Foreign-born in 1860

Not a lot of prose in this post. I’ll just share some stunning numbers. Such as, 400,000 immigrants served in the Union Army. The foreign-born population doubled between 1850 and 1860, with most of the newcomers from outside the British Isles. What did this mean? Well . . .
1/3rd of the first generation immigrants here before the Civil War were German.
Milwaukee and Cincinnati (sometimes called “Over the Rhine”) were half German.
47% of the population of New York City was foreign born.
States with highest percentage of foreign-born in 1860
California- 38%
South Dakota- 37%
Wisconsin- 35%
Minnesota- 34%
Utah- 31%
Nevada- 30%
Washington- 27%
New York- 26%
Nebraska- 22%
Massachusetts- 21%
Rhode Island- 21%
Michigan- 20%
Illinois- 19%
New Jersey-18%
Connecticut- 17%
Iowa- 16%
Pennsylvania- 14%
Missouri- 14%

In 1860, the only southern state with a large immigrant population was Louisiana with 11 percent. South Carolina had 2 percent foreign-born and Georgia had 1 percent. Overall, 3.6 million foreign-born lived in the North and 400,000 lived in the South.

Source: Patrick Young, “Immigrant America on the Eve of the Civil War,” March 2, 2011

Naturally, there was push-back and hostility in many areas, but in an expanding economy, and especially when the Civil War created a desperate need for fighting men, nobody talked about building walls. It’s good to hold these figures in mind, I think, when looking at today’s immigrant situation.

Pamela Schoenewaldt, historical novels of immigration and the search for self in new worlds: WHEN WE WERE STRANGERS, SWIMMING IN THE MOON, and UNDER THE SAME BLUE SKY (all HarperCollins).

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Speaking on the 1919 Knoxville Race Riot at the Norris Women’s Club, April 5.

Tennessee Mountain Writers Conference, April 5-7, 2018. Two workshops: “Ancient fires for modern words” and “Blending narrative & description to empower your prose.”

When We Were Strangers, in Italian translation, presented in Pescasseroli, Italy, August 2018.

Recent Review
“Absorbing and layered with rich historical details, in Under the Same Blue Sky, Schoenewaldt weaves a tender and at times, heartbreaking story about German-Americans during World War I. With remarkable compassion, the author skillfully portrays conflicted loyalties, the search for belonging, the cruelty of war, and the resilience of the human spirit.”—Ann Weisgarber, author of The Promise and The Personal History of Rachel Dupree

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