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

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


Their Story in America: New Ebenezer, Ga., was the site of the first Yugoslav colony in America. Founded in 1734 by Croat and Slovene religious refugees, it grew to a population of 1,500 by 1751. The community dwindled considerably when a great number of its citizens refused to take the oath of loyalty to the British crown during the Revolutionary War and had their land confiscated, but it survived until the Civil War, when the site became a battleground.

After 1850, hundreds of former Dalmatian sailors and adventurers retired from the California goldfields to the Pajaro Valley to pioneer grape and apple growing. This vigorous community, known as "New Dalmatia," was the subject of Jack London's novel The Valley of the Moon.

The later 19th-century immigrants consisted almost entirely of Croatian and Slovenian men, who worked until they could pay for the passage of their families or contract brides from their old villages. Accustomed to low wages and inferior working conditions, they were ready targets for exploitation. Welcomed by management as a source of cheap labor and shunned by the unions that excluded unskilled workers from their contracts, they were often employed as strike-breakers. When antagonism between skilled and unskilled workers eased, Slavs became a unified force in the labor movement. Today the Yugoslavs are among the staunchest supporters of organized labor. An extremely active Slavic press has championed workingmen's causes for several decades.

The first person to strike oil in Texas was a native of Yugoslavia, Capt. Anthony F. Lucas (Lucic), who played a large role in the development of the oil industry. Slavs were quick to pick up American production methods and have been prominent in the invention of industrial devices and the development of new techniques throughout the 20th century. In California, Yugoslavs built the state's fruit industries to international prominence.

Famous Yugoslav Americans: Actor Karl Malden; Nikola Tesla, who discovered the principles of alternating current; Michael Pupin, who discovered secondary X-ray radiations; Louis Adamic, who started out as a factory hand and became a prominent American writer and social philosopher.

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