The Melting-Pot
  • Publication Date: November 30, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781554812431 / 1554812437
  • 250 pages; 5½" x 8½"
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The Melting-Pot

  • Publication Date: November 30, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781554812431 / 1554812437
  • 250 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Israel Zangwill, an Anglo-Jewish author and son of immigrants, wrote The Melting-Pot to demonstrate how immigrants could become good American citizens, hoping to forestall the kinds of restrictions—particularly against Russian Jews—that had been enacted in his home country. In 1908, when the play first appeared on an American stage, rates of immigration were high and many Americans feared that these particular newcomers would unalterably change the nation’s character. Politicians and others called for restricted immigration and stringent tests for citizenship. The Melting-Pot did not prevent the US government from enacting stringent immigration restrictions in 1924. But it became Zangwill’s most popular and most continuously performed play, and it popularized a metaphor for America—the melting pot—that has been discussed and debated ever since.

This edition presents the play in its historical context, with readings from the time on immigration and intermarriage, as well as the settlement house movement and the Kishinev pogrom, which both figure prominently in the drama. Excerpts from the many and diverse reviews of the play highlight why it was so controversial. The Melting-Pot evokes questions about diversity and national identity that are still a contentious part of the national conversation.


Appendix A: Reviews

  1. From “The Theater: Columbia Theater,” Evening Star (Washington, DC) 6 October 1908: 20. CZA A120/165.
  2. “The Alien’s Opportunity,” Washington Post 7 October 1908: n.p. visible, clipping in CZA A120/165.
  3. From Burns Mantle, “News of the Theaters: The Melting Pot,” Chicago Daily Tribune, 20 October 1908: 10. CZA A120/165.
  4. From Constance Skinner, “’Melting Pot,’ at Grand, Play to Remember.” Chicago Evening American, October 21, 1908: n.p. visible, clipping in CZA A120/165.
  5. From Amy Leslie, “Grave Play at Grand,” Chicago Daily News 21 October 1908: n. p. visible, clipping in CZA A120/165.
  6. From “Grand Opera House,” The Chicago Israelite, 23 October 1908: 8.
  7. From Leon Zolotkoff, “Zangwill’s Great Success,” The Daily Jewish Courier [Chicago], 13 November 1908: n. p. visible, CZA A120/165.
  8. From [Adolph Klauber?], ”New Zangwill Play Cheap and Tawdry,” New York Times, 7 September 1909: 9. CZA A120/165.
  9. From Adolph Klauber, “A Spread-Eagle Play by Israel Zangwill,” New York Times, 12 September 1909: X10. CZA A120/165.
  10. From “Zangwill Play Opens New Comedy Theatre,” New York Herald, 7 September 1909: n. p. visible, CZA A120/165.
  11. From J. J. [? Subsequent initial not visible in clipping], “The Tragedy of Kishineff: Israel Zangwill’s “Melting Pot,” The American Hebrew and Jewish Messenger, 10 September 1909: 1-2. CZA A120/165.
  12. From J. J. [? Subsequent initial not visible in clipping], “The Tragedy of Kishineff: Israel Zangwill’s “Melting Pot,” The American Hebrew and Jewish Messenger, 10 September 1909: 1-2. CZA A120/165.
  13. From [Gilbert Cannan?], “Court Theatre. ‘The Melting-Pot,’” Star (London), 27 January 1914: n. p. visible, CZA A120/164.
  14. From “’The Melting Pot.’ Mr. Zangwill’s Play at the Court Theatre,” The Jewish Chronicle, 30 January 1914: 16-17, 23. CZA A120/164.
  15. From J. T. Grein, “The Week’s Premieres, (1) Court: ‘The Melting Pot,’” Sunday Times [London], 1 February 1914: 6. CZA A120/164.

Appendix B: Intermarriage Debates

  1. From Rupert Hughes, “Should Jews Marry Christians?: Israel Zangwill, the English Author, and Daniel Guggenheim, the Colorado Millionaire, Accept the Herald’s Invitation to Discuss an Important Race Question,” New York Herald, Sunday Magazine 8 November 1908: 1-2.
  2. From “Shall the Jew Intermarry? Views of Prominent New Yorkers on this Subject,” Jewish Tribune, 4 December 1908: n. p. visible, CZA A120/165.
  3. From “Mentor,” “In the Communal Armchair: The ‘Melting Pot’ and the Jew. Some Stray Thoughts,” Jewish Chronicle (London): 9, CZA A120/164.

Appendix C: Kishinev Pogrom

  1. “The Kishineff Outbreak. Russian Publication’s Account of the Assault on Jews in Streets and Synagogues,” New York Times, 11 May 1903: 3.
  2. From “The Anti-Semitic Riots in South Russia,” Times (London), 2 May 1903: 7-8.
  3. Photographs of the aftermath of the Kishinev Pogrom, From the Archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York.
  4. From Chaim Nachman Bialik, “The City of Slaughter,” translated by Helena Frank, in Selected Poems, Ed. by Meyer W. Weisgal, New York: The New Palestine, 1926: 65-75.

Appendix D: Ellis Island

  1. Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus” (1883).
  2. Illustrated postcard, published in England by Raphael Tuck & Sons. No date.
  3. Israel Zangwill, “The Land of Promise,” “They That Walk in Darkness”: Ghetto Tragedies (New York: Macmillan, 1899), 127-155

Appendix E: Settlement House

  1. From Jane Addams, “Chapter VI: Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements,” Twenty Years at Hull-House, New York: Macmillan, 1910, 113-127.
  2. From Jane Addams, “Chapter XI: Immigrants and Their Children,” Twenty Years at Hull-House, 231-258.
    • (a) [From Our Correspondent] “New York Municipal Celebration,” Times [London], 27 May 1903: 7.16
      (b) From “Father Knickerbocker Celebrates Birthday,” New York Times, 27 May 1903: 1.
      (c) H. G. Wells, From The Future in America: A Search After Realities, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906
  3. Documents of various programs at the Educational Alliance, From the Archives of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
  4. From Israel J. Zevin, “Melting Pot Square, ‘Most Efficiently Populated Spot in World,’ Welds Individuals of Many Races and Creeds to Make Real Americans,” New York Herald, 5 March 1916: 10.

Appendix F: Anti-immigrant texts and images

  1. Political cartoons
  2. Edward Alsworth Ross, From Chapter XII, “American Blood and Immigrant Blood,” The Old World in the New: The Significance of Past and Present Immigration to the American People, New York: Century, 1914.
  3. From [William Jennings Bryan], “The Yellow Peril,” The Commoner, 6 December 1901:1.

Appendix G: Alternatives to the Melting-Pot Model

  1. Mary Antin, From The Promised Land (1912). Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1912.
  2. Horace M. Kallen, From “Democracy Versus the Melting-Pot: A Study of American Nationality,” The Nation, 18 February 1915: 190-194; 25 February 1915: 217-220.
  3. W. E. B. Du Bois, From “The Economic Revolution in the South,” The Negro in the South: His Economic Progress in Relation to His Moral and Religious Development, by Booker T. Washington and W. E. Burghardt Du Bois, Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs, 1907.

Meri-Jane Rochelson is Professor Emerita of English at Florida International University. She is the author of A Jew in the Public Arena: The Career of Israel Zangwill (Wayne State University Press, 2008) and editor of Zangwill’s 1892 novel Children of the Ghetto (Wayne State University Press, 1998).