projects produced countless public demonstrations: receptions for representatives from the homeland, mass meetings to pass resolutions and secure pledges, musical festivals to display a cultural heritage, and, above all, parades. In reporting these events, general-circulation newspapers were sometimes noticing for the first time the local presence of an entire community that had earlier been largely invisible. {50} After the United States entered the war, government agencies worked to orchestrate the ethnic campaigns in the interest of a united war effort; that led to still greater visibility. When Liberty Loan officials in 1918 organized a monster Fourth of July parade up Fifth Avenue in New York, the notion of demonstrating the loyalty and affinity of every nationality to the American cause proved so popular that the original roster of forty-four participating groups expanded to sixty-four. A ten-hour procession, numbering altogether 109,415 marchers and 158 bands, included American Indians, Haitians, Liberians, Japanese, Zionists for the Jewish Nation, Parsees, Russians, Carpathians, and Americans of German Origin. The Poles won first prize for the best floats, but the judges also commended the Assyrians, the Bolivians, and the Americans of German Origin. {51}

In this wartime tumult of reverberating patriotisms, what scope was left for the mobilization of a working class along lines of economic self-interest? The standard view of American history, with its heavy emphasis on the repression of dissent during the war years, suggests that class action was sharply contained. It is true that the war brought governmental intervention and manipulation here too; but whether that vitiated labor’s organizing drive is another question. While federal authorities scourged the socialists and syndicalists who opposed the war, the great majority of unions received unprecedented governmental support. After a pause on the eve of the war, the mobilization of immigrant labor resumed at a high level through unionization of war industries. The appointment of many labor leaders to governmental boards and commissions gave the labor movement a new kind of civic recognition, which prompted some unions to claim (to the disgust of employers) that Uncle Sam was on their side. {52}

Even the illiberal aspects of wartime nationalism did not immediately dampen the fervor of class mobilization. To be sure, nationalism competed against a radical class consciousness for the loyalty of the immigrant masses; a deadly enmity divided nationalists from socialists in many ethnic groups. But the rivalry temporarily stimulated both forms of consciousness. In the 1917 municipal elections Socialist candidates running on anti-war platforms made heavy gains in large industrial cities like New York, Chicago, and Cleveland, where European immigrants were strongly entrenched. {53} The class and nationalist mobilizations of the Progressive Era drew a common strength from a basic urge to change the world. Both movements inspired a collective vision - one promising to realize in a new way the old dream of America, the other to redeem the homeland as well. The two awakenings shared a millennial hope, and thus each contributed to the ambiance in which the other flourished.

It is little wonder, then, that ethnic radicalism and ethnic nationalism went down in a common defeat in 1919 and 1920. For a decade thereafter both labor union membership and the number of strikes dwindled year by year. {54} Within the various ethnic groups radical organizations withered; nationalist agitation virtually collapsed. Even the Zionist movement, now greatly shrunken, survived only by becoming a purely philanthropic venture. Most historians have attributed the decline of radicalism to repression, while blaming war-weariness and fractional quarrels for the fading of homeland issues. {55} But simultaneous demobilization on both fronts points also to a common cause: a general surrender of grandiose ideals.

What remained for the immigrants and their children was their lives in America. Although limited in many ways by prejudice, poverty, and cultural barriers, the southern and eastern European groups gradually acquired - through home ownership, naturalization, and education - a modicum of stability and social integration. By the end of the 1920s a second generation, born in America, substantially outnumbered the immigrants themselves in most of the new-immigrant communities. As the second generation moved out of the narrow world of its parents, it became the spearhead of the last and greatest mobilization of European immigrants. To use the language of the day, this was a mobilization of New Americans, pushing for wider access and fuller acceptance in the world around them. {56}

The origin of this last mobilization lay in an experience no previous generation of European immigrants had undergone. The New Americans grew up in a country that had turned decisively against large-scale immigration, a country that no longer wanted any more of their kind. The American-born children of the immigrants felt the stigma of inferiority more keenly than their parents, for the children were largely Americanized and had little consciousness of an older heritage. {57} Thus the New Americans sought dignity and inclusion, and to a remarkable degree during the 1930s and 1940s they attained these goals. They succeeded in part because their dissatisfactions converged with the economic discontent of other significant groups. But that convergence in turn was fashioned by the instrumentalities of earlier ethnic mobilizations, now reshaped and connected: the Democratic party and the labor movement.

The new mobilization began in 1928 as a powerful revival of opposition to prohibition on the part of urban Democrats. Astute observers could sense, however, that the immense enthusiasm for Alfred E. Smith in the cities where the foreign stock congregated expressed not only a cultural protest against “puritan” morality but also a wider yearning to escape from social subordination and to claim for their own kind a full civic recognition. “Here is no trivial conflict,” wrote Walter Lippmann. “Here are the new people, clamoring . . . and the older people, defending their household goods. The rise of Al Smith has made the conflict plain, and his career has come to involve . . . the destiny of American civilization. {58}

If the dramatic urban turnout for Smith had simply been a cultural mobilization in defense of a traditional way of life, it would have ended with the repeal of prohibition and the onset of new issues, just as the mobilization of the late 1880s dissipated in 1893. This time, however, the mobilization did not end. The turnout for Democratic candidates in the foreign-stock districts of major cities continued to soar, especially through an outpouring of new voters who had been too apathetic or too young to vote before 1928. {59} Even the foreign-language press, in which Republican interests were strongly entrenched, moved decisively into a reconstructed Democratic party. The number of foreign-language Republican newspapers dropped from 57 percent of those identifying with some party in 1923 to 40 percent in 1932. Over the same span of time socialist and other radical journals declined from 30 to 16 percent of the total. Democratic newspapers increased from 11 percent to 43 percent. Four years later, in 1936, the Democratic preponderance became overwhelming. {60}

In recapturing many cities from Republican control the New Americans contributed a crucial element to the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Victory at the polls supplied the impetus to resume unionization of the mass-production industries. Roosevelt’s triumph in 1932 led swiftly to a federal guarantee of the right of workers to organize and bargain through their own representatives. This awakened the ravaged unions and stirred in unorganized workers a fitful, uncertain courage to test anew their collective strength. “The President wants you to join the union,” organizers told the Slavic miners in the Appalachians. {61}

But a second and stronger demonstration of electoral might was necessary to unleash a major economic mobilization. When labor unrest in 1933-1934 produced only minimal changes, aspiration and militancy flowed back into the political system. Not until Roosevelt’s spectacular reelection in 1936 by majorities that reached from 70 to 80 percent in the most heavily ethnic cities did the New Americans become fully conscious of their power. {62} Just two weeks after the election, mass sit-down strikes began in the automobile industry. During the following year the American labor movement made the greatest gains in its history. {63}

In contrast to previous ethnic mobilizations, that of the New Americans is difficult to classify. Its varied initiatives appeared sometimes as cultural, sometimes as political, sometimes as economic. They often blended indistinguishably with those of other disadvantaged elements that were also bent on reducing inequalities of power and origin. Yet the basic concern of the New Americans was not equality. It was incorporation, and that is why the militant self-assertion that impelled their mobilization was infused with a passionate Americanism. The Congress of Industrial Organizations appealed to workers with fluttering American flags and patriotic songs that invoked visions of national fraternity. Even the Communists enthusiastically adopted the language of Americanism. In 1936 the New York Times noted that the unrest in the steel industry was part of the same “nation-building . . . process” that was putting husky young men with Slavic and Italian names on the leading college football teams. The workers in the steel mills, the Times reflected, were growing more discontented as they grew more American. {64}

To view the industrial and political struggles of the 1930s in this ethnic perspective goes far toward clarifying the paradoxical mixture of conservatism and protest that distinguished the American New Deal among the major responses in the Western World to the Great Depression.


<1> William I. Thomas and Florian Znaniecki, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, 5 vols. (Chicago, 1918).
<2> Allan H. Spear, “Marcus Lee Hansen and the Historiography of Immigration,” in Wisconsin Magazine of History, 44 (Summer, 1961), 258-268; Carlton C. Qualey, “Marcus Lee Hansen,” in Midcontinent American Studies Journal, 8 (Fall, 1967), 18-25. A more sympathetic account, full of new information and insight, is Moses Rischin, “Marcus Lee Hansen: America’s First Transethnic Historian,” in Richard L. Bushman et al., eds., Uprooted Americans: Essays to Honor Oscar Handlin (Boston, 1979), 319-347. For Blegen’s rural sympathies see especially his collected essays, Grass Roots History (Minneapolis, 1947), and his personal memoir, “The Saga of Saga Hill,” in Minnesota History, 29 (December, 1948), 289-299. Another member of this early group of immigration historians was George M. Stephenson, who like Hansen came from a small town in Iowa and was a student of Frederick Jackson Turner. Stephenson’s A History of American Immigration, 1820-1924 (Boston, 1926), although the first survey of the subject by a professional historian, was less important than his later work, The Religious Aspects of Swedish Immigration: A Study of Immigrant Churches (Minneapolis, 1932).
<3> For a fuller assessment of Oscar Handlin’s Boston’s Immigrants: A Study of Acculturation (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1941) see my review of the revised edition (Cambridge, 1959) in New England Quarterly, 32 (September, 1959), 411-413.
<4> Moses Rischin, The Promised City: New York’s Jews 1870-1914 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1962), is reexamined as a classic work in American Jewish History, 73 (December, 1983). Compare with Robert Ernst, Immigrant Life in New York City, 1825-1863 (New York, 1949).
<5> Handlin’s students included Rowland T. Berthoff (discussed below), Arthur Mann, Barbara M. Solomon, and J. Joseph Huthmacher. On Curti’s interest in the immigrant theme see Merle Curti and Kendall Birr, “The Immigrant and the American Image in Europe, 1860-1914,” in Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 37 (September, 1950), 203-230. Among Curti’s students who were drawn to immigration history were Edward G. Hartmann, Rudolph Vecoli, A. William Hoglund, and myself.
<6> The special contribution of overseas scholars is suggested in Perspectives in American History, 7 (1973), titled “Dislocation and Emigration: The Social Background of American Immigration.”
<7> Rudolph Vecoli, “Ethnicity: A Neglected Dimension of American History,” in Herbert J. Bass, ed., The State of American History (Chicago, 1970), 70-88. I have also relied on Vecoli’s indispensable historiographical conspectus, “European Americans: From Immigrants to Ethnics,” in William H. Cartwright and Richard L. Watson, Jr., eds., The Reinterpretation of American History and Culture (Washington, D. C., 1973), 81-112.
<8> John Higham, History: Professional Scholarship in America (Baltimore, 1983), 212-232.
<9> Oscar Handlin, “Immigration in American Life: A Reappraisal,” in Henry Steele Commager, ed., Immigration and American History: Essays in Honor of Theodore C. Blegen (Minneapolis, 1961), 10. This essay elaborates programmatically the point of view Handlin first stated in The Uprooted: The
Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People (Boston, 1951).
<10> Rowland Berthoff’s early work was British immigrants in industrial America, 1790-1950 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1953) and “The Social Order of the Anthracite Region, 1825-1902,” in Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 89 (July, 1965), 261-29 1; the later work began with “The American Social Order: A Conservative Hypothesis,” in American Historical Review, 65 (April, 1960), 495-5 14.
<11> Timothy L. Smith, “New Approaches to the History of Immigration in Twentieth-Century America,” in American Historical Review, 71 (July, 1966), 1265-1279; “Immigrant Social Aspirations and American Education, 1880-1930,” in American Quarterly, 21 (Fall, 1969), 523-543; “Religion and Ethnicity in America,” in American Historical Review, 83 (December, 1978), 1155-1185.
<12> Nathan Glazer and Daniel P. Moynihan, Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1963). See also Glazer’s later reflections on the book and the context in which it was written: “Pluralism and Ethnicity,” in Journal of American Ethnic History, 1 (Fall, 1981), 43-55.
<13> Stephanie Grauman Wolf, Urban Village: Population, Community, and Family Structure in Germantown, Pennsylvania, 1683-1800 (Princeton, 1977); Jon Butler, The Huguenots in America: A Refugee People in New World Society (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1983).
<14> Roger Daniels, “The Japanese,” and Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr .,“Native Americans,” in John Higham, ed., Ethnic Leadership in America, (Baltimore, 1978), 36-63, 119-149; Stanford M. Lyman, Chinese Americans (New York, 1974); Victor R. Greene, For God and Country: The Rise of Polish and Lithuanian Ethnic Consciousness in America 1860-1910 (Madison, Wisconsin, 1975); Arthur A. Goren, “Jews,” in Stephan Thernstrom, ed., Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1980), 571-598: Michael G. Karni and Douglas J. Ollila, eds., For the Common Good: Finnish Immigrants and the Radical Response to Industrial America (Superior, Wisconsin, 1977). See also articles in June Drenning Holmquist, ed., They Chose Minnesota: A Survey of the State’s Ethnic Groups (St. Paul, Minnesota, 1981).
<15> Lee Benson, The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy: New York as a Test Case (Princeton, 1961); Samuel P. Hays, American Political History as Social Analysis (Knoxville, Tennessee, 1980); Samuel T. McSeveney, “Ethnic Groups, Ethnic Conflicts, and Recent Quantitative Research in American Political History,” in International Migration Review, 7 (Spring, 1973), 14-33.
<16> Edward M. Levine, The Irish and Irish Politicians (Notre Dame, 1966); Ronald H. Bayor, Neighbors in Conflict: The Irish, Germans, Jews, and Italians of New York City, 1929-1941 Baltimore, 1978); Edward R. Kantowicz, Polish-American Politics in Chicago, 1880-1940 (Chicago, 1975).
<17> Stephan Thernstrom, Poverty and Progress: Social Mobility in a Nineteenth-Century City (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1964) and The Other Bostonians: Poverty and Progress in the American Metropolis, 1880-1970 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1973); Josef Barton, Peasants and Strangers: Italians, Rumanians, and Slovaks in an American City (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1975); Thomas Kessner, The Golden Door: Italian and Jewish Immigrant Mobility in New York City, 1880-1915 (New York, 1977); Clyde and Sally Griffen, Natives and Newcomers: The Ordering of Opportunity in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Poughkeepsie (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1978). See also John Bodnar, Roger Simon, and Michael P. Weber, Lives of Their Own: Blacks, Italians, and Poles in Pittsburgh, 1900-1960 (Urbana, 1982), and Jay P. Dolan, The Immigrant Church: New York’s Irish and German Catholics, 1815-1865 (Baltimore, 1975).
<18> Andrew M. Greeley, The American Catholic: A Social Portrait (New York, 1977); Thomas Sowell, Ethnic America: A History (New York, 1981).
<19> Lawrence Levine, Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom (New York, 1977); Herbert Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925 (New York, 1976).
<20> Randall M. Miller and Thomas D. Marzik, eds., Immigrants and Religion in Urban America (Philadelphia, 1977); Richard L. Ehrlich, ed., Immigrants in Industrial America, 1850-1920 (Charlottesville, 1977); Dino Cinel, From Italy to San Francisco: The Immigrant Experience (Stanford, 1982).
<21> Herbert Gutman, Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America: Essays in American Working-Class and Social History (New York, 1976); Wayne G. Broehl, Jr., The Molly Maguires (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1965). On occupational choices, see Caroline Golab, Immigrant Destinations (Philadelphia, 1978); Virginia Yans-McLaughlin, Family and Community: Italian Immigrants in Buffalo, 1880-1930 (Ithaca, 1978); Humbert S. Nelli, The Business of Crime: Italians and Syndicate Crime in the United States (Chicago, 1976).
<22> Eric Foner, “Class, Ethnicity, and Radicalism in the Gilded Age: The Land League and Irish-America,” in Foner’s Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War (New York, 1980), 150-200; Dirk Hoerder, ed., American Labor and Immigration History, 1877-1920s: Recent European Research (Urbana, 1983); Melvyn Dubofsky, When Workers Organize: New York City in the Progressive Era (Amherst, Massachusetts, 1968). See also David Brody’s pioneering monograph, Labor in Crisis: The Steel Strike of 1919 (New York, 1965).
<23> David Montgomery, “Gutman’s Nineteenth- Century America,” in Labor History, 19 (Summer, 1978), 4 16-429; Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese, “The Political Crisis of Social History: A Marxian Perspective,” in Journal of Social History, 10 (Winter, 1976), 205-220.
<24> John Bodnar, “Immigration, Kinship, and the Rise of Working-Class Realism in Industrial America,” in Journal of Social History, 14 (September, 1980), 45-65, and Workers’ World: Kinship, Community, and Protest in an Industrial Society, 1900-1940 (Baltimore, 1982); Olivier Zunz, The Changing Face of Inequality: Urbanization, Industrial Development, and Immigrants in Detroit, 1880-1920 (Chicago, 1982).
<25> Notice, for example, the title of Milton Gordon’s extremely influential theoretical essay, Assimilation in American Life: The Role of Race, Religion, and National Origins (New York, 1964). The renewed importance of alternative theories of assimilation in the general studies published in the last several years is noted in John Higham, “Current Trends in the Study of Ethnicity in the United States,” in Journal of American Ethnic History, 2 (Fall, 1982), 5-15.
<26> John B. Jentz and Hartmut Keil, “From Immigrants to Urban Workers: Chicago’s German Poor in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, 1883-1908,” in Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, 68 (1, 1981), 97.
<27> Karl Deutsch, “Social Mobilization and Political Development,” in American Political Science Review, 55 (September, 1961), 493-514; Hubert M. Blalock, Jr., Toward a Theory of Minority-Group Relations (New York, 1967), 109-133, 139-142, 176-180.
<28> Smith, “Religion and Ethnicity in America,” 1165- 1167.
<29> Recent scholarship is expertly synthesized in Carl F. Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic: Common Schools and American Society, 1780-1860 (New York, 1983). On nativism, see Michael F. Holt, “The Politics of Impatience: The Origins of Know-Nothingism,” in Journal of American History, 60 (September, 1973), 309-33 1; and Jean H. Baker, Ambivalent Americans: The Know-Nothing Party in Maryland (Baltimore, 1977).
<30> Holt, “Politics of Impatience,” 323-324; Vincent P. Lannie, “Alienation in America: The Immigrant Catholic and Public Education in Pre-Civil War America,” in Review of Politics, 32 (October, 1970), 503-521. See also “The Catholic Church Blunders, 1850-1854,” a commonly overlooked chapter in Ray Allen Billington’s The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism (New York, 1938), 289-32 1. My statistics on Catholic population are from Gerald Shaughnessy, Has the Immigrant Kept the Faith? A Study of Immigration and Catholic Growth in the United States, 1790-1920 (New York, 1925), 189, which shows for the 1840s the highest growth rate of any decade in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries.
<31> Charles Shanabruch, Chicago’s Catholics: The Evolution of an American Identity (Notre Dame, 1981), 24-25, 28-30; James W. Sanders, The Education of an Urban Minority: Catholics in Chicago, 1833-1965 (New York, 1977), 22-25, 125. See also Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic, 170-171. The bloodiest incident is reported by Wallace S. Hutcheon, Jr., “The Louisville Riots of August, 1855,” in Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, 1971, 150-172.
<32> Daniel F. Reilly, The School Controversy (189 1- 1893) (Washington, D. C., 1943); Sanders, Education, 33-35.
<33> Richard J. Jensen, The Winning of the Midwest: Social and Political Conflict, 1886-1896 (Chicago, 1971), 70. See also Paul Kleppner, The Third Electoral System, 1853-1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures (Chapel Hill, 1979), 298-356.
<34> Shanabruch, Chicago’s Catholics, 59-62; Proceedings of the National Educational Association, 1891, 393-398; Roger E. Wyman, “Wisconsin Ethnic Groups and the Election of 1890,” in Wisconsin Magazine of History, 51 (Summer, 1968), 269-294. For a concurrent struggle in Massachusetts, see Robert H. Lord et al., History of the Archdiocese of Boston in the Various Stages of Its Developments, 1604 to 1943, 3 (New York, 1944), 110-133.
<35> Here I have adapted and extended the familiar argument in Robert H. Wiebe’s The Search for Order, 1877-1920 (New York, 1967), 44-55.
<36> John M. Allswang, A House for All Peoples: Ethnic Politics in Chicago, 1890-1936 (Lexington, Kentucky, 1971), 25-33; Jensen, Winning of the Midwest, 89-177; Thomas C. Hunt, “The Bennett Law of 1890: Focus of Conflict Between Church and State in Education,” in Journal of Church and State, 23 (Winter, 1981), 69-93.
<37> Shanabruch, Chicago’s Catholics, 76, 93-104; Frederick C. Luebke, “German Immigrants and American Politics: Problems of Leadership, Parties, and Issues,” in Randall Miller, ed., Germans in America: Retrospect and Prospect (Philadelphia, 1984), 67-68.
<38> Paul Kleppner, Who Voted? The Dynamics of Electoral Turnout, 1870-1980 (New York, 1982), 57-58, 68-80; Carl N. Degler, “American Political Parties and the Rise of the City: An Interpretation,” in Journal of American History, 51 (June, 1964), 46-49. See also the detailed case study in Marc Lee Raphael, Jews and Judaism in a Midwestern Community: Columbus, Ohio, 1840-1975 (Columbus, 1979), 123-128.
<39> Hartmut Keil, “The German Immigrant Working Class of Chicago, 1875-90: Workers, Labor Leaders, and the Labor Movement,” in Dirk Hoerder, ed., American Labor and Immigration History, 1877-1920s: Recent European Research (Urbana, 1983), 162-163; David Montgomery, “The Irish and the American Labor Movement,” in David Noel Doyle and Dudley Edwards, eds., America and Ireland, 1776-1976: The American Identity and the Irish Connection (Westport, Connecticut, 1980), 205-2 18. There are perceptive overviews in Mike Davis, “Why the U.S. Working Class Is Different,” in New Left Review, September-October, 1980, 3-44, and David Brody, “Labor,” in Stephan Thernstrom, ed., Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1980), 609-618.
<40> Leo Wolman, The Growth of American Trade Unions 1880-1923 (New York, 1924), 33, 85. My percentages are calculated from figures on non-farm workers in United States Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 (Washington, D. C., 1975), 134.
<41> Victor R. Greene, The Slavic Community on Strike: Immigrant Labor in Pennsylvania Anthracite (Notre Dame, 1968), 106, 141, 155; Ewa Krystyna Hauser, “Ethnicity and Class in a Polish American Community” (Ph.D. dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University, 1981), 13-27, 71-85.
<42> Melvyn Dubofsky, We Shall Be All: A History of the Industrial Workers of the World (Chicago, 1969), 203-205; Irving Howe, World of Our Fathers (New York, 1976), 290-304.
<43> Charles Leinenweber, “The American Socialist Party and ‘New’ Immigrants,” in Science and Society, 32 (Winter, 1968), 1-25; Melvyn Dubofsky, “Success and Failure of Socialism in New York City, 1900-1918: A Case Study,” in Labor History, 9 (Fall, 1968), 361-375; Karni and Ollila, For the Common Good, 14-15, 65-71, 94-95, 132, 168-175. A similar beginning of Croatian socialism in America is described in Radnicka Straza, August 12, 1910, and January 7, 1914, in Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey, Reel 8, I E (Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota).
<44> Nick Salvatore, Eugene V. Debs, Citizen and Socialist (Urbana, 1982), 285-286; David Brody, Labor in Crisis: The Steel Strike of 1919 (Philadelphia, 1965), 71-75, 113-114.
<45> For example, Thomas N. Brown, Irish-American Nationalism,1870-1890 (Philadelphia, 1966).
<46> Joseph P. O’Grady, ed., The Immigrants’ Influence on Wilson’s Peace Policies (Lexington, Kentucky, 1967); Robert E. Park, The Immigrant Press and Its Control (New York, 1922), 309-312; M. M. Stolarik, “The Role of American Slovaks in the Creation of Czecho-Slovakia, 1914-1918,” in Sloyak Studies, 8 (1968), 7-82; Kantowicz, Polish-American Politics, 110-115.
<47> Melvin I. Urofsky, American Zionism From Herzl to the Holocaust (Garden City, New York, 1975), 117-245; Naomi W. Cohen, American Jews and the Zionist Idea (np., 1975), 3-24.
<48> Circular , reproduced in Robert A. Hill, ed., The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, 1 (Berkeley, 1983), 315.
<49> According to the best available estimate, Garvey’s movement at its height enrolled a million members in the United States and perhaps as many more in other countries. Its only rival as a protest organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, reached a peak of 91,000 members around the same time. Emory J. Tolbert, The UNIA and Black Los Angeles: Ideology and Community in the American Garvey Movement (Los Angeles, 1980), 3.
<50> Hauser, “Ethnicity and Class,” 165-168.
<51> American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, Twenty-Fourth Annual Report, 1919, 125-129; George Creel, How We Advertised America (New York, 1920). There is a particularly vivid record of ecstatic mobilization in the pages of the Czech-American daily, Denni Hlasatel, 1917-1918, in Chicago F. L. Press Survey, Reel 2, I G.
<52> Alexander M. Bing, War-Time Strikes and Their Adjustment (New York, 1921), 236-240; Wolman, Growth, 34-37.
<53> A. William Hoglund, “Breaking with Religious Tradition: Finnish Immigrant Workers and the Church, 1890-1915,” in Karni and Ollila, eds., For the Common Good, 30-4 1, 58-59; James Weinstein, The Decline of Socialism in America, 1912-1925 (New York, 1969), 145-162.
<54> United States Census Bureau, Historical Statistics, 178-179; Irving Bernstein, The Lean Years: A History of the American Worker, 1920-1 933 (Boston, 1960), 83-143, 334-357.
<55> Allswang, House for All Peoples, 117-118; William Preston, Jr., Aliens and Dissenters: Federal Suppression of Radicals, 1903-1933 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1963).
<56> Louis Adamic, “Thirty Million New Americans,” in Harper’s, 169 (November, 1934), 684-694; United States Census Bureau, Historical Statistics, 116-118. How the initiative of second-generation immigrant workers gradually enabled the older first-generation Slavs to overcome fear and submissiveness is sensitively examined by Peter Friedlander, The Emergence of a UAW Local, 1936-1939: A Study in Class and Culture (Pittsburgh, 1975).
<57> Louis Adamic’s impressions on this point were very widely shared, as Richard Weiss points out in “Ethnicity and Reform: Minorities and the Ambience of the Depression Years,” in Journal of American History, 66 (December, 1979), 583-584.
<58> Quoted in J. Joseph Huthmacher, Massachusetts People and Politics 1919-1933 (New York, 1969), 154.
<59> For evidence of the mobilization of a new generation of voters in heavily “ethnic” cities, see Kristi Andersen, The Creation of a Democratic Majority, 1928-1936 (Chicago, 1979), 30-38, 105-114.
<60> “Analysis of Foreign Language Publications ... 1923,” and Press Release, Foreign Language Information Service, November 7, 1932, in Archives of American Council for Nationalities Service (Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota); New York Times, August 10, 1936, 6.
<61> lrving Bernstein, Turbulent Years: A History of the American Worker 1933-1941 (Boston, 1969), 37-46, 92-171, 217-316.
<62> Sidney Fine, Sit-down: The General Motors Strike of 1936-1937 (Ann Arbor, 1969), 96, 330-332, 338-341.
<63> United States Census Bureau, Historical Statistics, 178.
<64> Roy Rosenzweig, “‘United Action Means Victory’: Militant Americanism on Film,” in Labor History, 24 (Spring, 1983), 274-288; New York Times, July 10, 1936, 18.


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