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A Voice For Freedom

Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's voice for freedom. There have been many voices that called for freedom throughout the history of America. Many races, faiths, and nationalities have contributed to America being called, "the melting pot." I was curious how America progressed through the years to arrive at one of the most free nations in the world and created this timeline which is compiled of information gathered from numerous sites.

1. Commissioned trips for profit

1492-1502 - Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus arrives in “the new world” and led 3 more Spanish expeditions that transferred wealth and resources to Spain.

1609 - Dutch explorer Henry Hudson, commissioned by the East India Company, was looking for a Northwest Passage to Asia, went off course and followed coastline south to North Carolina before reversing course again and heading up what’s now called the Hudson River. Dutch claimed parts of present-day New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and Delaware for the colony of New Netherland.

2. Seeking Faith and Freedom

New England

1620- Pilgrims establish Plymouth when they left England for religious reasons arriving aboard the Mayflower.

1624- The first major group of settlers 30 French-speaking Protestant families from present-day Belgium came over, fleeing oppression.

1626 – The French founded New Amsterdam on the southern tip of nearby Manhattan Island.

1643, a Jesuit missionary reported that New Amsterdam’s few hundred residents spoke 18 different languages between them.

1630-1640- Puritans settled in Massachusetts Bay 25,000 refugees fleeing King Charles of England.

3. Native Americans

1675 - The government of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts executed three members of the Wampanoag people.

1830-1850 – Approximately 60,000 Native Americans of the Five Civilized Tribes were forced onto reservations. The Trail of Tears is over 5,043 miles long and covers nine states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

1969-1974- President Richard Nixon passes laws to return sacred lands to Native Americans and to establish sovereign nations the right to self-govern.

4. Blacks brought to America

1492- Young free Black man Juan Portugués (“John The Portuguese”) arrived in La Española with Christopher Columbus in his first trip to the Americas.

1619- A Portuguese slave ship arrives at Point Comfort John Rolfe records arrival of “some 20 and odd negroes.”

1865 – 13th Amendment to US Constitution Abolition of Slavery

5. Jewish Immigration to America- (3 waves)

1654 - The first group of Jewish immigrants were Sephardic (ancestry from Spain and Portugal) and settled in New Amsterdam.

1840’s –WWI 250,000 German-speaking Jews came to America.

1879- Anti-Semitism “Hate for Jews” first coined in Europe.

1880 European Jews from Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Romania immigrate.

6. Asians Immigrate to America

1815- Old China Trade company brought a handful of Chinese merchants.

1840 1848 – “Coolies” from China, India, and Philippines came from the Caribbean, Peru, Ecuador, and other countries in South America.

1880 - Between 1880 and 1924, over 2 million Jewish refugees to America from Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Romania.

Obviously, this is not an all inclusive historical accounting of American immigration. I'm not a historian, but I do love learning about history. I also believe that we are a lot closer to accomplishing MLK's dream for freedom when he said,

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.


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