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Unformatted text preview: the land their ancestors toiled as slaves for better jobs and certainly better lives up North. Those left behind were, understandably, less than enthusiastic about chopping and picking cotton for brutally low wages. The landowners hit upon a scheme to import industrious and hardworking European immigrants to raise cotton. Through contacts with Italian labor agents in New York and New Orleans, connections were made, promises swapped, lies told, contracts forged, and in 1895 the first boatload of families arrived in the Delta. They were from northern Italy, from the region of Emilia-Romagna, near Verona. For the most part they were poorly educated and spoke little English, though in any language they quickly realized they were on the bad end of a huge scam. They were given miserable living accommodations, in a subtropical climate, and while battling malaria and mosquitoes and snakes and rotten drinking water they were told to raise cotton for wages no one could live on. They were forced to borrow money at scandalous rates from the landowners. Their food and supplies came from the company store, at steep prices. Generated by ABC Amber LIT Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abclit.html Because the Italians worked hard the landowners wanted more of them. They dressed up their operations, made more promises to more Italian labor agents, and the immigrants kept coming. A system of peonage was fine tuned, and the Italians were treated worse than most black farmworkers. Over time some efforts were made to divide profits and transfer ownership of land, but the cotton markets fluctuated so wildly that the arrangements could never be stabilized. After twenty years of abuse, the Italians finally scattered and the experiment became history. Those who remained in the Delta were considered second-class citizens for decades. They were excluded from schools, and because they were Catholic they were not welcome in churches. The country clubs were off limits. They were "dagos&quo...
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This note was uploaded on 07/18/2010 for the course LIT 301 taught by Professor Dra during the Spring '10 term at American College of Computer & Information Sciences.
- Spring '10