Yiorgos D. Kalogeras
Historical accounts of the Greek presence in America often begin with such semihistorical figures as Pytheas of Marseilles; they lay claims on Christopher Columbus's ethnic identity, or they speculate on the origin of Greek-sounding names of early settlers and explorers. However, the first Greek immigrants were from Mani and settled in New Smyrna, Florida, in 1768. By the middle of the nineteenth century, New Orleans had a substantial number of Greek merchants, while several orphans of the Greek War of Independence ( 1821-1827) had already been transported to New England, and a number of them had distinguished themselves as educators, politicians, and administrators. By the 1880s the numbers of Greek immigrants were swelling, to reach their peak years in the early twentieth century. Poverty, absence of ready cash, and a currant crop failure were the most common reasons for immigration. Subsequent to the Reed- Johnson Act ( 1924), the numbers dwindled to a few hundred. At the end of World War II, immigration to the United States resumed. This time the immigrants were fleeing not only poverty but also a civil war. The numbers have declined substantially since the 1970s due to economic difficulties in the United States, as well as more attractive work opportunities in European Community (EC) countries.
The majority of Greek immigrant literature dates from the early days of the twentieth century. However, until World War II, apart from Demetra Vaka____________________