Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dr. Henry Moskowitz and Immigrant Patriotism


Each 4th of July in the 1910s, homegrown icon Dr. Henry Moskowitz led a movement to inspire a patriotic spirit in the Lower East Side immigrant population.

Appointed by Mayor William Jay Wagner, Moskowitz's job was to "arouse" immigrants to "participate in the American Festival," according to a 1912 New Outlook magazine. The Mayor was concerned that "the immigrant often gets his first impression of this land of the free from those who seek to exploit his ignorance," and felt that the 4th of July was an "opportunity to bring home the higher mood of American Democracy."

Each year there were special celebrations, "monster parades," music and patriotic speeches targeting the East Side's immigrants and great crowds would gather to listen to readings of the Declaration of Independence.

Romanian-born/LES bred Dr. Moskowitz was the co-founder and director of the Madison Street Settlement House, co-founder of the NAACP, Triangle Factory Fire investigator, NYC Commissioner of Public Markets, and much more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Moskowitz (Wikipedia just scratches the surface actually)