The Americanization concept is one that has deep roots to the general imagination based on America as a country. Taking from the year 1908, where a British writer, Israel Zangwill, proceeded to writing a stage play with a title which brought a common metaphor known as The Melting Pot which became a popular concept relative to America. Presenting the debut in the presence of hundreds of American audience in the year 1909, the writer mentioned the story of a particular David Quixano, Jewish-Russian immigrant who possessed the intention of moving to the United States following the death of his family after a violent anti-Semitic riot taking place in Russia. The story was however fictional. For this character, Quixano, America was the best culturally blended place to be in the world. This is actually a view that many immigrants possessed especially at that time. The character viewed the country as a passage way to success, a place that had more opportunities as compared to any other place in the world, a place that came with a promise of possibility, and general acceptance. Long before the writer could develop the general name Melting pot, the country of America had already received a global reputation as the best place to be for an immigrant.
The very first immigrants to settle in the country were from New England. They were referred to as the Puritans and Pilgrims. These settlers had left their homes in England with an aim of practicing their religion in a more free way far from any discrimination or antagonistic interruptions from the Church of England. These voyaged into the soils of America in the early 1600s. Few years later, coming to the 1800s, came the French Revolution that made whooping thousands of individuals who had settled in rural areas of Europe to seek refuge within the American borders far from the war that was happening that led to the breakdown of the entire government systems. The 19th century saw millions of Irish immigrants who were Catholics move across the Atlantic into America as they sort refuge due to the devastating famine that had struck Ireland. They ended up settling along most of the east coast section of the country. The next wave was from the Asian side of the globe, where the Chinese and the Japanese immigrants started landing into California in sections and as workers in the western section of the country considering the general works on the railroads that had brought the thoughts of riches into many peoples minds.
With all these arrival from the different immigrants across the world, together with their different cultural backgrounds and practices, it can be considered a phenomenon that was crucial in the general molding of America as a country together with its entire identity in a public view. This also brought the general view of the country as a place that was safe and suitable for the many that could be suffering from different social, economic or religious divides. This refuge concept became a pillar in Americas history and viewed as a country that was home to many despite their ideologies or religion.
The view, of America as a land that accepted everyone and anyone without discrimination, however, was not to remain so in reality considering the wide spread intentions that were put in place to cut off the immigrants from their customs and replace that with a rather expected version of Americanisms that penetrates society. There was actually a vivid tradition within the American culture, one that built walls separating the immigrants or even refugees, and for the few who make it through this wall, end up denying their cultural roots just with an aim of fitting in without any stigmatization to worry about.
Examples of such hostility from the American side towards the immigrants can be seen in the letter written by Benjamin Franklin to Peter Collinson, on 9th of May 1753. Franklin displays a particular level of hostility towards the Pennsylvanian Germans. This hostility was born from the 1740s when there were wrangles with the Spanish and French who sort to claim the Delaware Bay and the claims on the trans-Appalachian area. The individuals who had dominated the Pennsylvanian assembly denied the provision of defense. This saw Franklin move to developing a volunteer group that was to act as the defense over the colony, and in doing so had hoped that the Germans who had settled around the area at that time would also join the movement. Following the event, the Germans did not however join the movement, which was entirely opposite to what he had expected. This led to Franklin doubting their loyalty. He developed fear that there could be a probability that the Germans would join sides with the French which was in agreement with the Brief View of the Conduct of Pennsylvania by William Smith, which stated that the French had switched their hopes to the big number of German settlers within the Pennsylvania region. It also stated that the French were sending their missionaries among the Germans to try and persuade them to turn against the state and have them over to the Popish Religion with a price of ample settlement over the claimed Ohio River valley. Franklins view of the Germans loyalty kept becoming a critical issue to him considering the looming war with French. However, the Pennsylvanian Germans kept in support of the Quakers who were governing the region at that time and were against the Franklins move because they sort to maintain the presence of freedom of worship, suitable taxes, and inclusive of pacifism.
Following the encouragement and general support from Peter Collinson and William Smith, Franklin developed a proposal that was rigid in trying to ensure an uncut allegiance from the Pennsylvanian Germans. Despite the fact that he did not advocate for the termination of the Germans settlement within the region, he strongly vividly developed recommendations of having their settlements regulated and he saw to it that the Germans were distributed in a perfect ration all over the British America. He even maintained Collinsons suggestion that the German children to be taught English and for the Germans within the area, they were to be Anglicans. Even after all the premonitions that Franklin had about the Germans, when the war began in 1754, the Pennsylvanian Germans did not at all ally with the French and neither did they remain in union with the political Quakers. Many of these Germans actually became more vigilant and started more efforts aimed at defending the colony.
More to that, Samuel F. B. Morse, in 1835, states his fears that the general flow of immigrants was proving to be a threat to ruining American inequality. He proceeds to mentioning that the desired equality was not the one that was built on arguments that were all driven towards a property point of view but rather, the desired equality was one that set up invisible walls for any individual who sort to becoming the richest or even most learned compared to the others. This was a view that allowed any, and every individual without any other obstacles apart from the normal ones based on human nature to equally strive for the best in their life despite whom they were or where they came from so that they can all seek wealth, happiness, and knowledge.
Native partisans such as Franklin possess quite a long history in America considering they began major movements from the 1800s. These movements were generally aimed at opposing the in-flow of immigrants and they also put more emphasis in maintaining the purity of the American Values. In the early 1800s, the federal government put very minimal efforts in trying to control the movement of immigrants into the country. There were however some naturalization set of rules that were established in the late 18th century and as from the year 1819; immigrants into the country were expected to have their arrival reported to the United States Government. The rather weak implementation of this rules allowed for the settlement of very many undocumented immigrants. In the 1870s and 1880s, the general Asian culture was demonized, and even following the 1875 Page Act which was targeted specifically to the Asian workers, prostitutes or even convicts, who were denied entry into America. The act was primarily aimed at making the immigration of Asians difficult. This was also followed in the 1882s Chinese exclusion Act which banned the immigration of the Chinese individuals into the United States.
Going back to the Americanization play by Zangwill, it came at a very crucial moment where there were confused views from the public and critics. The melting pot concept becomes very inconsistent with what people would have anticipated generally. The Melting pot, which was a view based on the general acceptance of America as a beautiful combination of diversity in cultures (and religion at some point), becomes rather vivid to symbolizing the overall diminishing acceptance of culture in the United States. Despite the shortcomings of the American country as a whole, the Melting pot remained to be the view of the country for many years after the play by Zangwill. Considering the time that the Asian immigrants were even pushed into forming Chinatown, which was one formed following the racial tension that was on the rise at that time. Following the mid 20th century, the Melting pot concept was however put under deep scrutiny and was exposed to quite a number of critical examinations which reveals that the entire concept is more complicated that we can actually conclude from its claimed truths. From the discussion above, there is proof of general hostility towards the immigrants into America, but the actual sad fact is that this hostile nature does not really seem to die of as we progress; instead it is on the constant rise every century.
Weaver, Glenn. "Benjamin Franklin and the Pennsylvania Germans." The William and Mary Quarterly: A Magazine of Early American History (1957): 536-559.
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