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America’s Problem of Assimilation by Bruce Thornton

In civilisation, culture, ethnicity, history, immigration, politics on June 8, 2012 at 21:08

 

America’s Problem of Assimilation by Bruce Thornto, A Hoover Institution Journal, http://www.hoover.org

The melting pot metaphor arose in the eighteenth century, sometimes appearing as the “smelting pot” or “crucible,” and it described the fusion of various religious sects, nationalities, and ethnic groups into one distinct people: Ex pluribus unum. In 1782, French immigrant J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur wrote that in America, “individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world.”

A century later, Ralph Waldo Emerson used the “melting pot” image to describe “the fusing process” that “transforms the English, the German, the Irish emigrant into an American . . . The individuality of the immigrant, almost even his traits of race and religion, fuse down in the democratic alembic like chips of brass thrown into the melting pot.” The phrase gained wider currency in 1908, during the great wave of Slavic, Jewish, and Italian immigration, when Israel Zangwill’s play The Melting Pot was produced. In it, a character enthuses, “America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming!”

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