Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Elena Vesselinov & Matthew A. Cazessus
The earliest articulation of the melting pot concept came in 1782, from J. Hector St. John Crevecoeur, a French officer turned New York settler, who envisioned assimilated Europeans as ingredients in a vast melting pot of cultures. The concept of the melting pot later expanded to include people from different races and backgrounds, as it became one of the cornerstones of assimilation theory. While many academics dispute the relevance of the term, the model of the melting pot offers an idealistic vision of U.S. society and identity, combining people from diverse ethnic, religious, political, and economic backgrounds together into a single people. Throughout the 19th century, presidents and poets alike echoed the idea of the United States as a unique site for cultural assimilation, as new waves of immigrants sought to put down roots. However, the visual image of foreign assimilation came to the forefront of public culture through Israel ...