American Passage: The History of Ellis Island by Vincent J. Cannato

By Vincent J. Cannato

for many of latest York's early background, Ellis Island have been an vague little island that hardly held itself above excessive tide. this present day the small island stands along Plymouth Rock in our nation's founding mythology because the position the place lots of our ancestors first touched American soil.

American Passage captures a time and a spot remarkable in American immigration and historical past, and articulates the dramatic and bittersweet money owed of the immigrants, officers, interpreters, and social reformers who all performed an incredible position in Ellis Island's chronicle. during this sweeping, usually heart-wrenching epic, Vincent J. Cannato finds that the background of Ellis Island is eventually the tale of what it capability to be an American.

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T h i s ex- plains also w h y m u c h earlier t h e s t a n d a r d i z e d sequence appears i n t w o c o m p l e t e l y d i f f e r e n t S e m i t i c a l p h a b e t i c scripts, i n t h e U g a r i t i c c u n e i f o r m a l p h a b e t attested i n the t h i r t e e n t h c e n t u r y a n d i n t h e " P h o e n i c i a n " a l p h a b e t , e v i d e n c e o f w h i c h has n o w been u n c o v e r e d f r o m as early as t h e t w e l f t h c e n t u r y . across l a n g u a g e b a r r i e r s , 1 4 t h e same m n e m o n i c sequence Even was learned b y r o t e i n t h e same way.

T o scratch, t o incise, is harasu i n A k k a d i a n , charaxai in Greek. 1 9 T h i s then became the t e r m for the m i n t i n g o f G r e e k c o i n s , a l t h o u g h i n t h a t case i t was n o t actually the c o i n b u t rather the m o l d , n o w called charaktet; w h i c h was i n c i s e d d i r e c t l y . T h e t e r m scratcher seems t o p o i n t back t o a practice w h i c h precedes t h e s t r i k i n g o f coins, a practice w h i c h is s h o w n m o s t c l e a r l y i n t h e talents o f Z i n c i r l i .

1 5 When m u c h later w e read i n Josephus t h a t " o f all those w h o dealt w i t h the G r e e k s , t h e P h o e n i c i a n s used w r i t i n g t h e m o s t , f o r p r i v a t e business as w e l l as f o r t h e i r p u b l i c a f f a i r s , " 16 he was r e f e r r i n g t o a s c h o o l t r a d i t i o n g o i n g back a t h o u s a n d years. T h e inference is that t h e " i n v e n t o r " w h o first used these letters f o r t h e n o t a t i o n o f t h e G r e e k l a n g u a g e h a d p a r t i c i p a t e d i n at least one s c h o o l lesson, w h e t h e r o f t h e A r a m a i c o r the P h o e n i c i a n t y p e , w h e t h e r i n S y r i a o r o n C y p r u s , perhaps even s o m e w h e r e else w i t h s o m e e m i g r a n t w h o h a d received an e l e m e n t a r y e d u c a t i o n .

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