People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. Polish Americans Part 2

About the Polish Americans in the U.S. including where they are from, why they left, how many there are, famous Polish-Americans and more.

POLISH AMERICANS

Their Story in America: On Sept. 25, 1608, the ship Good Speed arrived at Jamestown, Va., with six Poles on board. In a few weeks they had built the first glass furnace in America, distilled tar and pitch, set up a soap works, and erected a sawmill. Among the early Polish immigrants were Jan Sadowski, the first white man to cross the Alleghenies in 1735, and his sons, who accompanied Daniel Boone to Kentucky and helped establish the first settlement in that state. At least 1,000 Poles served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Two of them, Thaddeus Kosciusko and Casimir Pulaski, became national heroes.

The U.S. repaid its Polish heroes by opening the gates to exiled Polish patriots after the unsuccessful revolts in their country in 1830, 1848, and 1863. Most refugees were cultured professional men, who soon found employment in skilled professions in the U.S.

From 1870 on, the Poles who entered the States by the hundreds of thousands were poor peasants. Although they had been farmers for many years, most settled in large cities, where even the worst-paid laborer earned more cash in one month than a Polish citizen made in a year. They provided the bulk of labor in Chicago's slaughterhouses, Pittsburgh's steel mills, and Wilkes-Barre's coal mines. Devoutly religious, they attended existing Roman Catholic churches or formed their own. Clannish to an extreme degree, they also established their own neighborhoods and stores and initiated fraternal organizations. Though they are now active in every phase of American society, most Polish-American households are still engaged in bluecollar work.

Introduced by the Poles, the polka is as popular in the Midwest as country music and square dancing are in other parts of the country.

Famous Polish Americans: Conductors Leopold Stokowski and Arthur Rodzinski; boxing great Stan "the Michigan Assassin" Ketchel; baseball's Stan Musical; track star Stella Walsh; jazz drummer Gene Krupa; movie actress Loretta Young; stage actress Helena Modjeska; silent screen star Pola Negri; Casimir Funk the "father of vitamins"; Leon Czolgosz, who assassinated Pres. William McKinley in 1901; and Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to Pres. Jimmy Carter.

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