Contact John Renjilian, 203-426-0864
NEWTOWN HISTORICAL SOCIETY LOOKS AT A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS
America is pictured by the Statue of Liberty welcoming refugees with the well known words, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But were the huddled masses always as welcome as Emma Lazarus’ poem suggests? The Newtown Historical Society, in conjunction with the C H Booth Library, will examine this question with a look into “A Nation of Immigrants,” Sunday, March 10, at 2.00 PM, in the community room of the library. The program will be presented by Kevin Jennings.
While we have become used to controversies surrounding immigration in recent years, these feelings are nothing new. The United States has often been called a “nation of immigrants,” but our history is more complicated than that. The nation has had a love-hate relationship throughout its history and in this lecture Kevin Jennings will provide some historical context for today’s debates over immigration, tracing how American attitudes and policies towards immigrants have fluctuated since even before the founding of the United States.
The problem existed even in colonial days. German immigrants were looked at with mixed feelings, the spoke a language other than the predominant English, and they tended to cluster in groups, isolating themselves from the mainstream. In the mid nineteenth century the Know Nothing Party, a generic name for several political groups, led a strong and popular movement against refugees from the revolutions in Europe; a former President, Millard Fillmore, even ran for president again on the platform of excluding this new influx of immigrants. Later on Asian and Eastern European immigrants bore the brunt of anti-immigrant prejudice. Jennings will examine the waves of immigrants and their mixed reception throughout our history.
Kevin Jennings is President of the Tenement Museum in New York City. He also served as Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools under President Obama, and taught high school history for a decade. He is a resident of Southbury, and has written seven books and spoken widely to local groups.
All Newtown Historical Society programs are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served following the program. For more information please visit the website at www.newtownhistory.org, Facebook at www.facebook.com/newtownhistoricalsociety, or call 203-426-5937.