This Upcoming Week in Immigrant History: June 20-26

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XpatNation’s weekly immigrant history report looks to examine some of the lesser talked about moments in history in the US and around the world. Immigrants and expatriates have been contributing to the US and the world as a whole for centuries, bringing culture, knowledge and expertise as they adapt and thrive in the new worlds they enter.

Lord Cecil Baltimore Gets Charter for Maryland – June 20, 1633

640px-Charlescalvert_800Image Source: Wikipedia

George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, dreamed of a colony in the Americas where Protestants and Catholics could live together without strife. The European continent was in the midst of the Thirty Years’ War, which was all about Protestant versus Catholic.

Lord George Calvert had served James I and his son Charles I well and faithfully, and he was well-established in government. Then, he became a Catholic, which meant he could no longer serve in government. King Charles gave him lands and a title in Ireland as a retirement present, and George began investing in the colonization of the New World – “he invested money in both the New England and Virginia companies. He bought land on the coast of Newfoundland (now a part of eastern Canada) in 1620.” Even today, surviving in Newfoundland is tricky, and the colony there didn’t really flourish.

“George then asked the King for a grant of land further south near the Chesapeake Bay. He drew a map for King Charles I, showing a territory that he wanted just north of the colony of Virginia. He hoped that this territory would have warmer weather and so be more suitable for an English colony. George died in 1632, before Charles I had time to approve the charter for George’s colony, named Maryland (“Terra Mariae”). George’s eldest son, Cecil, the Second Lord Baltimore helped to bring his father’s dream colony to life. Another son, Leonard, became Maryland’s First Governor.”

It was on this day in 1633 that Cecil got the charter.

Molly Maguires Hanged in Pennsylvania — June 21, 1877

6839092_origImage Source: William McClintock

The Molly Maguires were a secret organization active in Ireland, Liverpool and the US, especially among coal miners in Pennsylvania of Irish origin. They took their name from a woman in Ireland who allegedly lead raid by downtrodden Catholics against their Protestant landlords with guns strapped to her thighs and covered by her skirts.

Anthracite coal in the region was vital to steel production, and the mine owners and the mine workers spent their days at odds with one another. Working conditions and pay were lousy, and unionization was on the way. However, some men took matters into their own hands, and the Mollie Maguires were held responsible for a sizeable number of beatings and killings.

 The Chicago Tribune editorialized, history “affords no more striking illustration of the terrible power for evil of a secret, oath-bound organization controlled by murderers and assassins than the awful record of crime committed by the Molly Maguires in the anthracite-coal region of Pennsylvania.” A Philadelphia newspaper expressed gratitude at the “deliverance from as awful a despotism of banded murderers as the world has ever seen in any age.”

On June 21, 1877, in Schuylkill County, Pa., 10 Irish immigrants were hanged for terrorism and murder in the region’s coalfields. According to the prosecution, the men were members of a secret organization, the Molly Maguires. Before they were hanged, the condemned men swore their loyalty to the Catholic Church.

The passage of time has softened our view of the Mollie Maguires. In 1979, Pennsylvania’s governor issued a posthumous pardon to John Kehoe, the last of the accused Mollies to be hanged.

Neo-Nazis Cancel March in Skokie, Illinois – June 22, 1978

skokieImage Source: Commdiginews

The American view of free speech is best defined by “I detest what you say but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.” We are sometimes better at that in theory than we are in practice. At one time or another, our government has jailed people who spoke out against wars.

However, one of the cases I remember best was the 1978 incident in Skokie, Illinois, when a bunch of neo-Nazis wanted to march through town. Now, I don’t like Nazis, fascists, communists or a number of religious sects, but I believe it is easier to contain their poison if you let them talk their nonsense than if you try to silence them.

But Skokie was a little different. Rather than walk down the street in my neighborhood, which was pretty white, middle class and nominally Christian, these neo-Nazis wanted to walk through a town where one in six residents was a Holocaust survivor. The courts got involved, and the national press was all over the story. The debate got down to whether free speech could include this kind of incitement to violence.

In the end, the neo-Nazis chickened out (totalitarian bullies usually do), canceling their march on this day in 1978, three days before it was to be held.

President Carter issued a statement: “I must respect the decision of the Supreme Court allowing this group (the Nazis) to express their views, even when those views are despicable and ugly as they are in this case. But if such views must be expressed, I am pleased they will not go unanswered. That is why I want to voice my complete solidarity with those citizens of Skokie and Chicago who will gather Sunday in a peaceful demonstration of their abhorrence of Nazism.”

Thomas Mann Becomes a US Citizen — June 23 1944

Mann_defImage Source: Aphorism

As a professional writer, I have a list of scribes whose work I envy and often try to emulate. Shakespeare of course, but also Truman Capote, Alexandre Dumas, and Thomas Mann. I unashamedly think of them as my literary heroes, especially Thomas Mann. The next time you want to stand in awe of the written word read his tetralogy: Joseph and His Brothers, Young Joseph, Joseph in Egypt and Joseph the Provider.

Thomas Mann was also a hero of mine as a human being. Being a writer and freethinking German was suddenly not popular after Hitler came to power in 1933. He took to the anti-Nazi cause like a fish to water. “The revolutionary opportunism and the glow of false dawn in the Fascist tendencies are tainted magic,” he wrote. “Fascism is so thoroughly false that honorable youth throughout the world should be ashamed to have anything to do with it.”

He broadcasted 25 times to Germany over the BBC in  “Deutsche Hoerer” (“Listen, Germany”) “He admonished the Germans that they must repent crimes to obtain reconciliation with the world and urged them to break with their Nazi leaders.

“Today,” he told his erstwhile countrymen, “I am an American citizen. Long before Germany’s terrible defeat I declared publicly and privately, that I had no intention of ever turning my back to America.

Mary Pickford Gets Million Dollar Movie Contract – June 24, 1916

mary-pickford-xlargeImage Source: Telegraph

Before there was Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock, Scarlett Johansson and the rest, there was Mary Pickford. She was known as “America’s Sweetheart,” and appeared in more than 40 films for D.W. Griffith – the man who directed “Birth of a Nation.” She starred in early silent classics like “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” and “Poor Little Rich Girl.”

“Gladys Mary Smith was born on April 8, 1892, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Known as America’s sweetheart, Mary Pickford was a legendary film actress during the age of silent pictures. She often appeared on screen in young girl roles, even when she was an adult. Pickford began performing at the age of five on the stage and was known for a time as “Baby Gladys.” After touring in different shows and productions for more than nine years, she went to New York to conquer Broadway. Taking the stage name, Mary Pickford, she made her Broadway debut in The Warrens of Virginia.” When that closed, she moved into film with Griffith.

After touring in different shows and productions for more than nine years, she went to New York to conquer Broadway. Taking the stage name, Mary Pickford, she made her Broadway debut in “The Warrens of Virginia.” When that closed, she moved into film with Griffith.

She married fellow film star Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and the couple along with Griffith and a guy named Charlie Chaplin decided to start their own studio – their little project, United Artists, is still in business.

She received a contract that earned her more than $1 million a year one hundred years ago today. That was back when a million was serious money – more like a billion is today.


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XpatNation is a Social News and Lifestyle magazine, focusing on the insights and experiences of ex-patriots living in The United States.

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