History, Department of


Date of this Version



America and the Germans AN ASSESSMENT OF A THREE-HUNDRED-YEAR HISTORY. Frank Trommler and Joseph McVeigh, EDITORS. VOLUME ONE Immigration, Language, Ethnicity. University of Pennsylvania Press PHILADELPHIA


Copyright © 1985 by the University of Pennsylvania Press All rights reserved


IN THE 18gos, following a decade of unprecedented immigration from Europe, the United States experienced a period in which national identity was greatly stressed. The term "Americanization" came into frequent usage as many citizens, privately and through various organizations, stressed conformity to the dominant culture in language, manners, and religious belief.

During these same years a similar development, in some respects stronger than in the United States, could be detected in Brazil. In 188g the empire of Brazil ended when Pedro II went into exile and Brazilian leaders introduced a republican form of government. During the preceding decade Brazil, like the United States, had experienced heavy immigration from Europe.1 The abolition of slavery in 1888 had created a labor shortage, chiefly in the central and southern states, that the government had sought to relieve through the recruitment of Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and German immigrants. During the 18gos the Brazilian Republic, unsure of itself in its first years, experienced a wave of nativism much like that in the United States. The new Brazilian leaders, motivated strongly by doctrines of Comtean Positivism, insisted on a new national unity. They felt strongly that immigrants should resist the natural tendency to remain separate. To speak a different language, to wear different clothing, to eat different foods, to attend different schools, and to worship a different god all seemed undesirable because such behavior threatened to alter national identity and to undermine the confidence of the republicans to govern their huge, diverse, and undeveloped country.2