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Anti Italian Nativism in the USA, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Introduction

The concept of anti-Italian is an effect of hostility or hatred towards Italian people and their culture.  The tendency of stereotyping people in line with commonly held belief’s i.e. the maffia depicting  Italian people;  as such are violent, uncouth ignorant people who hide behind the mask of religion.  Like most racist elements.  This sort of discrimination, often manifests itself in violence, bigotry and other acts of overt hatred. Most American citizens are original products of immigration.  Many new entrants to the USA wished to retain their ethnic roots and resisted the concept of Americanization. All too often stereotyping existed and this was particularly applicable to the new Irish and Italian communities. “Most historians overlooked the subject of the anti Italian feeling”  (Botein)

Anti-Italian sentiment in the USA.  Originally were based around 1920s New York.  At that time, the center of the movie industry.  New York also had a large native immigrant community from Italy, and these were characterized as a mapping of people and a threat to American society.  The image created with one of gangsters of the knife wielding ruffians.  By comparison, the Irish were similarly stereotyped; ironically, the Irish and Italian immigrant community were often at odds with one another.

Class distinction also became a part of the stereotyping with Italians being branded as lower class and confined to blue-collar jobs.  The common term used to depict these people was that of cafone symbolized the peasant in Italian, regarded as uncouth people from the south of Italy.

The Hennessy Case

One of the most remarkable cases of this hatred manifests itself in the Henderson case.  This was the largest public mass lynching ever recorded in the USA.  It involved the assassination of the police chief David Hennessy in the city of New Orleans in 1891.  The Italians who were perceived to have carried out the murder were rounded up, arrested and placed in jail.  The violent Lynch mob subsequently stormed the jail house and dragged the men out and lynched them.  After this event.  Hundreds of Italian immigrants were arrested by the law enforcement and thrown into jail. ” It is ironic that the first Italians to come to the New World stood on the decks of ships that they Captained.  While Slater, their countrymen would’ve arrived as refugees or indentured servants of together in the steerage compartments.”  (Veronese)

Lionel Adams was the attorney hired by the men accused of murdering Hennessy.  He successfully had all 19 murder indictments thrown out.  He also argued that the grand jury was bias.  Most of the evidence was suspect, i.e. a John Doure claim to a run four blocks to see the shooting and identify the killers.  Another claimed to see the shooters from an upstairs gallery.  Another worker was drunk at the time of the shooting.  One police officer identified Emmanuelle Polizzi, one of the accused, by the back of his head from over a block away.  In the months that followed.  More stories prevailed about brutal Mattia, killings and unsolved murders in the immigrant community.  Such stories fueled the anti-Italian sentiment and created a period of unrest in the Italian community.

Shortly before Hennessy died.  He was set to of whispered ” the dagos did it”.  The incident happened because Hennessy was involved in a dispute between two rival groups of Italian immigrants in New Orleans docks.  The resulting argument sort rival Italian gangs opened fire on one another.  Chief Hennessy was going to testify on behalf of the provenzano faction, stating he had uncovered the existence of a crime syndicate known as the Maffia.  Tennessee was gunned down one week before the trial, and in his dying declaration laid suspicion on the matrangus Sicilian longshoremen and that they had arranged his killing.

The Hennessy murders appeared at a time of widespread anti-Italian sentiment in the USA.  It was said that the US.  Yours were in the works in dealing with these thugs, because life in the US jails was far superior to what the immigrants experienced at home.  W.S. Parkinson a local New Orleans lawyer was responsible for setting up the lynching party.  Nine prisoners were dragged out of their cells and shot and two of them were taken outside and hung from lampposts.  The New Orleans mayor, was later said to have congratulated the mob on taking the law into their own hands and restoring the balance of justice.

Summary

Italians a came to America because of the shortage of work in their homeland.  Agricultural workers.  Only God, between $.16-$.30 a day, and seasonal workers.  $.50 per day, Italian carpenters, earned an average of $8.40 per week, whereas in America they got $18 for a 50 hour work week.  One work was quoted as saying “my God!  This is more than a Professor earns in Italy”.  The bulk of the immigrants arriving from Italy came mainly from the Naples and Sicily area.  Italians were nicknamed ” Birds of Passage” as they came to the USA to earn money and later returned to Italy where they would redistribute wealth amongst the family.  This position was reinforced by other immigrant communities, saying that they had no loyalty to their new country.

Works Cited

Botein, Barbara. “The Hennessy Case: An Episode in Anti-Italian Nativism.” The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association (Vol. 20, No. 3 (Summer, 1979), ): 261-279.

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