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Author: Wincenty Kołodziej
Year of publication: 2007
Source: Show
Pages: 32-53
DOI Address: http://dx.doi.org/10.15804/ksm200703
PDF: ksm/11/ksm200703.pdf

The article titled „A few remarks regarding activity of Polish organizations in the United States” tells about social-political activity of Polish immigration in the US. Polish immigration to US, started at the beginning of the IX century and from the very beginning immigrants started to play a great role in the economic and political life. After the enfranchisement of the peasants in Prussian and Austrian annexations and in the sixties of the XIX century in the Russian annexation, Polish immigration started in search for a better life on the American continent.

First immigrants came to the US in 1834. They were the people fighting in the Polish November Uprising, that were afraid that they would be sent to Siberia and therefore they were looking for a new homeland. The first Society of Poles in United States was established in 1842 in New York from their initiative. The Catholic Church started to play an important role and influence their education and spiritual life. The life of the Poles was mostly focused around the life of the parish. According to statistics from 1870 there were 10 parishes and later there has been a dynamic increase in the number of them. In 1880 there were seventy parishes and in 1890 already one hundred seventy. After 1870 a number of new societies came into existence. The first one was The Society of Brotherhood Help of St. Stanislaw Kostka. It’s role was to integrate the polish people. Local Polish municipalities also tried to do the same. Attempts to integrate the Polish diaspora were also made by Polish municipalities which had been founded since 1886. However, these attempts were unsuccessful. Similar unsuccessful attempt was made in New York in 1870, when an Union of Poles in America was about to be founded. Only in 1873 a nationwide organization was founded in Chicago which was able to survive to the present time – Polish Roman Catholic Union of America (PRCUA).

Influence of the clergy in the Union was the reason for very firm catholic character of its program. The program distanced itself from non-believers and liberals. In addition, there were also accusations that it did not express enough concern about struggle for independence of Poland. The leader of the Union was the patriarch of Polish emigrants – a priest Leopold Moczygeba. The Union did not included to its ranks its antagonists. Foundation of this organization enabled to found another organization, which would integrated the remaining part of Polish emigration. Foundation of the new organization took place on 10 August 1880. A convention of supporters was called together on 21 September 1880 on which an organization called the Polish National Union (PNU) was founded. As a result, two streams of Polish emigration outlined becoming two axis of the Polish diaspora. In a program of the Polish National Union the main issue was a struggle for independence of Poland. The organization accepted as its members people with various political and life views. Lithuanians, Russians and Jewish people were also members of the Union. Existing differences of opinions and also rivalry in winning supporters among emigrants were often reasons for disputes and annoyances. Either the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America or the Polish National Union ran a similar insurance activities, collected funds for charity and educational purposes, and organized itself for stabilization of Polish diaspora in the United States. Characteristic elements of Polish society disintegration led to constant disputes between PRCUA and PNU and became a basis for foundation of new organization, which underwent further divisions. A very interesting organization among the Polish diaspora with broad range was the Union of Polish Women (UPW), founded in Chicago in 1899. This organization was created in the environment close to the PNU. It was founded on a basis of women’s struggle for emancipation. The program of the UPW was support of national traditions, charity work and establishing relations with organizations with similar characters acting in the USA.

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