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Anglo Saxon American – who are they?

Herman Melville
Herman Melville

Anglo Saxons American is a term which is used to describe the Anglo Saxons protestants of white origin. This is also a reason why they are also termed as ‘White Anglo Saxons Protestant” abbreviated as “WASP”. This is basically a social group of white protestants who are well connected and also wealthy (having average or more than average financial background).

The term American is used because these people reside at the United States of America, but are originally of the British descent. This group dominated all over America in various aspects like culture, society and the Republican Party’s leadership till the era of the World War II.

In terms of legality, financial establishment, academic institutions and business, the Anglo Saxons American are well placed in America. It is also known that in the past times, this group of Anglo Saxons American was close to reaching monopoly on the elite class of society due to two main factors, nepotism and intermarriage.

It was during the second half of the 20th century when the dominance held by the Anglo Saxons American crippled down. This started happening after the entry of the outsider ethnic and outsider racial groups and their continuous growth in the influence amongst people. Due to this growth of high influence, the Americans started criticizing the Anglo Saxons American.

Etymology of the Anglo Saxons American

The Anglo Saxons became quite popular and established in the world of people speaking English since the 19th century.

However, this was not the case in Britain itself, to give reference the protestants who were principally of the English descent. Later in the 1950s, to have a strong implication of waspishness, the alphabets ‘W’ and ‘P’ were added to the Anglo Saxons before and after respectively. This formed the White Anglo Saxons Protestants or “WASPs”.

In 1957, Andrew Hacker, a political scientist mentioned the term WASP for the first time. This term was in reference to those Americans who has held the national power in political, economical and social aspects. In this case, rather than “White”, the actually term described for ‘W’ as per the meaning stood “Wealthy”.

In 1964, sociologist E. Digby Baltzell and a professor of the University of Pennsylvania, popularized the term WASP. Hypothetically, he was a WASP himself. In 1964, the professor popularized the term through his own published book, “The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America”.

As per the professor in his book, “There is a crisis in American leadership in the middle of the twentieth century that is partly due, I think, to the declining authority of an establishment which is now based on an increasingly caste like White-Anglo Saxon-Protestant (WASP) upper class.”

Through this argument, professor Baltzell emphasized great stress on the cast like characteristics or the closed characteristics of the Anglo Saxons American. For the people belonging to the same class of elites, this term has also been used in places like Canada and Australia.

William Jennings
William Jennings

Anglo Saxons- Facts of the Modern Term

During the later stages of the 19th century, there was the presence of American Protestant missionaries. These missionaries aim was to be eager in transforming the entire world. It was during this time of the world that the concept behind the term ‘Anglo Saxons’ and especially the concept behind the term ‘Anglo Saxons Protestantism’ saw its evolution.

As per the word of the Historian, Richard Kyle, “Protestantism had not yet split into two mutually hostile camps – the liberals and fundamentalists. Of great importance, evangelical Protestantism still dominated the cultural scene.

American values bore the stamp of this Anglo-Saxon Protestant ascendancy. The political, cultural, religious, and intellectual leaders of the nation were largely of a Northern European Protestant stock, and they propagated public morals compatible with their background.”

Though the term ‘WASP’ came up to use since the 1960s, the older term ‘Anglo Saxons’ had already been serving the same purpose. All the writers who were hostile to an alliance which was informal between Britain and United States of America, made same use of the newer term, which is WASP just as that of the older term, which is Anglo Saxons.

The connotations which were negative were most common and most popularly used by the writers from France and the Irish Americans. This was a term which was fairly used at Ireland for the description of the British people or the English people. The term was also sometimes put to use in the discourse of the Scottish nationalist.

In reference to this, Australia mainly put to use two terms.

First being the ‘Anglo Saxons’ and used for the reference of the people from the British descent.

Second being, ‘Anglo Celtic’ for the reference of the people of Scottish, Welsh and Irish descent.

On the other hand, France made use of the term ‘Anglo Saxons’ to refer to the people of the combined impact of affairs relation to Britain and United States of America.

Anglo Saxons Terms Used in the 19th Century

During the 19th century, the termed Anglo Saxons were mainly used to describe those people who were of English descent.

In 1890, as per Josiah Strong, “In 1700 this race numbered less than 6,000,000 souls. In 1800, Anglo-Saxons (I use the term somewhat broadly to include all English-speaking peoples) had increased to about 20,500,000, and now, in 1890, they number more than 120,000,000.”

In 1893, as per Josiah Strong, “Is it not reasonable to believe that this race is destined to dispossess many weaker ones, assimilate others, and mould the remainder until… it has Anglo-Saxonized mankind?”

Traditionally WASP has been associated with the Episcopal (or the Anglican), United Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and the other mainline denominations of the protestant background. This term has been put to use not only to refer to the people of the elite class being protestants but also to the people of the non-elite class being protestants.

As per Joseph Hickey and William Thompson, who were both sociologists, “The term WASP has many meanings. In sociology it reflects that segment of the U.S. population that founded the nation and traced their heritages to North western Europe. The term has become more inclusive. To many people, WASP now includes most ‘white’ people who are not members of any minority group.”

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