R314 Winter 2019 History of Immigration in the United States
Wednesdays, 11:50–1:15, Jan. 23–Feb. 13
Rose Gallery at Reston Community Center, Lake Anne
Instructor: Richard Stillson
When I was growing up in California in the 1950s, a question sometimes asked of any new kid was “What are you?” The question was understood to mean “What country did your family come from?” or “What is your nationality?” The expected answers were Irish, English, French, Mexican, Chinese, or any nationality other than American. Although their families may have first come to the United States many generations ago, somehow the immigrant status of families was still considered important, even among kids. While we are a nation of immigrants, immigration has been a controversial issue since John Adams’s Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, and continues to be one of the most provocative issues in our very contentious politics. What is “American culture” in a country that is constantly changing because of the mix of immigrants, each group maintaining large parts of its original culture? This course will help put these questions and the broader issues in context by looking at the detailed history of immigration in the United States.
Richard Stillson has a PhD in economics from Stanford. After a career at the International Monetary Fund, he retired to indulge his passion for history and earned a PhD in history from Johns Hopkins University. Stillson is the author of Spreading the Word: A History of Information in the California Gold Rush.