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Old and New New Englanders

Immigration and Regional Identity in the Gilded Age

Bluford Adams

Publication Year: 2014

In Old and New New Englanders, Bluford Adams provides a reenvisioning of New England’s history and regional identity by exploring the ways the arrival of waves of immigrants from Europe and Canada transformed what it meant to be a New Englander during the Gilded Age. Adams’s intervention challenges a number of long-standing conceptions of New England, offering a detailed and complex portrayal of the relations between New England’s Yankees and immigrants that goes beyond nativism and assimilation. In focusing on immigration in this period, Adams provides a fresh view on New England’s regional identity, moving forward from Pilgrims, Puritans, and their descendants and emphasizing the role immigrants played in shaping the region’s various meanings. Furthermore, many researchers have overlooked the newcomers’ relationship to the regional identities they found here. Adams argues immigrants took their ties to New England seriously. Although they often disagreed about the nature of those ties, many immigrant leaders believed identification with New England would benefit their peoples in their struggles both in the United States and back in their ancestral lands. Drawing on and contributing to work in immigration history, as well as American, gender, ethnic, and New England studies, this book is broadly concerned with the history of identity construction in the United States while its primary focus is the relationship between regional categories of identity and those based on race and ethnicity. With its interdisciplinary methodology, original research, and diverse chapter topics, the book targets both specialist and nonspecialist readers.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

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pp. vii-x

It’s a great pleasure to be able to express my gratitude to all the fine folks who have helped me in so many ways over the years I have worked on this book. I will always cherish the memory of your gifts—whether they took the form of a promising research tip or a timely word of encouragement. First, thanks to Tom Dwyer, Andrea Olson, and Christopher Dreyer at the University of...


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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction: Regional Identity in an Age of Immigration

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pp. 1-13

Of all the social categories that have shaped the lives of Americans, regional identity is surely one of the most complex and poorly understood. Though seemingly transparent at first glance—most of us can probably conjure up a mental image of a southerner or a midwesterner—regional identity proves...

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One. World Conquerors or a Dying People? : Racial Theory, Regional Anxiety, and the Brahmin Anglo-Saxonists

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pp. 14-37

Although he was best known in his time as a politician and popular historian, Massachusetts senator Henry Cabot Lodge also occasionally weighed in on cultural matters, particularly when they touched on his abiding concerns of race, nation, and New England history. In an essay from the 1890s titled...

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Two. New Ireland, New France, New England: The Place of Immigrants in American Regionalism

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pp. 38-78

Most scholars of American regionalism have treated it as the exclusive province of the native born, assuming that only those born in this country could have a particular identification with, or interest in, one of its regions. Many of those scholars contend that regionalism is not merely native born, but...

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Three. New England Delicacy: Immigration and the Regional Body

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pp. 79-121

If asked to name the one word that best described New England women, a Gilded Age commentator might well choose delicate. A profoundly ambiguous term that spoke on multiple registers, it evoked a long history of debates about the health, beauty, morality, and reproductive practices of...

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Four. “Rural New England Is in a State of Transition”: Immigrants and Yankees on the Land

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pp. 122-163

In the period after the Civil War, rural New England was notorious as a place that had seen better days. While some diehards strenuously denied that there was anything wrong with the region’s countryside, most commentators, both inside and outside New England, believed otherwise. The author...

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Five. The New New England: Yankees and Immigrants in the Old Northwest

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pp. 164-200

For many inhabitants of the Old Northwest, the Gilded Age was a time to reflect on their region’s history. They founded state and local pioneer and historical societies to collect the memories of settlers. They subscribed to the Magazine of Western History, the Cleveland-based monthly that focused...

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Coda: “The Pilgrims Were Illegal Aliens”

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pp. 201-204

If Julian West, the Brahmin time traveler of Looking Backward: 2000–1887 (1888), had awakened not in the utopia of Edward Bellamy’s novel but in the real Boston of today, he would doubtless be surprised by a number of things. He would certainly be impressed by the physical transformation of...


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pp. 205-246


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pp. 247-260

E-ISBN-13: 9780472029990
E-ISBN-10: 0472029991
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472052080

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2014