- In Pursuit of their Dreams: A History of Azorean Immigration to the United States
The foremost geographical history of Azorean Portuguese in the United States, this book is the second much-transformed edition of And Yet They Come: Portuguese Immigration from the Azores to the United States (Staten Island, NY: Center for Migration Studies, 1982). The volume is comprised of an Introduction ("Pursuing their Dreams") and six chapters: "Emigration: A Response to Adversity and Opportunity"; "The New England Habit"; "Life in the West"; "The New Immigrants"; "The Azorean Dilemma: Too Little for too Many"; and "Ethnic Survival: The Maintenance of Cultural Values." The book contains a dense preface by Andrea Klimt, "New Directions and Future Possibilities: Understanding the Portuguese Immigrant Story."
In Pursuit provides a brief account of Portuguese settlement, with a smattering of Flemish settlers, starting in the mid-fifteenth century, of the nineisland North Atlantic archipelago. It also surveys the major highlights of the Azorean economy from its settlement to the twentieth century. The book traces immigration to the United States as a phenomenon that starts at the beginning and intensifies in the middle of the nineteenth century in connection with the New England whaling industry. Ships from Nantucket and New Bedford would call on the ports of the Azores, especially Horta on the island of Faial, for fresh supplies and crews. A considerable number of Azoreans who started out as whalemen later abandoned ship in the east coast of the US, especially New Bedford, and in San Francisco, and Hawaii. During the Industrial Revolution, Azoreans in much greater numbers migrated to the US aboard packet, cargo, and passenger ships. Initially, their economic destiny became mostly tied to the cotton mills in New Bedford. Later, when these moved to the South, their destiny became temporarily pinned to the garment industry that in the meantime had made its way to southeastern Massachusetts from New York City in search of cheaper migrant labor. In California, although a number of Portuguese had arrived there considerably earlier, it was during the Gold Rush of the mid- nineteenth century that many Azoreans headed for the gold fields, including [End Page 206] large numbers who had settled in the East and were by then working in considerable numbers in the whaling industry. As the gold fever subsided, however, many Azoreans dedicated themselves to more familiar and lucrative activities, such as sheepherding and farming, especially dairy farming. Around the turn of the twentieth century, California Azoreans would be joined by other Portuguese islanders, many of which had earlier made the excruciatingly long trip from the two Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira to the Sandwich Islands still by way of Cape Horn.
The "New Immigrants" to which Chapter IV refers constitute the greatest of the three waves of Azoreans to the United States, the first consisting of the relatively small group arriving between the beginning of the 1800s and 1870 and the second and much greater number from 1870 to the 1920s, a time at which immigration to the US from many parts of the world, including southern Europe, ceased altogether or was severely curtailed. The third wave of Azorean immigrants began arriving after the explosion of the Capelinhos volcano in 1957–1958 on the island of Faial in the central Azores. This disaster prompted the passage of legislation in the United States Congress, starting with the Azorean Refugee Acts of 1958 and 1960. Azoreans in general who desired to immigrate to the US would also benefit greatly from the Immigration Law of 1965. Between 1958 and 1990 an estimated quarter of a million Azoreans arrived in the US. The distribution and economic activities of Azoreans in the East (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and to a far lesser degree New York and New Jersey) receive considerable attention in Pursuit. The role played early in California by agriculture in the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly San Leandro and San Jose, would later lead to the development of farming, particularly...