The origins and development of the English diaspora in North America
in The English diaspora in North America
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Chapter 1 frames the following discussion of English associations and ethnic activities by charting English migration to North America from the mid-1700s. The earlier emigrants carried with them cultural characteristics, habits and customs that were critical in shaping the social and civic life that marked the English as foundational and invisible within America society. We problematize existing scholarship and challenge the assumption that the hegemony of the English language and the early immigrants’ foundational context provided all subsequent English migrants with a permanent and unchanging advantage over other migrant groups by default. Ordinary English migrants faced the same challenges and hardships as any other group; working-class immigrants in particular dealt with many common economic pressures regardless of their origins. Ultimately, the English had much in common with those of other backgrounds. The English settled in all colonies, counties and states; they were loaded towards the urban and industrial areas, but the focus upon the north-east—in both the colonial and early Republican period, as well as north of the border in what was to become Canada—gradually gave way to greater diffusion: a diffusion in line with the spread of ethnic associations. In the nineteenth century, English-born immigrants—the mainstay of English ethnic associations—came to be hugely out-numbered by several immigrant groups, most notably the Irish, with whom innate tensions were reprised in the new country. Chapter 1 explores such factors as a frame for the study that follows.

The English diaspora in North America

Migration, ethnicity and association, 1730s–1950s

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