In the Shadow of Liberty: The Chronicle of Ellis Island

By Edward Corsi | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER II
GREAT SECTORS OF THE CARAVAN

WHAT we are prone to call the great "wave" of immigration in the latter half of the nineteenth century is only the final one of a series of waves that populated our country with representatives of nearly every race on the face of the earth. Each race in turn grafted on to the developing America a layer of its unique social customs, mental and physical traits, and weak or strong moral propensities.

We have, as basis for this process of racial grafting, the hardy Anglo-Saxon stock that succeeded in planting here the strongest and most permanent colonies during the first glorious period of European colonization. Of all the powers that sent to our virgin country their most adventurous and far-seeing citizens, England managed to hold most truly to her solid tradition in the new wilderness. Instead of a ferment of cultures we had, therefore, a single basic one which later groups could only modify but never absorb. By dint of sending many more colonists than the other countries, England established a body of population which imposed its language, form of government, and opportunities for individual advancement upon all contemporary and later racial groups.

Up to the middle of the nineteenth century, when all the races of the world began the feverish outpouring of hordes of their citizens, thirsty for the opportunities of wealth and advancement which they believed were so abundant here, the various blocks of population in the order of their coming were somewhat as follows:

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