A great man is one who collects knowledge the way a bee collects honey and uses it to help people overcome the difficulties they endure - hunger, ignorance and disease!
- Nikola Tesla

Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
- Franklin Roosevelt

While their territory has been devastated and their homes despoiled, the spirit of the Serbian people has not been broken.
- Woodrow Wilson

Immigration of the Serbs to America

The history of American immigration by Serbs can be divided into two periods: 'early immigration' from 1820, when the immigration of immigrants was introduced, until 1880, and 'later immigration' after 1880.

Emigration for the Serbs was not a question of the economic penetration of other countries but of moving from an overpopulated countryside to the towns, though the often insurmountable obstacles of foreign language and customs hampered transformation from peasant to urban dweller. Generally, immigrants would settle in groups from the same districts, clan or province, which made it easier for them upon arrival to find their first accommodations and employment. Along the same lines, they would set up mutual-aid and cultural societies, though if they came from different places, they would vie for precedence in provincial exclusivity, exaggerating and preserving their distinctive features. In many ways they were very different: some from free Montenegro and a few from Serbia, others from Croatia, still others from Banat and Bačka, from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia, from the Bay of Kotor and Dalmatia. Their entire life was focused on the limited area between factory or mine and their small community. From this narrow circle of people came ail their comforts and joys of life, but also quarrels and enmity, the only place where personalities and ambitions could take shape, where wounded pride and arrogance found release. Over the years they often came into contact with fewer people than in their old-country villages. If an individual began to climb the social ladder, he could do it only at the expense of his relatives and countrymen, for whom he became a leader and protector, rather like the headman in the village he had left. Immigrants from the Serbia of Prince Miloš Obrenović, even a hundred years after his death, spread across the continent, beneath the cruel fist of big industry and exposed to the single cauldron of Americanization, melting and molding something new.

About this initial period of immigration one can learn most from the stories of the oldest immigrants, from the accounts of different periods and places and from memoirs published in various newspapers. Just before the last war, Jovo Marie from Gary, Indiana began to publish in the American Srbobran a series of articles entitled "Pioneer", actually his autobiography from the day he arrived in the United States. Here one finds the first immigrants walking in apostolic fashion from place to place, taking on whatever work they could find, twenty or so living together bed by bed in shacks and barns where sometimes the companies paid their board. Frequently they did their own cooking, especially if they were living in isolated railway cars. Again and again they changed jobs and places, drawn onward to new factories, where a dozen of them would rent a small wooden house and set up housekeeping, establish their own house rules, a duty roster for cleaning, washing and heating much like an extended family in the Old Country. As soon as they saved up enough money and learned a little English, they would leave these communities, marry the daughters of earlier immigrants, or summon young women from the Old Country, to start their own families.

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George Fisher - Ђорђе Шагић

George (Jorge) Fisher (1795–1873) was a customs officer and early leader of the Texas Revolution.

Fisher was originally named Đorđe Šagić/Ђорђе Шагић, and also known as Đorđe Ribar/Ђорђе Рибар, which translated into English is George Fisher. He was born to Serbian parents in Székesfehérvár, Hungary in April 1795. Following his father's death Đorđe was sent to the Serbian Orthodox Church seminary in Sremski Karlovci, to train as a priest. He left in 1813 to join the Serbian revolutionary forces during the First Serbian Uprising. He traveled to Philadelphia in the United States in 1814 before heading to Mexico. In 1825, Fisher helped found the first York Rite Masonic Lodge in Mexico. He became a naturalized Mexican citizen in 1829 and contracted to settle five hundred families on lands in Texas formerly held by Haden Edward.

Fisher later was in charge of a customs house at the far north end of Galveston Bay, succeeding the very unpopular John Davis Bradburn in this post. Fisher demanded that all ships landing at the mouth of the Brazos River pay their customs duties to him at Anahuac. This was a great hardship to area boat captains due to the great distances between that port and other Texas seaports. Fisher was forced to resign his post in early 1832 after a military confrontation with Texian settlers.

Later that year, Fisher began publishing the liberal newspaper Mercurio del Puerto de Matamoros in Matamoros. On October 13, 1835, Fisher and José Antonio Mexía organized a movement in New Orleans to attack Tampico to instigate a revolt among the eastern states of Mexico.

In 1837, he became a commission agent in Houston and served as justice of the peace in 1839. Fisher was admitted to the bar in 1840 and was elected to the Houston city council. In 1843 he became a major in the Texas militia. He traveled to Panama in 1850 and on toCalifornia in 1851. He served in various civic and administrative posts in San Francisco from 1860 to 1870. Soon after retiring, he was appointed by the King of Greece as Consul for that nation.

Fisher was married four times. He died in San Francisco on June 11, 1873.

References:

  • Parmenter, Mary Fisher, Walter Russel Fisher, Lawrence Edward Mallette The Life of George Fisher. Jacksonville, Florida: The H. & W.B. Drew Company. 1959
  • Slavkovic, A. B. The Immigrant. The Judge Fisher Story. Pittsburgh, PA: White Angel Media. 2006

External links:

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People Directory

Krinka Vidaković-Petrov

Dr. Krinka Vidaković-Petrov - scholar, professor, translator and diplomat. PhD in Comparative Literature. Currently senior fellow (full professor) at the Institute of Literature and Art in Belgrade. Fields of interest: comparative literature and folklore, Balkan and Serbian studies, emigrant culture, Hispanic and Judaic studies, literary translation, Holocaust studies. Author of several books and numerous contributions in academic journals in Serbia and abroad. Served as ambassador of Serbia in Israel (2001-2006).

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Publishing

My Brother's Keeper

by Fr. Radovan Bigovic

Rare are the books of Orthodox Christian authors that deal with the subject of politics in a comprehensive way. It is taken for granted that politics has to do with the secularized (legal) protection of human rights (a reproduction of the philosophy of the Enlightenment), within the political system of so-called "representative democracy", which is limited mostly to social utility or to the conventional rules of human relations. Most Christians look at politics and democracy as unrelated with their experience of the Church herself, which abides both in history and in the Kingdom, the eschaton. Today, the commercialization of politics—its submission to the laws of publicity and the brainwashing of the masses—has literally abolished the "representative" parliamentary system. So, why bother with politics when every citizen of so-called developed societies has a direct everyday experience of the rapid decline and alienation of the fundamental aspects of modernity?

In the Orthodox milieu, Christos Yannaras has highlighted the conception of the social and political event that is borne by the Orthodox ecclesiastical tradition, which entails a personalistic (assumes an infinite value of the human person as opposed to Western utilitarian individualism) and relational approach. Fr Radovan Bigovic follows this approach. In this book, the reader will find a faithful engagement with the liturgical and patristic traditions, with contemporary thinkers, Orthodox and non-Orthodox, all in conversation with political science and philosophy. As an excellent Orthodox theologian and a proponent of dialogue, rooted in the catholic (holistic) being of the Orthodox Church and of his Serbian people, Fr Radovan offers a methodology that encompasses the above-mentioned concerns and quests.