(also known as "European American", "Caucasian American", or "White
American") is a citizen or resident of the United States who has origins in any
of the original peoples of Europe. This includes people via African, North
American, Caribbean, Central American or South American and Oceanian nations
which have a large European diaspora.
The Spanish were the first Europeans to establish a continuous presence in what is now the United States. Martín de Argüelles born 1566, San Agustín, La Florida, was the first person of European descent born in what is now the United States. Twenty-one years later, Virginia Dare born 1587 Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina, was the first child born in the Thirteen Colonies to English parents.
In 2008, German Americans (16.5%), Irish Americans (11.9%), and English Americans (9.0%) were the three largest self-reported ancestry groups in the United States.
Overall, as the largest group, Euro-Americans have the lowest poverty rate and the second highest educational attainment levels, median household income, and median personal income of any racial demographic in the nation.
In 1977, it was
proposed that the term "Euro-American" replace "white" as a racial label in
the U.S. Census; although this was not done. The term "Euro-American" is not
in popular use in the U.S. among the general public or in the mass media, and
the terms "white" or "white American" are commonly used instead.
The term "Euro-American" is more narrow than "White American" in terms of their official usage. The term is different from "Caucasian American", "White American", and "Anglo American", though "Euro-American" is sometimes used as a synonym for "White American". According to the Texas Association of Museums, "Euro-American", "White American", "Caucasian American", and "Anglo" are terms that vary in their preference depending on the individual and their descent. "Anglo American" is a term commonly used in the southwestern United States in place of "white" or "Euro-American". The term also has a more specific reference than either "White American" or "Caucasian American" since both of these terms include a larger group of people than what is acknowledged in Europe. Also, whereas the terms "White American" and "Caucasian American" carry somewhat ambiguous definitions, depending on the speaker, Euro-American has a more specific definition and scope. According to sociological studies, the term "Euro-American" has increased a little in use, especially among scholars, but "White American", "Caucasian American", and "Anglo" continue to be generally preferred, depending on the descent of the given individual(s) or group to which the term refers.
The term was coined by some to emphasize the European cultural and geographical ancestral origins of Americans in the same way that is done for African Americans and Asian Americans. A Euro-American awareness is still notable because 90% of the respondents classified as white on the U.S. Census knew their specific nation of European ancestry. As a linguistic concern, the term is often meant to discourage a dichotomous view of the racial landscape between the normative white categories. The recognition of specific European ancestry allows Euro-Americans to become aware that they come from a variety of different cultures.
largely descended from colonial American stock supplemented by two sizable waves
of immigration from Europe. Approximately 53 percent of Euro-Americans today
are of colonial ancestry, and 47 percent are descended from European, Canadian,
or Mexican (or any Latin American) immigrants who have come to the U.S. since
1790. Today, each of the three different branches of immigrants are most common
in different parts of the country. Colonial stock, which is comprised mostly of
people of English, Irish, Welsh, or Scottish descent, may be found throughout
the country but is especially dominant in the South. Some people of colonial
stock, especially in the Mid-Atlantic states, are also descendants of German and
Dutch immigrants. The vast majority of these are Protestants or Roman Catholics.
French descent, which can also be found throughout the country, is most
concentrated in Louisiana, while Spanish descent is dominant in the Southwest.
These are primarily Roman Catholic and were assimilated with the Louisiana
Purchase and the aftermath of the Mexican-American War, respectively. Although
a separate terminology of "Spanish American" is commonly applied to Spanish speaking
Americans, Americans that descend from Spain are more properly categorized as
The first large wave of European migration after the Revolutionary War came from Northern and Western Europe between about 1820 and 1890. Most of these immigrants were from Ireland, Germany, and Britain, and with large numbers of Irish and German Catholics immigrating, Roman Catholicism became an important minority religion. Their descendants are dominant in the Midwest and West, although German descent is extremely common in Pennsylvania, and Irish descent is also common in urban centers in the Northeast. The second wave of Euro-Americans arrived from the mid-1890s to the 1920s, mainly from Southern and Eastern Europe. This wave included Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, Poles and other Slavs, Hungarians. With large numbers of immigrants from South and Central America, White Hispanics have increased to 8% of the US population; Texas and Florida are important centers for them.
Euro-American cultural lineage can be traced
back to western Europe and is institutionalized in the form of its government,
traditions, and civic education. The Solutrean hypothesis suggested that
Europeans may have been among the first in the Americas. More recent research
has argued this not to be the case and that the founding Native American
population came from Siberia through Beringia. An article in the American
Journal of Human Genetics states "Here we show, by using 86 complete
mitochondrial genomes, that all Native American haplo-groups, including
haplo-group X, were part of a single founding population, thereby refuting
multiple-migration models." Since most later Euro-Americans have assimilated
into American culture, most Euro-Americans now generally express their
individual ethnic ties sporadically and symbolically and do not consider their
specific ethnic origins to be essential to their identity; however, Euro-American
ethnic expression has been revived since the 1960s. Southern Europeans,
specifically Italians and Greeks, have maintained high levels of ethnic
identity. In the 1960s, Mexican Americans and African Americans started
exploring their cultural traditions as the ideal of cultural pluralism took
hold. Euro-Americans followed suit by exploring their individual cultural
origins and having less shame of expressing their unique cultural heritage.
In his 1989 book "Albion's Seed", David Hackett Fischer explores the details of the folkways of four different groups of settlers from the British Isles that came to the American colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries from distinct regions of Britain and Ireland. His thesis is that the culture of each group persisted (albeit in modified form), providing the basis for the modern United States.
According to Fischer, the foundation of America's four regional cultures was formed from four mass migrations from four different regions of the British Isles by four distinct ethno-cultural groups. New England's formative period occurred between 1629 and 1640 when Puritans, mostly from East Anglia in England, settled there, thus forming the basis for the New England regional culture. The next mass migration was of southern English cavaliers and their Irish and Scottish servants to the Chesapeake Bay region between 1640 and 1675. This spawned the creation of the American Southern culture. Then, between 1675 and 1725, thousands of Irish, English and German Quakers, led by William Penn, settled the Delaware Valley. This resulted in the formation of the General American culture, although, according to Fischer, this is really a "regional culture," even if it does today encompass most of the U.S. from the mid-Atlantic states to the Pacific Coast. Finally, a huge number of Irish, Scottish and English settlers from the borderlands of Britain and Ireland migrated to Appalachia between 1717 and 1775. This left a distinctive Keltic cultural imprint on this region, and resulted in the formation of the Upland South regional culture, which has since expanded to the west to West Texas and parts of the U.S. Southwest.
In his book, Fischer brings up several interesting points. He states that the U.S. is not a country with one "general" culture and several "regional" culture, as is commonly thought. Rather, there are only four regional cultures as described above, and understanding this helps one to more clearly understand American history as well as contemporary American life. Fischer also asserts that it is not only important to understand where different groups came from, but when. All population groups have, at different times, their own unique set of beliefs, fears, hopes and prejudices. When different groups came to America and brought certain beliefs and values with them, these ideas became, according to Fischer, more or less frozen in time, even if they eventually changed in their original place of origin.
Most Euro-Americans take great pride in their particular country of origin, hence infrequently refer to themselves as a Euro-American but instead reference their particular nation of origin. While being appreciative of their culture and origins, they are respectful of other cultures and others origins, and appreciate the differences as well as the similarities. It’s the acknowledgement of the differences and the appreciation and respect for all people that propels their pride
United States Census, 2000
The chart numbers
give numbers of Euro-Americans as measured by the U.S. Census in 1980, 1990,
and 2000. The numbers are measured according to declarations in census
responses. This leads to uncertainty over the real meaning of the figures: For
instance, as can be seen, according to these figures, the Euro-American
population dropped 40 million in ten years, but in fact this is a reflection of
changing census responses. In particular, it reflects the increased popularity
of the 'American' option following its inclusion as an example in the 2000
It is important to note that breakdowns of the Euro-American population into sub-components is a difficult and rather arbitrary exercise. Farley (1991) argues that "because of ethnic intermarriage, the numerous generations that separate respondents from their forbears and the apparent unimportance to many whites of European origin, responses appear quite inconsistent". In particular, a large majority of Euro-Americans have ancestry from a number of different countries and the response to a single 'ancestry' gives little indication of the backgrounds of Americans today.
European Ancestries in the United States
|Euro-American Ancestries in the 2000 U.S. Census|
|Ancestry||1980||% of U.S.
|1990||% of U.S.
|2000||% of U.S.
1990 to 2000
|American||no data||no data||12,395,999||5.0%||20,188,305||7.2%||+62.9%|
Inventors, Scientists, and Pioneers: