Download PDF by Sebastian Fichera (auth.): Italy on the Pacific: San Francisco’s Italian Americans

By Sebastian Fichera (auth.)

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Sample text

11 First appearing in the north, emigration gradually spread southward to, among other places, Tuscany—another large supplier of San Francisco Italians. Containing a smaller share of industrial employees than either Liguria or Piedmont but a larger one than Sicily or Calabria, Tuscany had mostly failed to keep up with its northerly neighbors yet still managed to avoid a southern-type regression. In the nineteenth century’s second half, whereas Liguria and the other northern regions had seen their populations grow from one-third to one-half urban, this type of migration had yet to appear among the 80 percent rural population of Tuscany.

7 Because 90 percent of Liguria was covered by mountains and consequently extremely difficult to farm, development’s chief casualty ended up being the precariously perched rural village folk. 8 In an October 13, 1880, report Consul John F. Hazelton summarized the agrarian sector’s conditions this way: “The country around Genoa,” he wrote, “is not adapted to the use of agricultural machinery, owing to the minimal divisions of land, surrounded by walls or separated by ditches. The ordinary farm implements here are exceedingly primitive and crude.

The effect of San Francisco’s bottom-up civic environment could be seen in the way its Italian residents went about building their community. While much of their attention and as yet scarce resources were being devoted to the old country, the rights of free speech, assembly, and press they were using were exclusively American. Coming as they did from an old-country environment doing its utmost to repress such freedom of speech, the immigrants had clearly taken a liking to their unaccustomed rights.

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