Polish Demonstration Against Immigration Essay

Hungary and Poland have vowed to stand firm against what they claim is an overbearing European Union, intent on eroding the sovereignty of member states and forcing them to accept quotas of refugees.

Brussels has criticised the countries’ hardline stance on asylum, and other policies that it fears will undermine democracy, but Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and Polish counterpart Beata Szydlo were defiant in Warsaw on Friday.

“We accept the decision of immigrant countries that they want to be immigrant countries,” Mr Orban said of states that accept refugees, who he describes as a threat to Europe’s security, culture and identity.

“We don’t want to be an immigrant country and we have every right not to be.”

Ms Szydlo added: “The path our governments chose on the matter of illegal immigration turned out to be right.”

Infringement proceedings

The EU has launched infringement proceedings against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for refusing to accept refugees to ease pressure on Greece and Italy, and another such procedure against Warsaw over part of a legal reform plan that would give Ms Szydlo’s government sweeping power over the judiciary.

“We want to see less of Brussels and stronger nation states,” Mr Orban said, as part of a robust defence of the stances taken by Hungary and Poland, which he called “guardian countries of the initially signed [EU] Treaty”.

“We believe that the foundation of the European Union is the co-operation and mutual respect between the member countries . . . So we are respectful towards everyone, even if it is not reciprocated. I must say that what is going on in the European Union, the attitude towards Poland, is a lack of respect.”

Mr Orban spoke to Hungarian radio on Friday about a new “national consultation” on what he calls the “Soros plan” – a scheme allegedly drawn up by Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros to bring millions of immigrants to Europe, which the Budapest government claims is the basis of EU asylum policy.


Previous national consultations involved the distribution of questionnaires asking Hungarians if they agreed with the government’s populist policies on immigration and relations with the EU.

Immigration and the alleged influence of Mr Soros – a liberal critic of Mr Orban who finances civil society groups in Hungary and elsewhere – are expected to be key issues in the ruling Fidesz party’s bid for re-election next spring.

“The challenges on migration faced at the moment have nothing to do with George Soros,” said Goran Buldioski, director of the Open Society Initiatives for Europe, a project funded by the billionaire.

“The [Orban] campaign against George Soros and the Open Society Foundations is an attempt to distract from pressing domestic challenges like failed delivery of basic healthcare services, difficulties in education, under-development in rural areas.”

The history of Poles in the United States dates to the American Colonial era. Poles have lived in present-day United States territories for over 400 years—since 1608. There are 10 million Americans of Polish descent in the U.S. today, making it the largest diaspora of Poles in the world. Polish Americans have always been the largest group of Slavic origin in the United States.

Historians divide Polish American immigration into three "waves", the largest from 1870 to 1914, a second after World War II, and a third after Poland's independence in 1989. Most Polish Americans are descended from the first wave, when millions of Poles fled Polish districts of Germany, Russia, and Austria. This group is often called the za chlebem (for bread) immigrants because most were peasants in Poland who did not own land and lacked basic subsistence. The Austrian Poles were from Galicia, unarguably the most destitute region in Europe at the time. Up to a third of the Poles returned to Poland after living in the United States for a few years, but the majority stayed. Substantial research and sociological works such as The Polish Peasant in Europe and America found that many Polish immigrants shared a common objective of someday owning land in the U.S. or back in Poland. Anti-Slavic legislation cut Polish immigration from 1921 to World War II, but opened up after World War II to include many displaced persons from the Holocaust. A third wave, much smaller, came in 1989 when Poland was freed from Communist rule.

Immigrants in all three waves were attracted by the high wages and ample job opportunities for unskilled manual labor in the United States, and were driven to jobs in American mining, meatpacking, construction, steelwork, and heavy industry—in many cases dominating these fields until the mid-20th century. Over 90% of Poles arrived and settled in communities with other Polish immigrants. These communities are called Polonia and the largest such community historically was in Chicago, Illinois. A key feature of Polish life in the Old World had been religion, and in the United States, Catholicism often became an integral part of Polish identity. In the United States, Polish immigrants created communities centered on Catholicreligious services, and built hundreds of churches and parish schools in the 20th century.

The Polish today are well assimilated into American society. Average incomes have increased from well below average to above average today, and Poles continue to expand into white-collar professional and managerial roles. Poles are still well represented in blue collar construction and industrial trades, and many live in or near urban cities. They are well dispersed throughout the United States, intermarry at high levels, and have a very low rate of language fluency (less than 5% can speak Polish).

17th century[edit]

Roanoke Colony[edit]

Main article: Roanoke Colony

Polish and American sources cite Polish pitch-makers as settlers among William Raleigh's failed Roanoke Colony in 1585. Historian Józef Retinger stated that Raleigh's purpose of bringing the Poles was to reduce the English dependency on timber and pitch from Poland.

Virginia Colony[edit]

Main article: Jamestown Polish craftsmen

The first Polish immigrants came to the Jamestown colony in 1608, twelve years before the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts. These early settlers were brought as skilled artisans by the English soldier–adventurer Captain John Smith, and included a glass blower, a pitch and tar maker, a soap maker and a timberman. Historian John Radzilowski stated that these Poles were experts in pitch and tar making at the time and recruited to develop a key naval stores industry. He estimated that "two dozen Poles" at most were in the colony by 1620. In 1947, a purported historical diary,[a] Nonetheless, the Polish colonists led a strike in 1619 to protest their disenfranchisement in the New World; they had been excluded from voting rights by the first-ever legislative body. Their strike was the first labor protest in the New World.

The date of their arrival, October 1, 1608, is a commemorative holiday for Polish-Americans. Polish American Heritage Month is based on this month, and October 1 is commemorated annually in Polonia organizations. 2008 was considered the 400-year anniversary of Polish settlement in the United States, and 2019 is looked upon as the 400th celebration of the Jamestown strike, considered a fight for civil liberties, more specifically, their voting rights, and equal recognition regardless of ethnicity.

Religious exodus of Polish Protestants[edit]

Protestant Poles left Poland for America seeking greater religious freedom. This was not due to the Counter-Reformation in Poland; in Poland, the Jesuits spread Catholicism chiefly by promoting religious education among the youth. After the Swedish Deluge, Polish Brethren, who were seen as Swedish sympathizers, were told to convert or leave the country. The Polish Brethren were banished by law from Poland in 1658, and faced physical fights, seizure of property, and court fines for preaching their religion. Polish exiles originally sought refuge in England, but lacking support, sought peace in America. The majority of exiled Poles arrived in New Sweden, although some had gone to New Amsterdam and the English Virginia colony. There is no evidence of Polish immigration to Catholic Spanish or French territories in North America in the 17th Century, which historian Frank Mocha suggests is a signal that early Poles were Protestants and wanted to live with Protestants in America. These Poles were generally well educated and aristocratic. One known immigrant, pioneer Anthony Sadowski, had come from an area populated by Moravian Brethren and Arians in the Sandomierz Voivodeship of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, consistent with a religious exodus. Research has confirmed that one of his first actions upon arrival was visiting a Polish Protestant colony in New Jersey, and his uncle, Stanislaw Sadowski, converted to Calvinism before fleeing Poland. Protestants (and other non-Catholics) regained their rights and religious freedoms in Poland in 1768, ending pressure to leave Poland on religious grounds.

18th century[edit]

American Revolution[edit]

Later Polish immigrants included Jakub Sadowski, who in 1770, settled in New York with his sons—the first Europeans to penetrate as far as Kentucky. It is said that Sandusky, Ohio, was named after him. At the time, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was failing and being gradually stripped of its independence due to military partitions by foreign powers, a number of Polish patriots, among them Kazimierz Pułaski and Tadeusz Kościuszko, left for America to fight in the American Revolutionary War.

Kazimierz Pułaski, having led the losing side of a civil war, escaped a death sentence by leaving for America. There, he served as Brigadier-general in the Continental Army and commanded its cavalry. He saved General George Washington's army at the Battle of Brandywine and died leading a cavalry charge at the Siege of Savannah, aged 31. Pułaski later become known as the "father of American cavalry". He is also commemorated in Casimir Pulaski Day and the Pulaski Day Parade.

Kościuszko was a professional military officer who served in the Continental Army in 1776 and was instrumental in the victories at the Battle of Saratoga and West Point. After returning to Poland, he led the failed Polish insurrection against Russia which ended with the Partition of Poland in 1795. Pułaski and Kościuszko both have statues in Washington, D.C.

After the Revolution, Americans who commented generally held positive views of the Polish people. Polish music such as mazurkas and krakowiaks were popular in the U.S. during the antebellum period. However, after the Civil War (1861–65) the image turned negative and Poles appeared as crude and uneducated people who were not good fits for America socially or culturally.

19th century[edit]

Early settlements[edit]

Panna Maria, Texas[edit]

The first emigrants from Poland were Silesians from the Prussian partition of Poland. They settled in Texas in 1854, creating an agricultural community that carried their native traditions, customs, and language. The land they chose was bare, unpopulated countryside, and they erected the homes, churches, and municipal accommodations as a private community. The first home built by a Pole is the John Gawlik House, constructed 1858. The building still stands, and displays a high-pitched roof common in Eastern European architecture. The Poles in Texas built brick houses with thatched roofs until the 1900s. That region in Texas is subject to less than 1 inch of snow per year, and meteorological studies show that level of insulation is unwarranted. The Polish Texans modified their homes from their European models, building shaded verandas to escape the subtropical temperatures. They often added porches to their verandas, particularly on the southward windy side. According to oral histories recorded from descendants, the verandas were used for "almost all daily activities from preparing meals to dressing animal hides."Panna Maria, Texas, was often called a Polish colony because of its ethnic and cultural isolation from Texas, and remains an unincorporated community in Texas. The geographically isolated area continues to maintain its heritage but the population mostly moved to nearby Karnes City and Falls City.

Leopold Moczygemba, a Polish priest, founded Panna Maria by writing letters back to Poland encouraging them to emigrate to Texas, a place with free land, fertile soils, and golden mountains.[18] About 200-300 Poles took the trip and nearly mutinied when they encountered the desolate fields and rattlesnakes of Texas. Moczygemba and his brothers served as leaders during the town's development. The settlers and their children all spoke Silesian. Resurrectionist priests led church services and religious education for children. Letters sent back to Poland demonstrate a feeling of profound new experience in America. Hunting and fishing were favorite pastimes among the settlers, who were thrilled by the freedoms of shooting wild game in the countryside. The farmers used labor-intensive agricultural techniques that maximized crop yields of corn and cotton; they sold excess cotton to nearby communities and created profitable businesses selling crops and livestock. Polish leaders and Polish historical figures settled in the community, including Matthew Pilarcyk, a Polish soldier sent to Mexico in the 1860s to fight for the Austrian Emperor Maximilian. Some records recall that he fled the Army in 1867 during the fall of the empire, escaped a firing squad and traversed the Rio Grande to enter Panna Maria, where he had heard Poles were living. When he arrived, he married a local woman and joined the community as a political leader. The community was nearly massacred following the Civil War, where the government of Texas was dismantled and gangs of cowboys and former Confederate nativists harassed and shot at Poles in Panna Maria. The Poles in Panna Maria had Union sympathies and were the subject of discrimination by the local Southerners. In 1867, a showdown between a troupe of armed cowboys and the Polish community neared a deadly confrontation; Polish priests requested the Union Army to protect them, and a stationed Army helped keep them safe, registered to vote in elections, and free from religious intolerance. The language used by these settlers was carried down to their descendants over 150 years, and the Texas Silesian dialect still exists. Cemeteries contain inscriptions written in Polish or Polish-and-English. The Silesians held a millennial celebration for the Christianization of Poland in 966, and were presented a mosaic of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Parisville, Michigan[edit]

Poles settled a farming community in Parisville, Michigan, in 1857. Historians debate whether the community was established earlier, and claims that the community originated in 1848 still exist. The community was started by five or six Polish families who came from Poland by ship in the 1850s, and lived in Detroit, Michigan in 1855 before deciding to initiate a farming community in Parisville, where they created prosperous farms, and raised cattle and horses. The lands were originally dark black swamps, and the settlers succeeded in draining the land for use as fruit orchards. As per the Swamplands Act of 1850, the lands were legally conferred to pioneering settlers who could make use of these territories. Individual Polish farmers and their families took advantage of this new law, and other immigrants settled disparate areas in interior Michigan independently. The Parisville community was surrounded by Native American Indians who continued to live in tepees during this time. The Poles and the Indians enjoyed good relations and historical anecdotes of gift-giving and resource sharing are documented. Polish farmers were dispersed throughout Michigan, and by 1903 roughly 50,000 Poles were said to live in Detroit.

Portage County, Wisconsin

The Kashubian settlement in Portage County, Wisconsin (not to be confused with the city of Portage, Wisconsin) is the United States’s oldest. The first Kashubian to settle there was Michael Koziczkowski, formerly of Gdansk, who arrived in Stevens Point late in 1857. A son, Michael Junior, was born to Koziczkowski and his wife Franciszka on September 6, 1858 in Portage County. One of the first Kashubian settlements was the aptly named Polonia, Wisconsin. Within five years, more than two dozen Kashubian families joined the Koziczkowskis. Since the Portage County Kashubian community was largely agricultural, it was spread out over Sharon, Stockton, and Hull townships. After the end of the Civil War, many more immigrants from throughout occupied Poland settled in Portage County, this time including the city of Stevens Point.[22]

Winona, Minnesota and Pine Creek, Wisconsin[edit]

Winona's first known Kashubian immigrants, the family of Jozef and Franciszka von Bronk, reached Winona in 1859. Starting in 1862, some Winona Kashubians began to settle in the farming hamlet of Pine Creek, across the Mississippi River in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. To this day, Winona and Pine Creek (Dodge Township) remain two parts of the same community. Winona has never been a purely Kashubian settlement, as were the settlements in Wilno, Renfrew County, Ontario and the various hamlets of Portage County, Wisconsin; even so, it was known as early as 1899 as the Kashubian Capital of America, largely because of the Winona Kashubians' rapid acquisition of a social, economical and political cohesion unequaled in other Kashubian settlements.[23] Engineer Dan Przybylski started manufacturing trenchers in the city and invented a single cylinder hydraulic extension crane.[24] A Polish Museum of Winona was established in 1977, residing in the building of a late-19th century lumber company.

Immigration of Political Exiles[edit]

Alexander Bielaski, exiled after the 1831 uprising, he served as a military engineer and captain in the Union Army •
Jan Tyssowski, the Dictator of Poland during the 1846 uprising, became a Polonia activist in New York City •
Joseph Kargé, exiled after the 1848 uprising, he once led a cavalry battle that defeated Nathan
Bedford Forrest •
Albin Schoepf, a Pole exiled from Austria in 1848, he became a general in the Union Army. •
Walerian Sulakowski, exiled after the 1848 uprising, he was an organizer and officer of the Polish Brigade in New Orleans.

See also: Great Emigration

Many of Poland's political elites were in hiding from the Russians following an unsuccessful uprising in 1830 to 1831. Hundreds of military officers, nobles, and aristocrats were hiding as refugees in Austria, but the Emperor of Austria was under pressure to surrender them to Russia for execution. He had previously made a commitment to keep them safe from the Russians, but wanted to avoid war. The U.S. Congress and President Andrew Jackson agreed to take several hundred Polish refugees. They arrived on several small ships, the largest single arrival being 235 refugees, including August Antoni Jakubowski. Jakubowski later wrote his memoirs in English, documenting his time as a Polish exile in America. He recalled that the refugees originally wanted to go to France, but the government refused to receive them, and under obligation by the Austrian authorities, they came to America.

Jackson wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury to secure 36 sections of land within Illinois or Michigan for a Polish settlement. In 1834, a rural territory near the Rock River in Illinois was surveyed by the U.S. government. The Polish emigres formed a group, the Polish committee, to plead for aid settling in the U.S. Despite three applications to Congress by the Polish committee, no Acts were passed and no lands were ever officially appropriated for settlement. Polish immigrant Charles Kraitsir blamed Secretary of Treasury Albert Gallatin, who he said was intercepting letters addressed to the Polish Committee and took them himself, and was making statements on their behalf, without their input. Kraitsir alleged that American citizens who donated funds to their cause had their funds diverted by Gallatin. The plans were abandoned when American pioneers took the settlement lands and squatted them, leaving the Polish settlement effort politically unfeasible. No land was ever officially handed to the Polish emigres.

The Polish exiles settled in the United States. One of them was a doctor of medicine and a soldier, Felix Wierzbicki, a veteran of the November Uprising, who, in 1849, published the first English-language book printed in California,California as it is, and as it may be. The book is a description of the culture, peoples, and climate of the area at that time. According to the Library of Congress, the book was a valuable guide to California for prospective settlers that includes a survey of agriculture, hints on gold mining, a guide to San Francisco, and a chapter on California's Hispanic residents and Native American tribes.

Nationalist activity[edit]

Polish political exiles founded organizations in America, and the first association of Poles in America, Towarzystwo Polakow w Ameryce (Association of Poles in America) was founded March 20, 1842. The association's catchphrase was "To die for Poland". Some Polish intellectuals identified so strongly with Polish nationalism, that they warned repeatedly against assimilation into American culture. It was the duty of Poles to someday return to liberate the homeland, they argued to newly arrived Poles in America. The Polish National Alliance (PNA) newspaper, Zgoda, warned in 1900, "The Pole is not free to Americanize" because Poland's religion, language and nationality had been "partially torn away by the enemies". In other words, "The Pole is not free to Americanize because wherever he is – he has a mission to fulfill." The poet Teofila Samolinska, known as the "mother of the Polish National Alliance," tried to bridge the gap between the political exiles of the 1860s and the waves of peasants arriving late in the century. She wrote:

Here one is free to fight for the Fatherland;
Here the cruelty of tyrants will not reach us,
Here the scars inflicted on us will fade.

— translation of "Do rodaków" published in Orzeł Polski (1870).

Many of the exiles in America were actively political and saw their mission in the United States as one to create a new Poland in the United States. Some rejected the term "exile" and considered themselves "pilgrims", following the Polish messianism message of Adam Mickiewicz. The political exiles created nationalist clubs and spread news about the oppression in partitioned Poland. A Polish Central Committee founded in New York in 1863 attempted to rally American public opinion for Polish independence and fund-raised to support the revolutionaries. The American public opinion was not swayed by the small group, in large part because the Civil War was ongoing at the time and little care was taken for a foreign war. Russia, being strongly pro-Union, was also considered an ally to many Northerners, and Poland's uprising was mistaken by some Americans as just another secessionist movement.

Future Polish immigrants referred to this group, who arrived in the United States before 1870 as the stara emigracja (old emigration), and differentiated them from the nowa emigracja (new emigration) who came from 1870 to 1920.

American Civil War[edit]

Polish Americans fought in the American Civil War on both sides. The majority were Union soldiers, owing to geography and ideological sympathies with the abolitionists. An estimated 5,000 Polish Americans served in the Union, and 1,000 for the Confederacy.[33] By coincidence, the first soldiers killed in the American Civil War were both Polish: Captain Constantin Blandowski, a Union battalion commander in Missouri who died in the Camp Jackson Affair, and Thaddeus Strawinski, an 18-year-old Confederate who was accidentally shot at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island. Two Polish immigrants achieved leadership positions in the Union Army, ColonelsJoseph Kargé and Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski.[b] Kargé commanded the 2nd New Jersey Volunteer Cavalry Regiment that defeated Confederate Nathan Bedford Forrest in a battle. Krzyżanowski first commanded the mostly immigrant 58th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, nicknamed the Polish Legion, in which Poles and other immigrants fought battles in the Eastern Theater and Western Theater of the American Civil War. Krzyżanowski later commanded an infantry brigade, from 1862 to 1864, with the 58th in that formation.

In 1863–1864, the Imperial Russian Army suppressed the January Uprising, a large scale insurrection in the Russian partition of the former territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Many Polish resistance fighters fled the country, and Confederate agents tried and failed to encourage them to immigrate and join the military of the Confederate States of America.[40]

Post-Civil War[edit]

After the collapse of the Confederacy, Polish foreign labor was desired to work on Southern farms as replacements for black slaves. Several such societies were founded in Texas, largely by private planters, but in 1871, Texas funded immigration of Europeans through direct state aid (Texas Bureau of Immigration). The Waverly Emigration Society, formed in 1867 in Walker County, Texas, by several planters, dispatched Meyer Levy, a Polish Jew, to Poland to acquire roughly 150 Poles to pick cotton. He sailed to Poland and brought back farm laborers, who arrived in New Waverly, Texas, in May 1867. The agreement the Poles had with the plantation owners was that the farmers would be paid $90 (equivalent to $1,576 in 2017), $100 ($1751), and $110 ($1926) per year for three years of their labor,[41] while the owners provided them with a "comfortable cabin" and food. Poles paid back their owners for the ship tickets to America, often in installments. By 1900, after years working on Southerners' farms, Poles had "bought almost all the farmland" in New Waverly, and were expanding their land ownership to the surrounding areas. New Waverly served as a mother colony for future Polish immigrants to the United States, as many arriving Poles lived and worked there before moving on to other Polonias in the U.S. Polish farmers commonly worked directly with southern blacks in east Texas, and they were commonly in direct competition for agricultural jobs. Blacks frequently picked up a few words of Polish and Poles picked up some of the black English dialect in these areas during the late 19th century. R. L. Daniels in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine wrote a piece on "Polanders" in Texas in 1888, praising their industriousness and hard work ethic. He cited instances where Polish farmers called their landlords massa, denoting a subordinate position on level with slavery, and, when asking a woman why she left Poland, she replied 'Mudder haf much childs and 'Nough not to eat all". Daniels found that the Poles were efficient farmers, and planted corn and cotton so close to their homes as not to leave even elbow room to the nearby buildings. Texas blacks, referred to Poles as "'dem white niggahs' whom they hold in undisguised contempt" were apparently stunned by their high literacy rates, according to Daniels.

Polish immigrants came in high numbers to Baltimore, Maryland, following the Civil War and created an ethnic community in Fells Point. They worked on farms in Maryland and many became migrant farming families. Oyster companies from the Gulf of Mexico hired recruiters to hire Polish farmers for work in the oyster farming industry. Jobs were advertised with illustrations of a green, tropical environment and wages in 1909 were promised at 15 cents per hour (equivalent to $4.09 in 2017) for men and 12.5 cents per hour ($3.40) for women.[41] Polish farmers in Baltimore, Maryland and in the southern United States commonly came to Louisiana and Mississippi during the winter months. Those that came were provided very small, cramped living quarters and only one worker per family was given a permanent job canning oysters. These were paid 12 cents per hour ($3.27) for men and 8 cents per hour ($2.18) for women.[41] Companies paid the rest to shell oysters and paid them 5 cents ($1.36) per measure; according to a worker, a measure should weigh about 4.5 lb (2.0 kg) but usually weighed more than 7–8 lb (3.2–3.6 kg). Jobs were segregated by gender; women and children worked in the oyster house while men and boys fished on the boats.

"Men depart by boat to the water where they stay one to two weeks. Because oysters are scarce, the net yields at best fifteen percent of the expected catch when pulled up to the deck. The rest are shells and slime. This work is hard beyond words. A person not used to cranking up the net gives up from exhaustion.

If fog appears during the catch, the oysters open up and most of them die when the sun starts shining. In such cases it becomes the worker's loss.

You also have the oyster workers who return with a cargo of a few hundred barrels. Then the calculation starts, forty cents for a barrel of oysters. From the price the company takes a share to cover the costs of the boat, tools, and captain's pay. One-third is divided among those who caught the oysters. In exceptional cases one gets ten to twelve dollars for a hard week's work, most often though it is five to seven dollars."

— Stefan Nesterowicz, Travel Notes(Notatki z podrozy), Travel Notes, 1910.

Polish foremen were used to manage and supervise the workers. many immigrants did not speak English and were wholly dependent on their foreman to communicate to the company. Photographer Lewis Hine spoke with one foreman, who recruited Poles from Baltimore, who said, "I tell you, I have to lie to employees. They're never satisfied. Hard work to get them." The foremen were allowed to beat their workers and functioned as pimps in some cases. Nesterowicz found some foremen convinced attractive women to sleep with their American bosses in exchange for higher-paying positions. The moral degradation and exploitation in the oyster farms led a local Polish priest, Father Helinski, to ask Polish organizations to dissuade any more Poles from entering the business.

Prohibition Era[edit]

Polish Americans were represented in the American temperance movement, and the first wave of immigrants was affected by prohibition. A leading Pole in the Temperance movement in the United States was Colonel John Sobieski, a lineal descendant of Polish King John III Sobieski, who served as a Union general in the American Civil War. In 1879, he married a prominent abolitionist and prohibitionist Lydia Gertrude Lemen, an American from Salem, Illinois. Through his wife's affiliation, he became a leading member of the Polish branch of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and preached against alcohol in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois to prohibition-camps. Sobieski and the predominantly Protestant Christian Temperance groups never made great in-roads into the Polish community. Polish Catholics immigrants frequently heard lectures and received literature from the Catholic Church against alcohol. Polish immigrants were distrustful of the Irish-dominated American Catholic Church, and did not resonate with the temperance movement in great numbers. A visit by Archbishop John Ireland to the PNA in St. Paul in 1887 was ineffective in drawing them to the Catholic Total Abstinence Union of America. The Polish language press covered the topic of abstinence occasionally in the U.S. It was not until 1900 that the PNA introduced sanctions for alcoholics among its membership, and abstinence generally was unpopular among American Poles. In New Britain, Connecticut, Father Lucian Bojnowski started an abstinence association which offended a local Polish club, he received a death threat in response. In 1911, Father Walter Kwiatkowski founded a newspaper called Abystynent (The Abstainer) promoting local abstinence societies. The newspaper did not last long, and the Polish abstinence groups never united. The Polish National Catholic Church never created official policies towards abstinence from alcohol, nor took it as a priority that differed from the Catholic Church.

Polish immigrants were attracted to saloons – drinking was a popular social activity. Saloons allowed Poles to relieve their stresses from difficult physical labor, the selling of steamship tickets, and meeting grounds for mutual aid societies and political groups. Among Polish immigrants, a saloon-keeper was a favorite entrepreneurship opportunity, second only to a grocery store owner. By 1920, when alcohol was prohibited in the United States, American Poles continued to drink and run bootlegging operations. Contemporary Polish language newspapers decried a pervasive alcoholism among Polish American families, where mothers would brew liquor and beer at home for their husbands (and sometimes children). Although small in both numbers and scope, Poles joined organized crime and mafia-related distribution networks of alcohol in the U.S.


Wave of Polish immigration[edit]

The largest wave of Polish immigration to America occurred in the years after the American Civil War until World War I. Polish immigration began en masse from Prussia in 1870 following the Franco-Prussian War. Prussia retaliated against Polish support for France with increasing Germanization following the war. This wave of immigrants are referred to as za chlebem (for bread) immigrants because they were primarily peasants facing starvation and poverty in occupied Poland. A study by the U.S. Immigration Commission found that in 1911, 98.8% of Polish immigrants to the United States said that they would be joining relatives or friends, leading to conclusions that letters sent back home played a major role in promoting immigration. They arrived first from the German Polish partition, and then from the Russian partition and Austrian partition. U.S. restrictions on European immigration during the 1920s and the general chaos of World War I cut off immigration significantly until World War II. Estimates for the large wave of Polish immigrants from about 1870s to 1920s are given at about 1.5 million. In addition, many Polish immigrants arrived at the port of Baltimore. The actual numbers of ethnically Polish arrivals at that time is difficult to estimate due to prolonged occupation of Poland by neighboring states, with total loss of its international status. Similar circumstances developed in the following decades: during the Nazi German occupation of Poland in World War II; and further, in the communist period, under the Soviet military and political dominance with re-drawn national borders. During the Partitions of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1795–1918), the Polish nation was forced to define itself as a disjointed and oppressed minority, within three neighboring empires, in the Austrian Partition, Prussian Partition, and Russian Partition. The Polish diaspora in the United States, however, was founded on a unified national culture and society. Consequently, it assumed the place and moral role of the fourth province.[page needed]


See also: Organic agriculture

Poland was largely an agrarian society throughout the Middle Ages and into the 19th century. Polish farmers were mostly peasants, ruled by Polish nobility that owned their land and restricted their political and economic freedoms. Peasants were disallowed from trading, and typically would have to sell their livestock to the nobility, who in turn would function as middlemen in economic life. Commercial farming did not exist, and frequent uprisings by the peasants were suppressed harshly, both by the nobility and the foreign powers occupying Poland. A number of agricultural reforms were introduced in the mid-19th century to Poland, first in German Poland, and later eastern parts of the country. The agricultural technologies originated in Britain and were carried eastward by conversing traders and merchants; Poland gained these secrets in the most developed regions first, and through successful implementation, areas that adopted them boomed. The introduction of a four-crop rotation system tripled the output of Poland's farmlands and created a surplus of agricultural labor in Poland. Prior to this, Polish peasants continued Medieval Era practice of three field rotation, losing one year of productive growing time to replenish soil nutrients. Instead of leaving a field fallow, or without any plants for a season, the introduction of turnips and especially red clover allowed Polish fields to maximize nutrients by green manure. Red clover was especially popular because it fed cattle as grazing land, giving the extra benefit of more robust livestock raising in Poland.

Between 1870 and 1914, more than 3.6 million people departed from Polish territories (of whom 2.6 million arrived in the U.S.) Serfdom was abolished in Prussia in 1808, in the Austria–Hungary in 1848 and in the Russian Empire, in 1861. In the late 19th century, the beginnings of industrialization, commercial agriculture and a population boom, that exhausted available land, transformed Polish peasant-farmers into migrant-laborers. Racial discrimination and unemployment drove them to emigrate.


The first group of Poles to emigrate to the United States were those in German-occupied Poland. The German territories advanced their agricultural technologies in 1849, creating a surplus of agricultural labor, first in Silesia, then in eastern Prussian territories. The rise in agricultural yields created the unintended effect of boosting the Polish population, as infant mortality and starvation decreased, increasing the Polish birth rate. In 1886, Otto von Bismarck gave a speech to the Lower House of the Prussian Parliament defending his policies of anti-polonism, and warning of the ominous position Silesia was in with over 1 million Poles who could fight Germany "within twenty four hour notice". Citing the November Uprising of 1830–31, Bismarck introduced measures to limit freedoms of press and political representation that Poles enjoyed within the Empire. Bismarck forced the deportation of an estimated 30,000–40,000 Poles out of German territory in 1885, with a five-year ban on any Polish immigration back into Germany. Many Poles did return in 1890, when the ban was lifted, but others left for the United States during this time. Bismarck's anti-CatholicKulturkampf policies aimed at Polish Catholics increased political unrest and interrupted Polish life, also causing emigration. Around 152,000 Poles left for United States during the Kulturkampf.


See also: Revolution in the Kingdom of Poland (1905–1907)

The Russian partition of Poland experienced considerable industrialization, particularly the textile capital of Łódź, then the Manchester of Imperial Russia. Russia's policies were pro-foreign immigration, whereas German Poland was unambiguously anti-immigrant. Polish laborers were encouraged to migrate for work in the iron-foundries of Piotrków Trybunalski and migrants were highly desired in Siberian towns.

Colonel Krzyzanowski, who fought in the 1848 uprising, served as a Union general in the American Civil War
Young Polish boy picking berries in Maryland. He is in a family of agricultural migrants who work in oyster farming on the Gulf of Mexico during the winter. His growth is stunted and he measures only 39 in (99 cm) tall at 10 years old.
9 year old worker shucking oysters. Behind him is the foreman, who recruited the workers from Baltimore, Maryland.
John Sobieski, a lineal descendant of John III Sobieski, served in the U.S. Civil War and later made hundreds of speeches to prohibition-camps in the Midwest
A field planted with crimson clover to enrich farm soil. The use of clover tripled Polish farm output and increased productivity of cattle in the late 19th century.
The Poznanski Factory, Łódź (1895), was a spinning factory key to the Polish textile industry. Thousands of Poles worked and resided in living quarters at the location.

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