Said Donald Trump on his visit to the Outer Hebrides in 2008, quoted in the first chapter of "Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money, and Power," which comes out tomorrow. The first chapter is available at Amazon, where I am reading it. Be aware that the book was written by a team of writers put together by The Washington Post.
[Trump's mother Mary Anne MacLeod] grew up in this remote place speaking the local Gaelic dialect. Tong had been home to Mary’s parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, as well as countless cousins. The land around the home was known as a croft, a small farm typically worked by the mother, enabling the father to spend much of his time fishing. It was a spare existence, with many properties “indescribably filthy, with doors so low it is necessary to crawl in and out,” according to a local history. Families struggled to cobble together incomes through a combination of farming in the acidic soil and raising animals, fishing in the nearby bay and rivers, and collecting peat to be sold or used as fuel and seaweed to be used as fertilizer on the difficult land. It was all too common for men to sink with their sailing ships, a fate that in 1868 befell Mary’s thirty-four-year-old grandfather, Donald Smith, who had the same first name Mary gave decades later to her son, Donald Trump.The next subject in the book is the Ku Klux Klan and its anti-immigrtation activities in the years immediately preceding Mary's voyage to New York. Excerpt:
Mary was born in 1912 during the height of a boom in herring, the fatty fish that had become a delicacy throughout Europe. Many young residents worked the trade, gutting the fish or traveling with the fleets. Mary was a child during World War I, when the island’s fishing industry collapsed. Ten percent of the male population died. A wave of emigration took place as families searched for economic opportunity elsewhere. One Tong man was said to have done so well that when he returned for a visit, he arrived in a big American car with white tires and gave local children a ride.
Then, in 1918, one of the greatest businessmen of the era, Lord Leverhulme, known for his family’s Lever soap empire, paid 143,000 pounds to purchase the Isle of Lewis, on which Tong was located. He moved into the sprawling Lews Castle and announced a series of grand schemes, including the marketing of local fish at hundreds of retail shops across the United Kingdom. Most of all, he urged residents to trust him.
Amid this brief period of hope came another tragedy. On New Year’s Day 1919, a yacht carrying British soldiers went off course, hit rocks, and killed 174 men from Lewis, again diminishing the island’s male population. Soon, it became apparent that Leverhulme’s grand promises would not pan out, and the islanders rebelled. A group of Tong men invaded a farm owned by Leverhulme and staked claim to the land. By 1921, Leverhulme had halted development on Lewis and focused just on neighboring Harris, best known for the wool fabric called Harris Tweed. His business dealings elsewhere were struggling, especially in a global recession, and in 1923, Leverhulme’s dream of a Lewis utopia went bust. Leverhulme died two years later, and as Mary entered her teenaged years, hundreds of people fled the island.
The MacLeods took pride in the island’s sturdy stock; their family crest featured a bull’s head and the motto hold fast. But that became nearly impossible with the onset of the Great Depression in the fall of 1929; opportunities for a young woman to be anything other than a farmer or child-bearing collector of seaweed were scarce. So on February 17, 1930, after Black Tuesday and all the other blackness brought on by the Depression, Mary Anne MacLeod boarded the SS Transylvania, a three-funneled ship built four years earlier. The vessel spread 552 feet from stem to stern, 70 feet across the beam, and carried 1,432 passengers. Mary, an attractive young woman with fair skin and blue eyes, appears to have been on her own, filing on board between the McIntoshes and McGraths and McBrides. She called herself a “domestic,” a catchall for “maid” or whatever other labor she might find once she reached New York. She told immigration officials at Ellis Island that she planned to stay in Queens with her older sister, Catherine, who had married and just given birth to a baby boy. Mary declared that she planned to be a permanent resident, hoping to gain citizenship in her adopted land....
The Democrats’ 1928 nominee, Al Smith, was pilloried by the KKK because he was Catholic, and he lost to Republican Herbert Hoover. By 1929, Congress passed legislation cutting the immigration quotas for many countries, including European nations such as Germany. Soon, hundreds of thousands of Mexicans would be expelled. Those from China, Japan, Africa, and Arabia were given little chance of gaining US citizenship. At the same time, Congress nearly doubled the quota for immigrants from much of the British Isles. Mary, coming from the preferred stock of British whites, would be welcomed at a time when the United States was closing its doors to many others.