The Legacy - Common Council for American Unity 1940 - My purpose by Louis Adamic




@SPECTRUM-Immigration History Research Center-University of Minnesota (Louis Adamic His Life, Work, and Legacy) Fall 1982


@Louis Adamic's books were standard fare for literate Americans and Yugoslavs for several decades and then abruptly, in the United States at least, read little after his death. This neglect in the United States was partly caused by the McCarthyism of the early 1950s. Adamic was dismissed as a lightweight popularizer, if not a "Red" propagandist. In recent years, however, interest in the man and his work has been quietly growing in both the United States and Yugoslavia.

@Adamic is of interest today for many reasons. Students of history, literature, and public policy on both sides of the Atlantic are finding Adamic an important figure. Much current U.S. historical research into the 1930s and 1940s investigates the influence of ethnicity on politics and culture. More often than not, Adamic is found at the junctures of this influence. He has been rediscovered as a pioneer writer and patron of American ethnic literature; meanwhile, in Yugoslavia his reputation continues to grow as a major force in modern Slovenian letters. His role as mediator between "old-stock" and ethnic cultures in the United States as well as between the United States and Yugoslavia, is intriguing. Adamic's efforts as an ethnic leader and intellectual to influence both American and Yugoslav public policy also are arresting.

@In the United States, Adamic has received attention mostly as an early prophet of the pluralistic America celebrated in the current ethnic revival. The ethnic movement of our time has a short memory. The editors of The Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Group (1981), for example, acknowledged that they were well along with their work before discovering that Adamic had proposed a similar project in My America(1938).

In Yugoslavia, Adamic holds similar contemporary significance. There he is honored as an early friends and read as an outsides witness to the creation of the New Yugoslavia, which is now moving into a post-Tito era. A measure of his reputation in his homeland is the recent publication of a large collection of his correspondence, the republication of The Eagle and the Roots, and the projected reprinting of most of his woks with new scholarly introductions.

SPECTRUM, gLouis Adamic :His Life, Work,and LegacyhImmigration History Research Center-University of Minnesota (vol 4,No1,2 Fall 1982);




yCommon Council for American Unity 1940z
From Many Lands by Louis Adamic--

  1. To help create among the American people the unity and mutual understanding resulting from a common citizenship,a common belief in democracy and the ideals of liberty,the placing of the common good before the interests of any group,and the acceptance,in fact as well as in law,of all citizens,whatever their national or racial origins,as equal partners in American society.
  2. To further an appreciation of what each group has contributed to America,to uphold the freedom to be different,and to encourage the growth of an American culture which will be truly representative of all the elements that make up the American people.
  3. To overcome intolerance and discrimination because of foreign birth or descent,race or nationality.
  4. To help the foreign born and their children solve their special problems of adjustment,know and value their particular cultural heritage, and share fully and constructively in American life.


  1. Assembling as complete information as possible about our different racial and nationality groups,their backgrounds,contributions,problems,and activities and about interracial and intercultural problems in general,including among other things:
    a. Stimuration of these and research in this field by students in social science departments of
    our universities and others.
    b. Co-operation with foreign-language groups and especially with foreign-language historical
    c. Establishment of archives for original manuscripts,letters,scrapbooks,newspapers or other
    records of historical importance.
    d. Field studies.
  2. Dissemination of such information and material through such means as:
    a. Magazine devoted to these subjects and problems.
    b. Stimulation of articles in other publications.
    c. Information service to English-language press.
    d. Center of information for answering individual inquiries.
    e. Publication of suitable pamphlets.
    f. Exhibits of what each group has contributed to American life and culture.
    g. Bookshop for distribution of books and materials on these subjects.
  3. Speaker's Bureau.
  4. Educational work on radio.
  5. Work with school.
    a. Publication of pamphlets,bibliographies and other material suitable for school use.
    b. Working our programs and suggestions for schools and teachers.
  6. Work in motion-picture field.
  7. Close co-operation with appropriate government department and officials.
  8. Legislative work against unfair and discriminatory proposals and for constructive measures,through appearance at Congressional hearings,education of public opinion,public meetings,etc.
  9. Study of interracial intolerance in English and foreign-language press,on platform and radio,and reply thereto by such means as:
    a.Press releases.
    b.Getting people to answer-by way of "instant rejoinder"-attacks and misinformation in local editorials,letters to the editor,etc.
    c.Arranging for radio time to answer attacks on radio.
  10. Development of local discussion groups consisting of persons of various background.
  11. Educational releases to foreign-language press.
  12. Educational work on foreign-language radio hours.
  13. Work with immigrant organizations to promote education,suitable programs for second generation,community contacts,etc.,through such means as personal conferences,attending conventions,newsletters,development of discussion programs for local branches,etc.
  14. Co-operation with social,educationl,patriotic and other agencies,working,or interested in this field.
    a. Technical information on naturalization,immigration,and other questions necessary in
    advising foreign born.
    b. Program and personnel information.
  15. Annual national conference,for common counsel,co-operation and exchange of ideas,of foreign-language editors and organization officials,and all others working in this field or interested in ethnic and interracial problems.
  16. Personal service bureau,to advise and assist the foreign born,particularly those not within reach of competent local agencies,in solving their individual immigration,naturalization and adjustment problems.
  17. Publication of naturalization pamphlet,handbook for newcomers and other literature designed to facilitate citizenship and adjustment.
  18. Encouragement of the folk arts and other potential contributions and the promotion of opportunities for instruction and participation.
  19. Essay and other contests,especially for young people of foreign parentege,designed to stimulate interest in and appreciation of their particular cultural heritage.
  20. A further revision of American history textbooks to give adequate recognition and space to the newer strains in our population.
  21. An ethnic and racial encyclopedia or handbook of the American people.


My to begin exploring our American cultural past...
imaginatively and creatively, with eyes to the future, ...
to sink our roots into our common American subsoil,
rich, sun-warmed and well watered,
from which we still may grow and flower.

L Adamic




Dear Alice Pasha:

@@@@@@@@@@@Twice within the memory of men now living dreams have had a force strong enough to reshape the world. At this moment it is the dream of personal power on the part of "men of destiny" that is dominent, that tumbles the Old World and its culture into ruin and sends men scurrying in fear before it.This dream is a nightmare.

Only yesterday it was another dream, a dream which set in motion the greatest migration in history. The men did not scurry in fear: the were led by hope. The broad Atlantic became a common highway to the Land of Promise, where people were needed and wanted. And they came from many lands, a little lost, a little frightened, but eager-eyed, possessed of high belief, the belief in the possibility of function, of self-realization, of creativeness, of growth, of human worth.

But somewhere in the roar of industrialism, somewhere in the tension of our commercialism, that dream was all but lost, or confused well-nigh beyond recognition. While at first the rich soil of the new continent and the wealth beneath it were magic and yielded us a flashy surface growth and an oversupply of material power, we have never yet flowered all-inclusively as a country and a culture. To a large degree we are a rootless, bewildered, uncertain people. Life on a mere economic plane, we have come to realize, has proved as impermanent, shallow, and sterile as the lands of the Dust Bowl, and we fume and blow fruitlessly in the winds of Depression. We have no deep tap roots in a cultural past to give us continuity, stability.

Now here we are, in this fateful year of 1940, still a groping people, splashed by the backwash of events in the Old World, our thoughts and actions touched by hysteria; the strands of our texture to our life as individuals and as a people. Here and there the stuff in the "Melting Pot" has@melted the pot. We eye@one@another@uneasily. We are on the defensive against ourselves. Here is a danger of our own--perhaps unavoidable--making.

In the lands whence we come or stem civilization crashes into ruin, and, watching from our ringside seats, we are appalled. But to be appalled is no answer to anything. Within our American borders are tens of millions of people who carry within them, whether they know it or not, many of the things we bemoan losing--many of the things that were lost in Europe.

We need not lose them. They were brought here by the waves of our immigration. They are still here. We need to cease eyeing one another uneasily and take a positive approach to meeting on common ground. We need to take stock and come into our rich and varied cultural heritage of democracy and the arts, of courageous and cooperative living.

Awareness is the step in making these firmly our own. We shall need them. Before us is the necessity of a tremendous effort. If we do not exert ourselves now, the old dream that brought us here is apt to be swallowed by the furious nightmare of the Old World.

Is it too late to recapture the magic of that dream? Many people of the second and third and later generations, to whom America is a platitude, have never glimpsed its power. They are the majority of the youth of today. What if we could revive it, lift to bewildered and cynical eyes the vision of new frontiers, rich in culture and spirit, wide and deep as the best in man-an America with a sweep to which a continent's breadth is narrow-a democracy not only of political inheritance but of the heart and the handclasp?

You and I and some of our friends have talked of this for a number of years, especially since 1938, when I first began the task of which this book is one of the early tangible results. We thought then, in '38 and '39, it was not too late. You were always interested in this job of mine, and more helpful with friendliness and encouragement than you are aware. So I want From Many Lands to be your book.

My purpose, as you know, is to begin exploring our American cultural past and to urge the cultivation of its many common fields, not nostalgically, or historically or academically, but imaginatively and creatively, with eyes to the future, until as a people we find and dare to sink our roots into our common American subsoil, rich, sun-warmed and well watered, from which we still may grow and flower. The failure of America to harness the dreams and motives of its past to the processes of its life is one of the greatest wastes of human resources this age has known. For there was power there, power to make miracles commonplace. Into no other country, ever, was so much of the best of human yearning poured.

It is still not too late. On the contrary, this is our moment. Now we can do things. This period is in a way a testing time for us. An opportunity. Now, in crisis and tension, the situation and its problems in which we are interested will be clearer than before. Our national weakness will become obvious and we will want to remove them. Our national weakness will become obvious and we will want to remove them. Our awareness will be intensified, our emotional quality heightened. As a people, we will be eager for orientation--for integration and unity under the sway of an affirmative concept of liberty.

We will realize that democracy even as we have it in the United States is far, far from what it should and could be; that the evil that seems to have engulfed Europe is not so much the creation of those who believe in lies and slavery as of those who believing in truth and liberty do not practice their beliefs, either not at all or with insufficient consistency, intelligence, passion and energy. We-many of us-will want to correct this fault in ourselves and others, and become geared to the real motives and propulsions of our country-the same motives and propulsions, essentially, that were behind the successive waves of our immigration.

Here in America, if anywhere, man can achieve an all-dimensional quality: strong, rich and secure in his appreciations, sane in his values, intelligent in his knowledge, firm in his morality, just and generous in his freedom, cool and deliberate in combat with the enemies of hid ideals and principles, and great in the enduring hunger and the epic reach of his spirit.

These are not the exact words of our talks during the past few years, but they are their substance, which I wanted to put into this book. If we are right, and I believe we are, America is just beginning.



Milford, New Jersey
August 1,1940

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