|Writing Assignment 1.
By Adam Bresee
2. Which group of people (From Chapter 2) had the most difficult time being accepted in America and why? Compare this group to at least 3 other groups and cite examples of marginalization, discrimination, stereotyping etc. and why these are significant.
I would say that the group of European immigrants that had the most difficult time being accepted in America would have to be the Irish. Despite the fact that they came from almost the same geographic region as Brits, Scots, French and Germans and Scandinavians they were not placed in the same social class until the early 20th century. Before immigrating to the Americas they suffered extreme famines in their homeland (The Great Famine 1845-1852), horrible religious and social repression from British rule as well as economic repression (Anglo-Irish landlords evicting Catholic peasants from farm lands) (everyculture.com: Irish: History). They had no other choice but to flee to a faraway land that promised a chance for a better life (Notes packet: Pg. 4). Once they arrived in the Americas their welcome was not a warm one. British-American settlers retained their discriminatory anti-Irish views. British-American settlers regarded the Irish as a lower class of immigrant compared to the Germans, Scandinavians, French, and British (Olsen & Beal Pg.41). Since most of the Irish immigrants were peasant farmers they possessed no trade skills or education to find better jobs. This forced most Irish immigrants to take the lowest wage jobs, which in turn forced them live in the lowest ghettos and shanty towns (Olsen & Beal pg41).
Since most other European immigrants were Protestant and viewed the Catholic Irish as a threatening hold over from the Old World (Olsen & Beal pg41). Some Americans couldn’t accept the notion that the Irish could hold dual loyalty to the nation and their church (Olsen & Beal pg41). Discrimination and stereotyping were major problems through the early 20th century. Irish immigrant children were demeaned and ostracized in public school were the King James Bible was used regularly but was forbidden reading to Catholics (Wikipedia: Irish Americans: Discrimination). The Irish endured ridiculous stereotypes carried over from England such as the Irish were less evolved humans, drunks, semi-savage ruffians, some even went as far as to say the Irish were closer to apes than human (everyculture.com: Irish: Acculturation and Assimilation). Other stereotypes varied by gender, Irish women were stereotyped as “reckless breeders” because paranoid Americans feared the growing number of Irish in the states and inferred that it was the women who responsible for increasing their numbers (Wikipedia: Irish Americans: Stereotypes).
Due to British-American bigotry the Irish were marginalized until the late 20th century. This was in direct contrast to the Scottish who surprisingly did not suffer much discrimination in the states besides minor labels like being stingy (everyculture.com: Multicultural America: Scottish and Scot-Irish Americans: Acculturation and Assimilation).
The French did not have a very difficult time (collectively) assimilating into the U.S. Most immigrants were usually white Protestant merchants or skilled artisans that saw the U.S. as a classless secular society that they could easily adopt (everyculture.com: French Americans: Acculturation and Assimilation). Those who made up the Second Wave French immigration were mostly educated individuals that had little trouble assimilating (Notes packet: Pg. 3). French Americans had some of the highest intermarriage rates of all non-English speaking immigrants to the U.S. (everyculture.com: French Americans: Acculturation and Assimilation).
These two groups showed the great contrast of acceptance and assimilation amongst the different European immigrants. I the Irish were unjustly discriminated against because of old world views and religious bigotry. Because of these factors the Irish had the most difficult time adjusting to life in the Americas.