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Migration, ethnicity and association, 1730s–1950s

From the early eighteenth century, a vibrant English associational culture emerged that was, by many measures, ethnic in character. English ethnic organisations spread across North America from east to west, and from north to south, later becoming a truly global phenomenon when reaching Australasia in the later nineteenth century. This books charts the nature, extent and character of these developments. It explores the main activities of English ethnic societies, including their charitable work; collective mutual aid; their national celebration; their expressions of imperial and monarchical devotion; and the extent to which they evinced transnational communication with the homeland and with English immigrants in other territories. The English demonstrated and English people abroad demonstrated and experienced competitive and sometimes conflictual ethnic character, and so the discussion also uncovers aspects of enmity towards an Irish immigrant community, especially in the US, whose increasingly political sense of community brought them into bitter dispute with English immigrants whom they soon outnumbered. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the extent of English ethnic associational culture in North America was such that it resonated within England herself, resulting in the formation of a central organization designed to coordinate the promotion of English culture. This was the Royal Society of St George. Ultimately, the book documents that the English expressed their identity through processes of associating, mutualism and self-expression that were, by any measure, both ethnic and diasporic in character. The English Diaspora is based on a very large amount of untapped primary materials from archives in the United States, Canada, and the UK relating to specific locations such as New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Toronto, Ottawa, and Kingston, and London. Thousands of newspaper articles have been trawled. Several long runs of English associational periodicals have been garnered and utilized. Comparative and transnational perspectives beyond the US and Canada are enabled by the discovery of manuscript materials and periodicals relating to the Royal Society of St George.

1 Origins and development The origins and development of the English diaspora in North America The roots of the English diaspora lie in the sixteenth-century quest for an empire, which began processes of territorial settlement, first in the home islands, and then beyond the oceans. Mass plantations in 1580s Munster, for instance, signalled a new and more sustained phase of pacifying Ireland by English population settlement.1 In 1609 this approach was further intensified via systematic, planned, popular migrations as the English joined the Scots of the pre

in The English diaspora in North America
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From local to transnational

a single, uniform organized ethnic tradition created by English communities in North America. It has been said that such societies and associations ‘were less prevalent among the English than among other nationalities’.4 Indeed, the English certainly directed much collectivist energy towards the Oddfellows and Foresters, and towards other forms of non-ethnic, non-sectarian mutualism that had their roots in England and which they introduced to the New World. American scholars consider the inherent Englishness of the host country as the principal bar to ethnic

in The English diaspora in North America
British and continental perspectives

6 English, Scots and Germans compared: British and continental perspectives New York, the greatest immigrant hub in North America, has long been home to a great many ethnic clubs and societies. The city’s St George’s Society was founded comparatively early, in 1770, though the Scots beat the English to it when a St Andrew’s Society was established over a decade earlier.1 Despite smaller, informal activities, the Germans and Irish formalized associations in the city only after the American War of Independence. In 1784, both the German Society (Deutsche

in The English diaspora in North America

feasting, toasting and praying for England, the hub of the world and centrepiece of a pronounced Angloworld hegemony. Ethnic togetherness enjoined appreciation of national glories that appeared chauvinistic. Moreover, English celebrations also denoted a conscious collective across borders ‒ society members were 155 156   The English diaspora in North America visiting each other or sending telegrams of camaraderie ‒ expressing transnational diasporic consciousness. The basic rules and procedures of the various St George’s societies remained quite similar. Their

in The English diaspora in North America
The pillars of English associations

another eighteen cases, dispensing $32.00 in relief overall.2 Maria’s and George’s cases are of broader relevance, reflecting the founding principle of the North American St George’s societies: the dispensing of brotherly love and charity to the poor and unfortunate. In the places where the English had settled in larger numbers since the early eighteenth century, the new local and national governments did not sufficiently address the social problems that poorer migrants encountered. This directly resulted in migrants ‒ from, as we have seen, higher up the social ladder

in The English diaspora in North America

reflected the internal colonization of both British and American worlds, 288   The English diaspora in North America they were not in any sense joined up until the RSStG was set up and provided the adhesive to bond all the Anglo-world’s English societies. Secondly, the chapter focuses on the way in which monarchical celebrations acted as glue for transnational and global activity.8 Queen Victoria and the Empire were important and enduring foci for Englishmen, Englishwomen and their offspring wishing to evince patriotic support for the country of their birth or descent

in The English diaspora in North America
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Ethnic associationalism and an English diaspora

in distress. By the mid-nineteenth century, when mass migration propelled large numbers of English cross the Atlantic for a new life ‘out west’, English ethnic societies had also taken hold in Canada. These associations developed everywhere, with their spread intrinsically connected to the general settlement patterns of the English. Such was the proliferation and interest that, in 1881, one of the older organizations in the United States, the Sons of St George in Philadelphia, 1 2   The English diaspora in North America had so many hundreds of members that its

in The English diaspora in North America
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Canada as an extension of their homeland economic sphere. The miner or engineer, the trader or businessman, went back and forth across the Atlantic and other oceans. Culturally, even in the early days of settlement, English associations continued to connect English migrants, but also their descendants, with England. It was within this structural 335 336   The English diaspora in North America context that Cooper personified the closeness of the two worlds in the immigrant’s life, the old and new homelands, with his personal narrative contextualizing the transnational

in The English diaspora in North America
Working-class English associational culture

and oath-bound loyalty. What connected the medieval and the modern manifestations was this aspect ‘of an ethical integrity that can turn into secrecy’,2 for this underpinned forged bonds of fraternity and, later, sorority. The emergence of the OSStG and the Sons of England marked a shift in English associational culture in North America. The elite charities named for St George remained a strong and persistent force, but these were middle-class and civic-elite instances of ‘hierarchical’ aid, where moral as well as financial judgements often were passed upon passive

in The English diaspora in North America