Whereas in 1915 Theodore Roosevelt could proclaim with great conviction that there was no room in the United States for hyphenated Americans, today it is common for Americans to identify precisely as hyphenated Americans, proud of their ethnic heritage. And whilst in 2015 the debate on undocumented immigration is perceived to have reached crisis point, the US continues to project itself as a “nation of immigrants.” These reversals and contradictions in American political discourse are scrutinized here in a historical survey of the Americanization movement of a hundred years ago and the concept of the “nation of immigrants” that originated with John F. Kennedy in the Cold War sixty years later. In the analysis of primary and key historiographical sources on twentieth-century American immigration, a change from ethnic shame to ethnic pride is tracked down, revealing both the long-term effects of Americanization as a programme of social engineering and the ongoing ideological work that the “nation of immigrants” slogan performs for American national identity.
1 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Immigration,” 20 Nov. 2014, at www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/20/remarks-president-address-nation-immigration, accessed 8 Dec. 2015, emphasis added.
2 This was executive action; having explained his frustration with Republican leaders in the House who refused to cooperate in the passing of a bipartisan bill on immigration reform, President Obama asserted his “legal authority … as President” to “help make our immigration system more fair and more just.” Ibid. Cisneros, David J. explains the background of the failed 2013 bill in “A Nation of Immigrants and a Nation of Laws: Race, Multiculturalism, and Neoliberal Exception in Barack Obama's Immigration Discourse,” Communication, Culture & Critique (2015), 1–20, 3 at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cccr.12088/full, accessed 8 Dec. 2015. The mixing of liberal and conservative tropes in Obama's immigration discourse is insightfully analysed in Dorsey, Margaret E. and Díaz-Barriga, Miguel's “Senator Barack Obama and Immigration Reform,” Journal of Black Studies, 38, 1 (2007), 90–104.
3 “Remarks by the President.”
4 Or, like the new neoliberal subjects David Cisneros describes, who are “produced through discourses about values, competence, hard work, and respectability – all of which become indexed to whiteness.” Cisneros, 5.
5 “Remarks by the President.”
6 We would be mistaken to think that Obama's executive order typifies a reversal of his predecessor's immigration policy. Dorsey and Díaz-Barriga note his conservative emphasis on “earned citizenship,” and write, “his rhetoric looks like that of President Bush.” Dorsey and Díaz-Barriga, 97. Cisneros goes further and explains that, partly by means of devolving immigration control to states and local programmes such as Secure Communities, Obama's “represents one of the strictest enforcement regimes in decades, including record numbers of deportations, more Border Control personnel, heightened use of surveillance technologies, and increased fence construction.” Cisneros, 3.
7 The White House, George W. Bush, “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” 26 June 2007, at http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/infocus/immigration, accessed 8 Dec. 2015.
8 US Department of Homeland Security, Task Force on New Americans, Building an Americanization Movement for the Twenty-First Century: A Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on New Americans (Washington, DC: 2008) 1. A summary of the Report is now available on the US government website at www.uscis.gov/archive/archive-news/fact-sheet-building-americanization-movement-21st-century-report-president-united-states-task-force-new-americans; a PDF of the full text can still be found in the archive on www.uscis.gov, both accessed 8 Dec. 2015.
9 Ibid., iv. The report was the result of two years of consultation and historiographical research and involved a wide range of organizations and interest groups from across the political spectrum. Its status today is unclear; published after the election of Barack Obama, the report became irrelevant as soon as it appeared – which is not to say that it may not be brought to life again should a Republican be elected President in 2016.
10 Space does not permit a detailed comparison between the twentieth-century campaign and this proposal for Americanization in the twenty-first. That there ever was a concerted, top-down, nationwide programme for Americanization of new immigrants is today known only by specialists such as immigration historians and social scientists. Media and political discourse routinely ignore it and refer to “Americanization” as an organic, inevitable process of immigrant adaptation to life in the US, part of the nation's story of progress over the twentieth century.
11 I am not concerned here with ostensible diversification measures such as the Title IX Ethnic Heritage Studies Program, passed by Congress in 1974 in response to a long campaign by ethnic activists. See, for this history, James Anderson, “The Evolution and Probable Future of Ethnic Heritage Studies,” at http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED184964, accessed 8 Dec. 2015.
12 Rudy Vecoli saw a similar dynamic at work in the 1980s, when he wrote that the “return to the melting pot,” which had started to appear in Reaganite public rhetoric, “ought not to be mistaken with the underlying social reality of ethnic diversity and multiculturalism.” Vecoli, Rudolph J., “Return to the Melting Pot: Ethnicity in the United States in the Eighties,” Journal of American Ethnic History, 5, 1 (1985), 7–20, 17. See, for the process of Americanization as conceived contemporaneously, Huebner, Grover G., “The Americanization of the Immigrant,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 27 (May 1906), 191–213.
13 “Remarks by the President.”
14 Roger Daniels argues in his well-known history of American immigration that we can and indeed should regard Africans as “immigrants,” because doing so would merge the history of slavery and the African diaspora with immigration history, enhancing both. Although I accept his reasoning, to advocate recognition of slaves as “immigrants” in order to achieve a more integrated historiography is to sacrifice the politically crucial distinction between forced migration and free labour. Roger Daniels, Coming to America: A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life, 2nd edn (New York: Harper Perennial, 2002) 54–55.
15 “Remarks by the President,” n.p.
16 The issue is complicated and potentially doubly offensive to African Americans because most of them, including Michelle Obama, can lay claim to slave ancestry whereas he cannot. Indeed, during his 2007 election campaign Obama's credibility problems were not confined to the Republican right (who demanded he produce his birth certificate to prove his American citizenship) but were also a concern among African Americans who had battled through the civil rights era, because of what they saw as his shallow grounding in black history and activism. See Lauret, Maria, “How to Read Michelle Obama,” Patterns of Prejudice, 45, 1–2 (2011), 95–117.
17 Angela Davis, “Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex,” at http://colorlines.com/archives/1998/09/masked_racism_reflections_on_the_prison_industrial_complex.html, accessed 8 Dec. 2015.
18 Edward George Hartmann, The Movement to Americanize the Immigrant (New York: Columbia University Press, 1948) 7.
19 Paul Spickard, Almost All Aliens: Immigration, Race, and Colonialism in American History and Identity (New York: Routledge 2007), 432.
20 Former President Theodore Roosevelt, “Americanism,” address before the Knights of Columbus, Carnegie Hall, 10 Oct. 1915, in The Works of Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Edition, at www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trspeechescomplete.html 781 pdf, accessed 8 Dec. 2015, italics added.
21 John Fitzgerald Kennedy, “A Nation of Immigrants,” New York Times Magazine, 4 Aug. 1963, 162–63, 205, italics added. This was an extract from John Fitzgerald Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008; first published 1964).
22 Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants, 102–3. Anti-Catholicism has deep roots in American Nativism; see, for example, Carlson, A. Cheree, “The Rhetoric of the Know-Nothing Party: Nativism as a Response to the Rhetorical Situation,” Southern Communication Journal, 54, 4 (1989), 364–83; Haynes, George H., “The Causes of Know-Nothing Success in Massachusetts,” American Historical Review, 3, 1 (1897), 67–82; John Higham's classic Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism 1860–1925 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1988); Levine, Bruce, “Conservatism, Nativism, and Slavery: Thomas R. Whitney and the Origins of the Know-Nothing Party,” Journal of American History, Sept. 2001, 455–88; Taylor, Steven, “Progressive Nativism: The Know-Nothing Party in Massachusetts,” Historical Journal of Massachusetts, 28, 2 (2000), 167–84.
23 Kennedy, “A Nation of Immigrants,” 205, italics added. See, for Kennedy's several visits to Ireland and his family connections there, Ellis, Sylvia, “The Historical Significance of President Kennedy's Visit to Ireland in June 1963,” Irish Studies Review, 16, 2 (2008), 113–30. I am sceptical about the idea that Kennedy's personal connection with his “cousins” in Ireland (both literal and not) was a major factor in the introduction of new immigration legislation. His initiatives in liberalizing immigration as a senator and then as President were unsuccessful and the file of his speeches on immigration in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is slight. See www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKCAMP1960-1061-021.aspx, accessed 8 Dec. 2015. Any reputation for immigration law reform connected with the Kennedy name was earned later, by Senator Edward Kennedy.
24 Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants, 150.
25 Building an Americanization Movement, 1.
26 This sense of historic guilt had no doubt been strengthened by the Anti-defamation League and B'nai B'rith's appeal to the young JFK, which purportedly instigated the writing of A Nation of Immigrants. Mehlmann, Ira makes this interesting point in “John F. Kennedy and Immigration Reform,” Social Contract, 1, 4, What Makes a Nation? special issue (Summer 1991) , at www.thesocialcontract.com/artman2/publish/tsc0104/article_66.shtml, accessed 8 Dec. 2015.
27 Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants, 149, 152.This view was not new and neither was Kennedy's July 1963 legislative initiative unprecedented. If anything, it came rather late; in 1952 President Truman had unsuccessfully tried to veto the McCarran-Walter Act (which updated but essentially maintained the principles of the 1924 National Origins Act), noting the “absurdity, the cruelty of carrying over into this year of 1952 the isolationist limitations of the 1924 law.” President Truman, cited by Center for Immigration Studies (anonymous author), “Three Decades of Mass Immigration: The Legacy of the 1965 Immigration Act,” Sept. 1995), at http://cis.org/1965ImmigrationAct-MassImmigration, accessed 8 Dec. 2015.
28 Notoriously, President Lyndon B. Johnson remarked on signing the new Act into law on 3 Oct. 1965, “This bill we sign today is not a revolutionary bill. It does not affect the lives of millions. It will not restructure the shape of our daily lives or add importantly to our wealth and power … This bill says simply that from this day forth those wishing to emigrate to America shall be admitted on the basis of their skills and their close relationship to those already here.” These were infamous words: the 1965 Act changed the face of America out of all recognition and decisively affected voter demographics over the next 50 years by creating what has been called “the browning of America.” Kennedy, Edward M., “The Immigration Act of 1965,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 367 (1966) 137–49, 148.
29 See Luibheid, Eithne, “The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act: An End to Exclusion?” Positions, Fall 1997, 501–22, 509.
30 Indeed, President Bush's Task Force of 2008 aimed at something rather similar when it called upon “immigrants and native-born alike” to “uphold and pledge allegiance to foundational principles enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” in order that “the United States remains a successful nation.” Building an Americanization Movement, 1.
31 Hayden serves as a case study of white self-ethnicization in Matthew Frye Jacobson's Roots Too: White Ethnic Revival in Post-Civil Rights America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009)
32 As Vecoli reminds us, e pluribus unum originally referred to the union of states that was formed at the time of the American Revolution from the 13 original colonies. Since then, it has taken on all sorts of expedient other meanings, of which the most recent is “out of many [peoples, or ethnicities] one.” Vecoli, Rudolph J., “The Significance of Immigration in the Formation of American Identity,” History Teacher, 30, 1 (1996), 9–27, 9.
33 Vecoli, “Return to the Melting Pot,” 8, reports that this was the consensus by the 1960s.
34 Cisneros, “A Nation of Immigrants,” 14.
35 Samuel Huntington, Who Are We? America's Great Debate (New York: Free Press, 2004) 4–5.
36 As Mary Antin cannily titled her 1912 memoir of immigration to America: The Promised Land (Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 2012). That she was rather more complex than the good immigrant of Huntington's memory is explained in my analysis of her book in Maria Lauret, Wanderwords: Language Migration in American Literature (New York: Bloomsbury 2014), 67–94.
37 For attention to and retention of ethnic cultures from Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan's Beyond the Melting Pot: Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1963) onwards see Leonard Dinnerstein, Roger L. Nichols and David M. Reimers, Natives and Strangers: Ethnic Groups and the Building of America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979); Michael Novak, The Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics: Politics and Culture in American Life (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1995); Leonard Dinnerstein and David M. Reimers, Ethnic Americans: A History of Immigration (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999); Donna R. Gabaccia, Immigration and American Diversity: A Social and Cultural History (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002); Matthew Frye Jacobson, Special Sorrows: The Diasporic Imagination of Irish, Polish, and Jewish Immigrants in the United States (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002); Jacobson, Roots Too.
38 Higham, John, “Integrating America: The Problem of Assimilation in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of American Ethnic History, 1, 1 (Fall 1981), 7–25, 20, italics added.
39 President Bush's Task Force Report recommended much the same multilevel approach for Americanization in the twenty-first century.
40 See Gabaccia.
41 English as “our common language” and mastery of it as mandatory for citizenship was contested in the early twentieth-century campaign, as it is today too. English is not now and has never been the official language of the United States. If Americanizers now and then demand(ed) it, they did so in opposition to others who believed language was not essential to citizenship, or they do so against all evidence that bilingualism or multilingualism is a greater asset in the globalized world of today than the English-only advocated by proponents of an official English amendment to the Constitution.
42 Graham, Otis L. Jr. and Koed, Elizabeth, “Americanizing the Immigrant, Past and Future: History and Implications of a Social Movement,” Public Historian, 15, 4 (Autumn 1993), 24–49, 44. “Radical/terrorist” is an informative slip also because it makes visible just how many parallels those interested in “intervention to assist assimilation” saw between social divisions in the early twenty-first and the early twentieth centuries, and why they looked to the Americanization movement of the 1910s and 1920s for inspiration and precedent for such intervention. Unfortunately I have not been able to trace precisely which “US philanthropic institution” commissioned Graham and Koed's work. It appeared in the Public Historian preceded by an authors’ statement explaining the commission and followed by critical “Reviewers’ Comments” as well as the “Client's Evaluation of the Usefulness of the Work Product.” The latter was largely positive; it concluded that “our foundation will be inclined to look upon assimilation-assisting efforts more favourably than before we commissioned and read this report.” Ibid., 49.
43 Spickard, Almost All Aliens, ix, therefore admonishes us in one of his chapter headings to think of this period and these immigrants “Not [in terms of] Assimilation But Race Making.”
44 Jacobson, Roots Too, 21.
45 Barrett, James R. and Roediger, David, “‘InBetween Peoples’: Race, Nationality and the New Immigrant Working Class,” Journal of American Ethnic History, 16, 3 (1997), 3–44.
46 As Ieva Zake has shown for erstwhile eastern and central European immigrants, by mid-century “the anticommunist white ethnics’ understanding of themselves as true Americans was partly built on a conflict with ethnic and racial minorities who, according to the white ethnics, were critical because they had failed to appreciate the US”; gratitude and American nationalism were thus tied up with each other. Zake, Ieva, “Anticommunist White Ethnics in Search of True Americanness: Ideas and Alliances in the 1950s–1970s,” Journal of American Studies, 47, 4 (2013), 1065–80, 1073, italics added.
47 Native Americans were only granted full citizenship with the Snyder or Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.
48 James Barrett writes of the Red Scare of 1919 as “a kind of enforced Americanization,” which immigrants with radical sympathies had to accept on pain of being deported or put in jail. Barrett, James R., “Americanization from the Bottom Up: Immigration and the Remaking of the Working Class in the United States, 1880–1930,” Journal of American History, 79, 3, Discovering America: A Special Issue (Dec. 1992), 996–1020, 1019.
49 “To be great a nation need not be of one blood, it must be of one mind,” wrote the sociologist John Commons in 1907. Cited by Carlson, Robert A., “Americanization as an Early Twentieth-Century Adult Education Movement,” History of Education Quarterly, 10, 4 (1970), 440–64, 447.
50 Stephen Emory Bogardus, Essentials of Americanization (Memphis, TN: General Books, 2010; first published 1920) 1.
51 Hartmann, The Movement to Americanize the Immigrant, 235–36, 237. We should be careful, however, to distinguish the red-baiting of this period from that in the Cold War. By 1920, even an enthusiastic Americanizer like Edward Bok could still see the Soviet Union as offering the working man the kind of opportunity hitherto only available in the US: “Russia may, as I like to believe she will, prove a second United States of America in this respect,” Bok wrote open-mindedly. Edward W. Bok, The Americanization of Edward Bok: The Autobiography of a Dutch Boy Fifty Years After, 49th edn (New York: Charles Scribner and Sons, 1922; first published 1920), 448.
52 Gibbs, Lincoln R., “Americanization and Literature,” English Journal, 9, 10 (Dec. 1920), 551–56, 551.
53 For, of course, there is a fundamental contradiction underlying both the early twentieth-century and the Bush administration's calls for Americanization of the immigrant; if, as the writers of the Task Force report believe, immigrants have come and continue to come to the United States in pursuit of “liberty and justice for all,” then there should be no need to “educate” them (at best) or coerce them (at worst) into respect for America's “core civic culture.” Building an Americanization Movement for the Twenty First Century, 1.
54 Horace Kallen, “Democracy versus the Melting Pot,” The Nation, 25 Feb. 1915, n.p., at nationalhumanitiescenter.org/ows/seminarsflvs/Kallen.pdf, accessed 8 Dec. 2015.
55 Carol Aronovici, Americanization (St. Paul: Keller Publishing Co., 1919), n.p.
56 Carlson, “The Rhetoric of the Know-Nothing Party,” 372.
57 Goodall, Alex, “Two Concepts of Un-Americanism,” Journal of American Studies, 47, 4 (2013), 925–42, 929.
58 US Department of Homeland Security, “Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America,” at www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/naturalization-test/naturalization-oath-allegiance-united-states-america, accessed 8 Dec. 2015. Wikipedia helpfully provides a comparison of oaths of naturalization in various countries, which reveals that no other is quite so long and so detailed as that of the US, and no other demands the renunciation of allegiance to the pledger's country of birth. See Wikipedia, “Oath of Citizenship,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_citizenship#United_States, accessed 8 Dec. 2015. Steven Taylor outlines the legacy of the New England Know-Nothings to the Progressive Party, and therefore to Theodore Roosevelt's thinking, in “Progressive Nativism.”
59 The Immigration Act of 1924 reduced the number of immigrants to the US to 2% of those of that nationality already living in the country in 1880. In practice this meant that immigration from the new regions (southern and eastern Europe) was restricted between 1924 and 1965, when the new Immigration Act was passed, to hundreds per year, in stark contrast to the hundreds of thousands and millions who had been allowed to come in any given year between 1880 and 1920.
60 A good general source for such an approach is Christiane Harzig and Dirk Hoerder, with Donna Gabaccia, What Is Migration History? (Cambridge: Polity, 2009).
61 Daniels, Coming to America, 25; and Harzig and Hoerder, What Is Migration History?, 41–12, make some interesting observations as regards US immigration figures by comparison with Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Australia.
62 Mark Krikorian, Center for Immigration Studies, “Legal Immigration: What Is to Be Done?”, at http://cis.org/articles/2001/blueprints/krikorian.html, accessed 8 Dec. 2015, emphasis added.
63 Battisti, Danielle, “The American Committee on Italian Migration, Anti-Communism, and Immigration Reform,” Journal of American Ethnic History, 3, 2 (2012), 11–40, 11–12.
64 Building an Americanization Movement for the 21st Century, 1.
65 Hyde's concern is with creativity and I am thus taking his work out of context, but the anthropological frame fits all the same. Lewis Hyde, The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World (New York: Canongate, 2007; first published 1983), xviii.
66 In the series, documented and undocumented individuals tell of their travails with the INS as first-generation migrants. They relate their unjust treatment “for being a Chinese American and a Muslim” (James Yee) or their difficulty in obtaining citizenship despite having served in the military for many years (Guadalupe Denogean), yet they invariably affirm their allegiance to the United States. For a description of the project see Cynthia Weber, I am an American: Portraits of Post-9/11 U. S. Citizens, at www.iamanamericanproject.com, and for the videos https:// www.opendemocracy.net/article/i_am_an_american_portraits_of_post_9_11_us_citizens, both accessed 8 Dec. 2015.
67 See, for example, the episode with film director Mike Nichols. Nichols's parents were refugees from Nazi Germany and in light of that particular history the sentiment is understandable – were it not for the fact that the US's record on accepting Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany before and during World War II is nothing to write home about. According to the Holocaust Museum, only 137,450 Jewish refugees had settled in the US by 1952. Besides, fleeing to the US, no less than to other countries like Canada or Argentina, often entailed significant hardship and discrimination for the first generation of Jewish refugees. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “United States Policy towards Jewish Refugees, 1941–1952,” Holocaust Encyclopaedia, at www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007094, accessed 8 Dec. 2015.
68 Battisti, 12. Hartmann, The Movement to Americanize the Immigrant, 271–72, adds to this that the Americanization movement resulted in a “deepening of inferiority complexes as the immigrants became increasingly aware that they were considered problems by many of their native American neighbors.”
69 See his first volume of autobiographical essays, Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (New York: Bantam, 1983).
70 Jacobson, Roots Too, 21.
71 As if, because in this third and fourth generation ethnicity was, as Herbert Gans argued in 1979, now (re)claimed in largely symbolic form, nostalgically as a tradition one could take pride in, but did no longer have to live. See Gans, Herbert, “Symbolic Ethnicity: the Future of Ethnic Groups and Cultures in America,” Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2, 1 (1979), 1–20.
72 Immigration of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Kennedy wrote, “gave every old American a standard by which to judge how far he had come and every new American a realization of how far he might go.” Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants, 99.
73 Jacobson cites David Horowitz in the debate about slave reparations: “as a Jew I owe a debt to America … black Americans … should feel the same way.” We can take this as an example of the gratitude paradigm in full ideological swing, counting the legacy of slavery as one of the plethora of privileges the US has bestowed on its citizens. Jacobson, Roots Too, 335.
74 Many historians of Americanization take their cue from Edward G. Hartmann's The Movement to Americanize the Immigrant of 1948, the only monograph that, as far as I have been able to ascertain, has ever been published on the early twentieth-century movement. Consultation of primary sources such as field reports and the handbooks which were in (mass) circulation at the time (such as Ruby M. Boughman's report on Americanization in LA, “What Los Angeles Is Doing in Americanization, Beginning with the Schools,” Part 1, in Albert A. Shiels, ed., Americanization: What It Means, How It Operates, How Every City and Town Can Put It into Practical Application (n.p., 1919), 27–28; Aronovici, Americanization; and Bogardus, Essentials of Americanization, cited above) gives a more contemporaneous view of the depth and reach of the movement on the ground and in action, however.
75 Carlson, “Americanization as an Early Twentieth-Century Adult Education Movement,” 452.
76 As noted above, the Act stipulated that no more than 2% of the number of people of a particular national origin already living in the United States according to 1920 Census figures would be allowed entry per year. In practice, this quota system heavily favoured those of Irish, German, and UK origin; according to Desmond King these countries accounted for “about 70 percent of the annual quota of approximately 158,000.” Desmond King, The Liberty of Strangers: Making the American Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 60.
77 For a good selection of critical perspectives on this notoriously slippery concept see Michael Kazin and Joseph A. McCartin, eds., Americanism: New Perspectives on the History of an Ideal (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006).
78 Many immigrant autobiographies of the period, for example, measured the narrator/author's progress by the extent of their Americanization; The Americanization of Edward Bok epitomized this phenomenon. Like Mary Antin's more ambivalent The Promised Land, Bok's book quickly became a best seller and was used by the Americanization campaign as an exemplary text in civics classes.
79 We might think here of the resurgence of a rabid “patriotic” nationalism and concurrent xenophobia in the wake of 9/11, of which the Tea Party's demand that President Obama submit his birth certificate was a delayed and extreme expression.
80 Among the many scholars who have recounted this story are Joshua L. Miller in Accented America: The Cultural Politics of Multilingual Modernism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011); Susan Currell in American Culture in the 1920s (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009); and Werner Sollors in Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).
81 Olneck, Michael, “Americanization and the Education of Immigrants, 1900–1925: An Analysis of Symbolic Action,” American Journal of Education, 97, 4 (Aug. 1989), 398–423, 399.
82 Page's declaration was personalized as “An American's Creed” and concluded, “I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.” As William Tyler Page's “The American's Creed” it can be found online at www.ushistory.org/documents/creed.htm, accessed 8 Dec. 2015.
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