"Foreign Residents," Cincinnati Enquirer, 21 September 1917

Document 17: “Remodeling of Foreign Residents into Lovers of Cincinnati is Planned by League: Men Prominent in City’s Activities to Visit Factories, English Language Is to Be Taught” Cincinnati Enquirer, 21 September 1917.

 

Introduction

The United States entered World War in April 1917 and the push to Americanize immigrants moved from persuasion to coercion by the Fall of that year in Cincinnati.  The efforts of Cincinnati’s businessmen to encourage immigrants to take citizenship classes were a part of this. They wanted immigrants to prove their loyalty to the United States by becoming naturalized citizens and by learning English.  Furthermore, business owners were mindful of potential radicalism in the form of unions in their workplaces.  Radical labor unions tied to socialism had never attracted a large number of American workers, but labor unrest had grown in the preceding years throughout the nation and more specifically in Cincinnati.  Strikes had occurred in Cincinnati within the textile industry in 1916 and 1917.

 

“We must Americanize Cincinnati’s 5,000 immigrant workmen and convert them into useful citizens who love their adopted country and speak its language.” So says the Executive Committee of the League for the Americanization of Foreigners, through its secretary, Frank P. Goodwin.

 

The League for the Americanization of Foreigners, comprised of representatives of the public schools, Chamber of Commerce and Immigrant Welfare Committee, will hold a luncheon meeting this noon at McAlpin’s, at which details of the campaign to remake immigrants into American citizen will be worked out.

 

Plans now formulated call for committees of prominent business men, accompanied by interpreters, to visit the shops and factories where immigrants are employed and persuade them to enroll as members of the classes in citizenship to be opened in the public night schools.

Mrs. Goodwin says there are in this city in excess of 5,000 foreigners who speak the English

language either not at all or with great difficulty.  These men and women, he says, imperfectly understand American ideals and customs.

 

Beginning of the educational drive has been set for Monday. . . .


Note: For a discussion of Cincinnati business boosterism efforts, see Zane L. Miller, Boss Cox’s Cincinnati: Urban Politics in the Progressive Era, (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1968), 113-28.

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