The Italian-American Vote in Providence, Rhode Island, 1916-1948

By Stefano Luconi | Go to book overview

1
Introduction

IN AN OBITUARY OF FORMER U.S. DEMOCRATIC SENATOR FROM RHODE Island John O. Pastore, a renowned politician of Italian extraction who died on 15 July 2000, Italian-American syndicated columnist Mary Ann Sorrentino argued that [a part of the great history of Italian immigrants in America will be buried with him—that chapter about persecution in our parents' and grandparents' struggle for equality that ended, in part, because this one great Rhode Islander showed the world what we can be at our best.… He was our JFK, Martin Luther King Jr., John Paul II, Princess Di.] New York Times reporter Richard Goldstein similarly remarked that Pastore was [a man whose rise reflected inroads by Italian Americans on political gains made by Irish Americans.] Even his fellow-ethnic partisan rivals such as Bernard Jackvony—the chairperson of the Rhode Island Republican State Committee—posthumously acknowledged that, for Italian Americans, [Pastore was a beacon lighting a path to the American dream.]1

The son of immigrants who rose from a $22-a-month four-room tenement apartment in Providence's ethnic ghetto on Federal Hill and a job working a foot press in a jewelry factory to become the first politician with a full-fledged Italian identity to be elected as governor of any state and the first Italian-American to serve in the U.S. Senate, Pastore has been the epitome of Italian Americans' integration within the political process in the eyes of both commentators and scholars. Indeed, after Senator Pastore delivered the keynote address at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, an honor that marked the crowning of his career in politics by his own admission, the New York Times pointed to his achievement as [the coming of age of Italo-Americans.]2

Previously, first in a sketchy biographical article about Pastore and then—on a more academic level and within a broader perspec

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The Italian-American Vote in Providence, Rhode Island, 1916-1948
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • 1: Introduction 11
  • 2: The Setting 19
  • 3: Rhode Island Politics and the Italian-American Vote Before World War I 28
  • 4: The Postwar Decade 49
  • 5: The Depression Years 71
  • 6: The Late New Deal and the Impact of World War II and Its Aftermath 91
  • 7: Conclusion 120
  • 8: A Methodological Note on Electoral Sources 132
  • Notes 136
  • Bibliography 168
  • Index 186
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