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Transcript of Grace Kellar-Long
Polish Immigrants to the United States
A Chronology of Polish Immigration
The first Polish immigrants came in 1607 and lived in Jamestown. They came mostly because of their glassblowing and woodworking skills.
Poles were very familiar with fighting against oppression from foreign powers. Because of this, several Polish men were recruited by Benjamin Franklin to help the U.S. fight the Revolutionary War. Several were very successful generals, and were hailed as heroes by the American people.
The Partitions of Poland
From 1772 until 1795 Poland was taken over by Prussia, Austria and Russia. The sovereignty and independence of Poland was not regained until 1918.
Officers from a military academy in Warsaw revolted, and began a revolution against the Russian officials in control there. They were unsuccessful, and 400 participants in the revolution were forced to flee to the United States.
This was the most heavy period of Polish immigration, though it is difficult to track because Poland was not a sovereign nation at the time.
Stricter immigration quotas made it difficult for the Polish to come live in the United States. The Great Depression also made the United States a less attractive place to live.
The Displaced Persons Act allowed an additional 205,000 immigrants to enter the United States. Many Polish political refugees took advantage of this act, as well as residents of Poland who wanted to escape Communist rule.