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The American Armenian Connection: Guarding the Christian Civilizatio


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#1 Yervant1

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Posted 05 July 2019 - 09:24 AM

Liberty Nation
July 4 2019
 
 
The American – Armenian Connection: Guarding the Christian Civilization – Part 1

United in a unique mission, Armenians and Americans both benefited from merging their heritages.

By: LN Readers Speak Out July 04, 2019
 
 

This first in a two-part series considers the rich history of Armenians in America and the close connections of their Christian heritage.

 Probably Armenia was known to the American school child in 1919 only a little less than England … of the staunch Christians who were massacred periodically by the Mohammedan Turk and the Sunday School collections of over fifty years for alleviating their miseries …” President Herbert Hoover

Every country and its people have a unique mission, formed on the basis of its historical development. The American nation was created by deeply religious Christians who saw their destiny as building the country of God on Earth. Christian, traditional, and conservative values are the country’s true foundation.

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Early Armenian family settlers.

The entire Christian world sees in America something more than just a country – it sees hope. I am deeply convinced that, in this sense, America and Armenia have much in common. It is vital to know that Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as the state religion. For centuries, Armenians waged countless wars, defending their right to remain Christian. Not a single neighboring state having numerical superiority could tame and enslave the small but essential Christian outpost.

Armenian heritage in America has a vibrant history. The first Armenians appeared on the territory of the modern United States in 1630. Thus, historian Samuel Morison, in his 1930 book Builders of the Bay Colony, identified Armenians among the first thousand settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Many British industrialists of Armenian origin moved to America and invested in urban construction, farming, and more. While listing the names of prominent British manufacturers in 1908’s Documentary Source Book of American History, 1606-1898, William MacDonald mentioned Jack Sadurian and Stefan Tarrien, who made significant contributions to the development of agriculture in South Carolina. Despite their limited presence, Armenians in the United States served in high positions in society and held substantial financial resources. From 1840 to 1911, due to the support of American Christian missionaries serving in their country, many Armenians from the Ottoman Empire were given the opportunity to immigrate to the United States.

However, Armenians who left for America did so quite reluctantly, preferring to live in their historical homeland. Therefore, most of them moved to the United States only to get an education or bring goods, such as jewelry, carpets, and spices, to sell. Groups of young students and graduates created the first Armenian organizations in New York, Detroit, and Boston, Watertown, and Worcester, MA. These were largely cultural and educational gatherings, where Armenians aimed to preserve their national identity. At numerous clubs established in universities, local Armenians met, spoke to each other in Armenian, and discussed topics related to history, culture, and traditions. According to historians, from 1870 to 1894, 40 Armenians were admitted to Yale, Princeton, Clark, and New York universities as well as to Andover and Amherst colleges. Student Christopher Seropian was among them, and he is credited with suggesting the idea of using the color green on the American dollar.

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First known Armenian settler in America – John Martin

By 1875, three-fifths of the 75 Armenians living on the U.S. Atlantic coast had returned to Armenia after their graduation ceremonies to serve as lawyers, doctors, and other specialists in their homeland. However, the rest remained in America, making contributions in such fields as economics, science, journalism, and more. A graduate of New York University, Khachig Oskanian worked as a journalist for The New York Herald and was elected the president of the New York Union of Journalists. It is noteworthy that in 1868, an article published in TheCincinnati Enquirer stated that Oskanian planned to create an Armenian colony in the United States he intended to call New Ani, after the capital of medieval Armenia. By the way, the city of Ani was called “the city of one thousand and one churches.” According to Oskanian’s plan, that project would strengthen relations between Americans and Armenians because these nations were the defenders of the Christian civilization.

In 1895 and 1896, the first large group of Armenians came to the shores of America, fleeing the massacres in Western Armenia, where Sultan Abdul-Hamid responded with cruelty to demands for reforms. Despite their low salaries, these early immigrants sent money home to their families until they could return. In many respects, that group of people lived with uncertainty about the future of their families in America and the homeland they had left behind. Like other immigrants, Armenians mostly arrived on ships to the port of New York City and were inspected for admission on Ellis Island. Depending on where their families or other contacts were, some remained in that city. Others traveled to Boston and other industrial cities in New England. It became clear the heritage of Armenians and Americans would be forever entwined.

Part 2 of this series looks at how Armenian immigrants and their children quickly absorbed into American life, contributed greatly to American society, and never forgot their homeland when it was in need.

Arthur Ghazinyan, Ph.D., is a regular contributor to Forbes and The American Thinker and is the head of the European Studies Center in Yerevan, Armenia.  

 

 

 

 

 
 

 


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#2 Yervant1

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Posted 06 July 2019 - 07:21 AM

Liberty Nation
July 5 2019
 
 
The American – Armenian Connection: Guarding the Christian Civilization – Part 2

In war and in peace, Armenian Americans supported their new homeland.

By: LN Readers Speak Out July 05, 2019
 

This is the second part of a Guest Author piece. You can read the first part here on Liberty Nation.

In 1895 and 1896, the first large group of Armenians reached American shores. Some stayed in New York City, some ventured farther into the New England states, but the destination for most was Worcester, MA, where the first community was formed. The district of Worcester was the birthplace of the Revs. Jack Knapp and William Goodell, who had been missionaries in the Ottoman Empire for a long time. Through their schools and churches, Armenian students and parishioners learned about America and the opportunities it offered. In his messages to Congress, Goodell encouraged the United States to make a commitment to defend the Armenian population that for centuries had been protecting Christian principles in the Middle East.

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Church of Our Savior in Worcester, Massachusetts – first Armenian Church in U.S.

Henry Lodge, the senator from Massachusetts, was inspired by Goodell’s letters, and he persuaded Congress to allocate more funds to the U.S. missions helping young Armenians come to America to obtain a good education. The Armenian National Aid Committee was created, headed by Elizabeth Wheeler. She was convinced that one of the sacred missions of America was to protect Armenians, no matter the cost. World War I and its aftermath affected the formation of the Armenian identity. The flows of refugees from the Ottoman Empire and Turkey pouring into America between 1914 and 1921 awakened the American Armenians to the deep suffering experienced by their compatriots in the homeland.

The massacres of Armenians in 1915 (later described as genocide), the military campaigns of Turks in the Caucasus, and, finally, the formation and fall of the independent Republic of Armenia – all these events were sources of concern to American Armenians, who lived at a great distance from their troubled homeland. Nevertheless, Armenian institutions in the United States provided spiritual and material support to their compatriots overseas, constantly in touch with the needs of their people.

The arrival of Armenians in the United States during that difficult period was not sudden or large-scale; they arrived continually before and after 1915. However, after 1924, the number of Armenian arrivals declined because of mandates that limited immigration. The 1920 census revealed 37,000 Armenian-speaking people born outside the United States, and in total, 52,000 Armenian-speaking people born in America or elsewhere. At that time, the refugees mostly joined already-existing Armenian communities, such as New York City and Troy, NY; Union City and Hoboken, NJ; and the suburbs of Boston, Watertown, and Worcester, MA. The Armenian population in Detroit, MI, grew from 337 in 1910 to 1,692 in 1930. That population growth was spurred by jobs at Henry Ford’s automobile plant, where employees earned $5 a day.

Both before and after the genocide, Armenians from certain areas of the Ottoman Empire settled in specific regions of the United States. For instance, many people from Kharberd settled in Worcester. Pawtucket, RI, attracted Armenians from Van, while the refugees from Tigranakert most often stayed in Jersey City. Over the years, the Armenian population smoothly overcame the gap between past Armenian rural lives and new metropolitan ones in American cities. However, by 1931, newly arriving Armenians and first-generation immigrants never forgot their abandoned villages in the homeland and used those memories as the foundation for building new lives in a new location. This was enhanced by informal organizations that supported Armenians socially.

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Armenian settlers

The war and post-war periods in the United States strengthened the American identity of Armenians. During World War II, as well as during World War I, young Armenians used every opportunity to show their American patriotism. Many of them climbed to great heights. For example, Hayk Shekerjian became the first American of Armenian origin to graduate from West Point Military Academy. During World War I, he served as military attaché in Greece, then fought in the Middle East. After World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt honored him for wartime bravery and awarded Shekerjian the rank of brigadier general. Another famous hero was Ernest Dervishian, saluted by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. For showing bravery during the fierce battle of Cisterna on May 23, 1944, Dervishian was awarded the Medal of Honor.

In general,  the Armenian community was absorbed almost seamlessly into American culture and quickly integrated into American society. At that time, deep mutual understanding blossomed, created by shared conservative and Christian values. Not surprisingly, influential modern-day representatives of the diaspora — former California Gov. George Deukmejian, former Rep. Charles “Chip” Pashayan (D-CA), and speechwriter and adviser to Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan Kenneth Khachigian – defended the conservative traditions of the United States. Today America, the primary defender of Christian civilization, remains strong in its ties to Armenia. In turn, American Armenians have fostered and enhanced the strong friendship between the two countries that has lasted for decades.

Arthur Ghazinyan, Ph.D., is a regular contributor to Forbes and The American Thinker and is the head of the European Studies Center in Yerevan, Armenia.

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