The Bully Pulpit and the Melting Pot: American Presidents and the Immigrant, 1897-1933

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Mercer University Press, 2004 - 261 pages
Between 1897 and 1933 the presidents of the United States joined progressive reformers in redefining the concept of the United States as a melting pot. Their use of this metaphor to describe assimilation never meant that immigrants had to completely abandon their ethnic cultures. Instead, they argued that the melting pot blended the best of the immigrants traits and traditions to create a new American race united by patriotism and committed to liberal political and economic ideals. While nativists regarded new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe as incapable of assimilation, the presidents celebrated immigrant contributions to America and emphasized the need to improve immigrants' lives through education, resettlement away from urban ghettoes, and economic uplift. The president's speeches, letters, and administrative records reveal consistent support for the melting pot model as an alternative to nativist racism. While McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson supported the exclusion of racial aliens and those with mental or physical illness, they repeatedly praised the new immigrants for embracing American ideals while maintaining their ethnic cultures. They argued that everyone should be judged by their moral character rather than their ancestry. World War I raised fears of disloyal aliens that Roosevelt and Wilson heightened by denouncing hyphenated Americans. Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover continued to use melting pot rhetoric, however, rather than endorsing coercive assimilation. The melting pot legacy lives on, and still offers a middle ground between the demands for national unity and multiculturalism.

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Contents

Setting the Parameters of Citizenship
1
Theodore Roosevelt and Immigration of the Right Kind
27
William Howard Taft and the Dillingham Commission
61
Woodrow Wilson and Hyphenated Americans
94
Chapter 5 The Melting Pot at Its Boiling Point
121
Warren G Harding and Americanization Revised
155
Calvin Coolidge and the Prosperous Melting Pot
181
Herbert Hoover and the End of Asylum
205
The Legacy of the Progressive Melting Pot
225
Selected Bibliography
243
Index
251
Copyright

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Page 2 - He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds.
Page vii - America is God's crucible, the great Melting Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming! Here you stand, good folk, think I, when I see them at Ellis Island, here you stand in your fifty groups, with your fifty languages and histories, and your fifty hatreds and rivalries.
Page 2 - ... American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater.
Page 5 - ... shall we refuse to the unhappy fugitives from distress that hospitality which the savages of the wilderness extended to our fathers arriving in this land? Shall oppressed humanity find no asylum on this globe?
Page vii - Island, here you stand in your fifty groups, with your fifty languages and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and rivalries. But you won't be long like that, brothers, for these are the fires of God you've come to — these are the fires of God.

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