Italian influence on American history can be traced back to the navigators Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. America’s founding fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, were familiar with the Italian language and culture and with Roman history. Jefferson was a supporter of the Italian physician and merchant Filippo Mazzei and encouraged him in the early 1770s to bring Italian vintners to Virginia. Though not successful in that venture, Mazzei became actively involved in the colonists’ struggle with England. Writing in the Virginia newspapers as “Furioso” he was one of the first people to urge Americans to declare independence and form a unified constitution to govern all thirteen colonies. Some of his phraseology later found its way into Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. William Paca, an early governor of Maryland, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Read more:
Italian Americans in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries a number of Italian-named missionaries such as Friar Eusebio Kino and Friar Samuel Mazzuchelli operated in present-day Arizona and in the Wisconsin-Michigan area, respectively. Though the presence of Italian individuals in the United States was sparse before 1850, Lorenzo Da Ponte, who wrote librettos for Mozart, taught Italian language and literature at Columbia University. In 1825 he produced his Don Giovanni in New York.
Italian style and Italian artisans heavily influenced the design of buildings in Washington, D.C. Constantino Brumidi painted numerous frescoes in the Capitol between 1855 and 1880. There was a modest migration of Italians to California during and after the gold rush. Many in this group became prosperous farmers, vintners, and business leaders, including Domenico Ghirardelli (the chocolate maker), the Gallo and Mondavi families (wine producers), and Amadeo Giannini (the founder of Bank of America) Read more:
The social mobility of Italian Americans was steady throughout the twentieth century. In the early years group members were likely to be the object of social work in settlement houses like Jane Addams’s Hull-House. They were likely to be victimized by sharp politicians and labor agents. The 1920s were prosperous times for most Americans and many Italian American colonies received infusions of capital derived from the near-universal practice of breaking Prohibition laws. Hard hit by the Great Depression, Italian Americans reacted by becoming part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Democratic coalition. The full employment of the war years and general prosperity of the 1950s and 1960s brought the vast majority of Italian Americans safely into the middle class. More precisely, a strategy of underconsumption, the pooling of extended family resources, hard work in small family businesses, and entry into unionized skilled and unskilled jobs earned middle-class status for the vast majority of Italian Americans. By the mid-1970s Italian American young people were attending college at the national average. Read more:
Art from Leonardo da Vinci
Interesting photo/story from the Official American Indian Movement Website
click photo for the rest of the story.
Churchill was an organizer/participant in the ongoing Columbus Day protests in Denver Colorado. The yearly protests have been attempting to shut down the Columbus Day Parade in Denver.