The reason the United States was founded was because of European immigrants leaving their home country and coming to America. The first person to 'discover' America was an explorer trying to find new lands for Europeans to live. Since then millions upon millions of immigrants have settled into American cities, bringing with them, a bit of their cultures. One group of immigrants that settled in America was the Italians, bringing their food, dress, and dialect with them.
In Italy, many Italians were locked into a rigid class system that existed in much of Europe. Most of the Italians who came to America from Southern Italy came seeking the opportunity to own their own land or to establish economic independence with a good industrial job. Southern Italy was primarily agricultural and the peasant classes did not own the land they worked. Another attraction of immigration was the opportunity for public education.
While a few years of schooling were available in the North, most southern Italians had little opportunity for formal education (Forman, 12).
During the years of the early waves of immigration to America, various Italian laws forbade emigration. Then, late in the 1800's, these laws were liberalized and suddenly there was an explosion of Italian immigrants coming to America. In 1800, 12000 Italians had come; in 1907, 286000 came. Between 1800 and 1913, more than 4.1 million Italians entered the United States. According to the U.S. Census, there are now twelve to sixteen million Italian Americans.
Up until the 1860's there had been no "Italian nation", but a collection of small territories ruled by princes, sharing a language and a culture. The Italians at first tended to think of themselves as coming from a village or region, like Tuscany, Calabria, or Sicily. There was a tendency for people from one...