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Thursday, February 23, 2006

In North America it was founded principally upon the fear that immigrant attitudes will erode the distinctive features of the majority culture. Unlike ethnocentrism, a generalized, largely passive perception of the superiority of one's own culture, Nativisim leads to pronounced activism and sometimes hostile measures taken in order to avert a perceived dnager. Nativism is common in most cultures during times of economic or political turmoil, and thee have been periodic waves of Nativism in both the United States and Canada throughout their histories.

In the United States, there had been from the earliest colonila days a mistrust among settlers from different countries and of different religions. These general antiphaties first rose to form Nativist movements to the 1790s, when the Federalists hoped to keep out what they saw as the corroding influence of radical immigrants by passing the ALIEN AND SEDITION ACTS. With the majority of settlers in British territories being Protestant Anglicans and Puritans, Quakers and Roman Catholics were seen as potential threats to the traiditonal English order. While these attitudes persisted in the early republic, there was no full Nativist frenzy until the 1830s. Yhe influx of more than a quarter of a million Irish, most of them Catholic, between 1820 and 1840 led to the second great wave of Nativism in the United States.

As most Americans were members of Protestant denominations that fostered the ethic of American individualism, it was easy to convince people in hard times that "Papal Schemes" to control American societies were afoot. SAMUEL F.B. MORSE'S Foreign Conspiracy against the Liberties of the United States (1834) and Reverend Lyman Beecher's A Plea for the West (1835) sought to alert American to clandestine plots being mastermined in Rome for the cultural takeover of the country.

Sensational exposes of Catholic practices were common in the press. Maria Monk's Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery of Montreal (1836), purporting to tell the firsthand account of the author's imprisonment in a Catholic monastery, many Americans feared the potential power of the Roman Catholic Church to overrun the Protestant foundation of the emerging public system of education. This sometimes led to violence, as in the Philadelphia riots in 1884, when a number of Iriah Catholics were killed and several churches burned. Thsi anti-Catholic Nativism led during the 1850s to the rise of the Secret Order of the Star Spangled Banner, more commonly known as the Know Nothing or American Party.

The Know Nothings were particularly strong in the Northeast and border regions. In the wake of their strong shwoing in 1854 and 1855, in which they gained control of several state governments and sent more than 100 congressmen to Washington, tehy attempted to restrict immigration, delay natrualization and perceived Catholic abuses. Finding little evidence to support Catholic crimes or conspiracies and with the country embroiled in the states rights and slavery issues. Know Nothing political influence and anti Catholic Nativism waned. Many non-Catholic Americans remained suspcious of Catholics, and occassionally anit Catholic Nativism reemerged, as in the formation of the AMERICAN PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION (1887)

The Theory of racial eugenies and international politics combined during World War I (1914-18)to produce an especially virulent strain of Nativism. Widely read pseudo-scientific works such as Madison Grant's Passing of the Great Race (1916) and Lothrop Stoddard's The Rising Tide of Color (1920) argued that Anglo Saxon vitality and success were threatened with mongrelization if immigrantion continued unabated.According to Grant, interraccial unions led to reversions to a "more ancient, generalized and lower" race. Blaming the Central Powers for World War I and Russians and Jews for the Bolshevik Revolution, which led to the establishment of the world's first communist state ifn 1917, Americans widely accepted the distinction between "old", pre-1880 immigration from westen and northern Europe. Throughout kuch of the 1920s, fear of German, Russians and Jewish subversives was commonplace and led to a revival of the Ku Klux Klan as an antiforeign organization and to a wholesale adoption of restrictive immigration legistlative witht he JOHNSON-REED ACT (1924) and the ORIENTAL EXCLUSION ACT (1924), the former practically eliminating immigration from eastern and southern Europe and the latter prohibiting virtually all Asian immigration.

Nativism undoubtedly contributed to President Franklin Roosevelt's unwillingness to suppor the Wagner-Rogers Bill (1939)which would have allowed annual admissions beyond quota, for two years, of 20,000 German refugees under the age of 14. Also during the depression years of the 1930s, more than 500,000 Mexican Americans were repatriated to Mexico. With the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939, restrictions on immigration were increased. Fear of undercover agents led to a drastic reduction of admission from Nazi-occupied countries, the Alien Registration Act was passed in 1940, the IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE (INS) was moved from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice, and a network of law enforcement agencies was authorized to compile a list ofaliens for possible internment should the United States enter the war. This eventually led to the internment of some 3,500 Italians, 6,000 Germans and under the provisions of Executive Order 9066, 113,000 Japanese, more than 60 percent of whom were American Citizens.

Nativism began to ebb after World War II. THE McCARRAN-WALTER IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT (1952) maintained guotas but eliminated race as a barrier. U.S. Cold War commitments led to the admission of a variety of refugess on an exceptional basis. Finally, the IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY ACT of 1965 abolished the national origins system and favored reunification of families, regardless of homeland.

Source: Abstracted from the book NORTH AMERICAN IMMIGRATION by: John Powell)
posted by infraternam meam @ 2:23 PM  
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