Imprint of Italian and Irish Americans on the American Culture

Topics: United States, United States Declaration of Independence, Chicago Pages: 6 (1341 words) Published: September 21, 2014

New in America
Anthony Rega
May 31, 2014
Carl Miedich
New in America
On July 4th 1776, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. Carefully written on this scribe and on the foundation of this nation are the unalienable rights to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (Declaration of Independence, n.d.) While some of the values and ideas of this document come from America’s motherland, England, the promised rights to the free world are shared by no other nation. For this reason, The American Dream is dreamt not only by natural born citizens of this nation, but by many people all around the world. Over twelve million immigrants during the late 1800s and early 1900s passed through Ellis Island, the first federal immigrant inspection station of the free world. Of the newcomers, a portion of them consisted of Italian Americans and Irish Americans. Throughout history, these groups have contributed to what is termed multiculturalism. Being the minority, these two groups have also experienced power-conflicts through their quests of assimilation. The two ethnic groups faced many challenges that helped create what is believed to be the melting pot to many ethnicities and racial groups. For The Journey

While the American Dream is a common value, the aspirations of the idea come from different motives. In Italy, a strong, and unfair class structure created such severe conditions that led to 1/3 of the nation’s population to immigrate to the new world. While the majority of this fraction came permanently for a new life, some came temporarily to make enough money to return to Italy and buy land. Simply owning land in Italy automatically escalated Italians within the class structure. Many Italian Americans settled in Chicago Illinois, one of the largest growing cities in America at the time. Chicago offered much opportunity for work, as it was the ideal producer of steel and aider to America’s industrial growth. Back in Ireland, the Irish had much more to deal with than just a harsh class structure. Under English rule, Irish religious practices were repressed along with many other basic freedoms the Irish came to experience in America. A poor economic situation due to chaos of rebellious battles led to much of Ireland’s population living an unsanitary lifestyle in mud huts well into the late 1800s. These living conditions led to diseases of more than half the population. When the Irish Americans first settled in Boston, they lived crammed into small, single-home houses with at least a couple more families. Many shared cellar, attic, and crawl spaces for living quarters (Youtube, 2011). Overall Assimilation

Assimilation in reference to the Italians and the Irish is much more complex and has become an identity reference in itself. Being the weak minority has demanded the Italians and Irish to accept and disregard many of their own practices to satisfy the dominate. Unlike the Irish, many Italians did not stick together, but lived spread-out and separated from others. In fact, some tensions developed between some Italians groups based on what streets and neighborhood they lived on and in. Inside conflicts like this led to outside conflicts as Americans began to depict Italian Americans as a dark and devious group within press. Italian Americans worked hard to reverse this depiction and to adhere to the dominate rule of society. When Mussolini began to restore Italy to what many people believed that to the equivalent of the Roman Empire eras, Italian Americans felt sense of pride. Mussolini knowing that he needed the approval of Italians worked hard to earn their respect. The world viewed Mussolini as a strong leader, and this view reflected off of the proud Italian Americans. However, when Mussolini declared war on the U.S. by joining forces with other fascist leaders, Italian Americans began to receive much ridicule from the dominate social class again. Meanwhile, Irish Americans needed little...

References: Declatation of Independence. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Feagin, J. R., & Feagin, C. B. (2011). Racial and Ethnic Relations (9th ed.). New York, NY: Prentice Hall.
Library of Congress. (2014, May). Immigration...Irish. Retrieved from
Youtube. (2011, December). And they Came to Chicago: The Italian American Legacy. Retrieved from
Youtube. (2011, July). The Irish in America Part 1. Retrieved from
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