Stories of intolerance

The history of Italian emigration is studded with tragic episodes of xenophobia, which occurred both in Europe and America especially in the last decade of the nineteenth century. The figures comment for themselves.

In the United States: in 1891, 11 lynchings in New Orleans; in 1893, one lynching in Denver; in 1895, 6 murders in Walsenburg; in 1896, 5 lynchings in Tallulah. In Europe: in 1893, numerous victims in incidents in Aigues Mortes, France; in 1896, 3 murders in Zurich. In addition, a series of incidents-always bloody but with nonlethal outcomes-marked the entire period of the great emigration.

Common elements in all the episodes were: racial and cultural prejudices; fears of economic repercussions from the massive influx of immigrants; and the influence of the general political situation in the countries involved in migration.

How strong was the racially motivated aversion especially toward Italians, considered little more than Negroes, accustomed to the hardest jobs and living very sparingly, is clear from countless disparaging cartoons published in newspapers and magazines in many countries.