immigration, political ethnicity, national ethnicity


The history of the United States is essentially a history of immigration. From the Spanish arrival in Florida in 1565 to present-day America, immigration has been a continuous factor in the history of the United States, and it has repeatedly challenged notions of what it means to be American. Among the many immigrant groups which came to the United States were the Scandinavians. The Civil War between 1861 and 1865 forced these newly arrived immigrants to make important decisions in regards to ethnicity, politics and nationality. This article explores the Scandinavian Civil War experience through the prism of ethnicity and argues that throughout the Civil War Scandinavian ethnic identity can best be described as a complementary identity emphasizing Old World nationalism and New World loyalty. However, ethnicity for the Scandinavian immigrants also existed on multiple levels, what has been termed exclusive, political and national ethnicity for analytical purposes. Within these levels of ethnicity important shifts took place between 1861 and 1864.