German Americans: The Germans were the largest 19th century immigrant group. The failed German revolution in 1848 stimulated emigration to America. They were the intellectual leaders of this rebellion, and impoverished Germans who had lost confidence in its government's ability to solve the country's economic problems. As a result, more than 5 million people left Germany for the U.S. during the 19th century.
German Americans were employed in many urban craft trades, especially baking, carpentry, and the needle trades. Many German Americans worked in factories founded by the new generation of German American industrialists, such as John Bausch and Henry Lomb, who created the first American optical company; Rockefeller (petroleum); Studebaker and Chrysler (cars); H.J. Heinz (food); and Frederick Weyerhaeuser (lumber).
Germans had a powerful influence over the development of American culture: institutions, traditions, and daily habits. E.g., the U.S. education system, from the lowest grades to the highest, would be unrecognizable without the ideas championed by German immigrants. With a strong commitment to education, Germans brought this dedication to their new home. In 1855, German immigrants in Wisconsin launched the first kindergarten in America, based on the kindergartens of Germany. Germans introduced physical education and vocational education into the public schools, and were responsible for the inclusion of gymnasiums in school buildings. More important, they were leaders in the call for universal education, a notion not common in the U.S. at the time.
German immigrants also brought their reforming zeal to America’s recreational life - Germans invented the American weekend. After the arrival of German immigrants, new large-scale recreational facilities began to appear in U.S. towns - picnic grounds, bandstands, sports clubs, concert halls, bowling alleys, and playgrounds, all suitable for a week-end excursion with the family. Some German contributions to U.S. life are easy to pinpoint - sauerkraut, or the tuba (trumpet), or the national fondness for light beer.
However, the German influence on life in the U.S. runs much deeper, influencing many of the institutions, traditions, and daily habits that many today think of as being quintessentially American. Several of the most familiar elements of the American Christmas celebration, from the Christmas tree to the gift-giving Santa Claus, were gifts from the Germans, as was the Easter bunny.
Irish Americans: In colonial times, the number of the Irish population in America was also enormous. Between 1820 and 1860, the Irish constituted over one third of all immigrants to the U.S. Irish Americans have had a significant impact on American politics over the years.
No less than twelve presidents have had the Irish blood coursing through their veins. The first Irish American President of the U.S. was Andrew Jackson, who was Presbyterian, and John F. Kennedy was the first Irish Catholic president. 8 of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence were Irish Americans. Two Irish Americans served as members on the first U.S. Senate and two served in the first U.S. House of Representatives.
Many Irish immigrants supported and became leaders of labor union efforts, perhaps because they so well understood the power of organizing to meet needs. E.g.,Mary Harris, later known as Mother Jones, committed more than fifty years of her life to unionizing workers in various occupations throughout the country.
Irish Catholics played a significant role in building the private Catholic school system that exists in the U.S. today. In 1790, there were no Catholic schools in the nation, and by 1960, there were over 12,000 Catholic schools educating 5 million children. Irish Catholics have also made significant advancements at higher academic levels. Approximately 16% of faculty at top universities and colleges are Irish Americans. Irish Americans also helped to establish several prominent universities in the U.S., including Princeton University.
Although many of the Irish immigrants of the 1800’s were Catholics, the Irish were also responsible for establishing the first American Presbyterian and the first Methodist Church in America.
The Irish have also made their mark on American letters (Eugene O’Neill, F. Scott Fitzgerald), and in such diverse business ventures as international shipping lines, meat-curing plants and pizza parlor chains. From the other side, the Irish gave America Donegal tweeds, Waterford chrystal, shamrocks (трилистник), the Irish brogue (провинциальный акцент); they gave also the Irish Sweepstake- тотализатор, so that Americans could gamble before there were legal state lotteries , and they gave Irish linen, Irish whiskey, Irish stew, Irish wolfhounds and Irish terriers – but not the Irish potato (that tuber is sorely misnamed). Potato is an original American product.
Italian Americans: In the 1880’s, Italian immigrants numbered 300,000; in the 1890’s - 600,000; in the decade after that, more than 2 million.
A substantial number of southern Italian immigrants had only worked as farmers, and were thus qualified only for unskilled, and more dangerous, urban labor - digging canals, laying paving and gas lines, building bridges, and tunneling out the New York subway system. Some members of the Mafia also immigrated to the U.S. They soon became entrenched in American organized crime, especially in the 1920’s during Prohibition, and contributed a lot to the formation of the American Mafia. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 which ended most bootlegging, theAmerican Mafia moved into other areas, such as gambling, labor racketeering, prostitution, and, in recent years, - narcotics. Links with the Italian Mafia were also maintained.
Since the 1950’s, Italian Americans have served in several important political positions. John Pastore was voted the first governor of Italian decent in 1946 and later went on to serve as Senator. In 1984, Geraldine Ferrara became the first women in the U.S. to be nominated as vice presidential candidate. The first Italian American to serve in a presidential cabinet was Anthony Calabrezze in 1962. Italian Americans were able to move into a wider range of careers, and became business owners and managers in greater numbers. Works by Italian-American authors began appearing in bookstores, and the Neapolitan tenor Enrico Caruso became a best-selling singer among Italians and non-Italians alike.
With the explosion of mass media after the war, every aspect of show business, politics, science, and art seemed to have at least one prominent Italian American in its vanguard. Marlon Brando became the face of a new school of naturalistic acting. Rocky Marcianorevolutionized the sport of boxing. Enrico Fermi continued his Nobel Prize-winning work on the mysteries of the atom, Joe DiMaggio led the New York Yankees to nine World Series championships, and Frank Sinatra was the most popular entertainer in the U.S.
Slavic and Jewish Americans: In the 1880’s, the Russian countryside was strained by severe land shortages. Facing poverty and starvation, farmers and peasants from across the Empire sought a brighter future overseas, and millions set sail for the U.S. Over 200,000 Russians entered America between 1881 and 1890, and over 1.5 million between 1901 and 1910.
More than 2 million fled the country after the October revolution. These new Russian immigrants had mostly been prominent citizens of the Empire — aristocrats, professionals, and former imperial officials. The revolution gave America Vladimir Nabokov, the author of “Lolita”, who helped create a “revolution” of his own in the publishing world. Besides, Belarus is to be thanked for Igor Sikorsky and his helicopters and Russia for Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy).
To the above mentioned names we can also add the “Fathers of American Television” – David Sarnoff (1891-1971), born in Minsk, Belarus; and Vladimir Zworykin fromRussia. Or the “Father of Wonder Drugs” Selman Abraham Walksman (born in Russia), who earned his title as well as the 1952 Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery of the antibiotic called streptomycin, the first drug successful in treating tuberculosis.
In the 1880’s, the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe were overwhelmed by a wave of state-sponsored murder and destruction known as pogroms. Hundreds of thousands of Yiddish speakers settled into the U.S. and realized the extent of their linguistic freedom. The turn of the 20th century saw an explosion of new literary ventures in Yiddish. Sholem Aleichem, I.L. Peretz, and Mendele Mocher Sforim created a new, distinctively American Yiddish literature.
Yiddish theater had long survived underground in Europe, but it burst into public view in the U.S.A. Jewish immigrants, including Samuel Goldwyn, Louis B. Mayer, the Warner brothers, and William Fox, soon became involved in movie production as well as distribution and went on to found several of the major Hollywood studios. The research of scientists such as Jonas Salk and J. Robert Oppenheimer dramatically reshaped the postwar world.
The musicians Jascha Heifetz and Arthur Rubinstein, along with the pianist Vladimir Horowitz and the conductor Leonard Bernstein, brought classical music to new audiences.
The brothers George and Ira Gershwin were bestselling song writers, and Henry and Joseph Mankiewicz became Oscar-winning screenwriters.
Among the latest most significant immigrant contributions known to every Internet-user is the creation of the world famous web-search page – Google Inc. The Father of Google is Sergei Brin, who with his family was among the first to leave the USSR in the 1970’s, and who today - already an American citizen - is a computer genius and a multi-millionaire.
The Jews gave America some of its most outstanding scientific and medical minds. And we all know Albert Einstein - “Father of Atomic Age” and Abraham Flexner - “Father of Modern Medical School.”
Chinese Americans: The Chinese experience in America began with the dreams of wealth. By 1851, 25,000 Chinese immigrants had left their homes and moved to California, a land some came to call gam saan, or "Gold Mountain". But in California they found that the gold mountain was an illusion. They soon discovered that they were cut off from their families and with no source of money.
In the middle of the 19th century, the expanding U.S. railroad companies gave a chance for Chinese laborers to enter the workforce. Chinese immigrants also found work in a variety of industries, from making shoes and sewing clothes to rolling cigars. They often created opportunities for themselves and launched new businesses. Many of the shops, restaurants, and laundries in the growing mining towns of California were operated by Chinese immigrants.
At the same time the Chinese endured an epidemic of violent racist attacks. They were forced out of business, run out of town, beaten, tortured, lynched, and massacred. In response to hard times and legal exclusion, Chinese immigrants began to build communities of their own Chinatowns, which soon became a source of fascination to many tourists and non-Chinese Americans.
Chinese immigrants and their descendants have had an increasingly great impact on the U.S. culture. From the film director Ang Lee and the novels of Amy Tan to the architecture of I.M. Pei and the hip-hop turntable skills of Kid Koala. Among the celebrities are Bruce Lee – the star of martial arts movies, Chang & Eng – the well-known Siamese twins.
Japanese Americans: As far as Japanese immigration goes, it is not numerous. Japanese two most popular destinations were the archipelago of Hawaii and America’s Pacific coast. Between 1886 and 1911, more than 400,000 men and women left Japan for the U.S. In those days, the Japanese were often portrayed as the enemies of the American worker, as a menace to American womanhood, and as corrupting agents in American society. The Immigration Act of 1924 imposed severe restrictions on all immigration from non-European countries, and effectively ended Japanese immigration.
Mexican Americans: Millions of poor Mexicans have entered the country in recent years, along with more than 1 million Puerto Ricans. Throughout the history besides giving the U.S. their land, the Mexicans contributed much to the culture of America. They showed gold-hungry Californians how to pan for gold, and introduced the technique of using mercury to separate silver from worthless ores. They gave Americans poinsettias, the Mexican hat dance, Mexican jumping beans, tacos, tortillas and all the fiery hot food.
Today, Mexican immigrants and their descendants occupy a significant place in American cultural life than ever before. Mexican Americans often serve as high government officials, as well as local mayors, sheriffs, and school board members. The Mexicans have managed to distinguish themselves as actors (Anthony Quinn, Jennifer Lopez), musicians (Trini Lopez, Joan Baez), dancers-choreographers (Jose Limon), judges (Harold Medina), politicians (Joseph Montoya) and sportsmen (Jip Plunkett, Lee Trevino). They’ve joined the ranks of successful businessmen and millionaires, too, despite the stereotyped image of a race of lazy banditos and revolutionaries.
Nowadays, 46.9 million Americans of Hispanic descent are identified as sharing a distinct "ethnicity" by the Census Bureau; 64% of them are of Mexican descent.
Cuban Americans: After Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in 1959, the U.S. accepted 700,000 Cuban refugees. Many of the first Cubans to arrive were from wealthy families and were well educated. Another group of Cuban immigrants, Marielitos that arrived later in 1980 were mostly unskilled workers, criminals, and mentally ill people.
Soon after 1965, the U.S. first began to witness the transformation from predominantly European immigration to Latin American and Asian inflows that continue to characterize today’s immigration patterns. The top 12 migrant-sending countries in 2010, by country of birth, were Mexico (173,753), People's Republic of China (87,345), Philippines (74,607), India (61,369), Cuba (45,614), Colombia (43,151), Dominican Republic (38,069), El Salvador (31,783), Vietnam (30,695), Jamaica (24,976), South Korea (24,386), Guatemala (24,146), other countries - 606,370. Muslim immigration to the U.S. is rising. And in 2005 alone, more people from Muslim countries became legal permanent U.S. residents — nearly 96,000 — than in any year in the previous two decades.
To sum up, today, two challenges are seen on the U.S. immigration horizon:
security concerns resulting from the events of September 11, 2001, and
a comprehensive U.S. immigration reform.
Moreover,the administration and some members of the Congress have become increasingly concerned about the growing undocumented immigrant population, which is estimated to be between 9 and 12 million.
However, illegal immigrants play an important and useful role in the U.S. economy, particularly in the agricultural and construction sectors, which rely heavily upon low-cost labor to keep consumer prices low and remain competitive in global markets.
In 2012, President Obama proposed an amendment to the immigration law and give a chance many illegal immigrants and their children born and educated in the U.S. to a get the American citizenship.
SUMMARY The vast majority of Americans trace their ancestry to one or more of immigrant groups. 6 % of population identify themselves as Americans only.
In the U.S.A., 31 ancestry groups have more than one million members:
White non-Hispanic Americans are the largest racial group; English Americans, German Americans, Irish Americans, and Italian Americans constitute the four country's largest ancestry groups here.
African Americans are the nation's largest racial minority and the3-din size largest ancestry group. Asian Americans are the country's second largest racial minority; the two largest Asian American ethnic groups are Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans.
In 2009, the U.S. population included an estimated 4.9 million people with some American Indian or Alaskan native ancestry and 1.1 million with some native Hawaiian or Pacific islands’ ancestry. The population growth of Hispanic or Latino Americans is a major current demographic trend.
American immigration history can be viewed in four epochs: 1. the colonial period, 2. the mid-19th century, 3. the turn of the 20th, 4. and the post-1965 period. Each epoch brought distinct national groups and races and ethnicities to the U.S.
Native Americans are the only indigenous peoples of America. By 1492, about 18 million people inhabited North America.
Between 1619 and 1808, about 500,000 Africans were brought to the colonies as slaves. On the eve of the Civil war, there were 1.5 million black slaves. Now Afro-Americans make 12.3%, out of the 300,000,000 of the U.S. population.
The Germans were the largest 19th century immigrant group, more than 5 million people left Germany for the U.S.
Between 1820 and 1860, the Irish constituted over one third of all immigrants to the U.S.
In the 1880’s, Italian immigrants numbered 300,000; in the 1890’s - 600,000; in the decade after that, more than 2 million.
Over 200,000 Russians entered America between 1881 and 1890, and over 1.5 million between 1901 and 1910. More than 2 million fled the country after the October revolution.
In the 19th century, 25,000 Chinese immigrants and 400,000 Japanese men and women left their homes for the U.S.A.
Millions of poor Mexicans have entered the country in recent years, along with more than 1 million Puerto Ricans. Now the top points of immigrants’ origin are Mexico (57,000), the Philippines (55,000), Vietnam (49,000), the Dominican Republic (32,000), and China (29,000).
The growing undocumented immigrant population of the U.S.A. is estimated to be between 9 and 10 million.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION What says that the U.S. population is growing and what are the sources of this growth?
What is the age structure of the U.S. population?
What is the aboriginal contribution to the American heritage?
Did Native Americans assimilate into the mainstream society and disappear as unique peoples?
What was the Afro-American contribution to the industry (agriculture, culture) of the U.S.A.?
Did Germans have a powerful influence over the development of American culture: institutions, traditions, and daily habits? Give examples.
What role did the Irish play in the American history (Italians, Slavs, Jews, Chinese, etc.)?
LECTURE 3-4. THE UNITED STATES CULTURE
The lecture will discuss the uniqueness of American culture and touch on the following things:
definition of American culture
its further diversification
American pluralism: cultural assimilation, multiculturalism, hyphenated Americans
American mass culture, globalization and Americanization,
Key Words and Proper Names:allegiance, assimilation, “be your own boss,” “can-do” spirit, casual personal style, conscience, contentment, cultural imperialism, cultural pattern, determination, dissemination, do-it-yourselfer, exhibit ethnocentric or insular outlooks, globalization, harmonious, homogenous, individualism, liberty, equality and fraternity, loyalty, melting pot, multiculturalism, nuclear family, person’s basic inalienable rights, pluralism, privacy, profit-oriented, prosperity, psychology of abundance, rags-to-riches stories, rugged individualism, sacred, “salad bowl,”self-identity, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, social mobility, trend setter, tolerance, uniform, unify, values and belief system; virtues of thrift, hard work, and faith in the free enterprise system; volunteerism;
American Dream, Americanization, hyphenated Americans, Judeo-Christian morals, Rotarian.
The U.S. does not have a homogenous population compared with many Old World nations. American culture dates back to the first permanent English settlement Jamestown of 1607; and since then American history has been regarded as a record of progress and achievement: from wilderness to jet planes.
America’s formative years were in the late 18th century. The words from the Declaration of Independence about securing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; French revolution’s ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity; and the national motto of E pluribus Unum (“From many, one”) found their reflection in what is now known as American culture.
To define American culture as a common set of customs, traditions, behavior and ways of life, e.g. French culture or German culture, is difficult. It possesses an unusual mixture of patterns and forms. Its development has been marked by a tension between two strong sources of inspiration: European ideals, especially British; and domestic originality.
American cultureis rich, complex, and unique. It is largely based on Western culture and English culture in particular, with influences from the Native American peoplesand Africans brought to the U.S. as slaves, and to a lesser extent influences from other more recent immigrants from Asia and elsewhere; immigrants many of whom had fled persecution or oppression in their home countries, and were seeking freedom (including religious freedom) and economic opportunity, leading them to reject totalitarian practices.
At first, during the 19th century American culture was a unique American voice. Later American cultural self-identity became more complex and more diverse as immigrants streamed into the country. American writers of German, Irish, Jewish, and Scandinavian ancestry began to find their audience. Many of these writers focused on the 19th- 20th century city life and themes such as poverty, efforts to assimilate into the U.S., and family life in a new country. These ethnically diverse writers included Theodore Dreiser, of German ancestry; S Sholem Aleichem, a Jewish writer; and Eugene O'Neill and James Farrell, of Irish background. Thus, European influence changed the core of American experienceby incorporating various immigrant origins into its cultural vision.
In popular music too, the songs of many nations became American songs. In the 1920’s, the blues and jazz began to dominate the rhythms of American popular music. Black musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, became the instruments of a classic American sound. White composers such as George Gershwin and performers such as Bix Beiderbecke incorporated jazz rhythms into their music, while instrumentalists such as Benny Goodman adopted jazz improvisational style to forge a racially blended American form called swing music.