Why Italians were considered non Whites in America?

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,847
US
I've never heard of anyone in the USA considering Italians to be anything other than white. If there were such notions they were not widely held. Italian girls have a reputation of being very beautiful but quick tempered. I think the religious thing is way overblown. There are lots of Catholics in the USA & most people just don't care much about religion anyway.
You would have to go back 100 -150 years to get this prevailing attitude. Obviously not today, although I still hear people joke about those whose ancestry is from Sicily. The same goes for the religion argument. 50 years ago, one's religion mattered to most people.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jun 2010
3,336
Colorado Springs (PA at heart)
Here is a Benjamin Franklin quote on whiteness:

"That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind. "
It's a ridiculous quote from one person that doesn't necessarily define how society or the government viewed Germans or race at the time. Having a "swarthy complexion" doesn't make one not-white, and while there may have been a lot of prejudice towards the Germans at the time, it doesn't mean they were considered non-white by the majority of people.

The same goes for Italians.
 
Likes: Futurist
Jun 2012
1,473
Florida
It's a ridiculous quote from one person that doesn't necessarily define how society or the government viewed Germans or race at the time. Having a "swarthy complexion" doesn't make one not-white, and while there may have been a lot of prejudice towards the Germans at the time, it doesn't mean they were considered non-white by the majority of people.

The same goes for Italians.
You are 100% right. However, my point was simply that the concept of "whiteness" has been fluid in the USA since the founding of the Republic. In another quote, Benjamin Franklin questioned whether Germans have the intelligence to be citizens of the USA:

"Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation…and as few of the English understand the German Language, and so cannot address them either from the Press or Pulpit, ’tis almost impossible to remove any prejudices they once entertain…Not being used to Liberty, they know not how to make a modest use of it…I remember when they modestly declined intermeddling in our Elections, but now they come in droves, and carry all before them, except in one or two Counties...In short unless the stream of their importation could be turned from this to other colonies, as you very judiciously propose, they will soon so out number us, that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our language, and even our Government will become precarious."

In other words Germans were too stupid to learn English and a threat to the Republic to boot.

I do not believe Franklin's opinion was an outlier for his time, as all immigrants groups to the US have faced this nativist attitude.

It all disappeared with time, intermarriage and the coalescence that wars brings to a nation.
 
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