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A history lesson

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posted on Oct, 22 2004 @ 05:34 AM
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There is a post floating around here somewhere that mentions immigrants to the United States and how it often turned out to not be what they expect.
So I thought Iíd post this.
From the book ďAnarchism and Other EssaysĒ Emma Goldman.
She emigrated to the U.S. in 1886 with her sister Helene from Russia.

This is not meant as an "America bash" or a "Russia is better" thread.
I just thought it is an interesting look at immigration history in a way you usually donít see.

America! What magic word. The yearning of the enslaved, the promised land of the oppressed, the goal of all longing for progress. Hereís manís ideals had found their fulfillment: no Tsar, no Cossack, no chinovnik. The Republic! Glorious synonym of equality, freedom, brotherhood.
Thus thought the two girls, as they traveled, in the year 1886, from New York to Rochester. Soon, all too soon, disillusionment awaited them. The ideal conception of America was punctured already at Castle Garden, and soon burst like a soap bubble.
Here Emma Goldman witnessed sights which reminded her of the terrible scenes of her childhood in Kurland. The brutality and humiliation the future citizens of the great Republic were subjected to on board ship, were repeated at Castle Garden by the officials of the democracy in a more savage and aggravating manner. And what bitter disappointment followed as the young idealist began to familiarize herself with the conditions in the new land! Instead of one Tsar, she found scores of them; the Cossack was replaced by the policeman with the heavy club, and instead of the Russian chinovnik there was the far more inhuman Slave-driver of the factory.
Emma Goldman soon obtained work in the clothing establishment of the Garson Co. The wages amounted to two and a half dollars a week. At that time the factories were not provided with motor power, and the poor sewing girls had to drive the wheels by foot, from early morning to late at night. A terribly exhausting toil it was, without a ray of light, the drudgery of the long day passed in complete silence-the Russian custom of friendly conversation at work was not permissible in the free country. But the exploitation of the girls was not only economic; the poor wage workers were looked upon by their foremen and bosses as sexual commodities. If a girl resented the advances of her superiors, she would speedily find herself on the street as an undesirable element in the factory. There was never a lack of willing victims: the supply always exceeded the demand.
The horrible conditions were made still more unbearable by the fearful dreariness of life in the small American city. The Puritan spirit suppressed the slightest manifestation of joy; a deadly dullness beclouds the soul; no intellectual inspiration, no thought exchange between congenial spirits is possible. Emma Goldman almost suffocated in this atmosphere. She above all others longed for ideal surroundings, for friendship and understanding, for the companionship of kindred minds. Mentally she still lived in Russia.


[edit on 22/10/2004 by ANOK]



 
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