English, Scots and Germans compared
British and continental perspectives
in The English diaspora in North America
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The English ethnic associationalism we describe in this book was not unique; indeed, it was part of a world of associations. Providing a comparative context is therefore crucial. Chapter 6 charts the evolution and purpose of those ethnic clubs and societies established in North America by other migrant groups. We focus particularly on Scots and Germans and explore the beginnings of the associational culture of these groups. The Scots were the most active in the early phase of settlement, also anchoring their associationalism in philanthropy. St Andrew’s societies, much as those of St George, had an elite dimension, but catered for a broader migrant cohort—those in distress. Similarities in the work of the two organisations even led to concrete co-operation. From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, however, the Scots developed a second and distinct tier: an ethnic associational culture at the heart of which lay sport. This contributed to a significant proliferation in Scottish ethnic associational activity—though one that was trumped, in the early twentieth century—by the Scottish mutualist branches in both the US and Canada (Order of Scottish Clans and the Sons of Scotland respectively). We also develop non-British/Irish comparators through an examination of developments in the German immigrant community in North America to establish to what extent language was a factor in immigrant adjustment to new world realities. Examining the Germans will also permit consideration of how external developments—in this case particularly the First and Second World Wars—were watersheds that united British Isle migrants, while casting out Germans and the more militant wings of the Irish.

The English diaspora in North America

Migration, ethnicity and association, 1730s–1950s

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