Asylum in Ancient and Medieval Rome

Ancient Rome and its empire had the concept of asylum at its heart. Its legacy provided inspiration for centers of power around the world. Introduction The legacy of Ancient Rome has exerted a powerful influence on town halls and parliamentary buildings around the world, and especially Washington DC’s urban form and identity. With its classically[…]

The German-American Family Who Built the Brooklyn Bridge

In creating an icon, Washington Roebling and his kin realized dreams that Europe never could fulfill. By Erica Wagner The Brooklyn Bridge was truly an American project embodying a certain American ideal. And people celebrated that fact from the start. On May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge—after 14 years of construction—was opened at last. The[…]

The Remarkable History of the Union League Club

There were moments in our history where both African-American freedom and Mexico’s independence were addressed in a positive way. By Dr. Michael HoganHistorian and Author Today, as we observe the dismay of Princeton students at their university’s legacy of slavery, and the Trump administration’s increasingly hostile attitude toward Mexico, it is important to recognize that[…]

An Immigrant Family that Bridged Japanese and American Worlds in Hawaii

How siblings torn between two sides of the Pacific forged identities in the aftermath of war. I still remember them at the dining table after dinner each night in our Honolulu home. Three elegant sisters, styled out of Vogue magazine, their jet black hair in neat chignons and pixie haircuts, each savoring a cigarette and lingering over[…]

Was the 1965 Immigration Act a Failure?

Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly didn’t do what it’s authors intended. Introduction For as long as America has proclaimed itself a welcoming country of immigrants, policies have been in place to keep specific classes of people out. Naturalized citizenship was limited to “free white persons” until the 1860s, and Asians, for instance, weren’t allowed[…]

The 41-Volume Government Report That Turned Immigration into a Problem

In 1911, the Dillingham Commission set a half-century precedent for screening out ‘undesirable’ newcomers. The Dillingham Commission is today little known. But a century ago, it stood at the center of a transformation in immigration policy, exemplifying Americans’ simultaneous feelings of fascination and fear toward the millions of migrants who have made the United States[…]

With Crocheting Needles, My Immigrant Grandmother Wove a New Life in America

A 16th-century folk art was her passport from Sicily to Upstate New York. By Kathleen GarrettActress The winter rains had subsided for the moment, but the coastal night air remained chilly and damp. My rent-controlled apartment, with its lack of insulation, mirrored the outside evening temperature, as I sat at my desk struggling to meet[…]

How the Bloodiest Mutiny in British Naval History Helped Create American Political Asylum

Outrage over the revolt that spurred the U.S. to deliver on a promise of the Revolution. The United States has a special history, and thus bears a unique stake, when it comes to the flight of foreign refugees, particularly those seeking sanctuary from oppression and violence. Political asylum has long been a defining element of[…]

Immigration and National Security in George Washington’s Day

Presuming that immigration was a boon to national security, U.S. borders remained mostly open for the first century of the nation’s existence. By Livia Gershon To many Americans today, immigration looks like a safety risk. Some debates over the issue pit idealistic, humanitarian support for more open borders against devotion to national security. But back when[…]

In My Family’s American Dream, Bootstraps Met Blocks of Government Cheese

After an arduous journey emigrating from Vietnam in the 70s, the author benefited from both personal resilience and public assistance. I spoke my first words on a boat: “milk,” “cockroach,” and “itchy.” An unusual toddler vocabulary perhaps, but not surprising considering that I spent the second year of my life on a freighter with thousands[…]

Why Don’t More Americans Remember the 1897 Massacre of Pennsylvania Coal Miners?

The mostly Eastern European victims were forgotten because of an ensuing backlash against immigrant workers. At the western entrance of the coal patch town of Lattimer, in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, sits a rough-cut shale boulder, about 8 feet tall, surrounded by neatly trimmed bushes. A bronze pickax and a shovel are attached to the boulder,[…]

A History of Immigration to Boston: Eras, Ethnic Groups, and Places

Examining different time periods and ethnic groups to document the history of a city where immigrants have long been a vital force in shaping economic, social and political life. Eras of Immigration First Wave Immigration, 1820-1880 During the nineteenth century, Boston evolved from a bustling port town to a booming industrial city. Through landfill and[…]

New Beginnings: A History of Immigrant Women and the American Experience

Women immigrants have played a dynamic role in transforming America socially, politically, and economically. A Woman’s Story Though women are integral characters, immigration is rarely thought of as a woman’s story. Women historically have accounted for almost fifty percent of immigrants and currently exceed that. Women’s motivations for migration have been varied and complex. Gender[…]

Louisa Catherine Adams: From a London Alley to the White House

Until today, she was the only first lady born outside the U.S.. She had to prove herself to her husband’s family, Congress – and the country. It was hard for Louisa Catherine Adams, the only first lady born outside the United States, to say where she came from. She began her life in a narrow[…]

Gypsies, Roma, Travelers: An Animated History

The “Roma” and Travelers are not a single, homogeneous group of people. The terms Gypsies, Roma, and Travellers are broad titles which describe diverse and different communities and are used in this article and film as general descriptors for the purpose of clarity. Europe is home to 10–12 million Roma and Travellers, yet many Europeans[…]

French Identity and Immigration to Constantinople and Greece in the 13th Century

After capturing Constantinople in 1204, the Fourth Crusaders established several states in former Byzantine territory. Starting from the captured imperial center, westerners moved into Thrace, Greece, the Aegean islands, and even Asia Minor. These campaigns of conquest had varied success, with the greatest and longest lasting in southern Greece.[1][2] The Fourth Crusaders had struck out[…]

19th-Century Immigration: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

Chinese immigration to the United States was a result of European and American imperialism in Asia on the one hand, and a response to global trade networks and labor demands on the other. Introduction Although Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 decades before the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, the[…]

Codifying Citizenship: Naturalization Act of 1790

The first statute in the United States to codify naturalization law. Alternately known as the Nationality Act, the Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted citizenship to “any alien, being a free white person” who had been in the U.S. for two years. In effect, it left out indentured servants, slaves, and most women. This implied that[…]

European Immigration to America and Colonization

Eventually, the entire Western Hemisphere would come under the domination of European nations, leading to profound changes to its landscape, indigenous population, and plant and animal life. Introduction The start of the European Colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492, although there was at least one earlier colonization effort. The first known Europeans[…]

The Phasing-Out of 18th-Century Patterns of German Migration to the United States after 1817

The years 1816 to 1819 saw the last wave of immigration into the United States that basically followed patterns of travel, finance, and trade established in the 1700s. Introduction The years 1816 to 1819, at the beginning of the 19th century, saw the last wave of immigration into the United States that basically followed patterns of[…]