Early Italian Immigrants: A Serviceable Ethnic Group

In the fall of 1874, a little more than a year after Giovanni Chiesa’s brutal lynching at the end of the Coal Miners’ Strike in Trumbull County, OH, Italian immigrants again lost their lives during a labor dispute. Thousands of immigrants from Italy continued piling up in NYC, unable to support themselves. They were desperate to survive in an America that in no way resembled what the scalpers of transatlantic tickets had described to them back home.

At first, the Italians made little progress in their effort to join the local New York workforce. With few notable exceptions, they remained an isolated group of outsiders with no permanent prospects living off public charity. But in March 1874, the ragtag, disorganized lot found an opportunity that welded them into a cohesive unit, bound by a common purpose. Their work-for-hire agency was called the Italian Cooperative Laborers and


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