Cincinnati’s first Columbus Day helped fight anti-italian prejudice

Oct 15, 2021 829

BY: Greg Hand

The reputation of Christopher Columbus is pretty much in the dumps these days, and the annual holiday celebrating his voyage of discovery generates spirited debate. It’s almost forgotten now just how important Columbus Day was to the grudging acceptance of Italian Americans. In the late 1800s, Italians were only reluctantly tolerated in the U.S. A few quotes from Cincinnati newspapers gives the general tenor of anti-Italian sentiment in this country:

“Nearly every week from three to five hundred destitute Italian immigrants are landed in New York. They bring no money and very little baggage. Their clothing is thin and ragged, and they suffer pitiably from the cold, to which they are strangers.” Commercial Tribune [December 11, 1872]

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