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Are we to Polonized?

The Inroad of a Not Altogether Desirable Class of Foreigners.

Within the week a movement has taken shape, says the Boston Transcript, which should have more than a passing interest for the people of New England. Some 500 Poles have passed through New Haven bound North, many of them coming on the night boats to that city. It was learned that these people were bound for various sections in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and that the purpose of their coming was to till the land. They might find a welcome as farm hands, of which there is now a scarcity, but their ambition rises higher than that. As one of their number explained, in Poland, men; women and children worked in the fields and every one of them know how to make the smallest piece of land pay for itself. They had been informed that the abandoned farms of New England could be purchased on very cheap terms, and within the next three months thousands of Poles would leave their country for the United States.

The Poles are an industrious people and the country boast many names of distinction in art, literature and other fields of high achievement; but whether this class of peasants will prove a desirable leaven in the rural life of New England may be open to question. They turn to account all their land, it is true, as a matter of necessity, and bringing the same methods to bear here, it is probable that a Polish family will thrive where an American family would starve.

The question thus arises, whether this is the best that can be done with the abandoned farms of New England and other sections of our country. We do not think it is. The experience of the Long Island market gardener, who purchased an abandoned farm in Paxton, seven miles from Worcester, and in a year or two made a record of productiveness that staggered the credulity of some of our contemporaries, suggests a more satisfactory solution.

For some time there has been a tendency for the hill farms to drift toward the foreigner, but thus far toward a class of foreigners whose children find the exclusions of an agricultural life as distasteful as they are to the children of the old stock. Whether the long identification of the Polish people with the soil has wrought its effects deeply enough to bind succeeding generations to the agricultural industry remains to be seen. If we are to surrender our birthrights to those whom we have considered our inferiors on all points of civilized development, it will be a serious anti-climax to the ambitious purposes with which New England began the work of nation building. Isn't it time for men of brains and capital to set about reclaiming their own, and not leave some of our choicest possessions to be acquired for the occupation, almost, by the ignorant victims of European oppression.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The fears of many of New England's native-born toward immigrants in general, but toward Polish immigrants in particular, are shown here as are their prejudices. The article considers these newly arriving Poles as "our inferiors" in "all points of civilized development." These new emigrants clustered in several communities, most notably South Deerfield, Greenfield, and Turners Falls. Both Turners Falls and Greenfield were regional centers and manufacturing towns, while South Deerfield was intensely agricultural. The number of Poles was not large and the 1900 census listed only 724 out of a county population of 34,425. But since they tended to live in communities dominated by Poles, their presence seemed much larger.


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"Are We To Be Polanized?" article from the Greenfield Gazette and Courier newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Gazette and Courier
date   May 19, 1900
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   9.0"
width   2.25"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L02.157

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See Also...

"Aliens in New England" article in Greenfield's Gazette and Courier newspaper

Wysocki Onion Storage

"Immigrants in Industries, Part 24: Recent Immigrants in Agriculture" from Reports of the Immigration Commission

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