Jill Julius Matthews1
Following several decades of little-regulated mass immigration from Mexico and eastern and southern Europe, the United States embarked on an extensive campaign of Americanisation in the years around the first world war. Members of the ruling elite--business and civic groups, patriotic associations, industrialists, social workers, educators, and later government authorities--sought to assimilate the newcomers and turn them into efficient and productive citizen workers and mothers, good English-speaking Americans who would live according to the Anglo middle class ethic of self-discipline, hard work, clean homes and thrifty consumption.2
Writing in 1896, Merrill Gates, leader of an American reform group, the Friends of Indians, proclaimed:
We have, to begin with, the absolute need of awakening in the savage Indian broader desires and ampler wants. To bring him out of savagery into citizenship we must make the Indian more intelligently selfish before we can make him unselfishly intelligent. We need to awaken in him wants.3
'To awaken in him wants' and then to provide for purchase the commodities to satisfy those wants was not a strategy of Americanisation to be addressed solely to the relatively small number of native Americans. Much more expansively, in the first several decades of the twentieth century, it was a strategy that many commentators believed had ensconced itself as the central dynamic of a process that would lead to the Americanisation of the world. It was a psychological, cultural and commercial strategy, whose target was the individual,
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Americanization and Australia. Contributors: Philip Bell - Editor, Roger Bell - Editor. Publisher: University of New South Wales Press. Place of publication: Sydney, N.S.W.. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 15.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.