19 an important indicator of access to the general

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19An important indicator of access to the general society is the application of power through politics. Here again Frank Vlasak led the way. In this endeavor the Squire relied heavily upon his ethnic roots as a base for his, albeit minor, political career. Although at its strongest, the Czech community of Prague numbered about thirty percent of the overall population, Czechs did quite well in elections. In addition to serving on the school board, Vlasakalso won several elections to Prague’s Town Council. The heart of his support lay within the ethnic community and a political organization Vlasak and a few other immigrants created and which Frank Vlasak chaired, The Bohemian Political Association. With a membership of almost fifty, Prague’s Bohemian Political Association promoted the election of good candidates, good candidates translating to good Czech candidates. The organization declared no allegiance to a specific political party; instead, it searched for and backed anyone they believed good for the town.20The Bohemian Political Association came into being soon after the establishment of Prague in 1902 and within four years, three of the eight town officers were Czech, including
9Vlasak who served on the town council until 1917. This over-representation of the ethnic community suggests that Czechs voted as a bloc. However, it also hints that many in the larger community voted for Czech candidates if they believed them more deserving. This lack of discrimination by the overall population was key as Czechs never held anywhere close to a numerical majority at the voting booths. In addition to Vlasak, other Czech office holders included Charles Vobornick, who served as town treasurer, and Anton Pastusek, another long-serving town council member.21Once again Vlasak shows how comfortable he was in both worlds. The leader of the Czechs remained an important force in the ethnic community but increasingly was a leader amongst the general population of Prague – quite a feat for one born in a tiny village in far-away Bohemia.One area where Vlasak did not exert influence was in religion. Although his mother was Catholic, the Squire, like many Czech immigrants. left the church and accepted the tenets of Czech Freethought.22Borrowed from German liberal theologians who questioned the accuracy of the Bible and the deity of Christ, Czech Freethought was somewhat different in that it also included ardent nationalism and anti-German feelings. Czech freethinkers wanted a Czech homeland free of any German political hegemony and viewed the Catholic Church as simply a weapon of the Hapsburg Empire. Thus, many Czechs exhibited a degree of anti-clericalism not found in most ethnic subpopulations. Indeed, of all the “New Immigrants” of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Czechs proved the least religious.23Prague’s immigrant Czechs created their Bohemian Hall, much like other Czech fraternal halls throughout America, specifically as a counterweight to the Catholic Church.

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