Poles in the United States
FREE Catholic Classes
Causes of Immigration
There is good foundation for the tradition that a Pole, John of Kolno (a town of Masovia), in the services of King Christian of Denmark, commanded a fleet which reached the coast of Labrador in 1476 ("American Pioneer", I, Cincinnati, 1844, 399). The well-known Zabriskie family of New York is descended from Albert Zborowski, who not later than 1662 settled on the Hackensack River, New Jersey . His signature is found affixed as interpreter to an Indian contract of purchase in 1679 (New York General Records, XXIII, 26, 33, 139-47). One descendant, Abraham O. Zabriskie, was the eminent Chancellor of New Jersey. Other descendants intermarried with the most prominent colonial families, and were soon merged in the general population. In 1659 the Dutch on Manhattan Island hired a Polish school-master (Conway, "Cath. Educ. in U.S."). In 1770 Jacob Sodowski settled in New York, and his sons were among the first white men to penetrate as far as Kentucky. It is said that Sandusky, Ohio, was named after him (American Pioneer, I, 119; II, 325). Roosevelt, "Winning of the West", Vol. I, p. 164. Previous to this there were Polish settlers in Virginia (Kruszka, op. cit. infra, I, 54) and the southern states (Johns Hopkins Studies, XIII, p. 40). But among the European champions of American Independence few if any were more prominent than the noble Polish patriots, Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir Count Pulaski, the brilliant cavalry officer. Several of the aides of Pulaski's famous Legion were Polish noblemen.
The Polish Revolution of 1830 brought to the United States a considerable and abiding contingent of Poles, mostly soldiers and members of the lower nobility. Part of Napoleon's Polish Legion had been dispatched to San Domingo, whence such as did not perish miserably or return to Europe came to the United States. A considerable number of Poles were in the American armies, fighting the Seminole Indians in the south. Among Americans of that time enthusiasm in Poland's cause ran high, and the tourist who visits the Polish National Museum in the ancient Hapsburg castle in Rappersschwyl, Switzerland, can see many tokens of sympathy sent to the struggling Poles by their American admirers. In 1835 there existed a "Polish National Committee in the United States ", whose members were prominent Americans, and whose president, as we learn from a pamphlet printed in Philadelphia, 30 Sept., 1835, was M. Carey. The number of Poles in the United States must have run up to thousands, if we may judge from the frequent allusions to the various groups in the American Press of the time. American sympathy took concrete form when Congress made the Poles a grant of thirty-six sections of land, and surveyed two townships for them near Rock River, Illinois.
A number of veterans of the Revolution of 1830 organized the Stowarzyszenie Polaków w Ameryce (Association of Poles in America), in New York. An appeal dated New York, 20 March, 1842, calls upon all Poles in America to affiliate with an organization recently effected at the home of the Rev. Louis Jezykowicz, 235 Division Street, New York. "To die for Poland " was the watchword of the organization, which, according to a brochure printed in Paris, elaborately commemorated the Revolution of 1830, at the Stuyvesant Institute, New York. Poles from Boston, Baltimore, Utica, Philadelphia, and Niagara were present at the celebration, and many distinguished Americans and foreigners, as well as various Scandinavian, French, and German societies participated. In 1852 probably the second Polish organization in the United States was founded, Towarzystwo Demokratyczne Wygnancow Polskich w Ameryce (Democratic Society of Poles in America), an ardent anti-slavery organization. In 1854 it numbered over two hundred members, but there are no records of its activities later than 1858. The Poles coming throughout this period of political immigration were persons of culture, and were freely admitted into American society, which looked upon them as martyrs for liberty. Their Americanization was most frequently concomitant with the loss of their Faith. With a few noteworthy exceptions, they exercised no influence upon the Polish immigrants of a succeeding generation. At the solicitation of Bishop Carroll a number of Polish priests, all former members of the disbanded Society of Jesus , came to America; one of the most prominent of these was Father Francis Dzierozynski. In the thirties several Polish Franciscan Fathers were labouring in the United States among whom the most prominent was Father Anthony Rossadowski, chaplain in the Polish army in the Revolution of 1830. Father Gaspar Matoga, who came to the United States in 1848, and completed his studies at Fordham, was the first Polish priest to be ordained in the United States.
Broadly speaking, the causes of Polish immigration have been political, religious, and economic. While economic conditions have been the direct cause, it must be borne in mind that the indirect causes, political and religious, are quite as potent as the economic. Prussianizing, which lately has assumed a religious as well as a political aspect, renders the progress of Prussian Poland distasteful to the Poles, because whatever progress is made must be along Prussian lines. The Kulturkampf gave the American Poles many of their noblest priests, through whose influence thousands of Poles came to America. While Prussianizing by means of class legislation, expropriation, and colonization has not been very rapid, its methods have been attended with a certain measure of success. The economic prosperity of Western Germany has checked the emigration of Prussian Poles from the empire, and the Poles already form an important and growing part of the population of Westphalia and the Rhenish provinces.
Russian Poland experiences the full force of militarism, but still more important as a cause of emigration is the state of terrorism in the great manufacturing districts of Russian Poland, aggravated by the Russo-Japanese War. The mentally more alert are emigrating from Russian Poland, mostly young men who, under the constant strain of Government repression, are the first to be drawn into the revolutionary propaganda and have developed exaggerated notions concerning social wrongs. It is mostly from this class that Socialism in America draws its Polish recruits. A condition responsible for much of the emigration from Poland is the persecution of the Jews in Russia proper, and the Government's policy of concentrating its Jewish problem within "the Kingdom", which has been constituted a vast pale whither the Jews are being forced until they are overflowing into Galicia. By granting autonomy to communities in which the Jews are numerically strong, the Government is effectually expatriating the Poles by what amounts to disfranchisement, and thus Polish progress is blocked. The Poles were never a commercial people, and under present conditions they abandon all trade and commerce to the Jews. About 35 per cent of the population of Warsaw and about 31 per cent of that of Cracow are Jews. They have control of Poland's industry, commerce, and agriculture. Industry receives poor reward, taxation of the poor is oppressive, and education in Russian Poland is positively discouraged. Since the beginnings of Galician emigration land values in Galicia have advanced fourfold. The abandonment of the feudal system, whereby one child received the family holding intact, the decreasing death-rate, and the high birth-rate, have cut the peasant's acre into tiny patches, which under most careful cultivation are insufficient for a population of 241 to the square mile, especially in Western Galicia. Polish emigration is constantly stimulated by the steamship agencies, which form a network of newspapers, petty officials, and innkeepers; cheapness of transportation and the accounts from America of better conditions add greatly to its tide. The annual emigration to the industrial regions of Germany tends to mitigate the extreme poverty of the peasants, which heretofore rendered emigration impossible. Poverty and not patriotism is at the bottom of all present-day Polish emigration. Memories of European conditions are an important factor in causing the Poles in the United States to forget any intention they may have had of returning to the mother country.
Distribution and Statistics
The immigration of the Polish masses began in 1854. In 1851 Father Leopold Moczygemba, a Franciscan, came to America and soon after induced nearly one hundred families from Upper Silesia to come to Texas. They first came by sailing vessels to Galveston and brought with them all their possessions, their tools and ploughs; indeed, even the bell and great cross in the village church were brought to the New World, and still remain in the church in Panna Maria, Texas, lasting memorials of the faith of the early pioneers. In 1855 the church in Panna Maria was built, the first Polish church in America. Within a few years ten little colonies had been established in Texas, and during the same period colonies were founded in Parisville, Michigan, and Polonia, Wisconsin, and in 1862 a parish was being organized at Milwaukee. In 1870 there were twenty Polish settlements in ten parishes in the States of Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. It was to the virgin lands of Michigan, Wisconsin, and southern Illinois, and to the coal-fields of Pennsylvania and Illinois that they went in greatest numbers. The number of Polish priests grew from 25 in 1870 to 79 in 1877. The total Polish population in the United States did not exceed 40,000 in 1870, of whom fully a fourth were in Chicago alone. While the immigration of the Polish masses had its distinct beginning in 1854, and the number of immigrants was increased by the disastrous Revolution of 1863, it was not until after the Franco-Prussian War, and until after the United States began to recover from the effects of the Civil War, that it became a mighty stream; and although Prussian Poland has long ceased to send more than a modicum, the stream is gaining volume with each passing month.
The financial panic of 1873 checked for a brief period the growing immigration. In 1875 the Poles in the United States numbered nearly 150,000, of which number nearly 20,000 were in Chicago, which as early as 1866 had become and still remains the metropolis of this the fourth division of Poland, as the Polish community in America is called by the Poles. In 1889 they had 132 churches, 126 priests, and 122 schools, nearly all conducted by the Felician Sisters and the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburg, and Milwaukee, in addition to Chicago, had become important Polish centres as early as 1880. The vast majority, probably 80 per cent of all Polish immigration from 1854 to 1890, was from Prussian Poland. Among them were many Cassubians from West Prussia who, living in what was for centuries a borderland between Poland and the domains of the Teutonic Knights, were much affected by Prussian influence. While there is no small number of these Cassubians in parishes noted as German in the official directory, they have of late years, both in Poland and America, regained their national consciousness and have fully entered into the life of the Polish-American community. From the so-called Mazurenland (Masuria) in northern Prussia we have a few thousand Polish Lutherans who but for their jargon of Prussianized Polish are lost to Poland. Between them and the Poles no community of interests exists either in America or Poland. There are several isolated colonies of these Masurians in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Within the past two decades a great change has come over the character of Polish immigration. The pioneers who came from Silesia, the Grand Duchy of Posen, and West Prussia came with their families, were mostly men of early middle age, and came with no thought of ever returning. The Prussian Poles took readily to farming. They were resourceful, disinclined to hazard health and life, and not intent upon making money in a very short time. The Prussian Poles and their children constitute much the greater part of the rural Polish population in the Middle West and North-west. Polish immigration from Russian Poland and Galicia has been so great that many of the older parishes founded by Prussian Poles in the industrial regions are made up almost wholly of their numbers. The Russian Poles constituted about 53 per cent, those from Galicia about 43 per cent, and the Prussian Poles about 4 per cent of the total Polish immigration from 1895 to 1911. The recent Polish immigrants are mostly young men. The vast majority are unskilled labourers from the villages; the few skilled labourers and mechanics are for the most part from Russian Poland, and these latter are employed in the textile industries and sugar refineries, with which work they are familiar. Those from Galicia come in many instances to earn enough money to clear their small plot of land of debt. They come to mill and mine, and seem utterly indifferent to hardship and danger. The percentage of illiterates among the immigrants from Prussian Poland, never very high, is now insignificant, while their knowledge of German is a valuable asset. The percentage of illiterates from Poland for the fiscal year, 1910, was 30.1 per cent. The small number of Poles becoming public charges would be much smaller but for the laws making little or no provision for the workmen and compelling them to undertake expensive litigation in case of accident. The records of our penal and eleemosynary institutions fail to show that the Poles constitute a lawless element. The very low death rate among the Poles, in spite of abnormal conditions of living (high infant mortality, and the heavy death rate in the mines and mills), is striking proof of their morality. It is not unusual to see Polish churches in the United States filled with congregations in which the men far outnumber the women. This is largely explained by the character of recent immigration, but it may nevertheless be asserted that no other class of American Catholics can boast of a greater percentage of church-going men.
Historically the Poles have been so circumstanced that their racial and religious sympathies completely coincide. So fused and intensified are these sentiments that it has been well said that the soul of Poland is naturaliter Christiana . Conditions leading to ruptures with ecclesiastical authorities have been many and it would be exceedingly unjust to place all blame upon the masses of the Polish people. The Poles are easily led by a fiery eloquence, and "independence" among them was the result of deliberate deception on the part of rebellious priests who to carry on their deception more successfully had some of their number consecrated bishops by the Old Catholic bishops in Europe. The "Independents" are possessed of no unity, and represent no heretical or schismatic movement in the real sense. The movement was strongest from 1895 to 1900, and spread with astonishing rapidity, becoming most destructive in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and throughout Pennsylvania, in which state it still continues a demoralizing factor. It is impossible to estimate with any degree of accuracy the numerical strength of the movement at its height, but today the total number cannot exceed 30,000. Protestants, notably Baptists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians, have fraternized with the "Independents" and given them a respectability. In recent years many of the immigrants have been drawn into the movement in good faith. The fact that the Poles from an aggregation of units, frequently lacking efficient spiritual leadership, torn by dissensions, led astray by a Liberal press, have slowly and painfully arisen to a position commanding respect is the most splendid tribute that can be paid them. The failure of certain classes of immigrants to come to the material support of the Church is most frequently explained by adducing the fact of a state-supported Church in the mother country. Since in most parts of Poland the Church is supported by indirect taxation, the generosity of the American Poles is brought out into stronger relief, and their willingness to build and maintain their magnificent churches and institutes is deserving of the unbounded praise accorded them. Coupled with their deep faith, their intense nationalism acts as an incentive to their generosity.
Unfortunately the immigrant tide pours into our great cities in spite of the fact that our Polish immigrants are almost solidly from the agricultural villages. What has been said concerning the necessity of intelligent colonization in the article on Italians in the United States holds with equal force when speaking of the Polish immigration. The settlement of the Poles in lower New England is evidence of the need of intelligent colonization. The movement to the farms, at first confined to the Prussian Poles, is now spreading and extending to the other classes, who are even entering Canada. The settlement of the Poles in the Connecticut Valley, whither more than 5000 went in 1910, dates from about 1895. The Poles saved their money and succeeded. In time they bought the land of their employers. Hundreds of abandoned farms in New England have passed into their hands, and they are now invading Long Island. Their industry and thrift are shown by their success on these abandoned farms, on which women and children share the toil of the father.School or Church closed? - Here's FREE help!
The Poles in America cling tenaciously to their quaint customs, which are in nearly every instance quite as much religious as national in character. Poland was but little affected by the religious rebellion of the sixteenth century and hence the Catholic medieval spirit is still that of the Poles. The Christmas and Easter carols heard in the Polish churches are exact counterparts of those sung by the peasants of pre-Reformation England, and are the expression of the childlike faith of the people. The most beautiful custom and the one that bids to outlive all others among the American Poles is that of the oplatki (wafers). Shortly before Christmas the parish organist distributes wafers resembling those used for Holy Mass, and at this distribution each parishioner makes a slight offering to the organist or altar-boys who bring the wafers. These are sent to friends and relatives in Europe, and the latter do not forget those in America. On Christmas Eve the family gathers to partake first of all of the wafer in token of continued love, mended friendship, and goodwill to all men. During the Octave of the Epiphany the priests bless the homes of the people, and the doors are marked with the initials of the names of the Wise Men, with chalk blessed on the feast of the Epiphany. On Holy Saturday the priest blesses the baskets of food prepared for the morrow. Very early on Easter morning Holy Mass is celebrated and after the Mass the priest and the laity go in solemn procession thrice around the church, inside or outside, according to circumstances. This is called the Resurekcya .
During the Easter season the priests issue confession cards, on which are printed the words: Signum Communionis Paschalis . Each card is numbered, and a record is kept of the numbers and names of those to whom cards are issued. These cards are returned by penitents in the confessional and the names are cancelled. Thus a record is kept of all those who have satisfied their Paschal obligation. While the custom is liable to misinterpretation and even abuse, the Polish clergy are loath to abolish it because of many excellent features. In no other way in the large city parishes where the population is constantly shifting can the clergy meet many of their people. On the feast of the Assumption the faithful bring flowers and greenery to the church to be blessed, and the day is called the feast of Our Lady of the Greenery. Polish women are careful in their observance of the custom of being churched after childbirth. It is not uncommon for the brides to come to church very soon after marriage to receive the blessing novoe nuptoe . Seldom does a Polish marriage take place except with a nuptial Mass.
Name-days, not birthdays, are celebrated, and sponsors are regarded as relatives by the interested families. On the death of a parishioner the church bell is tolled each day immediately after the Angelus until after the funeral, at which very frequently the Office of the Dead is chanted. The Poles love their own vernacular songs, and in most of their churches one may hear them chant the "Little Hours" before High Mass on Sunday mornings. Nor is Latin popular with Poles, who frequently sing all parts of the High Mass except the responses in Polish.
Hospitality ceases to be a virtue with the Poles. Generous to a fault, they turn a deaf ear to no petition for assistance, especially if the object appeals to national or religious sympathies. Poles are lovers of processions, flags, banners, uniforms, and marshals' batons. A Polish church on festal days resembles some national fane whither the battle-flags of nations have been brought from fields of glory. The Pole is not utilitarian, and all this to him is more than useful, serving as it does to bind him more closely to the Church, whose feasts are given added solemnity. The observance of national festivals is religiously kept. May recalls the adoption of Poland's famous Constitution; November, the Revolution of 1830; and January, Poland's last war for freedom, the Revolution of 1863. The various organizations vie with one another in preparing these celebrations, which serve the useful purpose of affording instruction in Poland's history to the younger generation and to the invited Americans.
Polish Charitable Institutions
Besides contributing to the support of the various diocesan charities the Poles maintain a growing number of such institutions for those of their own nationality. Only the more important are noted: Felician Sisters, orphanages, 5, orphans, 585; Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, orphanages, 1, orphans, 105; Bernardine Sisters, orphanages, 1, orphans, 120; Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, orphanages, 1, orphans, 160.
A very large orphan asylum is now building in Chicago, which will be supported by all the Polish parishes of the archdiocese and will be placed in charge of the Felician Sisters. There are three Polish homes for the aged in which 200 are provided for. In 1909 St. Felix's Home for Polish working girls, Detroit, conducted by the Felician Sisters, assisted 202 girls; another such institution in East Buffalo, New York, conducted by the same community, assisted 267 girls; in the Polish day nurseries of Chicago and Milwaukee nearly 20,000 children were cared for; St. Mary's Hospital, Chicago, conducted by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, cared for 2,150 patients. The Immigrant Home, East Buffalo, New York, aided 8978 immigrants. St. Joseph's Home for Polish and Lithuanian Immigrants, New York, has since its foundation in 1896 given aid to 86,912 immigrants. Both homes are now in charge of the Felician Sisters.
One of the most notable of the early Polish emigrants was the patriot-poet, Julian Niemcewicz, who came to America in 1796. He had been Secretary to the Polish Senate, adjutant-general of Kosciuszko in the latter's struggles for Polish independence and his companion in captivity in St. Petersburg. He became an American citizen and remained in the United States until the formation by Bonaparte of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, when he returned to Poland and was actively engaged in Poland's cause until his death in 1841. The leading spirit of all movements among the Poles in America throughout the period of political immigration was Henry Corvinus Kalusowski, the son of one of the chamberlains of Stanislaus Poniatowski, the last King of Poland. He came to America in 1834. Returning to Poland he represented a Polish constituency in the Prussian Parliament, and upon his expulsion by the Prussian Government again came to the United States . During the Civil War he organized the Thirty-first New York Regiment. Later held positions in the State Department in Washington, and translated all official Russian documents relating to the purchase of Alaska by the United States. He died in 1894.
Other political immigrants were: Tyssowski, the "Dictator of Cracow"; the learned Adam Gurowski, who in his "Diary of 1861-1865" betrayed a keen insight into the conditions of the Civil War period; Lieutenant Bielawski, Paul Sobolewski, translator of the Polish poets into English; Leopold Julian Boeck, soldier, statesman, scholar, who had been Professor of Higher Mathematics in the Sorbonne before coming to New York, where he founded the Polytechnic Institute, said to be the first of its kind in America. He later occupied chairs in the Universities of Virginia and Pennsylvania. He was appointed American Educational Commissioner at the Universal Exposition in Vienna by President Grant, and served in a similar capacity at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The quality of the Polish immigrants previous to 1870 was such as to give them a prominence out of proportion to their numbers, and the record of the Poles in the Civil War was a really brilliant one, although there were not more than a few hundred Poles in the various divisions of the Union Army. The most prominent of these was General Krzyzanowski, who gained his military title in this war serving under Carl Schurz, who in his memoirs speaks very favourably of his services. Others who served with distinction were Louis Zychlinski, Henry Kalusowski, Peter Kiolbassa, Joseph Smolinski, the youngest cavalry officer in the Union Army, and Edmund Louis Zalinski, who served on General Miles's staff, and after the war occupied the chairs of military science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other institutions of a similar nature, and became an authority on military science and an inventor of military appliances. The most commanding figure among the American Poles was Father Vincent Barzynski, C.R. As a leader of men, whose vision extended far into the future, he stands unique. He was the central figure of the most dramatic chapters in the history of the Poles in America. He gave the Poles St. Stanislaus College, their first orphanage, their first Catholic paper (the "Gazeta Katolicka"), their first daily paper ("Dziennik Chicagoski"), he formed the first teaching corps of Polish nuns, and brought into being the Polish Roman Catholic Union. The most typical of the Polish American laymen to achieve distinction was Peter Kiolbassa, through whose efforts the Resurrectionist Fathers came to Chicago. He served as captain in the Union Army during the Civil War, and later served the State of Illinois and the city of Chicago in various and very important positions.
The name of Father Joseph Dabrowski will long be held in grateful remembrance. Besides founding the Polish Seminary at Detroit he brought the first group of Felician Sisters to the United States, and later established them in Detroit, where in 1882 they established their first American mother-house. Of Polish American women one of the most prominent was Dr. Mary Zakrzewska, who came to America in 1853 and founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, and the New England Hospital for women and children. Poland's contribution to the development of musical, dramatic, and plastic art has been a notable one. In 1876 a little band of Polish intellectuals, among whom was Henry Sienkiewicz, attempted to found a sort of Brook-Farm community in California. The attempt failed but gave to America Helena Modjeska (Modrzejewska), who from the night of her American début in San Francisco in 1877 until her retirement thirty years later was among the foremost artists on the American stage. Others who became more or less identified with American national life were the sculptors Henry Dmochowski, whose busts of Kosciuszko and Pulaski adorn the national capital, and Casimir Chodzinski, creator of the Kosciuszko monument in Chicago and the Pulaski monument in Washington. Prominent in the Polish community of today are: Ralph Modjeski, one of the foremost engineers in the United States ; John Smulski, ex-state treasurer of Illinois; Dr. F. Fronczak, health commissioner of Buffalo ; Bishop Paul Peter Rhode, the first Pole to be raised to the episcopate in the United States ; Felix Borowski, composer and critic.
Every Polish parish has its mutual aid societies, affiliated in nearly every instance with one of the major national organizations, all of which are conducted on a basis of fraternal insurance. These societies do a great amount of good among the poor, caring for such of their members as are visited by misfortune, giving the Poles desirable solidarity, and making for the social, religious, and economic advance of the Polish community. Most frequently they are parish organizations, and partake of the character of confraternities, whose public appearance at Divine services on national and religious festivals lends solemnity to the occasions and constitutes an open profession of the Faith of the Polish masses. In the larger Polish communities there are associations of physicians, dentists, druggists, journalists, merchants, and military, dramatic, and singing societies, nearly all of which are affiliated with the major organizations. The many building, loan, and savings associations among the Poles have received high praise from state officials.
From 1866 to 1870 various local organizations were forming in Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, and in San Francisco, where there had existed a Polish colony since the Civil War. The most important Polish Catholic organization, Zjednoczenie Polsko-Rzymsko Katolickie pod Opieka Boskiego Serca Jezusa (The Polish Roman Catholic Union under the Protection of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ), was organized in 1873, but it was not until 1886 that it assumed its present character, although the spirit of the Union has always been staunchly Catholic. Its first organ was the "Gazeta Katolicka"; the present official organ is the "Naród Polski" (The Polish Nation). The Union has a membership of 52,000, in 550 councils, all of which are parish organizations; its assets are $666,708. In 1910 the increase in membership was 13,000, and the increase in its assets $175,815. In the same year it assisted fifty-six students, children of its members, by distributing among them $4268. It has assisted crippled members by voluntary gifts amounting to $1455 in the same period. Its educational fund, the interest of which supports indigent students, is $31,051.
The Zwiazek Narodowy Polski (Polish National Alliance) was founded in Philadelphia in 1880, and in the same year the head-quarters of the organization were established in Chicago, where they have since remained. In its first constitution the Alliance professed "obedience to the Roman Catholic faith, since that is the faith of the vast majority of the Polish nation", but further committed itself to a programme of "toleration of all creeds in the spirit of Poland's ancient constitution". Socialists were barred. All official religious services were to be conducted according to Catholic rites. Succeeding conventions gradually eliminated all reference to religion, and the bar to admission of Socialists was removed. "Anarchists and criminals" are still excluded. Recently the Alliance is waging open war with the Socialistic element, with whose doctrine of internationalism the exaggerated nationalism of the Alliance is at variance. At first many of the clergy belonged to the Alliance, but with the development of the anticlerical programme of the organization the number has become insignificant. The Alliance has a membership of 71,000 men and women, in 1118 councils. The Zwiazek Spiewaków (Alliance of Singers), the Zwiazek Wojsk Polskich (Alliance of Polish Military Societies ), and the Zwiazek Sokolow (Athletic Alliance), while maintaining autonomy, are federated with the Alliance, and their membership is included in the number given for the National Alliance, with slight exceptions. There is likewise an independent Turners' Alliance with a membership of 3000. The assets of the National Alliance are placed at $1,150,000, but including as it does the Alliance Home, etc., are probably in excess of the actual assets. The organ of the Alliance is the "Zgoda" (Harmony). Except in its attitude towards the Church the Alliance closely resembles the Polish Roman Catholic Union. The Catholic Order of Foresters has 62 Polish courts, with a membership of 8166, and the number of Polish members in other courts exceeds 1000. The order furnishes the Polish courts with constitutions and rituals printed in Polish, and all business of these courts is transacted in Polish. Zwiazek Polek (Alliance for Polish Women ) has a membership of 8000. It closely resembles the Polish National Alliance, but since a society of Polish women cannot thrive except as a parish organization, much of the official indifferentism of the national body is counteracted by the priests who act as chaplains of the local branches.
Of Catholic organizations besides the Polish Roman Catholic Union the following are important: Stowarzyszenie Polaków w Ameryce (Association of Poles in America), Milwaukee, membership, 7332; Macierz Polska, Chicago, membership, 4500; more than any other Catholic organization it is concerned with the social welfare of the young. It is confined almost entirely to the parishes in charge of the Resurrectionist Fathers; Unia Polska (The Polish Union), Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, membership, 9000. A schism occurred in the organization in 1908, and one faction, with head-quarters in Buffalo, has a membership slightly smaller than the first. A Catholic Union in Winona, Minnesota, has a membership of 1400.
Excepting the numerically insignificant Socialistic group none of the nationalistic organizations have dared to attack the Church as such, however much their organs may attack individual members of the clergy and certain religious congregations. The younger element does not take kindly to these attacks, and the indications are that the crisis has passed. The spread of the spirit of independence occasioned the first Polish Congress, held in Buffalo in 1896. A second was held in the same city in 1901, and a third in Pittsburg in 1904. These congresses sought to find remedies for the sad conditions then prevailing, and the efforts of the promoters were largely confined to inducing the Holy See to give the American Poles bishops of their own nationality. A fourth congress, differing radically from the three preceding, inasmuch as its spirit was purely secular, was convened under the auspices of the Polish National Alliance on the occasion of the unveiling of the Pulaski and Kosciuszko monuments in Washington, 12 May, 1910. The congress, which was ignored by the clergy and the Catholic organizations, declared itself in favour of educational institutions for the Polish youth which would be utterly removed from "clerical" influence. Many attempts have been made to federate the various Polish organizations, but they have invariably failed. Bishop Rhode has fathered the last attempt at federation, which seems likely to succeed because unity is being sought along purely Catholic lines.
The growth in numbers and efficiency of the Polish parochial schools is a story of faith, patriotism, unparalleled generosity, and supreme endeavour on the part of Polish clergy, religious communities, and laity, who came with no asset but their willing hands and the faith of their fathers. The Poles take care of themselves. Where they have contributed to the building of non-Polish churches and schools, they are quick to establish schools for their own children as soon as their numbers warrant the attempt, which with them is much earlier than with those of any other nationality. The Poles realized very early that their children who attended schools other than Polish, however much they succeeded, ceased to be an asset to the Polish community in its endeavours to lift itself above its present condition. The Polish schools in America are a distinctly new world product. Considering the shortness of their American history the Poles have a larger proportion of native clergy and teaching nuns than any other class of American Catholics. Fully 95 per cent of the teachers in the Polish parochial schools are American by birth or training. The Poles cannot be satisfied with teachers other than Polish. Hence their Americanization is a development and not a veneer. This factor of a native clergy and teaching corps thoroughly American in thought and speech, and thoroughly Polish in their sympathies with the incoming thousands, makes for a healthy conservatism, and precludes violent ruptures with traditions of the past. The Polish parochial schools are performing a task which could not, because of a multitude of circumstances, be satisfactorily performed by any other, however superior from a purely scholastic standpoint. The most formidable obstacle to more rapid progress is the ever-increasing tide of immigrants. Clergy and teachers must contend with parents whose poverty and old-world viewpoint are factors in keeping the children at home upon every pretext, and withdrawing them for ever on the day of their First Communion. The constant increase in the number of children necessitates the erection of new schools, in spite of the parents' inability to contribute to their support, increases the shortage of teachers, makes for overcrowding and inefficiency, because the religious communities, to satisfy the demands made upon them, must send into the class-room the young nun to whom it has been impossible to give a thorough training. These hardships fall with double force upon the newly-organized parishes. The older religious communities, several of which have reached a high degree of efficiency, cannot supply the increasing demand in the schools already under their charge, and hence the new parishes must content themselves with teachers such as the more recently established communities can afford. The presence of lay teachers in the Polish schools is evidence of the inadequacy in the number of the Polish nuns. The necessity of teaching in two languages doubles the work of the teachers, and yet it is this very system which will most intelligently adjust the Poles to their American surroundings. The establishment of Polish schools, especially in the Middle West, nearly always coincides with the organization of the parishes. The first building erected is usually made to serve as school and church for some years until a church can be built, when the first building is used entirely for school purposes.
The first Polish school in the United States is that in Panna Maria, Texas, established by Father Bakanowski, C.R., in 1866. The first teacher was Peter Kiolbassa. The second school was that of St. Stanislaus's Parish, Milwaukee, which dates from 1867. St. Stanislaus's School in Chicago was placed in charge of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1873. The accompanying list of statistics affords striking evidence of the growth in numbers of the Polish schools since that time.
Besides the parochial schools the Poles maintain the following institutions of higher education : SS. Cyril and Methodius's Seminary, Orchard Grove, Michigan, founded by Fathers Leopold Moczygemba and Joseph Dabrowski. The seminary was established in Detroit in 1887, and was transferred to Orchard Grove in 1909. Professors, 17; students, 350. St. Stanislaus's College, Chicago, founded by the Resurrectionist Fathers in 1891, a day and boarding school, professors, 15; students, 210. St. Bonaventure's College, Pulaski, Wisconsin, founded by the Franciscan Fathers in 1889, professors, 7; students, 45. St. John Cantius's College, Brookland, Washington, D.C., founded in 1909, embraces scholasticate for the Missionaries of the Divine Love of Jesus, and is affiliated with the Catholic University of America. St. John Cantius's College, Erie, Pennsylvania ; founded in 1909, maintained by the Society of St. John Cantius, which is composed of Polish priests and laymen. Pennsylvania Polish College of St. John, Philadelphia, founded in 1908 by Rev. John Godrycz, D.D., Ph.D., J.U.D. The Academy of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Chicago, founded in 1887 by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Twenty nuns form the teaching staff; students, 150. The number of Polish students at various other institutions is very considerable, especially in day-schools in our large cities. Nearly one-third of the student body at St. Francis's Seminary, St. Francis, Wisconsin, are Poles. Several of our non-Polish Catholic institutions, notably the University of Notre Dame and St. Francis's Seminary, have introduced the study of the Polish language, literature, and history into their curricula. The teaching of Polish has likewise been introduced in the public schools of several of our large cities in which there is a large Polish population.
One hundred of the Polish clergy are members of religious communities. Of this number 65 are members of Polish communities or provinces. -- (a) Franciscan Fathers (O.F.M.), Commissariate of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pulaski, Wisconsin : fathers, 8; professed clerics, 7; novice clerics, 4; professed brothers,
Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.