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"More Like A Pig Than a Bear": Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo Is Taken Prisoner During the Bear Flag Revolt, 1846
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During the war with Mexico, United States troops seized power. Captain John ...

During the war with Mexico, United States troops seized power. Captain John C. Fremont, western explorer and engineer, led an uprising of American settlers and Californios (Spanish ranching families in Alta California) who supported American annexation. Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo was born into a prominent family and pursued a career in the military and politics. He, like many other Californios, believed that the American presence promoted economic prosperity and political stability. During the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846, Fremont captured Sonoma and raised the flag of an independent California. Vallejo, however, was taken prisoner by Fremont's forces and held for two months. Despite his treatment, Vallejo maintained his American sympathies and went on to serve in the first state legislative body. When he and many others attempted to validate their Mexican land grants, he found his way blocked and eventually lost a ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court. Stripped of much of his influence and fortune, he wrote his five-volume "true history" of Californias, while living on a mere portion of his once vast holdings. Vallejo donated this history to H. H. Bancroft, the famous Californian historian.

Subject:
U.S. History
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Primary Source
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Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
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Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
"We Chinese Are Viewed Like Thieves and Enemies": Pun Chi Appeals to Congress to Protect the Rights of Chinese, ca. 1860
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Nineteenth-century officials and businessmen eager for cheap labor for California's manufacturing, mining, ...

Nineteenth-century officials and businessmen eager for cheap labor for California's manufacturing, mining, and agricultural industries encouraged Chinese migrants to voyage to the United States. In the 1850s, however, as the Chinese population grew, an anti-Chinese movement mounted. The California legislature and courts restricted the rights of Chinese immigrants with the Foreign Miners Tax of 1852 and a California Supreme Court decision-- People v. Hall (1854) --that excluded Chinese testimony from the courts, further sanctioning violence against Chinese residents. Pun Chi, a young Chinese merchant, wrote this appeal to Congress, sometime between 1856 and 1868, seeking help against growing anti-Chinese sentiments in the West. Reminding Congress that Chinese migration had been encouraged and that migrants deserved legal protection once in the United States, he gave graphic accounts of the mining tax collectors' abuses and the murder of Chinese miners. William Speer, a Presbyterian minister and missionary in San Francisco's Chinatown, translated Pun Chi's appeal from Chinese and published it in 1870.

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U.S. History
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"A Little Standing Army in Himself": N. A. Jennings Tells of the Texas Rangers, 1875
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The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 brought an enormous chunk of ...

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 brought an enormous chunk of Mexico to the United States. This added to the territory obtained by the annexation of Texas in 1845, but more than just territory was added. More than 75,000 Spanish-speaking residents became U.S. citizens, but the struggle to achieve that citizenship was long and often unsuccessful. Mexican-Americans lost political power and civil liberties quickly in Texas. Justice was hard to secure and the ranching country of South Texas became a landless borderland for Anglo and Hispano alike. Cattle thieves were rampant. Mexicans and Mexican-Americans also had to endure a terror campaign by the Texas Rangers, the state's leading law enforcement officers. One of those Rangers, N. A. Jennys described a complex pattern of ethnic conflict along the border in 1875 in his A Texas Ranger. The Rangers were founded in 1835 to fight Indians, formed a special corps in the Mexican War, and were re-established after the Civil War.

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U.S. History
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"I Am Obliged to Reside in America": A Gay Immigrant Tells His Story in 1882
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The reasons immigrants had for leaving their homelands and coming to America ...

The reasons immigrants had for leaving their homelands and coming to America were as diverse as the backgrounds of the immigrants themselves. Although most immigrants came to the United States for economic reasons some sought a new home because of persecution based on their politics, religious beliefs, or even their sexual orientation. In this 1882 letter sent to medical writer and sexologist Dr. Richard von Krafft-Ebing, a thirty-eight-year-old German-born merchant explained how a homosexual arrest in his homeland forced him to emigrate to the United States.

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U.S. History
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A German Radical Emigrates to America in 1885
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Labor organizer and newspaper editor Oscar Ameringer the "Mark Twain of American ...

Labor organizer and newspaper editor Oscar Ameringer the "Mark Twain of American Socialism," as he was often called, was born in Bavaria in 1870 to a cabinetmaker father and a freethinking mother. In this excerpt from his autobiography, If You Don't Weaken, published in 1940, he discussed his decision to emigrate to America in 1885 as a fifteen-year-old "hellion." In America, Ameringer ultimately carved out a remarkable and colorful career as a musician, labor organizer, and especially, an editor of socialist and radical newspapers.

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U.S. History
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"I Stumbled on the Place by Sheer Accident": Oscar Ameringer Discovers the Cincinnati Public Library in 1888
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Libraries in the late 19th century were seen by their founders as ...

Libraries in the late 19th century were seen by their founders as instruments of social and cultural uplift, meant to raise the working class out their ignorance and teach them how to be middle class. But men like Oscar Ameringer, who immigrated to the United States from Germany when he was 15 and later became a socialist organizer, humorist, and editor, took away different lessons. In this selection from his 1940 autobiography, Ameringer described his discovery of American history books, translated into German, at the local public library.

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U.S. History
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"You Would Never Hear People Complain": Elfido Lpez Recalls Rural Mexican-American Life in the Late 19th century
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The arrival of the railroad in the Southwest in the early 1870s ...

The arrival of the railroad in the Southwest in the early 1870s transformed the area's economy and the lives of its residents. Long-time Mexican residents of the area were quickly drawn into the region's expanding wage economy. In this selection from his handwritten memoir from 1937 Elfido Lpez recalled his childhood on his family's modest homestead and his father's decision to move the family to a small railroad town, and a life of wages, in southern Colorado in 1876.

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U.S. History
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No Way Out: Two New York City Firemen Testify about the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
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One of the greatest industrial tragedies in U.S. history occurred on March ...

One of the greatest industrial tragedies in U.S. history occurred on March 26, 1911, when 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women, died in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist company in New York City. In this brief excerpt from their testimony before the Factory Investigation Commission, New York City Fire Chief Edward F. Croker and Fire Marshall William Beers commented on the safety lapses--the locking of an exit door, the inadequate fire escapes, and the overcrowded factory floor--that led to the deaths of the Triangle workers.

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U.S. History
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Camella Teoli Testifies about the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike
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When 30,000 largely immigrant workers walked out of the Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile ...

When 30,000 largely immigrant workers walked out of the Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile mills in January 1912, they launched one of the epic confrontations between capital and labor. The strike began in part because of unsafe working conditions in the mills, which were described in graphic detail in the testimony that fourteen-year-old millworker Camella Teoli delivered before a U.S. Congressional hearing in March 1912. Her testimony (a portion of which was included here) about losing her hair when it got caught in a textile machine she was operating gained national headlines in 1912--in part because Helen Herron Taft, the wife of the president, was in the audience when Teoli testified. The resulting publicity helped secure a strike victory.

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U.S. History
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Bread and Roses Strike of 1912: Two Months in Lawrence, Massachusetts, that Changed Labor History
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The Lawrence Textile Strike was a public protest mainly of immigrant workers ...

The Lawrence Textile Strike was a public protest mainly of immigrant workers from several countries, including Austria, Belgium, Cuba, Canada, France, England, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Syria, and Turkey. According to the 1910 census, 65% of mill workers (many of whom eventually struck) lived in the United States for less than 10 years; 47% for less than five years. Prompted by a wage cut, the walkout spread quickly from mill to mill across the city. Strikers defied the assumptions of conservative trade unions within the American Federation of Labor that immigrant, largely female and ethnically diverse workers could not be organized. The Lawrence strike is referred to as the “Bread and Roses” strike and “The Strike for Three Loaves." The first known source to do so was a 1916 labor anthology, The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest by Upton Sinclair. Prior to that, the slogan, used as the title of a 1911 poem by James Oppenheim, had been attributed to ‘Chicago Women Trade Unionists.’ It has also been attributed to socialist union organizer Rose Schneiderman. James Oppenheim claimed his seeing women strikers in Lawrence carrying a banner proclaiming “We Want Bread and Roses Too” inspired the poem, “Bread and Roses.” The poem, however, was written and published in 1911 prior to the strike. Later the poem was set to music by Caroline Kohlsaat and then by Mimi Farina. The song and slogan are now important parts of the labor movement and women’s movement worldwide. This exhibition was made in collaboration with the Lawrence History Center and the University of Massachusetts Lowell History Department.

Subject:
U.S. History
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Digital Public Library of America
University of Massachusetts Lowell
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DPLA Exhibitions
Food riot, 1917.
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During World War I, wartime inflation severely taxed the limited budgets of ...

During World War I, wartime inflation severely taxed the limited budgets of working-class families. Although wages also rose during the war, they could not keep up with prices. On February 20, 1917, after confronting pushcart peddlers who were charging exorbitant rates for necessities, thousands of women marched to New York's City Hall to demand relief. The food riot" precipitated a boycott campaign that eventually forced pushcart prices down. Women in Boston and Philadelphia took similar action."

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U.S. History
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The Origins of Puerto Rican Migration: U.S. Employment Service Bulletin (1918)
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In 1898 the United States acquired Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island 1,000 ...

In 1898 the United States acquired Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, after victory in the Spanish-Cuban-American War. After an initial military occupation, the United States granted Puerto Rico limited local autonomy. In 1917, the U.S. responded to local pressure for independence by declaring Puerto Ricans citizens of the United States--a "gift" that many Puerto Ricans resented. Large, corporate-financed sugar plantations transformed Puerto Rico's agricultural economy and displaced thousands of subsistence farmers from their own land, forcing them into the rural wage labor force. These dramatic changes in the rural economy in the years before World War I pushed unemployment levels in Puerto Rico to crisis proportions. At the same time, American entry into the war created labor shortages in many industries on the mainland. This Labor Department bulletin from May 1918 set out plans for bringing more than 10,000 Puerto Rican laborers to the U.S. to work on war-related projects.

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U.S. History
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"We Do Not Understand the Foreigners": John J. Martin Testifies on the 1919 Steel Strike
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In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs ...

In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs and crippled the industry. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor set out to investigate the strike while it was still in progress. In his testimony before the committee, Youngstown steelworker John J. Martin expressed puzzlement over the grievances of the striking steelworkers and maintains that "the foreigners brought the strike on."

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U.S. History
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"We Ought to Have the Right to Belong to the Union": Frank Smith Speaks on the 1919 Steel Strike
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In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs ...

In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs and crippled the industry. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor set out to investigate the strike while it was still in progress. In his testimony before the committee, Hungarian-born Frank Smith, a Clairton worker, used his support for the war effort as evidence of his Americanism. "This is the United States," he argued, "and we ought to have the right to belong to the union."

Subject:
U.S. History
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Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
"We Did Not Have Enough Money": George Miller's Testimony about the 1919 Steel Strike
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In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs ...

In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs and crippled the industry. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor set out to investigate the strike while it was still in progress. In his testimony before the committee, Clairton worker George Miller called the 1919 strike a quest for "a standard American living"--a phrase that was particularly meaningful to the Serbian-born Miller.

Subject:
U.S. History
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Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
"Eight Hours a Day and Better Conditions": Andrew Pido Explains His Support for the 1919 Steel Strike
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In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs ...

In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs and crippled the industry. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor set out to investigate the strike while it was still in progress. In his testimony before the committee, Slavic steelworker Andrew Pido described the discrimination faced by some immigrant workers and how that discrimination - along with long pay and poor conditions--encouraged them to unionize and strike.

Subject:
U.S. History
Material Type:
Primary Source
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Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
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Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
"The Men Seem To Be Pretty Well Satisfied": John Anderson on the 1919 Steel Strike
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In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs ...

In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs and crippled the industry. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor set out to investigate the strike while it was still in progress. In his testimony before the committee, John Anderson, a helper in the open-hearth furnace at the Homestead steelworks in Pennsylvania, maintains that the steelworkers were satisfied with conditions. Although born in Scotland, Anderson identified himself as an"American" in distinction from the (also) foreign-born laborers who are out on strike.

Subject:
U.S. History
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American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
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Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project
"I Witnessed the Steel Strike": Joe Rudiak Remembers the 1919 Strike
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Though the Great Steel Strike of 1919 failed in its immediate aims, ...

Though the Great Steel Strike of 1919 failed in its immediate aims, it left a legacy in the steel regions of the United States that lasted for decades. In 1974 when historian Peter Gotlieb asked former steelworker Joe Rudiak, the son of Polish immigrants, about his participation in unionization struggles in the 1930s, he started by recalling his memories of the 1919 steel strike as a young boy. Here, Rudiak told how his father was blacklisted for acknowledging his support of the union. From such experiences, he explained, unionism got "embedded in you."

Subject:
U.S. History
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American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
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"They Are Mostly All Foreigners on Strike": Joseph Fish Speaks on the 1919 Steel Strike
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In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs ...

In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs and crippled the industry. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor set out to investigate the strike while it was still in progress. In his testimony before the committee, Homestead, Pennsylvania, steelworker Joseph Fish described conditions in the steel mills as good and maintained that only "one or two" Americans have joined the strike.

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U.S. History
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"It Is Entirely the Bolshevik Spirit": Mill superintendent W. M. Mink Explains the 1919 Steel Strike
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In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs ...

In the dramatic 1919 steel strike, 350,000 workers walked off their jobs and crippled the industry. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor set out to investigate the strike while it was still in progress. In his testimony before the committee, W. M. Mink, mill superintendent at the Homestead steelworks, testified that the cause of the strike was simple--the infection of "the Bolshevik spirit"among "the foreigners."

Subject:
U.S. History
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Primary Source
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Provider:
American Social History Project / Center for History Media and Learning
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Author:
Center for History and New Media/American Social History Project