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123 Returning to the United States, Moreno resumed his now long-standing habits as a lobbyist in Washington, buzzing around the House of Representatives , the Senate, and the White House. In the White House garden he cut cinnamon and coffee leaves to send to Faldella and explained that he had collected the seeds of those plants in Sumatra and replanted them there in the past.1 Newspapers remained an integral part of his world. Moreno continuously proposed articles and submitted letters to a number of Italian, Italian American, and American papers (above all the Washington Post, which became one of his regular outlets, although his pieces were submitted as letters to the editor). At the same time, he maintained, as was his custom, a robust correspondence with numerous personalities on both sides of the Atlantic. His disappointment over the failed election had to be strong, but the Capitano Marittimo—as we have often observed—was not the type to be discouraged: “There are injustices and misfortunes which make man superior. I am sorry that I have not yet received and endured enough!” he confided to Faldella.2 The America in which Moreno resumed his place was very different from the place he had left only four years earlier. Italian immigration was, c h a p t e r 8 The New Italian America 124 The New Italian America numerically, relatively small during the “heroic” times of his first campaign against the exploitation of the “child slaves” but in the meantime it had transformed into a full river. In addition to the pioneering newspapers in New York and San Francisco, L’Eco d’Italia and La Voce del Popolo, there were numerous other newspapers for the many Italian communities now present in almost all the states of the union. On September 29, 1880, Il Progresso Italo-Americano began publication in New York. It was destined to become the most popular and longest-lived Italian newspaper in America, and its example encouraged the birth of others. Giovanni Francesco Secchi de Casali, Moreno’s old friend turned bitter enemy, had transformed his Eco d’Italia into a daily, and in subsequent years other daily newspapers would emerge, from San Francisco’s L’Italia (1886) to New York’s Cristoforo Colombo (1887) and L’Araldo Italiano (1894), to Philadelphia’s La Voce del Popolo (1893), as well as many periodicals, including Philadelphia’s weekly Il Vesuvio and Chicago’s L’Italia, both launched in 1886. Moreno, who in some way belonged to the “aristocracy” of Italian pioneers in America (not a few of whom watched the spectacle of the new mass immigration with a certain unease, so miserable and different were they from the old exiles of the Risorgimento), did not hesitate to make contact with this new reality, soon becoming a sort of star in the Italian press, which was inclined to take an interest in a man who was always making news and who did not hesitate to use the pen as a hatchet. Moreno was able to inject himself into the new Italian American context as a kind of senior mediator between the American establishment and the immigrant “reality,” an influential spokesman and a combative defender. In this capacity, as he attempted to write a new and updated chapter in his historic battle against “Italian slavery” in America, he began to take an active role in the initiatives and public demonstrations promoted by many emigrant associations. Italian emigration was becoming an exodus of biblical proportions. The poorest of the Mezzogiorno swelled its ranks, with unprecedented waves of illiterate and very poor laborers, and ethnic prejudice grew around them. White, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant America watched the new “wops” and “dagoes” with horror and an attitude very different from the warmth and sympathy with which they had viewed the arrival of the heroes of the Risorgimento. Moreno, the fortunate pioneer who was fated to have relationships with the most eminent American statesmen, had suddenly become a rather authoritative spokesman for a minority that disturbed the dreams of the conformists and occupied Protestant missionaries busy bringing the light of civilization to the fetid slums now called “Little Italy.” The New Italian America 125 It was a world that needed to be led by the hand through the difficult process of Americanization. An important test for Moreno presented itself almost immediately with the 1884 presidential campaign. The choice was between his friend James G. Blaine, a former speaker of the House...


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MARC Record
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