How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Quote of the moment (circa 1751): A Founding Father on immigration

"Why should Pennsylvania ... become a Colony of aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us, instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion?"

-- Benjamin Franklin, Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc., 1751


In keeping with the anti-immigrant screed news today, this quote that has long been attributed to Benjamin Franklin (as part of a longer anti-German screed) dates to a period when immigrants from central Europe were discriminated against and racialized. Discrimination against German immigrants was still strong a hundred years after the date attached to Franklin's statement; in 1851, Germans immigrants renting a cricket ground near Hoboken, New York were attacked by a nativist gang, leading to a "race" riot.

Then as now, though, immigrants represented a market: Anti-German sentiment did not stop Franklin, a newspaper editor and printer, from briefly printing a German-language newspaper, according to the Language Log blog of the University of Pennsylvania.

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