European Americans

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For the wider scope, see Europeans in the Americas.
European Americans
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Regions with significant populations
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Related ethnic groups
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European Americans, also known as White Americans, refers to people in the United States who belong to any of the European races. The United States Census Bureau additionally includes peoples from the Middle East, and North Africa in their classification of White American. "White Americans" in official statistics also often has a Hispanic component.

German Americans (16.5%), Irish Americans (11.9%), English Americans (9.0%), Italian Americans (5.8%), Polish Americans (3.3%), French Americans (3.1%), Scottish Americans (1.9%), Dutch Americans (1.6%), Norwegian Americans (1.5%), Swedish Americans (1.4%), Scotch-Irish Americans (1.2%), Russian Americans (1.0%), Welsh Americans (0.7%), and Portuguese Americans (0.4%) make up more than half of the White population.[2] Whites constitute the majority, with 80% (66% non-Hispanic Whites and nearly all 14% Hispanic)[3] or[4] 75% (65.4% non-Hispanic and 9.6% Hispanic)[5] of the U.S. population.

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics from 1980, 1990, and 2000, one of every three White Americans has only one European nationality in their ancestry; one out of three have two European ethnicities in their family tree; and one out of three Whites has three or more different European nationalities in their ancestry.

A study by U.S. Census Bureau statisticians of the results of the 1980 Census revealed that approximately 62% of White Americans today are either wholly or partly of English, Welsh, Irish and/or Scottish descent.

Demographic information

Non-Hispanic White Americans 1790–2010[6][7]
Year Population % of the U.S Year Population % of the U.S
1790 3,172,006 80.7 1910 81,731,957 88.9
1800 4,306,446 81.1 1920 94,820,915 89.7
1810 5,862,073 81.0 1930 110,286,740 89.8 (highest)
1820 7,866,797 81.6 1940 118,214,870 89.8 (highest)
1830 10,532,060 81.9 1950 134,942,028 89.5
1840 14,189,705 83.2 1960 158,831,732 88.6
1850 19,553,068 84.3 1970 177,748,975 83.2
1860 26,922,537 85.6 1980 188,371,622 79.6
1870 33,589,377 87.1 1990 199,686,070 75.6
1880 43,402,970 86.5 2000 211,460,626 69.1[8]
1890 55,101,258 87.5 2010 223,553,265 63.7[9] (lowest)
1900 66,809,196 87.9

Whites (non-Hispanic and Hispanic) made up 79.8% or 75% of the American population in 2008.[10][11][3][5] This latter number is sometimes recorded as 77.1% when it includes about 2% of the population who are identified as white in combination with one or more other races. The largest ethnic groups (by ancestry) among white Americans were Germans, followed by the Irish and the English.[12] It is likely that many Americans who are descended of English, Irish, or Scottish peoples, or perhaps even more commonly a combination of these and of these and other ethnic groups, simply identify as "American" in the census, and that Americans of English descent are far greater in number than those of German descent. For a better idea on why Americans of English ancestry are likely far undercounted, see English American.

White Americans (again, non-Hispanic and Hispanic Whites) are projected to remain the majority, though with their percentage decreasing to 72% of the total population by 2050. However, the projections are that the non-Hispanic White population will become 50% of the population by that time,[12] in part because Non-Hispanic Whites have the lowest fertility rate of any major racial group in the United States and largely due to mass-immigration.

While over ten million white people can trace part of their ancestry back to the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 (this common statistic overlooks the Jamestown, Virginia foundations of America and roots of even earlier colonist-descended Americans, such as Spanish Americans in St. Augustine, Florida), over 35 million whites have at least one ancestor who passed through the Ellis Island immigration station, which processed arriving immigrants from 1892 until 1954.

Geographic distribution

Non-Hispanic Whites in the United States, by States. (1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010):      More than 90 %      80-90 %      70-80 %      60-70 %      50-60 %      Less than 50 %

According to the Census definition, white Americans are the majority racial group in almost all of the United States. They are not the majority in Hawaii, many American Indian reservations, parts of the South known as the Black Belt, and in many urban areas throughout the country.

Overall the highest concentration of those referred to as "White alone" by the Census Bureau was found in the Midwest, New England, the Rocky Mountain states, Kentucky, and West Virginia. The lowest concentration of whites was found in southern and mid-Atlantic states.[13][14][15]

Although all large geographical areas are dominated by white Americans, much larger differences can be seen between specific parts of large cities.

States with the highest percentages of White Americans, as of 2007:[16]

Actress Reese Witherspoon is allegedly of Scottish ancestry.

States with the highest percentages of non-Hispanic whites, as of 2007:[17]


Three members of the Kennedy political dynasty, John, Robert, and Edward. All eight of their great-grandparents immigrated from Ireland.
Actor Christopher Walken of German and Scottish parents.

White American culture derived its earliest influences from English, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish and Irish settlers and is quantitatively the largest proportion of American culture. From their earliest presence in North America, White Americans have contributed literature, art, agricultural skills, foods, clothing styles, music, and language to American culture.

In the United States, the term "suburban culture" is considered a euphemism for White American culture and is sometimes used as a racially neutral alternative.

Four regional cultures

In his 1989 book "Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America" (ISBN 0-19-506905-6), 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, Cornish, English and Welsh Quakers plus many Germans sympathetic to Quaker ideas, led by William Penn, settled in 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 settlers from the borderlands between England and Scotland, and from northern Ireland, migrated to Appalachia between 1717 and 1775. This 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.

Fischer claims 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 claims that when the different groups came to America and brought certain beliefs and values with them, these ideas became more or less frozen in time, even if they eventually changed in their original place of origin.


The Irish Channel is an ethnic Irish neighborhood in New Orleans

Many later European immigrants, upon their arrival in the United States, felt isolated from the mainstream, English-speaking, Anglo-Saxon population due to linguistic, religious, and cultural differences. They overcame this isolation by quickly creating closely-knit neighborhoods of members of their own ethnic groups. Such neighborhoods often grew into large, self-contained districts with their own churches and shops bearing signs in their own native languages.

The most notable of these ethnic districts were New York's Little Italy, Hamtramck in Michigan known for a large Polish community, the Irish Channel in New Orleans, Little Canada in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and Little Portugals in the New England states. Various religious sects have developed insular communities, including the modern day Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Mormons in the entire state of Utah; Mesa, Arizona; Pocatello, Idaho; Las Vegas, Nevada and other cities.


Jennie Jerome, mother of Sir Winston Churchill was rumoured to have had an Iroquois Indian great-grandfather.

Some whites have varying amounts of Native American ancestry; this admixture is claimed by white celebrities such as Chuck Norris, Cher, Megan Fox, Johnny Depp, and Jessica Biel. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's mother (Jennie Jerome)[18] and singer Elvis Presley had partial Native American ancestry. There are also some white people who are or were descendants of Pocahontas, including First Ladies Edith Wilson and Nancy Reagan, astronomer Percival Lowell, as well as Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, the wife of King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom.[19]

In a recent study, Gonçalves et al. 2007 reported Sub-Saharan and Amerindian mtDna lineages at a frequency of 3.1% (respectively 0.90% and 2.2%) in White Americans of European descent.[20] In another study, about 30% of all White Americans, approximately 66 million people, have a median of 2.3% of Black African admixture.[21]

Mixed-race hispanics may claim that they are "white hispanic" which inflates the percentage of "whites". As an example, the "Non-Hispanic White alone" grew from 194,552,774 in 2000 to 196,817,552 in 2010 whereas the total US population grew from 281,421,906 in 2000 to 308,745,538 in 2010. The white and "white hispanic" population was 75.1% in 2000 and 72.4% in 2010, but the non-hispanic white population was 69.1% in 2000 and 63.7% in 2010.[22]

See also



  1. 2010 United States Census statistics
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, 2008
  3. 3.0 3.1 T4-2008. Hispanic or Latino By Race [15]. 2008 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2010-03-15.
  4. The "Some other race" category, consisting of Hispanic or Latino respondents overwhelmingly, is a non-standard race. In official figures it is eliminated and most people in it reclassified as White, thus augmenting the number of Hispanic Whites and in turn of total Whites. See the reference for the larger figures.
  5. 5.0 5.1 B03002. HISPANIC OR LATINO ORIGIN BY RACE. 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2010-03-16.
  6. Official census statistics of the United States race and Hispanic origin population
  7. Census 2000 Summary File 1 (SF 1) 100-Percent Data Geographic Area: United States
  9. Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010
  10. Detailed Tables - American FactFinder; T3-2008. Race [7]. 2008 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2010-03-16.
  11. U.S. Census Bureau; 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates. Retrieved 2009-11-07
  12. 12.0 12.1 United States Population Projections By Race and Hispanic Origin: 2000 TO 2050 (Excel). United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2008-03-06. Retrieved on 2008-05-05.
  13. US Census Bureau, Whites in the 2000 Census. Retrieved on 2006-10-05.
  14. Brewer, Cynthia; Trudy Suchan (2001). Census 2000, The Geography of US Diversity. Redlands, CA: ESRI Press. 
  15. Distribution of those identifying as White alone, by state, US Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2006-10-05.
  16. United States -- States; and Puerto Rico: Percent of the Total Population Who Are White Alone 2007
  17. United States -- States; and Puerto Rico: Percent of the Total Population Who Are White Alone, Not Hispanic or Latino 2007
  18. Ralph G. Martin Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph Churchill, The Romantic Years, pp.15-16
  19. Ralph G. Martin, The Woman He Loved, pp. 9, 173
  20. sample of 1387 American Caucasian individuals catalogued in the FBI mtDNA population database, Gonçalves et al. 2007, Sex-biased gene flow in African Americans but not in American Caucasians
  21. Afro-European Genetic Admixture in the United States, Frank Sweet
  22. Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010

External links

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