Books [French Canadian Textile Worker]
Why did our people leave Canada and come to the States? Because they had to make sure of a living for their family and themselves for a number of years, and because they greatly needed money. The wages paid by textile mills was the attraction.
Here and wherever else they went, they didn't forget their duty to God: the churches, schools and other institutions they built testify to that. But their duty to the country that was feeding them, that was another thing. They didn't like to become citizens and feared it for more than one reason. They couldn't speak English, and that, let me tell you, was a big handicap. They were afraid of war and might be drafted. Most of them were still tax-payers in the province of Quebec and the different places from which they came, and they felt that they couldn't pay taxes here too. Most of then hadn't come here to stay. What they wanted most was to go back to their Canadian farms with the money earned in the textile mills. So they kept putting off taking out naturalization papers.
But we already had able leaders, among them Ferdinand Gagnon, and they preached Americanization to all those who intended to stay in this country. They pointed it out as a duty to ourselves as well as to the country. They told us that naturalization was something that gave to a foreigner all the rights belonging to the citizen in the country to which the foreigner swears allegiance. Our people began to realize that their ideas against being naturalized were wrong. They saw the privileges as well as the duties, and so, as early as 1871, we had fifty voters in Manchester, fifty men who, supporting good Father Chevalier, were able to obtain from the city authorities,