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July 2024
1min read

History offers very few sharp beginnings and endings, preferring, it would seem, a series of continuums. Yet it does offer sharp contrasts. Take, for example, the business of immigration. We have two articles about the so-called melting pot in this issue, one on the Scotch-Irish (who “melted” so completely that many educated people are hard put to say exactly who they were) and one on the Negro as a migrant to the cities (where he has practically not melted at all, with results in your daily paper). And thoughts about these matters inspire us to run the two pictures here. Above, around 1910, is the ferry from Ellis Island, disgorging new Americans at the height of the rush of new peoples to our shores. Now look below: here is an Ellis Island ferry, if perhaps not the same one, abandoned and sunk at her moorings at an Ellis Island that has gone out of business.

Almost out of business, that is, for the abandoned immigrant receiving station was occupied recently by a group of protesting black squatters. And that takes us back in history far before Ellis Island, to the slaves brought to America at almost the beginning of the English settlement. It was they who first ensured, long before the battles over later immigrants, that America would be a place for the meeting of peoples, not just an English country. But wait—the English themselves, variously Celts, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Normans, Danes, and a long et cetera—are a mixture, too. We refer you back to our first sentence and to our articles in this issue.

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