*** United States boys clothes: immigration national origins

United States Boys' Clothes: Immigration--National Origins

Ellis Island
Figure 1.-- Here we see a family just arriving from Ellis Island in the early 1910s. We would guess that they are English. The family seems to be very fashionably dressed. They look to be a little more affluent than many immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. The girls all wear fairly expensive-looking white dresses with wide-brimmed straw hats for summer. The younger boy wears a sailor blouse with dickey and, probably, black knee pants and black stockings (although we can't see in the photograph). Notice his ringlet hair-do. He seems to be about 4-5 years old. The older boy is turned out in an Eton collar matching coat and waistcoat (apparently of gray or some other light color) with black knee pants and black stockings. Notice his Eton-style collar and English-style school cap with a very small peak. Father is missing from the picture. Perhaps he was taking it. The girl standing beside Mother is probably her eldest daughter. She wears an interesting triangular hat with a rosette.

No assessment of America would be complete without considering the immigrants that played such an important role in the American saga. All American except for Native Americans have immigrated from other countries. Most of the early immigrants came from the British Isles. The Industrial Revolution in Britain had an impact on emmigration to the United States from Britain in the 18th century. Immigrants followed from every European country. Immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Scandinavia, and Africa played key roles. Blacks brought from Africa as slaves also played an important role. Germans and the Irish were the most important eaely immigrant grouos. The best documented wave of immigrants following the Civil War. is the Great Migration (1880-1920).The immigrant experience could be quite different depending on the country they came from as well as their religion and race.


Africans are unique in the American mosaic. The ancestors of most Afro-Americans were brought to America involuntarily as slaves. And as part of that process they lost virtually all of their African ethnic and tribal idenity. This is the only American immigrant group for which this is the case. Statistical datas giveing a fairly accurate idea where in Africa Afro-Americans originated from. And DNA data can also provide date on where individuals originated. But this data is of no real significance given the fact that as aeslt of slavery all ties and African cltural identity wa lost. There were some cultural carry overs such as in dance and msic and evn tchnology such as rice growing methods. But ethnic and tribal idenity was lost as well as relgion. Congress ended the African slave trade (1807), although small numbers of captive Africans were smuggled in for some time. President Lincoln emancipated most American slaves during the Civil War (1863) and the 13th Amendment abloishing slavery became law (1865). But there was no significant African emmigration to America until Congress reformed the immigration system (1960s). African immigrants ssince do have national and tribal connections as ell as religious beliefs which in the case of Islam can be very intense.

America, Latin

Latin Americans are a cultural construct. The largest Latin American immigrant group in America as a result of geography are Mexican. Mexico is geographically/geologicslly in North America as is the case for Central America. For our purposes, however, it makes more sense to consider Hispanics as a cultural group rather than on a purely geographic basis. Most Hispanics are immigrants, although the small number of Mexicans living in the Southwest were allowed to remain and become full American ctizens as a result of the Mexcan-American War. Most remained, but the Mexican population at the time was very small. Few Mexicans wanted to live in at the gtime was El NJorte. The limnited agriculturl potentil and hidstilr Ntive mericans (psvche snd Comnches) were importnt fsctor limiting Mexican populstion of the srea. Hispanic is often seen as a racial group, but this is not the case. It is a highly varied cultural group. Latin Anericans from the Southern Cone (Argentin, Chile, and Uruguay) have largely European origins. From Brazil and th Caribben there are strong African components. From Mexico, some of Central America, and the Andes there are important Native Ameican components. This is hardly a coherent racial group. The cultural including language (Primaroily Portuhgues and Spsnush) are much more powerful. Until the American immigration reforms (1965), nost Hispsanics in the United Stsates were Mexica. Toiday Hispanics sare a much more diverse groups with varied national origins. Miodsyt Hispsnics have come to America seeking economic opportunity. They are the first groupo in which many come with the idea that America offers opportunities and decent paying jobs in opart vbecause the country is exploiting other countries.

America, North

The United Stsates itself dominates much of the inhsabitable North American continent. The other country of importancre is Canada, but because of its northerly climate has a smaller economic potential. As Canada was also an English colony and has a primarily English population, there are mant similarities between Americans and Canadians. Substantial numbers of Canadians have emigrated to the Uniuted States, primarily to take advantage of the larger economy and greater economic opportunities. Geographically, Mexico is part of North America, but culturally it seems to make more sense to cionsider it as part of North America.


Canada is an enormous country, but because of its northerly climate has a smaller economic potential. As Canada was also an English colony and has a primarily English population, there are mant similarities between Americans and Canadians. Substantial numbers of Canadians have emigrated to the Uniuted States, primarily to take advantage of the larger economy and greater economic opportunities. We note sizeable numbers of immigrants from Canada in some years. For example during 1911-20 about 0.7 million immigrants arrived from Canada. We do not yet have details on the extent and nature of Canadian immigration.


The immense Pacific Ocean anbd lack of a maritime tradition has meant that Asians played a minor role in the settlement of America. . The first Asians to reach America in sny numbers were the Chinese attracted by the California god rush (1848-49). At the time Califoirnia was just acwuired snbd there were not yet restrictive immigration laws. Motivsted by the precrived Yellow Peril, restruictive state anbd Federal laws were enacted. These laws prevented further emigration for a century. The annexation of Hawaii, however, meant that the Unites Stares acquired a Japanese population which until World War II was mostly confined to Hawaii and California. One of the ironies of history is that after World War II, he most racist war in history ehich included the internment of Japanese Anericans on thre Pacific Cioast (but not Hawaii), the Yellow Peril narative disappeared in Americsa almost over night. Immigration reform (1965) meant that Asians for the first time had the opportunity to emigrate to America in numbers. Koreans took advantge of this and the Vietnam War resulted in emmigration from Vietnam abnd other countries in Southeast Asian, including the ethnic minorities there. Christians in Korea and Vietnm were especially interested in emigration. Indians migrated to Britain during ghe Raj. We begin to see emigration to America after the 1965 emigration reforms.


Immigrants to America are often thought of as Europeans, but the Chinese played a mojor role in California. Their most famed contribution was helping to build the trans-coninental railroad. Some historians say the railroad could not have been built at the tiome without the Chinese. Most of the Chinese whi came to America returned to China. There goal was not assimilation, but to earn money to support a decent life back in China. The hostility of Americans of European stock was another factor causing the Chinese to return. States passed lawc limiting the employment and land ownership. Even so, substantial numbers of Chinese immigrated entered the United States beginning with the California gold rush (1849) and when Congress acted to ban Chinese from entering (1882).



Japanse immigration until after World War II was confined primarily to Hawaii and California. We do not yet have details about Japanese immigration. Japan was a heavily populated poor country in the 19th century. The United States in the 1850s forced Japan to open its econmy to foreign trade. We assume that this was whem immigration began. As Gold was divered in California this probably stimmulated immigration. The Japanese came to Hawaii as farm labor. As with Chinese immigrants, laws resticted Japanese economic activity in California. These were state, not Federal laws. Treatment of Japanese immigrants became an issue between the United States and Japan. Federal laws passed in the 1920s did control actual immigration. The laws limited overall immigration and heavily favored northern Europeans. Many Japanese turned to small-scale farming because many other job oppirtunities were closed to them. We note Japanese children in rural California schools during the 1920s. We note family portraits showing the same process. Many Japanese by the 1930s had achieved some success. These families lost most of their property and possessions when they were interned during World War II. After the War many job opportunities formerly denined Japanese Americans opened up. The intrrnment of Japanese Americans during World War II was the culmination of a history of racial discrimination against Asians begun in the mid-1800s, when the Chinese first immigrated to the U.S.


Korea was known as the Hermet Kingdom. There were little connection with the out side world or interest in it. The primary national interest was remaining indepedent from China and Japan. Foreign influences such as Christianity were brutally supressed. An effort to modernize ended the supression (late-19th cntury). Korea's modest effort to moderize was cut short by the Japanese. The Japanese brutally controlled the country until liberation by the Americans and Soviets (1945). It is at this time that a relation between America and South Korea. The United States in the Korean War prevented Communist domination. The American presence in Korea was small until the Communist North Koreans invaded (1950). At first the American-Korean relationship was limited. This was primarily with the American military presence, but economic connections began to grow as Korea developed a vibrant capitalist economy. And large numbers of Koreans began to convert to Christianity. Few Koreans emigrated, however, because of America's restrictive immigration laws. This changed when the United States reformed its immigration laws (1965). And with the ties that had developed with America, large numbers of Koreans began to emmigrte. This was before the Korean Economic Miracle began in force. South Korean would become one of the Asian Tiger economies, but at the time was still very poor as a result of a traditional society, Japanese colonization, and the Korean War. In only a few decades, some 1 million South Koreans emigrated to America and by the 1910s were over 2 percent of the immigrant population. Most South Korean immigrants are legal immigrants. Almost all came from South Korea because there was no way for North Koreans to get to America. The first Korean immigrants were mostly unskilled workers, but through hard work and educational advancement, Koreans today are one ofthe most successful immigrant groups, largely by opening small businesses. Korean immigration has leveled off because South Korea now has a vibrant economy. The number of Koreans coming to America for university study has also leveled off. A few migrants have returned to Korea in recent years, on part because of a Government program to encourage this. Much of the Korean immigrant population is found in California. North Korea does not permit emigration and the penalties for doing so are draconian, including punishment of whole families. A few North Koreans manage to cross into China, but are returned if identified by Chinese authorities. Some manage to make their way through China to other countries. The largest North Korean population is in Kazakhstan where authorities have offered them refuge.


Figure 2.-- .


The United States was settled by European peoples. The Spanish camne first, but only in the extremne south. The early immigrant groups cmne from Protestanbt northern Europe. The English established the first permanent settlements. Dutch and Danish settlement were seized by the English and incorporsted into the English colonies. The two most important European ethnic groups were the English and Germans. The whole political and cultural infrastructure was established by the English. English law would play a central role in the success oif the United States. The Germans came in substsntial numbers, but most came to escape politicl and culturl oppression and thus were willing to accept the first English and then American legal abd social institutions which offered substantial economic and political freedom and opportunity. After the Civil War (1861-65) Most immigrants were Protestnts. The first major Catholic immigrants were the Irish, driven in desperation by the Potato Famine (1840s). European immigrants cane in large numbers attracted by immigrants came in large numbers drawn by the extroidinarily success of the American economy based on capitalism. Not country employed the cspitaluist model more throuougly than America. And we begin to see large numbers for the first time from Catholic southern Europe, especiually Italy. They found that the principle of religious freedom set in the Condtitution allowed then opportunity and freedom in a largely Protestant country. There were also immigrants from Scandanavia. They camne in smaller numbers than the Italisns bcause the countries involved were smsller countries. A greater percentage of the poopulsation from these countries emigrsated than from any other area. Included in the ethnic and religious mix that enterested merica after the Civil War were Eastern European Jews fleeling Tsarist oppression.

Middle East and North Africa


America's first encounter with the Arabs was ironically also the first foreign war fought by the young Republic--the Barbary Wars. The first Arabs to reach America came with the mass of Europeans that flooded into America during the Great Migration (1880-1920) that followed the Civil War. This was not Americ's intriduction to Islam. The first Artabs were Christians, mostly from Lebano, fleeing percecution from the Muslim majority. And after the Congress passed a major immigration reform (1920s), emigration from the Arab world became very difficult. This did not change until another immigration reform law designed to elinminatre perceived raciual bias (1960s). This opened the way for Arabs to enter America and many Muslim Arabs took advantage of this opportunity. [Orfalea]

Ottoman Empire

There were immigrants from the Ottomon Empire during the 19th and early 20th century. U.S. immigration records report immifration totaled over 325,000 people. The question arises, however, as to just who these people were. It appears relatively few were ethnic turks. The Ottoman Empire was a multi-ethnic empire. Turks were actually a minority. Christians, Arabs, and Armenions contstituted a major pat of the population. It is difficult to tell just who the people immigrating from Turkey were. One Greek expert believes that two-thirds were ethnic Greeks. [Saloutos] There were also substantial numbers of Arabs. Most came from rural areas of the Levant (modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel). Most but not all of the immigrants were Arab Christians. Many when reaching America worked as laborors, but there was a strong interest in retaiing. They were were largely single men iterested in making moneey and returning home. As in the other European Army, quite a number were attempting to avoid military conscription. Immediately after World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire there was widespread economic disorder. This caused a brief wve of immigrantion from the Levant, especially Lebanon. There were also political refugees as the Europeans (Britain and France) imposed their rule under League of Nations mandates. There were more Muslim Arabs among these immigrants than earlier. This ended with a new a new immigration law which established "national origins" quotas. The quotas for the Ottoman successor states were very low.





Adams, James Tuslow. The Epic of America (1931).

Cullen, Jim. The American Dream: A Short History ofan Idea that Shaped a Nation (Oxford University Press).

Daniels, Roger. Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life (Perennial, 1990), 515p.

Graham. Otis, Jr. Unguarded Gates: A History of America's Immigration Crisis (Rowman Littlefield: 2004).

Olesch, Reinhold. "The West Slavic Languages in Texas with special regard to Sorbian in Serbin, Lee County" in Glenn G. Gilbert, ed. Texas Studies in Bilingualism (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1970).

Orfalea, Gregory. The Arab Americans: The History (2006).

Saloutos, Theodore. A History of Greeks in the United States (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1964).


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Created: 10:37 PM 8/6/2005
Last updated: 11:19 PM 3/24/2020