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Francisco Laprada HST 325 Wyman Essay Prof.

John Rosinbum The Exceptional American Migration We asked for workers. We got people instead. Max Frisch (GoodReads.) The history behind many of the migration movements, whether they pertain to immigration or emigration, can be quite complex to comprehend at first. Since we were not there when these movements occurred, all we can do is interpret the sometimes scarce data we have and piece together the history behind these migratory movements. In his book Round-Trip to America: The Immigrants Return to Europe, 1880-1930, Mark Wyman does a phenomenal job in bringing one important issue to light regarding the history of immigration in the United States; many of the immigrants who came did not plan to indefinitely stay in the U.S. This is a common misconception that arises in the minds of many people, as is the misconception that just because this pertains to American history it somehow becomes exceptional. Throughout his book, Wyman provides the reader with evidence to debunk this exceptional misconception. As Wyman begins his book, he begins to expose how biased American immigration history can be. Emigration from the United States is hardly ever discussed because, according to Wyman, Returned immigrants rejected America and, it seems, American scholars have rejected them (Wyman, 4.) This belief is as deeply rooted in American nativism as is in the difference between the immigrants who intended to stay in the U.S. and those who did not. This had much to do with the way immigrants perceived America. For instance, an immigrant fleeing from religious unrest would have perceived America differently than an immigrant in search of money would have (Wyman, 205.) As time went by and thousands of immigrants left the U.S., many

Americans began to get angered at them since these immigrants did not want to take part in the American culture and took American riches with them (Wyman, 205.) This is one of the reasons why there was a clear distinction among the immigrants who wanted to stay and those who did not. Consequently, as time went by, Americans (and history itself) began to turn their backs against them, just as then had. Wyman references several historical instances in which temporary immigrants, such as the ones who came to the United States, were not so popular in other places. For instance, Polish temporary immigrants were not welcome in the Ruhr, so German unions put them in the dirtiest jobs and sought their removal (Wyman, 207.) Similarly, Italian immigrants were not welcome in Switzerland so the Swiss government blocked their naturalizations and refused to give them aid (Wyman, 207.) One last example of this negative behavior towards temporary immigrants brings us to France, where 50 Italian workers were killed and 150 were injured during an attack by French miners at the Aigues-Mortes saltworks (Wyman, 207.) These examples portray the type of hostility and resentment temporary immigrants were subject to in America. We would have to label these events as exceptional if we were to refer to American migration as such, and they fall far below this qualifier. The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources--because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples. Lyndon B. Johnson (GoodReads.) All migratory movements in history have had their fair share of tragic and negative moments. However, this doesnt mean that nothing positive came out of them. Modern Finnish, for instance, has been enriched by many remigrant words and phrases (Wyman, 207.) In 1947, an Italian political party used the Statue of Liberty as its ballot symbol for a local election (Wyman, 201.) Many remigrants in Europe during World War II were ready to resent and fight anti-

Americanism to give back to the country that had given them so much. As we can see, both positive and negative things can arise from these types of migratory movements. However, labeling American migration as exceptional would definitely understate all migratory movements elsewhere, including their contributions to modern history.

Works Cited Quotes on Immigration. GoodReads. n.p. n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. Wyman, Mark. Round-Trip to America: The Immigrants Return to Europe, 1880-1930. New York: Cornell University Press. 1993. Print.