How has America, with its many ethnic, class, and ideological divisions, allowed divergent groups to hang together as Americans? In this book, a distinguished historian explores the ways in which Americans have conceived of a national identity and demonstrates that an appreciation of America's kaleidoscopic diversity can be reconciled with an affirmation of its common national culture.
This anthology of original, specially commissioned essays is informed at its core by George Santayana's famous edict that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Examining the current surge in nativism in light of past waves of anti-immigrant sentiment, the volume takes an unflinchingly critical look at the realities and rhetoric of the new nativism. How does nativism inform our understanding of the Official English movement today? How has the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty evolved since its dedication, and what can she tell us about the American disposition to immigration? What is the relationship between the races of immigrants and the perception of a national immigration crisis? To what extent does today's political discourse resemble past discourse we comfortably identify as nativist?
Although the United States has always portrayed itself as a sanctuary for the world's victim's of poverty and oppression, anti-immigrant movements have enjoyed remarkable success throughout American history. None attained greater prominence than the Order of the Star Spangled Banner, a fraternal order referred to most commonly as the Know Nothing party. Vowing to reduce the political influence of immigrants and Catholics, the Know Nothings burst onto the American political scene in 1854, and by the end of the following year they had elected eight governors, more than one hundred congressmen, and thousands of other local officials including the mayors of Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Chicago. After their initial successes, the Know Nothings attempted to increase their appeal by converting their network of lodges into a conventional political organization, which they christened the "American Party." Recently, historians have pointed to the Know Nothings' success as evidence that ethnic and religious issues mattered more to nineteenth-century voters than better-known national issues such as slavery. In this important book, however, Anbinder argues that the Know Nothings' phenomenal success was inextricably linked to the firm stance their northern members took against the extension of slavery. Most Know Nothings, he asserts, saw slavery and Catholicism as interconnected evils that should be fought in tandem. Although the Know Nothings certainly were bigots, their party provided an early outlet for the anti-slavery sentiment that eventually led to the Civil War. Anbinder's study presents the first comprehensive history of America's most successful anti-immigrant movement, as well as a major reinterpretation of the political crisis that led to the Civil War.
This revised edition includes extensive discussion of undocumented immigrants, the 1990 immigration act, recent changes in refugee status, and the new wave of East European and Soviet immigrants.
"Peter Schrag is the model for all political writers. He is committed, passionate, and eloquent, but always stays harnessed to the facts and rooted in the realities of politics and human nature. He reports out everything, and he writes like a dream. We can be grateful that in Not Fit for Our Society he has turned his gifts to the seemingly intractable problem of immigration. We will have to settle this issue again, as we always manage to do despite enormous commotion and anxiety. Schrag will force everyone to think more clearly and to approach immigration with both compassion and good sense."—EJ Dionne, Jr., author of Souled Out "Just who is fit to be part of the society that became a nation in 1776 and who decides, and on what basis? In Not Fit for Our Society, Peter Schrag offers an invigorating, well-informed, carefully reasoned investigation into today's immigration debates."—David Hollinger, President of the Organization of American Historians, 2010-2011 "Peter Schrag has a unique view of the immigration debate and policies that have shaped our country since it's founding. His very timely writing of Not Fit for our Society helps us to better understand how the immigration debate and politics have gotten us to where we are today. His insights and intellect on the subject give all of us much to think about as we move forward on this very important issue."—Doris O. Matsui, Member of Congress "Peter Schrag has done it again. A sweeping review that puts the ferocity of our current immigration debate in historical context, Not Fit for Our Society is a must-read for those hoping to get past talk-show rhetoric and cherry-picked facts. Uncovering the dark impulses that have long undergirded nativist thought, he argues that we have seen this before—and that America will be better if we see through it again."—Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California "Peter Schrag offers a lively and thoughtful reinterpretation of America's ambivalence about immigration and immigrants' place in the nation's life. Drawing on his reading of primary sources and the latest scholarship, he tells a story rich in irony, detail, and nuance, tracing the history of nativism from the earliest days of the Republic to the current debates over immigration reform. The book is particularly striking for the way that it connects the arguments and organizations of the current anti-immigration movement to their roots in the eugenics movement and pseudo-scientific racism of the early 20th century."—Mark Paul, New America Foundation "[Schrag] delivers a story rich in irony, detail, and nuance, often told with passion and frequently challenging orthodoxies of both the political right and left. It is the right book at the right time."-Mark Paul, New America Foundation "History's lessons come through loud and clear as Peter Schrag vividly recounts the characters and the ideas behind that side of America that rejects immigration. Illuminating both in its sweep and its detail this 300-year narrative makes an important contribution to our understanding of today's policy debates."—Roberto Suro, author of Strangers Among US: Latino Lives in a Changing America "In an intemperate time, Peter Schrag's voice is lucid and truly American."—Richard Rodriguez
Examines the role of Jewish women immigrants in the garment industry in early twentieth-century America.
By the mid nineteenth century, anti-Catholicism had become a central conflict in America. Fueling the dissent were Protestant groups dedicated to maintaining what they understood to be the Christian vision and spirit of the "founding fathers." Afraid of the religious and moral impact of Catholics, they advocated for stricter laws in order to maintain the Protestant predominance of America. Of particular concern to some of these native-born citizens, or "nativists," were Roman Catholic immigrants whose increasing presence and perceived allegiance to the pope alarmed them. The Nativist Movement in American History draws attention to the religious dimensions of nativism. Concentrating on the mid-nineteenth century and examining the anti-Catholic violence that erupted along the East Coast, Katie Oxx historicizes the burning of an Ursuline convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the Bible Riots in Philadelphia, and the theft and destruction of the "Pope's Stone" in Washington, D.C. In a concise narrative, together with trial transcripts and newspaper articles, poems, and personal narratives, the author introduces the nativist movement to students, illuminating the history of exclusion and these formative clashes between religious groups.
'Mexican New York' offers an intimate view of globalization as it is lived by Mexican immigrants & their children in New York & in Mexico.
"No one writes more thoughtfully or interestingly about the history of the profession than Higham does." -- Laurence Veysey, University of California, Santa Cruz. "A classic in the field, probably the best overall picture of American historiography we have." -- Richard L. Bushman, University of Delaware.
Puerto Rican music in New York is given center stage in Ruth Glasser's original and lucid study. Exploring the relationship between the social history and forms of cultural expression of Puerto Ricans, she focuses on the years between the two world wars. Her material integrates the experiences of the mostly working-class Puerto Rican musicians who struggled to make a living during this period with those of their compatriots and the other ethnic groups with whom they shared the cultural landscape. Through recorded songs and live performances, Puerto Rican musicians were important representatives for the national consciousness of their compatriots on both sides of the ocean. Yet they also played with African-American and white jazz bands, Filipino or Italian-American orchestras, and with other Latinos. Glasser provides an understanding of the way musical subcultures could exist side by side or even as a part of the mainstream, and she demonstrates the complexities of cultural nationalism and cultural authenticity within the very practical realm of commercial music. Illuminating a neglected epoch of Puerto Rican life in America, Glasser shows how ethnic groups settling in the United States had choices that extended beyond either maintenance of their homeland traditions or assimilation into the dominant culture. Her knowledge of musical styles and performance enriches her analysis, and a discography offers a helpful addition to the text.
Arguing that the contemporary commitment to the importance of cultural identity has renovated rather than replaced an earlier commitment to racial identity, Walter Benn Michaels asserts that the idea of culture, far from constituting a challenge to racism, is actually a form of racism. Our America offers both a provocative reinterpretation of the role of identity in modernism and a sustained critique of the role of identity in postmodernism. “We have a great desire to be supremely American,” Calvin Coolidge wrote in 1924. That desire, Michaels tells us, is at the very heart of American modernism, giving form and substance to a cultural movement that would in turn redefine America’s cultural and collective identity—ultimately along racial lines. A provocative reinterpretation of American modernism, Our America also offers a new way of understanding current debates over the meaning of race, identity, multiculturalism, and pluralism. Michaels contends that the aesthetic movement of modernism and the social movement of nativism came together in the 1920s in their commitment to resolve the meaning of identity—linguistic, national, cultural, and racial. Just as the Johnson Immigration Act of 1924, which excluded aliens, and the Indian Citizenship Act of the same year, which honored the truly native, reconceptualized national identity, so the major texts of American writers such as Cather, Faulkner, Hurston, and Williams reinvented identity as an object of pathos—something that can be lost or found, defended or betrayed. Our America is both a history and a critique of this invention, tracing its development from the white supremacism of the Progressive period through the cultural pluralism of the Twenties. Michaels’s sustained rereading of the texts of the period—the canonical, the popular, and the less familiar—exposes recurring concerns such as the reconception of the image of the Indian as a symbol of racial purity and national origins, the relation between World War I and race, contradictory appeals to the family as a model for the nation, and anxieties about reproduction that subliminally tie whiteness and national identity to incest, sterility, and impotence.
Sport in Industrial America, 1850-1920 presents the second edition of Stephen A. Riess’s well-loved synthesis of the development of sport during one of the most transformational times in the nation’s history. New edition maintains the book’s acclaimed level of research, analysis, and readability Explores topics including urbanization, ethnicity, class, sport in educational institutions, women in sport, and sport’s role in manifesting city, regional, and national pride. Includes an entirely new chapter on the globalization of American sport Includes a new bank of photographs and images. Features a newly revised and updated Bibliographical Essay

Best Books