Alice Boberg and Ralph Wroblewski



Miecislaus Haiman, a historian of Polish immigration to America, divides the flow of Poles to the New World into three general time periods: 1608-1776, 1786-1865, 1865-present. The circumstances stimulating emigration from Poland varied significantly between these eras, and the goals of immigrants in each movement, likewise differed significantly.

Pre-Columbian Period--Polish Navigators

Many legends allegedly purport the participation of Polish explorers in the early exploration of America. Most, if not all, however, lack the substantial historical documentation to be considered seriously.

In 1476, for example, some sixteen years before Columbus discovered America, a Danish expedition left Copenhagen, commissioned by King Christian I to sail in a westerly direction to discover the Old Norse colonies in Greenland. In addition, the expedition was to seek a new route to East Asia which was the desire of most European rulers and seamen. The flottila reached Greenland but did not find the Old Norse Colonies, and it returned to Denmark. While unsuccessful in accomplishing its primary objective, there is some historical data that suggests the expedition discovered Labrador and sailed as far south as the Delaware River before returning to Cophenhagen.


John Scolvus, the pilot of this expedition, was possibly the man who discovered Labrador; however, recognition seems to have been denied him because of his death. Apparently of Polish ancestry, his real name might have been Jan z Kolno, i.e., John of Kolno, a town in the Polish province of Massovia.1 Such changes of name during the exploration period were not uncommon. For example, John Cabot, the famous English explorer, was an Italian by the name of Giovanni Caboto whose name was Anglicized to John Cabot. Another figure was Francis Warnadowicz. According to legend, he lived under the Hispanic name of Francisco Fernandez and became a member of Columbus' expedition to the New World in 1492. Allegedly left by Columbus on the island of Hispanola, Warnadowicz has been attributed the dubious distinction of being the first European to be killed at the hands of Amerinds.2

Early Polish Interest in America

The news of Columbus' discovery reached Poland at a fairly early date. Exchanges of ideas and news between Poland and her neighbors was, in part, a result of the harmonious, amicable relations of Polish merchants with Western Europe. Equally significant, the many scholars and scientists who studied at the Jagiellonian University of Krakow, founded in 1364 by King Casimir the Great, maintained a vibrant interchange of ideas and information.3 Reference to America appeared early in Polish literature. First mention seems to have been in the book Introductorium Compendiosum in Tractatum Sphere Materialis, written by John Holywood (Sacrobosco),


with commentaries by a prominent philosopher, astronomer, and geographer from the Jagiellonian University, John of Glogau (?-1507), and published in Krakow in 1506. It is well to note at this point that scholarly studies were typically written in Latin rather than the vernacular, i.e., Polish. This practice was common in academic circles throughout Europe during this period. In 1512 another scholar at the University introduced what was probably the first map of America to be constructed in Poland with the publication of his monograph, Introduction in Ptolemei Cosmographiam.4

The Polish attitude towards the New World is most significant, however, for its general indifference, especially in terms of colonization. Poland dominated Central and Eastern Europe, and had little reason to be interested in the West. Paul Palczowski, traveler and early settler of Jamestown, best characterized the Polish attitude towards New World colonization in his book Kolenda Moskiewski, (Muskovite Carol), when he advised his countrymen to eschew North America for better opportunities in Russia.5



Polish immigrants to America between the years 1608 and 1776 were generally adventurers, and their numbers were few. The Old Polish Nation never needed libensraum, i.e., "elbow room," due to overpopulation. In fact, Poland was often a destination for migrating peoples, viz., Germans, Jews, and Scots from Western Europe and the Armenians and Tartars from the East. Moreover, coterminous with the commencement of North American colonization, she was involved in defensive wars with Russians, Swedes, Turks, Tartars, and Cossacks throughout the 17th century. Exhausted by the wars and seriously weakened economically, Poland languished under her 18th century monarchs, the Saxon Kings. Such national malaise inhibited significant emigration.

Perhaps most significantly, however, the Poles' minimal involvement in early migration to America was the result of the relatively free religious and political environment which they enjoyed. Most of Poland was not fragmented by the religious persecutions and conflicts which characterized Western Europe during and after the Reformation. Her people did not share in this turmoil that served to stimulate the migrations of, for example, Puritans to New England, or Catholics to Maryland. Even during the seventeenth century, when Poland's constitution was being shattered, Protestants in Poland were treated far better than their counterparts in Protestant countries.6


Pioneer Polish Immigrants

Immigrants to North America were ethnically diverse. Explorers and settlers from many European nations comprised the human resources from which the new American society derived its strength and character. Though few in number the Poles were part of the mosaic and assisted in the colonies' development. Members of the Jamestown community, Poles may also have arrived prior to 1608. It is quite possible that some immigrants were part of Sir Walter Raleigh's ill-fated venture to Roanoke in 1585. Raleigh conceivably would have needed technical specialists in the production of pitch.7

Poland's abundant forests and the expertise of her people in lumbering and associated industries were well-known in England. Forced to import enormous quantities of wood and wood products from foreign sources in order to offset the depletion of native resources, England relied upon Poland perhaps more than other countries.

Captain John Smith, leader of the Virginia Company, previously had dealings with the Poles and knew of their enterprising ways. The Virginia Company hired Poles as experts and instructors in the manufacture of the products which England was so dependent on from Poland, viz., glass, pitch, and tar. A small group of six landed with the expedition on October 1, 1608: Zbigniew Stefanski--glass production expert; Jan Bogdan--pitch, tar, and ship construction expert; Jan Mata--soap manufacture expert; Michael Lowicki--nobleman; and Stanislaus Sadowski and Karol Zrenica.8 Soon after their arrival, these artisans constructed a glass furnace a mile from Jamestown.


Cutting down trees in the area, they also began the first wood products manufacturing center. They worked so industriously that within three years the Poles were able to repay the Virginia Company for their passage and become free citizens of the Jamestown colony.

The Poles continued to manufacture wood products in Virginia until 1622. Between 1608 and 1622, however, their relations with the English periodically soured and their vital work halted. Production on occasion was halted because the colony disfranchised the Poles. Possessing a keen sense of freedom and civil liberties, the Poles considered disfranchisement an affront to their sense of justice and liberty. On June 30, 1619, the Virginia House of Burgesses instituted a representative form of government which granted only those of English descent the right to vote. Automatically disenfranchised, the immigrants were incensed. In response, the Poles suspended operations in their glass factory, tar distillery, and soap factory.9 By withholding their labors, the Poles were able to exert powerful economic pressure; most of the cash products with the highest profits to the London Company were provided by the Polish industries. Governor Yeardly and the Virginia legislature readily reversed their decision, righting a political wrong perpetrated against the Poles.

Small groups of Polish immigrants also settled in the non-English speaking colonies of the New World. In the seventeenth century Polish Protestants emigrated to New Amsterdam because of


their expulsion from Poland. In part an expression of intolerance toward Protestantism, the forced migration was also an expression of their support for the Swedes who invaded Poland in 1655-1656. Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of New Holland, requested Polish immigrants to be sent to the New World. Besides needing farmers, traders, and soldiers, Governor Stuyvesant wanted colonists to prevent the English from infringing upon the Dutch beaver trade in America. On several occasions he implored the directors of the West Indian Company to send him twenty-five to thirty Polish families.10

Among the early Polish settlers in New Amsterdam was Daniel Litscho (Liczko), born in Koszalin in Pomerania. He served as a sergeant, later promoted to lieutenant, in the Dutch colonial army. He participated in Stuyvesant's expedition against the Swedes on the Delaware River that deposed the Autocratic Van Slechtenhorst, the patroon of Rensselaerswyck, freeing this settlement from feudal domination. Litscho, in addition, was a prominent citizen of New Amsterdam. He owned a tavern that was an important landmark in the social life of the community and he was an influential burgher on the Council of Burgomasters and Schepens. In his later life he was appointed the colony's fire-inspector, a position he held until shortly before his death. A wealthy man when he died in 1662, Litscho left a sizeable estate to his family.11

Alexander Karol Kurczewski, another of New Amsterdam's prominanti, was appointed to the prestigious position of teacher in 1659. A Polish


schoolmaster, he came to the colonies at the request of the New Amsterdam officials. Dr. Curtis, as he is known in American history, established the first Latin school in the New World. His academy is considered one of the oldest institutions of learning, predated only by Harvard University.12

Most Polish immigrants in New Amsterdam, however, were neither as well known nor as successful as Litscho and Kurczewski. More typical were individuals such as Wojciech Adamkiewicz, John Rutkowski, and Casimir Butkiewicz. Like the majority of Colonists, they were routine laborers and craftsmen, but their industry and fortitude were no less essential for the colonies' survival.

Poles were adventurous frontiersmen also; most prominent among them was John Sadowski. Settling at first in Philadelphia, he was the first Pole to venture across the Alleghenies. Sadowski was well-known as an Indian trader and interpreter prior to his trip west. In 1735 he crossed the Alleghenies into Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee and was one of the first white men to explore and settle in this region. His sons, Jacob and James, followed in their father's footsteps and were instrumental in the exploration of what is today Kentucky and Tennessee.



Historical Background

The second era of Polish migration, 1776-1865, involved a considerably larger group of people. Political unrest and the ultimate partitions of Poland by her neighbors--Prussia, Russia, and Austria--were the stimuli to emigration in these years. Most of the Polish emigrants were prominent noblemen and intellectuals who had participated in the defense of the Old Order. Among them were such notables as Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski.

It was clearly a different type of Pole who left his homeland at this time. Unlike their predecessors, they were men of distinction and prominence: soldiers, noblemen, poets, educators, and musicians.

A major factor that corroded Poland's political integrity was the practice of electing kings rather than rooting the transfer of power in a system of dynastic succession. Politically unstable and corrupt, elections were characteristically the product of bargaining, bribery, and foreign interference. Moreover, many of Poland's sovereigns were foreigners, interested in their own personal aggrandizement rather than the well-being of the Polish State. Lacking a coherent and forceful central leadership and burdened by the frequent interregna, the country experienced a debilitating disorder.13


Poland's internal strength was also compromised by the legislative practice of liberum veto. This deplorable use of the Polish Parliament permitted any deputy to dissolve the Diet (legislative body), even nullifying many crucial decisions made prior to his intervention. In essence a unanimous vote was necessary to pass any meaningful legislation. It was a means by which unscrupulous nobles could dominate the political scene at the expense of the Polish state and its people.14

Prussia, Russia, and Austria constantly interfered in the internal affairs of Poland, rendering it virtually impossible for the Poles to put their house in order. Indeed the Poles inability to govern themselves in an orderly fashion served as a pretext to partition Poland.15

The country was hobbled by her nobilities' arbitrary negotiation of alliances with foreign powers. Typically naive and characteristically indifferent to the state's well-being, they sacrificed Poland in the pursuit of wealth and personal power.16

No nation could withstand such venality and internal fragmentation, especially when accompanied by hostility and aggression from bordering states. Poland's humiliating dismemberment was only a question of time. Russia benefited most from the three partitions; Prussia's gains were second largest; and Austria received the smallest share of the territorial spoils.17


American Revolutionary War Period

Since Poland was not extant during the Revolutionary War, there were no "official relations" between Poland and the United States. For it was at this time when the outbreak of the Revolutionary War occurred, that Poland herself had lost much of her international prestige due to the invasion of the Swedes, Turks, Russians, Cossacks, and Tartars.

The King of Poland, Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski, was educated and liberal. He was extremely interested in the American Colonies and their struggle. Educated in England, he was also interested in its political affairs. Both Americans and Englishmen were always welcome in his court.18

The American war aroused much interest in Poland. Expressions of concern are found in Polish publications written about the war. One of them was "The Political History of the Present American Revolution," written by Thomas Raunal, translated from French by F. Siarczynski, and published by the King's printer, Michael Groell, in Warsaw.19

Stanislaus Augustus was quite concerned that there was no representation of the American Colonies in the British Parliament. He states his anxiety over this matter in a letter written to Charles Lee, Adjutant to the King and General of the Polish Army:

...Representation and taxation then go together, and the connection between the mother and her daughter would become indissoluble; otherwise I see no alternative but oppression or entire independence.20


He went on to say that without representation conflicts of interest would occur which would not benefit either country. Furthermore he felt that an injustice might occur in America similar to that in Poland.

Stanislaus Augustus continued to be loyal to America even after he lost his throne. Evidence of this loyalty is found in letters to George Washington whom he held in high esteem. One letter, written in 1795 while he was a prisoner of the Russians at Grodno, clearly states his feelings:

Your conduct in war and in peace has inspired me for a long time with the desire of expressing to you the high esteem in which I bear you. It will be pleasing to me that an American shall bear the marks of my esteem and affection in the midst of his compatriots, in the midst of that nation which has known how to win for itself already such an opinion from the inhabitants of the Old Hemisphere, that is able in many ways to serve them as a lesson and a model.21

During the American Revolution Polish volunteers crossed the ocean to fight for American independence. Of those who came, Thaddeus Kosciuszko was the first foreign patriot and the most famous. It was his plan to strengthen Sugar Loaf Hill. This plan was approved by General Gates, who was unexpectedly transferred before it could be implemented. General Schuyler, the new commander, vetoed Kosciuszko's plan because he thought it unnecessary and impractical. The hill was quickly taken by the British, under the command of General Burgoyne, who followed the same plan Kosciuszko had given General Gates, and the Americans were forced to withdraw to Ticonderoga.22



After the retreat from Ticonderoga, Kosciuszko organized the defenses at Bemis Heights, near Saratoga. Here the American troops surrounded General Burgoyne and forced him to surrender on October 17, 1777. This surrender was a turning point in the American Revolution. In response to the colonists' success, France recognized the United States and agreed to contribute money and material in support of the war.23

Kosciuszko also supervised in the successful construction at West Point. The significance of his role there is illustrated by the praise he received from General John Armstrong:

Kosciuszko's merit lies in this that he gave the fortifications such strength that they frightened the very enemy from all temptation of even trying to take the Highlands.24

In 1780 Kosciuszko requested a transfer to the Southern Army in order to serve with General Gates. Prior to his arrival, however, General Gates was defeated at Camden, South Carolina, and Kosciuszko served under his replacement, General Green. Once again, Kosciuszko rendered valuable assistance to the colonists as a strategist and line officer.25

For his distinguished service to the cause of American Independence, Kosciuszko was awarded a pension, land in Franklin County, Ohio, American citizenship, and the rank of brigadier general. He was also elected a member of the Society of Cincinnati, a rare honor for foreigners. General Green considered him a "master of his profession":


In the execution of my orders he has always been willing, competent, inaccessible to any temptation of pleasure, not fatigued by any labor, intrepid in any danger. He is incomparably modest. He has never expressed a desire for anything in his favor, and has never omitted an opportunity to commend and reward the services of others.26

In 1784, Kosciuszko returned to Poland to join the effort against partition. At the country's defeat in 1795, he was jailed. After two years in prison, Kosciuszko was released and he returned to America, just long enough to arrange for the disposal of his property. Entrusting Thomas Jefferson with his will and naming him the executor of his estate, Kosciuszko sailed for Poland in 1798. His commitment to the rights of man is boldly expressed in this document:

I, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, being just on my departure from America, do hereby declare and direct that, should I make no other testamentary disposition of my property in the United States, I hereby authorize my friend, Thomas Jefferson to employ the whole thereof in purchasing Negroes from among his own or any other and giving them liberty in my name; in having them instructed in for their new condition in the duties of morality which may make them good neighbors, good fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, in their duty as citizens; teaching them to be defenders of their liberty and country, of the good order of society, and in whatever may make them happy and useful.27

Inspired by pure idealism, Casimir Pulaski came to America to "fight for liberty." On August 13, 1778 he wrote Colonel R.H. Lee: "Honor and a desire of distinguishing myself in defense of Liberty was the only motive which fired my breast for the cause of the United States."28


Russian oppression had forced Count Pulaski to leave Poland. Hearing of the American Revolution, he asked permission to aid the colonists. Through intercession of Benjamin Franklin and three French friends, Beaumarchais, Rulhiere and Vergennes, Pulaski was ultimately granted an officer's commission in the Continental Army. While awaiting Congress' decision, however, Pulaski enlisted in the army. Though only a volunteer, his skill and courage were exploited by Washington in a surprise attack upon the advancing forces of General Howe that saved the army from destruction at Brandywine and later at Warren Tavern.29 In recognition of his bravery, Pulaski was immediately commissioned the "first Commander of the American Cavalry with the rank of Brigadier General."30

During the winter Pulaski's cavalry was transferred to Trenton, New Jersey. It was here that he used all his energies to improve this branch of service, including: a reorganization of the regiments of dragoons; the creation of a new unit armed with Polish lances; and the development of a set of service regulations which were the first given to a cavalry. Through these regulations, he "tried to inspire his soldiers with discipline and martial spirit on every occasion."31

On March 19, 1778 Congress recognized the formation of the corps known as the Pulaski Legion. This legion was comprised mainly of Frenchmen, Germans, and Poles. While visiting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, he ordered a banner for his Legion from the Moravian Sisters and paid for it out of his own funds.32


In September 1778 the Legion was sent by Washington to New Jersey. It was here that the infantry of the Legion was attacked by the British at Egg Harbor. Thirty lives were lost, including that of the infantry's Polish commander, Baron de Batzen. Retreating with "heavy losses," Pulaski and his cavalry came to the rescue.33

Pulaski was also instrumental in preventing the loss of Charleston, South Carolina. The British were close to the city and advancing rapidly. The army commander, General Prevost, demanded that Charleston surrender. In the midst of the negotiations, Pulaski unexpectedly appeared and vowed to defend Charleston. Pulaski's fame and success of the Legion "had considerable influence in dispelling the general panic, and introducing military sentiments into the minds of the citizens."34 Prevost was forced to withdraw and the city remained under colonial control.

Recognized historically as the "father of American cavalry," Pulaski's skill and courage as a commander were invaluable assets to the all too often demoralized and inept Continental Army. Of all the Polish officers who participated in the Revolutionary War, he is considered the most romantic, and professionally, the most prominent.35 A spirited soldier, he embraced the colonial cause as his own: "I could not submit to stoop before the sovereigns of Europe, so I came here to hazard all for the freedom of America."36 Although many brave men served America throughout the Revolutionary War, Pulaski was special.



Pulaski and Kosciuszko were but the most famous of the many Poles who fought in this war and helped win the independence of the United States. Some, like them, came to America during the Revolution "with the sole purpose of fighting on the side of the ideals of liberty and justice." Others had settled in America prior to the war and were of Polish descent. Their identities and numbers are impossible to determine with any degree of certainty. Records were not kept accurately and many were destroyed or lost. In addition, misspelling of names was common and numerous Poles Anglicized their names. The few surviving materials are also compromised by their inadequacies, lacking information regarding nationality, or family of those involved. (In fact Pulaski's name is found spelled Polasque.)37

Some Poles or those who were assumed Poles were: Joseph Baldeski (Baldesque--Baldesqui) who was captain and paymaster of the Pulaski Legion. Although an honest man, pay vouchers were easily lost during long marches and battles and Baldeski was constantly called to verify his work. He was also held by Congress in Philadelphia until accounts were settled. Pulaski persistently and faithfully came to Baldeski's side and defended him against any suspicion of his integrity.38

Maurice August Beniowski was born in Hungary. His relationship with Poland was hereditary. It was his strong desire to serve in the American War with Count Pulaski whom he claimed was his half-brother. After much difficulty Congress gave permission for Beniowski


to serve with the Count. However, Pulaski, now with the Southern Army, was on his death bed when Beniowski arrived. According to Doctor P. Joseph Johnson, author of Traditions and Reminiscences, Surgeon General Doctor P. Fayssoux who knew the details of Pulaski's death, stated that Pulaski "had the consolation of being attended in his last hours by a countryman--a relative, a friend, a brother Confederate in the cause of their native country."39 Furthermore, it was pointed out that Beniowski (Benyowsky) was "recognized by the dying hero, officiated as his relative, chief mourner and heir, and departed.40

Beniowski, alone in a strange country, with limited knowledge of English, tried to adjust to his new life. He wrote sporadically to Congress hoping for a commission in the Army or Navy. In 1782, in a letter to Washington he offered his "blood, knowledge, and bravery." Included in this letter was a plan to raise a Legionary Corps of Germans for the cause of the United States. He would "raise, clothe, arm, equip and transport" them from Germany to America. Washington endorsed this plan but inserted changes before submitting it to the Board of War. The proposal was declined, however, because peace seemed near and there was no need to resume action on land. After this refusal Beniowski returned to Europe and nothing more is known about him.41

Another Pole who joined in the American service was Kotkowski (Kolkawski, Kotskoelski). He was highly recommended by Pulaski and consequently was commissioned Captain of the Legion by Congress.


In 1779 he was court-martialed, found guilty, and dismissed. The facts of the court-martial trial or the events that led to this court-martial are meager or unknown. Kotkowski was the only Pole to be discharged from this war. Despite this unfortunate event, it is a fact that his aspirations to serve the American cause were all in earnest. It is presumed that he returned to Europe, for nothing more is known.42

There were many other less notable officers who fought in the American War for Independence, such as Kraszewski, Charles Litonski, and Matthias Rogowski, to name a few.

Polish Settlements in Texas

Because Europe held the primary interest of the Spaniards they were indifferent toward their territory of Texas. Thus attempts to colonize this land were minor until the eighteenth century. And, when colonization became a major Spanish concern, the endeavors were inadequate, unstable, and rashly done. This poor planning did, however, result in the following settlements: San Antonio, Goliad, and Nacogdoches.43

When Louisiana became United States territory in 1803, the Spanish feared the possibility of Texas also becoming American territory. Free immigration into Texas was halted immediately, and only "Catholics who would be loyal to Spain and who could be relied upon to defend the province against foreign encroachments" were legally allowed entrance. Typical of Spanish rule, however, the proscriptions went unheard of.44


The Spanish Consul at New Orleans, Diego Morphi, devised a plan for the colonization of Texas he was sure would not only preserve Spain's control in the American West, but also aid her efforts to defeat Napoleon in Europe. Its success depended entirely on Polish immigration. It was Morphi's strong belief that the Poles would desert Napoleon provided they were guaranteed transportation to Texas where they could "devote themselves to agriculture and useful arts." He also suggested they be granted a strip of land in the Gulf of Mexico and near the frontier of Louisiana, i.e., be made a buffer for Texas. As an added inducement for colonization, he recommended the immigrants be exempted from all taxes and self-government.45

Morphi's plan was rejected. Spanish authorities knew the Poles looked to Napoleon as "the only power on earth that could restore their own unhappy country to freedom."46 Moreover, it was feared that the settlement of foreigners on the frontier would jeopardize Spain's interests and that the Poles would, ultimately, aid the United States if a conflict arose.

The disorganization of European societies caused by the Napoleonic wars and mass migrations at their end affected America also. Many of Napoleon's soldiers, as well as dislocated peoples, entered the United States.

It is well known that Polish immigration helped to win liberty for Texas and to extend the frontier of the United States to the Rio Grande and the Pacific. General Henri Dominique Lallemand, and his


brother Charles Francois Antoine, for example, formed an expedition at Philadelphia to colonize part of Spanish Texas. Upon their arrival, they took possession of the land West of Galveston and founded the military colony of Champ-d'-Asile.47 Constantin Paul Malczewski was one of the most distinguished members of the Champ-d'-Asile Colony. Along with three other officers he "planned and directed" the building of the forts that served as protection for the colony. Despite all efforts, however, Champ-d'-Asile failed. Illness, hunger, and other misfortunes caused the colonists to disperse. Some resettled in Alabama and others in Louisiana.48

Another immigrant associated with the Polish cause was Doctor Anthony Michael Dignowity who settled in San Antonio. He was a Bohemian by birth and a professional mechanical engineer. He became an army volunteer for the Polish cause during the Polish Insurrection of 1830-31. In America Dignowity studied medicine and became a renowned physician and an outstanding citizen.48

The rapid growth of Texas's population caused the Mexican rulers to become concerned and suspicious of the Americans., Recognizing the American influence and fearful of a possible loss of their territory, Mexican authorities began to enforce new and old laws such as abolishment of slavery, imposition of taxes, interference in local affairs, and apprehension of colonists. These laws led to a revolution in 1835.

Under the command of Colonel Fannin, American volunteers fought for Texas independence. Their army, however, was comprised of only


four hundred men, mostly Poles, while that of the Mexican General Urreas was five times greater. Despite this numerical superiority, Colonel Fannin's army was able to withstand the pressure until March 10, 1836 when Colonel Fannin was subdued and most of his Polish army was executed on March 27, 1836.49

After the defeat of Fannin's army, Santa Anna, the Mexican President was able to capture the Alamo. However, his victory was short lived. Felix Wardryski (Wardzinski), under the command of General Sam Houston, defeated him at San Jacinto. The Mexican army retreated and Santa Anna was captured and taken prisoner.

In order for Santa Anna to gain liberty, he made a treaty which stopped the war and recognized Texas Independence.50

After the Texas war of independence, another Pole became known for attracting Poles to Texas: Father Leopold Moczygemba. After his ordination in 1825, as a Franciscan Monk, he was sent to Texas. He came to love this country greatly. Because of this affection he inaugurated a plan to import large groups of Poles from his homeland. He took it upon himself to write encouraging letters to family and friends in Silesia. Because of these letters an "emigration fever" influenced approximately one hundred families from his village as well as surrounding villages such as Warwentow and Blotnica to emigrate. These families chartered a ship and landed in 1854 at Galveston. Their belongings were only a few necessities. However, among these chattels were a large crucifix and bells from


their church in Poland. These new immigrants established residence in Karnes County and founded the village of Panna Maria.51

Poles in California

In California, Spanish authorities were extremely apprehensive and resentful of strangers entering their land. Consequently, if a ship was forced to undergo repairs on their shores, it was immediately captured along with the cargo. American sailors, therefore, became cautious and welcomed sites that were isolated and peaceful to repair their ships. So it happened that William Shaler and Richard Cleveland, merchant-adventurers of New England, discovered a site on Catalina Island where they could safely make rush repairs. This area was yet unnamed. Hence, Shaler and Cleveland christened it Port Rouissillon. Who or what was Rouissillon?

Rouissillon was said to have been a member of an "ancient noble family of Poland," a strong believer in individual liberty who rejected the disciplined life of his native land. He became acquainted with Shaler and Cleveland in Hamburg, Germany.

Although his name is not even mentioned in the geography of California, it has been assumed that he was a Polish count living incognito. With this disguise, so to speak, he was able to avoid any encounters that might have occurred with enemies. California attracted many Poles during the 1840's and 1850's. Earlier settlers were immigrant veterans from Polish uprisings, while the period of the gold rush "became the spark which released the great influx of the Polish Peasant or economic immigration to this country."



When the Civil War began, there were approximately thirty thousand Poles in the United States.52 About four thousand Poles served in the Union army; of these 166 were commissioned officers. Vladimir Krzyzanowski, for example, was commander of the Union's Polish Legion and widely respected for his bravery. Enlisting in the army as a private, he quickly assumed a more active and responsible role when he recruited a company of militia, called Krzyzanowski's Company, and was promoted to the rank of major. In 1861 he was directed by the Secretary of War, Cameron, to "recruit a regiment among all the Poles of the Union." Krzyzanowski enlisted four hundred men and the regiment was named the United States Rifles. Operating as an independent, voluntary unit at first, it merged with the Morgan Rifles later in the War and ultimately, was made a regular division of the Union Army, the Fifty-Eighth New York Infantry. Called the Polish Legion because a majority of the men were descendants of immigrants, it is listed under this name in the Official Army Register of the Volunteer Forces of the United States Army.53

When Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson attacked General Fremont of the Union Army at Cross Keys, Virginia on June 8, 1862, Krzyzanowski's regiments were used to support the command of Brigadier General Julius H. Stahel. The actions of his men were integral in preventing the Confederates from destroying Fremont's Army. Captain Schimer, in charge of one of the batteries that saw heavy combat, illustrated the respect for Krzyzanowski that was typical


among the soldiers in his official report. The Fifty-Eighth Regiment, he emphasized, "behaved with great gallantry under the command of Colonel Krzyzanowski."

Later in the year, Krzyzanowski was made commander of the Second Brigade, Third Division, a combined infantry and artillery unit once again. He was responsible for the Fourth and Fifty-Eighth New York, Seventy-Fifth Pennsylvania Infantry, and a battery of the second New York Light Artillery. Active in the battles at Fox Ford, Sulpher Springs, Waterloo Springs, and Govenon, Virginia,54 Krzyzanowski's Division also fought furiously and successfully at the Battle of Bull Run. "The gallantry with which Colonel Krzyzanowski on the left wing withstood and repelled the frequent and fierce assaults of the enemy," declared General Carl Schurz," commands the highest praise." President Lincoln, in addition, nominated him for promotion to the rank of brigadier general; however, the Senate refused to ratify this request. Apparently Krzyzanowski felt little resentment or anger at this injustice, and he continued to fight for the Union until the War ended.

The Poles who were fighting in the Union and Confederate armies were men of high ideals. Their military experience was of much value since most were commissioned officers as well as veterans of wars for freedom of past decades.

Civil War annals cannot pass by names like Joseph Karze, who was considered one of the best cavalry officers, and became a general in the Union Army; Allin F. Schoepf, a brigadier general


who defeated the Confederates at Rock Hills in 1861; and Major Gaspard Tochman and Colonel Valery Sulakowski of the Confederate army.



Polish Historical and Economic Background

The immigrants attracted to California's gold were the harbingers of the third migration movement from Poland, beginning in 1865 and lasting until the United States imposed legislature restrictions on immigration in 1920. This was the era of the Polish peasant. Economically desperate, peasants in Europe had been ravaged by the concerted and unrelenting efforts of Russia, Prussia, and Austria to eliminate political opposition in the Polish sectors of their respective empires.55 Jobs, high wages, and relief from crushing taxes were dreams the peasant cherished as he considered emigration.

During the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century, most Poles had been reduced to the status of an agricultural proletariat, or semi-proletariat. In Russian Poland, for example, 73.4 percent of the population were living in villages; in Prussian Poland, 69.3 percent; and in Austrian Poland 80.1 percent. Moreover, the communities were densely populated, exerting an unbearable pressure on the land. Typical of these conditions was eastern Galicia (Russian Poland) where sixty-seven persons in a square kilometer lived by agriculture, and western Galicia with eighty persons per square kilometer. In the rest of old Austria, by contrast, there were merely thirty-six people per square kilometer; for Germany the figure was thirty-four.56


The Poles also suffered from the continuous fragmentation of their lands. While individual holdings varied in size, most people farmed tracts of land that were too small to provide adequate sustenance for their owners. Of the total land-area in Galicia, 84.4 percent had been subdivided into farms of no more than five hectares, i.e., about twelve acres, and many were even smaller. Merely 6.8 percent of Poznan, however, was farmed in such a manner. Shrinkage, moreover, went unchecked throughout the late nineteenth century. By 1882, the average peasant holding in Galicia had declined to approximately seven acres; by 1896 the average dropped to less than six acres.57

Another stimulant to emigration was a high, oppressive tax rate. In 1882, approximately 1,420,020 people in Galicia payed land taxes, and by 1896 the number had increased to 1,743,792. While it would seem that the burden of taxation was widely shared, in fact the brunt of the taxes was borne by the poor peasants. The inequalities are clearly illustrated, once again, by the experience of Galicians: 1,740,814 peasants with land holdings averaging less than six acres paid the bulk, and only 2,978 large landowners of estates ranging 132 acres plus paid the remainder. Similar circumstances prevailed throughout all the Polish lands.58

A lack of industrial development in Poland was another contributing factor to emigration. Forced to seek additional employment to supplement his meager income and to meet the exorbitant land taxes, on the one hand, the peasant was confronted with few


employment opportunities, on the other hand. Factories were not numerous and all had ample sources of labor. In part, costly and excessive bureaucratic procedures were responsible for the lack of industrial development, while equally serious obstacles were presented by poor transportation facilities, high taxes and the antipathy of the Polish landed gentry towards trade, commerce and industry.59

Economic disability, however, was only one dimension of the general sordidness of the peasant's situation. Poles were faced with social discrimination and their culture attacked. In Russian Poland prior to World War I, for example, it was a criminal offense to teach the Polish language. Peasants, in addition, were to be denied any manner of education.60 In Prussia, Poles were subjected to a debasing program of assimilation. Under Bismar culture and language were forced upon the Poles. It was the German belief that this policy of Germanization was imperative to make the Poles loyal citizens.61 Less abrasive, but with an equally devastating impact, Austrian neglect resulted in large numbers of Polish children being denied an education. While acknowledging the right to an education, the government refused to construct and provide resources for more than a token educational system.62 Predictably, illiteracy was endemic to the Polish provinces. By 1900, as much as 52 percent of all male and 59 percent of all female Galicians over six years of age were illiterates.63


The lack of or limited increase in educational standards and opportunities, along with linguistic and religious persecutions initiated by Bismarck's Kulturkampf policy served as an impetus for Polish emigration from Prussian Poland.

Polish emigration from Russian Poland which commenced in 1876 was due in the main to a crop failure, high rate of unemployment in the textile industry due to labor problems, and the institution of universal military service.

American Economic Conditions

The Civil War accelerated American industrial growth, and expansion in terms of physical plant and productivity continued throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Technological innovation and sophistication transformed industrial methods, ushering in the age of mass production. Rooted in limited individual responsibility and standardized tasks, industrial production was increasingly freed from its dependence upon the services of the craftsman-specialist and the quantitative constraints of an inflexible apprentice-training system. The most valuable labor resource, as well as greatest employment need, quickly became cheap, un- and semi-skilled people who could be molded to perform a mundane, repetitive operation. Like the majority of America's immigrants in the years 1865-1920, Poles helped to fill this vacuum. Industrialists exploited the foreign borns' vulnerability; their willingness to work long hours in order to escape the drudgery


that surrounded them; and the immigrants' historical and nationalistic animosities toward each other. They were an economic blessing for America. An 1864 report by the Senate Committee on Agriculture captured the essence of the nation's alien treasure:
The advantages which have accrued heretofore from immigration can scarcely be computed. Such is the labor performed by the thrifty immigrant that he cannot enrich himself without contributing his full quota to the increase of the intrinsic greatness of the United States. This is equally true whether he work at mining, farming, or as a day laborer on one of our railroads.64

The majority of Polish immigrants settled in urban areas. Some worked in New England's textile mills, while others helped to build railroads and produce lumber in the West. Their cohorts in the Midwest found jobs in the meatpacking industry, especially in Chicago; and in the steel mills of Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio; Buffalo, New York; and Gary, Indiana. Poles were also miners of iron, copper, and coal in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Montana and Pennsylvania.65

After a short term in industry a few of the immigrants were able to purchase farms in the semi-abandoned farmlands of the East, especially in New England. Due to their frugal life style they made a success of farming. In fact, many cities in Massachusetts and Connecticut maintain a large Polish population to this day which attests to their successful agrarian enterprises.66

The Pole was in search of political and social freedoms and the economic opportunities denied him in Europe. While, America,


on the other hand, was in great need of his muscle, i.e., manpower to labor in its ever expanding industries. So, it can be seen that emigration and immigration were reciprocal processes which complemented each other to the betterment of the Polish immigrant as well as the American nation.



World War I halted the flow of Poles to the United States, at least for the duration of the hostilities. Many Polish-Americans hoped that the defeat of Germany would bring about a restoration of their homeland. Supporting the United States' intervention in the war, they patriotically worked to assure an American victory.

The prominent pianist, Ignace Paderewski became the informant for his country and came to America in 1915. Wherever and whenever he could, he visited the large cities and spoke of his country's situation. It was his hope to free a country he loved by acquainting the American public with the existing conditions.67 Paderewski's sincere approach to the American-Poles made his appeals successful.

Opposed to injustice he preferred to "rely on superiority of right over might, and to that end he counselled love, not insurrection."68

President Wilson, after being encouraged by the House to "endorse the movement for Polish independence" stated: "I take, it for granted that statesmen everywhere are agreed that there shall be a united, independent and autonomous Poland."69

The years 1914 to 1916 saw the slow progression which eventually led to the United States intervention. In the beginning, this involvement was emotional and, later, became economic.


Jan Paderewski in 1938. (National Archives, Washington, D.C.)


Recruitment of Poles

During this time Paderewski appealed to the Polish Falcons for their help to recruit a Kosciuszko Army to fight alongside the Americans. The Falcons unanimously voted in favor of Paderewski's suggestion when War was officially declared on April 6, 1917.

This Kosciuszko Army grew to 100,000 men of which 28,000 were volunteers from the United States and others were prisoners of the Central Powers. They were under the command of General Jozef Haller.

Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War, states of these troops:

The American contigent of the Polish Army is made up of men moved by the inspiration of the principles involved on the Allied side in this conflict, and their presence on the Western front representing both their adherence to America as the country of their adoption, and to Poland, free and self-governing, as the country of their inspiring sight.70

Among the Polish-American communities a constant, patriotic feeling persisted during this war effort to free Poland from German domination. Thus, it could be seen that their participation in the War had a twofold purpose: to support America and to aid Poland in her pursuit of independence.71

Because of the victory which gave Poland her independence, the American Poles gained much prestige. They became more conscious of their heritage and developed outstanding Polish cultural institutions for the preservation of their heritage.



Recruitment Attempts

Shortly after the German attack on Poland and the bombing of Warsaw, appeals were made to gain the support of the American Poles and their descendants similar to those made at the outbreak of World War I.

General Sikorski and other renowned Polish leaders toured the United States and spoke to residents earnestly soliciting their help. The recruitment was poor, however, as the second and third generation young American Poles were willing to fight only in the American Army.72

During a second tour through the United States, Sikorski's appeals to the Poles were filled with sarcastic remarks which accused the Poles of neglecting their homeland. Because of his remarks, Sikorski's cause was lost. Moreover, the American Poles retaliated in an anger which was shocking. Now there existed an obvious attitudinal change among the American Poles quite different from what was felt in World War I. The PNA (Polish National Alliance) stated in their newspaper the "Alliance Daily": "We have our own problems." The concern for Poland was much less than it was in the past. The greater concern was now for America and her war problems.73 Polish Americans not only enthusiastically supported President Roosevelt's action on behalf of the anti-axis powers, but also enlisted in great numbers in the military.


Over 900,000 Poles were in the Armed Forces in World War II. Army and Navy records list 20 percent as American Poles. The names of Poles were heard throughout the Marine Corps, Army and Navy, as well as the WACS, SPARS, and WAVES. Throughout the United States recruiting offices stated that 50 percent of their volunteers were of Polish descent and were "among the first to enlist." Some of the men who attained the rank of General in World War II were: John Wisniewski, Joseph Berzynski, and John Rataj.

Poles at Home

Americans of Polish ancestry contributed to war efforts heavily. The Polish National Alliance and the Polish Roman Catholic Union purchased enough United States bonds to cover the cost of five bombers; all the planes were given Polish names.

They also contributed generously to service organizations and organized special committees to aid both war victims of Poland and Polish refugees. More than ten million dollars was contributed to alleviate the suffering. They also provided additional means for religious services for needy war victims.

Finally, they contributed additional funds for relief, and in doing so, kept alive in America the reasons for Polish freedom.74

Upon the termination of World War II many of the prejudices that prevailed among ethnic and racial groups, prior to World War II were now diminishing rapidly. People accepted new ideas, listened


to each other, and learned while fighting for a common cause that there were similar, if not the same, emotions, fears, problems, among all regardless of their heritage.75

Displaced Persons

By the end of the war about ten million were left homeless in Europe. They were labeled Displaced Persons or D.P.'s, and were given shelter in camps which were headed by the occupying armies and under the advise of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). It was anticipated that the countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, would eventually absorb them.

The United Stated, still apparently sympathetic towards Poland's cause and remembering the aid received by past Polish leaders in previous wars, passed the D.P. Act which permitted 205,000 to enter the United States providing they were assured jobs, shelter, and a sponsor.76

The Commission for the Displaced Persons stated on January 2, 1952 that over 300,000 had entered the United States at a cost of $100,601,000 thus giving residence to more persons than any other nation.



1Miecislaus Haiman, Polish Past in America 1608-1865 (Illinois: The Polish Roman Catholic Union, Archives and Museum, 1939), pp. 5-6.

2Ibid., p. 6.

3Ibid., pp. 6-7.

4Ibid., pp. 7-8.

5Ibid., p. 9.

6Ibid., pp. 1-3.

7Joseph A. Wytrwal, America's Polish Heritage: A Social History of Poles in America (Detroit: Endurance, 1961), p. 21.

8Miecislaus Haiman, Poles in America 1608-1865 (Chicago: The Polish American Congress, 1958), p. 18, citing the Jamestown Pioneers from Poland.

9Wytrwal, op. cit., pp. 22-23.

10Haiman, Polish Past in America 1608-1865, op. cit., pp. 16-17.

11Wytrwal, op. cit., pp. 24-26.

12Ibid., p. 27.

13Paul Fox, The Poles in America (New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, reprint, 1970), p. 36.

14Oscar Helecki, A History of Poland (New York: Roy Publishers, 1956), p. 163.

15Fox, op. cit., p. 36.


17Ibid., p. 37.

18Ibid., p. 4.

19Ibid., p. 6.

20Ibid., pp. 4-5.

21Ibid., pp. 11-13, citing H.E. Hayden (Wilkes Barre: Virginia Genealogies, 1891), pp. 395-420.


22Haiman, Polish Past in America, op. cit., p. 29.

23Wytrwal, op. cit., pp. 36-38.

24Haiman, Ibid., p. 30.

25Haiman, Poland and the American Revolutionary War, op. cit., p. 37.

26Wytrwal, op. cit., p. 37.

27Wytrwal, op. cit., p. 37.

28Haiman, Poland and the American Revolutionary War, op. cit., p. 27.

29Ibid., pp. 27-28.

30Ibid., p. 28.


32Haiman, Polish Past in America, op. cit., p. 38.

33Haiman, Poland and the American Revolutionary War, op. cit., p. 30.

34Ibid., pp. 30-31.

35Wytrwal, America's Polish Heritage: A Social History of Poles in America, op. cit., p. 40.

36Wytrwal, Ibid., p. 30.

37Haiman, American Revolutionary War, op. cit., p. 35.

38Ibid., pp. 36-38.

39Ibid., p. 39, citing J. Johnson, Traditions and Reminiscences Chiefly of the American Revolution in the South (Charleston: 1852), p. 246.


41Ibid., pp. 40-42.

42Ibid., pp. 43-47.

43Miecislaus Haiman, The Poles in the Early History of Texas (Chicago, Illinois: Polish Roman Catholic Union of America, 1936), p. 19.


44Ibid., p. 20.

45Ibid., pp. 20-21.

46Ibid., p. 20.

47Ibid., p. 23.

48Ibid., pp. 24-25.

49Ibid., pp. 28-29.

50Ibid., pp. 30-32.

51Ibid., p. 38.

52Joseph A. Wytrwal, America's Polish Heritage: A Social History of Poles in America, op. cit., p. 65.

53Joseph A. Wytrwal, Poles in American History and Tradition (Detroit, Michigan: Endurance Press, 1969), pp. 151-152.

54Ibid., pp. 153-154.

55Haiman, Polish Past in America 1608-1865, op. cit., pp. 3-4.

56Ibid., p. 38.

57Ibid., p. 39.

58Ibid., p. 41.

59Ibid., pp. 41-42.

60Ibid., p. 44.

61Wytrwal, America's Polish Heritage, op. cit., p. 128.

62Fox, op. cit., pp. 44-45.

63Ibid., p. 45.

64Wytrwal, Poles in American History and Tradition, op. cit., p. 216.

65Ibid., pp. 219-220.

66Ibid., pp. 227-233.

67Wytrwal, Poles in American History and Tradition, op. cit., pp. 325-329.

68Ibid., p. 352.


69Ibid., p. 333.

70Wytrwal, Poles in American History and Tradition, op. cit., p. 334.

71Ibid., p. 54.

72Ibid., p. 261.


74Wytrwal, Poles in America, op. cit., p. 64.

75Wytrwal, Poles in American History and Tradition, op. cit., pp. 412-413.

76Ibid., pp. 413-415.



Coulter, Charles W. The Poles of Cleveland. Ohio: Cleveland's Americanization Committee; Mayor's Advisory War Committee, 1919.

Fleming, Thomas J. The Golden Door, The Story of American Immigration. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, Inc., 1970.

Fox, Paul. The Poles in America. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1922.

Groisser, Philip L. Mastering American History. New York: Keystone Education Press, 1967.

Haiman, Miecislaus. Kosciuszko: Leader and Exile. New York: Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, 1946.

-----. Poland and the American Revolutionary War. Illinois: Polish Roman Catholic Union, 1932.

-----. Polish Past in America 1608-1865. Illinois: The Polish Roman Catholic Union, 1939.

-----. Polish Pioneers of California. Illinois: Polish Roman Catholic Union, 1940.

-----. The Poles in the Early History of Texas. Illinois: Polish Roman Catholic Union, 1936.

Halecki, Oscar. A History of Poland. New York: Roy Publication, 1956.

Katz, William Loren. Slavery to Civil War 1812-1865. New York: Franklin Watts, Inc., 1974.

Lerski, Jerzy Jan. A Polish Chapter in Jacksonian America: The United States and the Polish Exiles of 1831. Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1958.

Levy, Donald. A Report on the Location of Ethnic Groups in Greater Cleveland. Cleveland: The Institute of Urban Studies, Cleveland State University, 1972.

Mann, Arthur. Immigrants in American Life. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1968.

Martin, Michael and Leonard Gelber. Dictionary of American History. New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams and Company, 1966.

Pap, Michael S. (ed.). Ethnic Communities of Cleveland. Ohio: Institute for Soviet and East European Studies, John Carroll University, Cleveland, 1973.


Reddaway, W.F. et. al. (ed.). The Cambridge History of Poland--From Augustus II to Pilsudski 1697-1835. Great Britain: Cambridge at the University Press, 1941.

Thomas, William and Florian Znaniecki. The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, Vol. I. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927.

-----. The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, Vol. II. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927.

Wieczerzak, Joseph W. A Polish Chapter in Civil War America; The Effects of the January Insurrection on American Opinion and Diplomacy. New York: Wayne Publishers, Inc., 1967.

Wytrwal, Joseph A. America's Polish Heritage. Michigan: Endurance Press, 1961.

-----. Poles in American History and Tradition. Michigan: Endurance Press, 1969.

-----. The Poles in America. Minnesota: Lerner Publications Co., 1969.



The Early Years

More than 4 1/2 million Poles have settled permanently in the United States. They came at different times, for different reasons and from different backgrounds and circumstances which affected where they settled in the United States. Up to the 1900's, about 18% of the total arrived; from 1901-1914 about 59%; from 1914-1950 about 23%, with the peak year in 1921. Arrivals since then have been under the rigid quota system and have been minimal.

Up to 1883 about 95% of America's immigrants came from Northern and Western Europe. The earliest Polish settlers, although only a handful, were prosperous businessmen, adventurers and political exiles. Outside of Jamestown, the earliest settlements were in New York, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania, and the immigrants found employment on individual farms, plantations and in businesses.

Polish immigrants, like many others, often had romantic visions of reestablishing their old homeland in America. This was especially true of exiles from a land partitioned by Prussia, Russia and Austria, where their only means of identity was a language and a religion. In 1834, a group of exiles from Austria illustrated this desire. In a petition to the Congress they asked for land in Illinois to establish a new Poland. The petition was granted, but the land was ultimately abandoned and the original political exiles settled in New York, Albany, Philadelphia, Boston and the Midwest.

The "pioneer" period of Polish settlement began with the founding of a farming community at Panna Maria, Texas, in 1854,


under the direction of the Franciscan Father Leopold Moczygemba. These hardy Silesians, consisting of around 800 men, women and children, had to contend with hardships that were completely foreign to their background; ultimately many left and settled in San Antonio, St. Hedwig and Yorktown.

In 1855, a family from West Prussia settled in Portage County, Wisconsin and founded Polonia which eventually grew to a prosperous rural community. The Polish population of Wisconsin continued to grow and by 1885 the state had the largest number of Polish residents in the United States. Patterns of settlement shifted after 1885, and other states rapidly caught up and passed Wisconsin in the total number of Polish residents.

Although small numbers of Poles immigrated to the United States through the mid-19th century, the large influx of Poles did not begin until the 1870's. Early settlements were mostly on an individual basis, many immigrants taking advantage of the Homestead Act. It is difficult to ascertain the number of arrivals during this period but in all likelihood it was fairly small. By 1870, only 10 parishes had been formed, a statistic of great importance, as Father Jasinski points out:

Probably the most poignant suffering and the most far-reaching in its effects was that caused by the strange environment and foreign tongue. Unprepared for his new living conditions, the immigrant Pole found himself frequently exploited. He became painfully aware of his ignorance of the language and customs of his new country. He sensed the danger of personal, moral, religious and social disintegration. To avoid this tragedy, he clung to his Polish Catholic traditions, to his prayers and devotions; he associated closely with fellow immigrants, preferably with those from the same region of Poland as himself. He


was thus saved from being absorbed by his non-Catholic and non-Polish environment and from disappearing in it without a vestige like many Polish immigrants of earlier years.1

Polish immigrants in America tried to reconstruct, as far as possible, the primary social system of the old country. They settled in compact masses, where rent was low and land was cheap, and established communities in which they could build a church.

By 1860 at least 30,000 Poles lived in America scattered throughout the thirty-four states and seven territories comprising the Union. Poles fought for both the South and the North. After the Civil War, American railroads imported Polish immigrants to Illinois, Nebraska and Iowa to settle in agricultural and mining colonies. The Burlington-Missouri Railroad, alone, moved 300 families to Nebraska in 1877 to land that it had acquired by Congressional land grants and resold to the Poles.

Poles as Farmers

At least one-third of the total Polish immigration ventured into farming; some in the South, some in the Midwest and the others scattered over the Northwest. Poles had been recruited to work on tobacco and vegetable farms as early as 1870. With their knowledge of the land, they restored hundreds of thousands of depleted acres to high-grade yield again.

The Poles lived on friendly terms with their neighbors and became as much an integral part of the region as the original New Englanders. This was especially true of the Poles in Orange County of New York. After a few immigrants discovered this paradise


of the onion and their affinities for raising it, they informed their relatives and friends in Poland and soon hundreds of Poles worked in the onion fields.2
Wherever they settled, they were highly praised as farmers.

Most of the farming settlements were established by 1880. The Polish immigrant, by reclaiming abandoned farms and specializing in onion and tobacco crops, prospered. In the Midwest they planted corn and wheat; in the Connecticut Valley they raised tobacco, onions and asparagus; on Long Island they specialized in truckfarming. "Even Calvin Coolidge admitted once that it took the Polish immigrants to show the Yankees how to till the soil."3

By 1911, 90% of the foreign born Polish farmers and 55.7% of Polish agricultural laborers resided in ten states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana, New York, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Of this number, 63.4% resided in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

City Dwellers

The "closing" of the frontier by 1890 forced the nation's, immigrants to look to other than agriculture for work. The post-Civil War period was the beginning of the large flow of Polish immigrants to the United States:

The decade 1870-1880 added nearly 35,000 Poles to the population of the United States; the decade ending 1890 nearly 99,000; and the last decade 1890-1900 nearly 236,000. In 1900 there were 383,407 natives of Poland in the United States.4
The Polish immigrant quickly joined the ranks of the foreign-born who filled the opening jaws of industrial expansion. The "Great


Migration" brought enormous numbers to the cities, settling wherever cheap labor was needed. Four-fifths of the immigrants who came after 1880 stopped within the great urban triangle formed by St. Louis, Washington and Boston. Many immigrants got no further than their first stop, New York City. Thousands settled on the Lower East side, living in crowded tenements and working in the garment industry. The largest concentration of Poles is still to be found in New York City.

The constant growth of population was absorbed within the existing communities causing sanitary problems as apartments were divided and subdivided.

In 1901, still prior to the peak years of Polish immigration, the City Homes Association, published its REPORT on the housing conditions of three ethnic pockets that had been bypassed by urban expansion. The Association's REPORT graphically demonstrated the wretched living conditions facing first generation Polonia. The total population of this sample neighborhood was 13,825, an average of 3339.8 tenants per acre; 2,716 families were compressed into forty acres in which no building rose higher than four stories. This put the density of the "Polish Quarter" (at) three times that of the most crowded portions of Tokyo, Calcutta, and many other Asiatic cities.5

It was incredible that in one city block area, a total of 1,601 people (832 children) comprising 316 families lived in an area measuring three and one half acres. There was an average of 3.62 apartments per building and the sample survey revealed that 72% of the "apartments" were 400 square feet or less.6

This continuous flow of immigrants had a subtle change which was particularly critical at a time when the native birth rate was beginning to fall.


From a demographic point of view, the specific features of this immigration were exceedingly stimulating. Among the arrivals was a large percentage of the young and early middle-aged. There was therefore an accession to the American population of people in their most vigorous years. Apart from the economic result - that they became immediately productive, without passing through a preliminary period as consumers - the peculiar age distribution had significant demographic consequences. The immigrants enjoyed a high reproductive rate, both because of a high birth rate and because those groups were concentrated in the most fertile ages. The net result was an exceedingly rapid rate of population growth with all the concomitant effects upon the economy of quick expansion and rapid development.7

Poles went to the cities because of their own economic needs and the demands of industrialization, not because they were urban folk. They found employment wherever they could; they were forced to go into the mills and down into the worst mines. Poles were often disliked and feared by their English-speaking counterparts because of their determination and hard work. They were manipulated and swindled by employers who were hungry for profit. In desperation and for protection, Poles formed tighter and tighter groups that others called a ghetto and the Poles knew as "home."

Industrial growth and the increasing demand for labor centered along the eastern seaboard and followed the railroads across the Midwest. Poles followed these paths, too, employed mostly as unskilled laborers. There was no industry in which they were not represented, but most were either in manufacturing or mining industries. Since the earliest arrivals were husbands and sons, outnumbering women two to one, they often accepted the most menial jobs to raise the necessary funds to bring their families over.


Pennsylvania had one of the largest groups of immigrants, a result of its coal industry and advertising. In the advertisements attention was called to the state's universal suffrage with equal rights to all regardless of race, religion or belief. It emphasized that Pennsylvania, moreover, was the only state that tolerated Roman Catholics, with the exception of Maryland.8

Union Beginnings

With the arrival of wives and children, the need for better wages, and a concern for better living conditions, pushed the Poles to an equal level with their English-speaking workers. The arrival of most of the Polish immigrant families made the Poles realize the need to organize, and they began to look closely at the unions.9 By 1887-88, they were heavily employed in the anthracite coal mines of western Pennsylvania and they were poorly paid.

The Immigration Commission of 1911 accused America's immigrants of being the cause for long hours, low pay, poor working conditions and, consequently, for the failure of labor unions. In fact, the truth is that the United Mine Workers entered the field only after spontaneous demonstrations by Poles in 1897 and 1899:

The former contest started as a single mine protest and spread quickly through all the Middle Field, Hungarian settlements. Unfortunately the demonstrations ended in the tragic Lattimer Massacre where about 60 striking immigrants were killed or wounded. All the casualties were Polish, Lithuanian, or Slovak; none were Anglo-Saxon. In 1899 labor unrest centered in Polish Nanticoke and Glen Lyon where the union did participate but objected to immigrant aggressiveness. In both cases the workers won significant gains.10


Whether in 1887, 1897, or 1902 no Pole dared object to supporting the strike because of the pressure of the group, and few could live outside in the isolation of "Yankeedom." Wages in the coal industry were always low.

Poles in Industry

New factories like those in Cincinnati and Cleveland attracted immigrants, employing skilled and unskilled laborers. The leading centers of Polish growth were Chicago, New York, Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland and Philadelphia. By 1910 Poles were the largest number of workers in Midwestern industries and mining. In addition, Polish immigrants worked in the steel and iron industries in Akron, Youngstown and Toledo, Ohio; Gary, Indiana; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Patterson, New Jersey; and in the Ford factories in Detroit. They were heavily employed in the textile mills of New England: the 1903 census showed 600 Poles in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and by 1910 the number had increased to 2100; there were between three and four thousand Poles in New Bedford in 1910. They were also employed in cloth manufacturing in Baltimore, but in much smaller number. Poles worked in glass factories in Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. In Milwaukee they worked in the leather industry. In Chicago they were primarily employed in the slaughtering and meatpacking houses.

Without America's wealth of ready and able foreign-born laborers, the nation's growth, prosperity and power would have been seriously hampered:


Such immigrants supplied the manpower that built the railroads and the national communications systems. They furnished the hands, in the construction industries, that erected great cities and equipped them, with housing, streets and utilities. And the immigrants were the proletarians who operated the machines of the new and ever-expanding factories. With their assistance, American industry was able to grow and to compete successfully with the older establishments of Europe. Yet the United States did so without pauperizing its own population. It enjoyed, therefore, the double advantage of a cheap labor force and of markets that continued to grow with the rising prosperity of the native population. Unskilled labor was thus of critical importance to the economy of the country in the period.11

"America Letters" are an excellent source for weekly and hourly wages. Maks Markiewicz earned $12.50 - $14.00 a week for an eight-hour day while working in a glass factory. As a carpenter, he worked in Chicago and made 35¢ an hour.12 Pay in an iron foundry, another letter reveals, was 9, 10 or 12 dollars per week for adults, with the children earning merely 4 or 5 dollars.13 On a wage scale comparison the Poles were the poorest paid:

One can catch a glimpse of how "poorest paying" it was from a study carried out among the Brooklyn Poles. The average annual income of immigrants before World War I in this community was $721. The average for the Norwegians residing there was $1142; for the English, $1015, for the Czechs, $773; but for the Poles, only $595.14
There were huge wage discrepancies in other industries also:
The Swedes and Irish were receiving a weekly wage of $15.00 in the iron mines; the Poles, $14.06. The Welsh were paid $22.75 in iron and steel works; the Poles, $12.67. The Scots, English and Dutch earned $12.00 weekly wage in the leather works; the Poles for $9.88. The worsted mills paid Bulgarians, Scots and Swedes $12.00 a week; they paid the Poles $7.84. In the oil refineries, where Scots were hired for $17.00 a week and Irish for $15.00, the Poles received $12.68.15


Formation of National Organizations

Polish community growth and cohesion were maintained through language, religion and especially its social aspects, the desire for independence and rapid intro-community organizational growth. The exile of the Jesuits from Poland in 1872 brought priests to America who could speak Polish and who had the education and the capability of forming cohesive groups.

By necessity, Poles worked in situations where no Polish was spoken. To combat loneliness and the strangeness of American customs, unity with fellow Poles was cherished. Desires to unite all Polish Americans brought about the development of national organizations for the betterment and the support of the Polish community in the United States. Since the primary focal point for community organization had been the parish church, it naturally followed that the first national Polish organization evolved from the efforts of a priest. Father Gieryk of Detroit formed the Polish Roman Catholic Union in 1873. It was followed by the Polish National Alliance in 1880 which later became the strongest Polish fraternal organization in America. Another group that was formed for the well being of the Poles was the Polish American Congress. The Association of Polish Women, with similar goals and purposes as the Polish Roman Catholic Union, was formed by the women.

These primary groups, family, church and fraternal organizations contributed to the growth of the established Polish community:


There follows a further territorial concentration of Poles. The original population - Italians, Germans, Irish - slowly moves out as the neighborhood becomes predominantly Polish. The parish thus becomes the community. Polish business is developed, associations of the type enumerated in document 140 are formed, affording their members economic advantages, social entertainment, a field for economic cooperation, educational opportunities, help in expressing and realizing their political ideals, and a congenial social milieu in which the desires for recognition and response are satisfied. Even Poles who are not religious are thus drawn into the parish institutions.16
Document 140 enumerates the organizations connected with the largest Polish parish in America, St. Stanislaus Kosta, in Chicago. This one parish, alone, had 74 different organizations.

Parishes and Schools

By 1875 there were 50 Polish parishes in the United States with important Polish parishes established in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. By 1889, there were 132 parishes mostly east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River. At the turn of the 20th century, two parishes were larger in size than many dioceses. In 1889, St. Stanislaus Kosta Parish in Chicago boasted a membership of over 50,000 parishioners, and the Buffalo parish of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr numbered 30,000.17 The Polish parish became the transplanted village, providing social as well as spiritual needs. The church also became the disseminator of news, of shipwrecks and other calamaties. And of great importance, it also provided for the education of the immigrant's children:


Like the church, the parish school brought the Polish immigrants territorially together; created a bond between the old and new generation by preserving the Polish language; encouraged the young people to acquire the cultural traditions of their parents; and developed familiarity with the civilization and problems of the old land.18

The remarkable growth in parochial schools in the Polish parish can be attributed to the arrival of the Felician Sisters in 1874 at the invitation of Reverend Joseph Dabrowski. It was also through his efforts that a Polish Seminary was established in Detroit in 1885. In 1910 the Seminary moved to Orchard Lake, Michigan where it took over the site and buildings of the Michigan Military Academy. The Polish Seminary has since expanded to include a preparatory boarding high school for boys, a liberal arts co-educational college, and a graduate school of theology. Through the years it has been the single most important contributor of leadership to the Polish parishes in the United States.19

Post World War I: Assimilation

The period following World War I can be considered a turning point at which Polish immigrants were faced with a major decision concerning their futures. For those who had been waiting for a free Poland, it was now possible to return home. Others had to make the choice of whether they wished to become United States citizens and to define themselves regarding nationality, as Poles or Americans. The vast majority had families, and they considered a second uprooting undesirable:


The Polish foreign-born population in the United States numbered about 1,140,000 in 1920 and rose by about 130,000 to a total 1,270,000 within the next decade despite the Immigration Acts and the return of approximately 100,000 to Poland. Of these emigrants from the United States, 835 had been naturalized as citizens, and 32,561 were American-born. Many of these were children whose parents decided to return to Poland. The peak year for departures was 1921 when over 50,000 sailed for Poland.20

The immigrant of 1920 was entirely different from the Polish immigrant of 1910. Of the new arrivals only 2.6% were unable to read and write, in contrast to 35% in 1910. About 31% of the immigrants arriving in 1910 had less than $50, whereas in 1920, less than .5% had less than $50. They were not destitute, like their precursors, in spite of the fact that most of the immigrants after World War I were refugees.21

Poland's independence after World War I confronted the Polish community with the possibility of its own disintegration. Those who chose to remain permanently in the United States had to face new difficulties. As they obtained a functional command of the English language, they were exposed to the non-Catholic, assimilationist propaganda of the schools, the government, the press, the theater, the radio, friends, neighbors and classmates. They were torn between their Polish Catholic heritage and the modern, technical American society. To be truly American, they fearfully believed, meant to give up their language, culture and friends. The American Catholic Church also echoed such ideas. Bishops Ireland and Gibbons promoted the "hibernization" of the immigrants,


that is, "civilizing" them by demanding conformity to American Catholic doctrine, ritual and leadership.

These attempts to assimilate the Poles periodically created feelings of contempt for everything Polish in some immigrants and their children, and to rejection of their Polish heritage by changing their names to hide their Polish past. The situation created social problems within the home and the church, and a gap between the younger and older generations grew. The use of Polish language was abandoned in some parishes and some Polish parochial schools eliminated Polish language instruction from their curricula. Despite such serious problems, the Polish American community was maintained. Poles received little assistance in their efforts to find solutions to the problems of assimilation and isolationism. Tragically, they felt themselves caught between being poor citizens and poor Catholics, or Poles.

Poles felt insulted by the paternal condescension of the American community and reacted against racist, anti-Catholic and anti-Polish hostility. Their sense of frustration was further compounded by the desire in Catholic circles to "Americanize the immigrants in order to Catholicize America."22

It was a desperate and debilitating situation:

The Catholic Poles thus found themselves in a dire predicament: to become accepted Catholics in America they would have to reject their Polish heritage; to become accepted Catholics in America, they would have to reject their own Catholic Polish heritage and adopt an Americanized version of English culture together with the equally unfamiliar form of English Catholicism.23


Some of the foreign born chose to sever relations with their parish and Polish Catholic heritage. Others fell away from the church and joined Protestant denominations. An independent religious denomination, the Polish National Catholic Church in America, was organized by other immigrants under the leadership of Reverend Francis Hodur. The majority, however, chose to remain Polish Catholic and to remain a distinct group within the American environment.

The children of the immigrants had to face the Americanization process, designed to assimilate them into the American way of life. Public school policy was intended to acculturate the foreigners, and it was for this reason that the Poles established their own educational system with over five hundred schools, a remarkable phenomenon for a people who had no such system in their partitioned homeland. Yet, the success of their schooling and efforts to compete with the public schools was only partial:

Brought up in this environment, the next generation of Polish Americans was not content with simply an elementary education. Just as their parents were not content with their own educational experiences and went on to build their elementary school system, they sought secondary education. And though a number of high schools were built within the framework of the Polish American educational system, the costs involved made it impossible to construct a secondary system as complete as the primary system already in existence. More and more Polish Americans of this generation went to the hostile environment of the public high schools, where things Polish were generally ignored or distorted, often reflecting the attitude of the partitioning powers towards Poland.24
Anglo-conformity theories of assimilation and the myth of the melting pot had a profound influence on second, third and even fourth generation American Poles. Polish Americans, like all the


nation's ethnic groups, have felt the push to substitute mainstream cultural values for their own ethnic and historic values. Typical of the Anglo-Teutonic scholarly prejudice at the turn of the century is the writing of the famed educator Ellwood Cubberly. His influence on public school attitudes toward Southern and Eastern Europeans was enormous:
These southern [sic] and eastern [sic] Europeans are of very different type from the north [sic] Europeans who preceded them. Illiterate, docile, lacking in self-reliance and initiative, and not possessing the Anglo-Teutonic conceptions of law, order, and government, their coming has served to dilute tremendously our national stock, and to corrupt our civic life. The great bulk of these people have settled in the cities of the North Atlantic and North Central states, and the problems of proper housing and living, moral and sanitary conditions, honest and decent government, and proper education have everywhere been made more difficult by their presence. Everywhere these people tend to settle in groups or settlements, and to set up their national manners, customs, and observances. Our task is to break up these groups or settlements, to assimilate and amalgamate these people as a part of our American race, and to implant in their children, so far as can be done, the Anglo-Saxon conception of righteousness, law and order, and popular government, and to awaken in them a reverence for our democratic institutions and for those things in our national life which we as a people hold to be of abiding worth.25

Pressure to assimilate was constant, some informal and without design, and much, it is clear, through organized and conscious effort:

Among the unfortunate young Catholic Poles of this period were also those who succumbed to the perverse direct or indirect influences of American freemasonry and other non-Catholic religious movements to which they were exposed by civic or social contacts or by reading such fanatical publications as the Voice of Freedom, a monthly published at Nashville, Tennessee, attacking Roman Catholicism especially the Pope and the hierarchy, or the Converted Catholic, a magazine published in New York by apostate Catholic priests.26


No more than their parents, however, have the children and grandchildren of the Poles assimilated in any great numbers.

Changes in Settlement Patterns

The Quota Acts of 1920 and 1924 affected the settlement patterns of the Poles. Both the disappearance of the strong primary group contact with Poland and the rapid decline in immigration made Poles acutely aware of their American status. They started to interact more with American institutions. The institution that most affected this change was the school: the higher the education the more likely they were to change their name and move to a better residential area. Yet, as Stanley Lieberson found in his study of ethnic patterns in cities, while "residential segregation from the native-white population declined through time" because of the higher rate of interaction, there was still a "remarkably high degree of segregation among ethnic groups."27 Recency of arrival, he discovered, was the most important factor in influencing segregation from the general population. This concurs with other research that the second and third generation were more inclined to seek upward mobility than their parents, but that identity and community integrity persisted as indicated by the active and vital force of the parish for the majority of Poles.28 Interviews with the pastors of 546 parishes showed that the parishes were still ethnic in varying degrees. Yet the data also found significant discrepancies in Wisconsin and Illinois.


Wisconsin reported 5 parishes, rather than 92, and Illinois reported 44, rather than 93:
This might reflect the inroads of industrialization and movement to the suburbs out of the ethnic parishes probably more prevalent in Illinois than in Wisconsin, a possibility further implied in the fact that Illinois returned only 62.3 per cent of the questionnaires, in contrast to Wisconsin's 79.3 per cent, a tacit expression of indifference possibly resulting from a higher degree of assimilation.29
A similar apparent decline in the salience of ethnicity was found in the Hamtramck suburb of Detroit. Young people with small children have been moving out of the town, i.e., away from the Polish core community. However, the decline was more apparent than real, because "many of these younger people still return for the important events of life; their marriages and funerals are held in Hamtramck as well as their church services."30

Such changes in residential patterns occurred, in part, because of competition for housing arising from the urban migration of Negroes and poor whites and their competition in the work force as cheap labor. The Quota Acts of the 1920's and the Depression of the 1930's stablized the Polish settlements for the first time in their history. During the first decades of the 20th century, most Poles were laborers, but their children began to see the necessity of a higher education.

In the 1930's, poor and middle income farmers, regardless of background, were drawn to the agricultural programs of the New Deal. The Poles fared the Depression as well as any other group, and probably better, because of their attachment to the land.


Small gardens have always been a part of a Polish community, and in the crisis they "lived off the land" meager as it was.

The New Immigrants: Post World War II

World War II initiated a period of integration and intercultural cooperation changing the income, education, occupation, and life style for the Poles, as well as the general population:

Within a half-century the picture had changed considerably. Almost 45 per cent held white collar jobs, of whom 14.5 per cent were professional or technical workers, 15.2 per cent proprietors and managers, and 15 per cent clerical and sales workers. Close to ¼ in the labor force were skilled workers and over 19.5 per cent semi-skilled. Slightly more than three per cent were service workers, 5.1 per cent laborers (unskilled), and 2.2 per cent farmers.31
In the Cleveland area, 43% of Polish Americans, according to the 1970 census, had white collar jobs; 9.6% were professional or technical workers; 7.5% were proprietors and managers; and 25.9% were clerical and sales workers. The difference in the proprietor statistics probably fall in line with the findings of Polzin:
The increase in the number of professionals was consistent: from two to five to seven and one half per cent for the three generations, but the category of proprietors, managers, and businessmen fell from 25 to 19 per cent for the second generation, rising to 35 per cent for the third. The same pattern was discernible in the percentage of clerks and kindred workers, but reversed for "farmers," with the second generation showing the highest percentage of the three. The percentage of service workers decreased consistently, though slightly, with each generation. These data indicate a rise in social class through the three generations, as measured by the occupational index.32
Polish American males have apparently experienced upward mobility in greater proportion than the national average in some categories:


This was true of 1) professional, technical and kindred workers; 2) managers, officials and proprietors; 3) clerical and kindred workers; 4) sales workers; and 5) craftsmen, foremen, and kindred workers. They ranked below the national average percentagewise in four categories: 1) operatives and kindred workers; 2) service workers; 3) farm workers and foremen; and 4) laborers - the field in which they were found predominantly in earlier decades.

Income gains have kept pace with changes in occupational status. The national census figures for 1969 compare the Polish community with the general American population:

              Per Cent
Category U.S. Pol-Ams
$3,999 or less 16.8   9.6
  4,000-7,499 29.9 26.8
  7,500-9,999 20.1 25.2
  10,000-25,000 30.7 37.0
  Over 25,000   2.4   1.3

Using the 1970 census, these are the comparable statistics for Cleveland:

Category Per Cent
$3,999 or less   3.5
  10,000-25,000 62.2
  Over 25,000   6.0

The average median income for Poles was $12,599.33

Another indicator of the stability and prosperity of Poles is home ownership. Home ownership has always been high for Poles from the arrival of the first settlers. There are a number of theories as to why this is characteristic, but the speculation depends on who is interpreting the data. One theory asserts the influence of a lingering peasant heritage of land-hunger. "Another explanation holds that the phenomenon is related to the desire for


the stability of which many were deprived while subjected to three dominant nations."34 It is also speculated that accumulation of property is a desire to be middle class and a need to rise on the social scale. Yet, this is suspect also. Whatever the reasons, home ownership is a well established fact and "outstanding testimony to Polish American stability."35 In general, Poles are a people who stay in a home for a lifetime, no matter how much money they make. The 1970 census illustrates the depth of this stability. It records the number of people of Polish descent living in the same residence for five years or more:

        City Per Cent

Anaheim, California    41.9
Boston, Massachusetts    67.7
Buffalo, New York    77.6
Chicago, Illinois    72.9
Cleveland, Ohio    73.5
Detroit, Michigan    74.6
Jersey City, New Jersey    73.8
Los Angeles-Long Beach    53.0
Miami, Florida    46.7
Milwaukee, Wisconsin    75.0
Minneapolis-St. Paul    71.6
New York, New York    68.4
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania    75.6
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania    80.7

With the exception of New York City, there is a high degree of continuity with early settlement patterns, and for all its social problems, even New York City has a high rate of stability.

A fourth indicator of Polish socio-economic mobility is education:

By 1970 more than half of all Polish Americans over 25 years of age were high school graduates and nine per cent held college degrees. This was slightly below the national average of 55 per cent for high school and 11 per cent for college, but indicated considerable progress after World War II.36


Such gains are impressive when they are measured in the context of hostility represented by the Americanization movement. Education also challenged "the traditional endogamous values of the ethnic culture, as well as increase the opportunities to meet and marry someone from a different ethnic background."37 Education has influenced contemporary marriage patterns among Catholics. With some high school or less, 42 per cent of the Catholics married out of the ethnic group. For Catholics who graduated high school or attended college, the rate rose to 57 per cent. There was no significant difference between public and parochial school backgrounds.
One can conclude, with reference to the "Americanization" thesis of education and assimilation, that within the realm of American Catholicism at least, increased education does indeed lead to more ethnic exogamy, with the qualifications discussed. The issue of the type of school, however, becomes crucial for the specific ethnic groups involved.38

Intermarriage is also subject to regional influence: "Intermarriage by any given group tends to be more prevalent in those areas where that group is smaller in size and less proportionate in the total population."39 Polish exogamy displays a discernible pattern:

With the Eastern European categories, there is only the slightest suggestion of exogamy among themselves; 5 per cent of the Lithuanians select Polish spouses, 4 per cent of the Poles chose equally both German and East European wives, and 6 per cent of the Eastern bloc marry Polish women.40

Change in the American Polish community also resulted from the immigration of over 100,000 displaced persons and refugees after World War II. They were different from earlier immigrants: mostly


educated and upper-middle class, only a few unskilled laborers arrived. Most had the capital and resources to fulfill American admission requirements. If they had no capital, they had a skill to offer that was needed and were guaranteed a job upon arrival. These new groups and individuals were readily resettled because of the agencies prepared to help them with resettlement, and they never experienced the difficulties of their predecessors.

Today the descendants of the immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are the inheritors of a conflict that has developed into what Reverend L. Chrobot, the Dean of St. Mary's College, Orchard Lake, has labeled the Folk/Urban Cultural Dichotomy:

Brought up in the closed situation of the Polish Ghetto, yet spurred on by the attractions of economic gain and social advancement, the sons and grandsons of the early immigrants are in many cases finding themselves caught in between these two cultural settings. Earning enough to be able to afford living in the suburbs, and at times, changing their last names so that "people can pronounce it easier," the children of the immigrants have submitted to the "kulturkampf" of the "melting pot."41
An interview with a Polish American, living in the Detroit suburb of Warren attests to this dichotomy. He is self-employed as a welder and is worth monetarily in the neighborhood of $150,000. He seems to have made it in "upward mobility," by all the socially accepted standards and yet he looks back on the "old neighborhood" with something more than fond memories:

You'd really have to live out here to see how lonely you can be with alot of people of your own race, your own group. When we first moved here, I went from porch to porch every night trying to be friendly, but they would never be friendly back. Seven, eight years ago, I'm going


to midnight mass. It's cold, the snow is blowing. I see my neighbor, I say, "Merry Christmas!" The sonuvabitch walked right past! If he was Jewish I could understand it, but one Catholic to another!

Honest, I'm not looking for the Good Old Days, because they weren't that good. They were in some ways, but for material things they weren't worth a damn. What I'm trying to say is, money is nice - it's nice to have. I work for it, I don't steal it. I have a gun, but I don't stick up banks. I'm glad to have these things, but I'm not happy if they're making my kids and me unhappy.42

He is not alone. With further research into ethnicity, the ethnic group, and intercultural relationships, hopefully we will come to a better understanding of ourselves and our nation:
The persistence of ethnic values and traditional behavior as well as the extent of ethnic variation in patterns of change are challenges to a sociology of American society. We have yet to develop an understanding of the nature of change in a country that was shaped by the massive ethnic forces of voluntary and involuntary immigration, of slavery and bondage, and of exploitation and genocide. Our neglect of the meaning and influence of ethnicity stands out in marked contrast, say, to our more fully developed appreciation of the concept of social class. The reality of diversity - racial, religious, national origin, regional, and combinations of these - is still very much with us.43



1Rev. V. Jasinski, Introduction to The Contribution of the Poles to the Growth of Catholicism in the United States (Rome: Sacrum Poloniae Millenium, 1959), Vol. VI, p. 13.

2Sister Lucille, C.R. "Polish Farmers and Workers in the United States to 1914," Polish American Studies, XV, (Jan.-June, 1958), p. 2.

3Joseph Wytrwal, America's Polish Heritage (Detroit: Endurance, 1961), p. 86.

4Sister Lucille, C.R., "The Causes of Polish Immigration to the United States," Polish American Studies, III, 1951, p. 85.

5Joseph Parot, "Ethnic versus Black Metropolis: The Origins of Polish-Black Housing Tensions in Chicago," Polish American Studies, XXIX, 1972, p. 7.

6Leonard Chrobot, "The Polish American and Immigration," unpublished manuscript submitted to Harcourt Brace Publishers, 1973.

7Oscar Handlin, et al., The Positive Contribution by Immigrants (Paris: UNESCO, 1955), p. 22.

8Maurice R. Davie, World Immigration (New York: Macmillan Co., 1939), p. 28.

9Leonard Chrobot, op cit.

10Victor R. Greene, "The Poles and the Anthracite Unions in Pennsylvania," Polish American Studies, XXII (Jan.-June, 1965), p. 12.

11Oscar Handlin, et al., op cit., p. 21.

12Thomas and Znaniecki, The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927), p. 201.

13Ibid., p. 220.

14Theresita Polzin, "Social and Economic Conditions," The Polish Americans, Pulaski, Wisconsin: Franciscan Publications, 1973, p. 119.


16William Bernard, ed., Americanization Studies, Vol. 3, The Acculturation of Immigrant Groups into American Society, (Thomas, New Jersey: Patterson Smith, 1971), p. 212.


17Joseph Wytrwal, op cit., p. 159.

18Ibid., p. 161.

19Leonard Chrobot, op cit.

20Theresita Polzin, The Polish Americans: Whence and Whither (Pulaski, Wisconsin: Franciscan Publishers, 1973), p. 133.

21Stanley Lieberson, Ethnic Patterns in American Cities (Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1963), p. 72.

22Rev. V. Jasinski, op cit., p. 15.


24Frank Renkiewicz, ed., The Poles in America, 1608-1972 (Dobbs Ferry, New York: Oceana Publications, 1973), p. 102.

25Ellwood P. Cubberly, Changing Concepts of Education (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1919), p. 16.

26Rev. V. Jasinski, op cit., p. 29.

27Stanley Lieberson, op cit., p. 45.

28Theresita Polzin, op cit., p. 138.

29Ibid., p. 139.

30Thomas Ford, ed., Social Demography (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1970), p. 493.

31Theresita Polzin, op cit., pp. 185-86.

32Ibid., p. 186.

33Ibid., pp. 188-89.

34Ibid., p. 191.

35Ibid., p. 241.

36Ibid., p. 192.

37Harold Abramson, Ethnic Diversity in Catholic America (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1973), p. 87.

38Ibid., p. 93.

39Ibid., p. 71.


40Ibid., p. 57.

41Leonard Chrobot, op cit.

42Maryanne Conheim, "He Lives in Warren and Wonders if Being Worth $150,000 Means Anything," Detroit Free Press, Aug. 6, 1972.

43Harold Abramson, op cit., p. 173.



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