English Americans

Last updated
English Americans
Total population
23,074,947Decrease2.svg (2017) [1] [2]
American Community Survey
7.1% of the total U.S. population [3]
Regions with significant populations
Throughout the entire United States
New England, the Delaware Valley, the Mormon Corridor and the South
Plurality in New York, the Pacific Northwest, Utah, Maine, Vermont, Idaho and New Hampshire
California 4,946,554 [4]
Texas 3,083,323 [4]
Ohio 2,371,236 [4]
New York 2,320,503 [4]
Florida 2,232,514 [4]
Michigan 2,036,021 [4]
Illinois 1,808,333 [4]
North Carolina 1,778,008 [4]
Georgia 1,584,303 [4]
Tennessee 1,435,147 [4]
Pennsylvania 1,058,737 [5]
English (American and British English dialects)

English Americans (also referred to as Anglo-Americans) are Americans whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in England. In the 2017 American Community Survey, English Americans are (7.1%) of the total population. [1] [2]

Americans citizens, or natives, of the United States of America

Americans are nationals and citizens of the United States of America. Although nationals and citizens make up the majority of Americans, some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents may also claim American nationality. The United States is home to people of many different ethnic origins. As a result, American culture and law does not equate nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and permanent allegiance.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

American Community Survey demographic survey in the United States

The American Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoing survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. It regularly gathers information previously contained only in the long form of the decennial census, such as ancestry, educational attainment, income, language proficiency, migration, disability, employment, and housing characteristics. These data are used by many public-sector, private-sector, and not-for-profit stakeholders to allocate funding, track shifting demographics, plan for emergencies, and learn about local communities. Sent to approximately 295,000 addresses monthly, it is the largest household survey that the Census Bureau administers.


The term is distinct from British Americans, which includes not only English Americans but also Scottish Americans, Scotch-Irish Americans (Northern Ireland), Welsh Americans, Cornish Americans and Manx Americans from the whole of the United Kingdom.

British American usually refers to Americans whose ancestral origin originates wholly or partly in the United Kingdom. In the 2017 American Community Survey 1,891,234 individuals or 0.6% of the responses self-identified as British. It is primarily a demographic or historical research category for people who have at least partial descent from peoples of Great Britain and the modern United Kingdom, i.e. English, Scottish, Welsh, Scotch-Irish, Manx and Cornish Americans. There has been a significant drop overall, especially from the 1980 census where 49.59 million people reported English ancestry.

Scottish Americans or Scots Americans are Americans whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in Scotland. Scottish Americans are closely related to Scotch-Irish Americans, descendants of Ulster Scots, and communities emphasize and celebrate a common heritage. The majority of Scotch-Irish Americans originally came from Lowland Scotland and Northern England before migrating to the province of Ulster in Ireland and thence, beginning about five generations later, to North America in large numbers during the eighteenth century.

Scotch-IrishAmericans are American descendants of Ulster Protestants, who migrated during the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 2017 American Community Survey, 5.39 million reported Scottish ancestry, an additional 3 million identified more specifically with Scotch-Irish ancestry, and many people who claim "American ancestry" may actually be of Scotch-Irish ancestry. The term Scotch-Irish is used primarily in the United States, with people in Great Britain or Ireland who are of a similar ancestry identifying as Ulster Scots people. Most of these emigres from Ireland had been recent settlers, or the descendants of settlers, from the Kingdom of England or the Kingdom of Scotland who had gone to the Kingdom of Ireland to seek economic opportunities and freedom from the control of the episcopal Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church. These included 200,000 Scottish Presbyterians who settled in Ireland between 1608 and 1697. Many English-born settlers of this period were also Presbyterians, although the denomination is today most strongly identified with Scotland. When King Charles I attempted to force these Presbyterians into the Church of England in the 1630s, many chose to re-emigrate to North America where religious liberty was greater. Later attempts to force the Church of England's control over dissident Protestants in Ireland were to lead to further waves of emigration to the trans-Atlantic colonies.

However, demographers regard this as a serious undercount, as the index of inconsistency is high and many if not most Americans from English stock have a tendency to identify simply as "Americans" [6] [7] [8] [9] or if of mixed European ancestry, identify with a more recent and differentiated ethnic group. [10] In the 1980 Census, over 49 million (49,598,035) Americans claimed English ancestry, at the time around 26.34% of the total population and largest reported group which, even today, would make them the largest ethnic group in the United States. [11] Scotch-Irish Americans are for the most part descendants of Lowland Scots and Northern English (specifically - County Durham, Cumberland, Northumberland and Yorkshire) settlers who colonized Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century.

Demography The science that deals with populations and their structures statistically and theoretically

Demography is the statistical study of populations, especially human beings. As a very general science, it can analyze any kind of dynamic living population, i.e., one that changes over time or space. Demography encompasses the study of the size, structure, and distribution of these populations, and spatial or temporal changes in them in response to birth, migration, aging, and death. Based on the demographic research of the earth, earth's population up to the year 2050 and 2100 can be estimated by demographers. Demographics are quantifiable characteristics of a given population.

American ancestry refers to people in the United States who self-identify their ancestoral origin or descent as "American", rather than the more common officially recognized racial and ethnic groups that make up the bulk of the American people. The majority of these respondents are White Americans, who however no longer self-identify with their original ethnic ancestral origins or simply use this response as a political statement. This response is attributed to a multitude of or generational distance from ancestral lineages. Although U.S. Census data indicates "American ancestry" is commonly self-reported in the Deep South and Upland South, the vast majority of Americans and expatriates do not equate their nationality with ancestry, race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and allegiance.

Northern England Place in England

Northern England, also known as the North of England or simply the North, is the northern part of England, considered as a single cultural area. It extends from the Scottish border in the north to near the River Trent in the south, although precise definitions of its southern extent vary. Northern England approximately comprises three statistical regions: the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. These have a combined population of around 14.9 million as of the 2011 Census and an area of 37,331 km2. Northern England contains much of England's national parkland but also has large areas of urbanisation, including the conurbations of Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Teesside, Tyneside, Wearside, and South and West Yorkshire.

In 1982, an opinion poll showed respondents a card listing a number of ethnic groups and asked, "Thinking both of what they have contributed to this country and have gotten from this country, for each one tell me whether you think, on balance, they've been a good or a bad thing for this country." The English were the top ethnic group, with 66% saying they were a good thing for the United States, followed by the Irish at 62%. Ben J. Wattenberg argues that this poll demonstrates a general American bias against Hispanics and other recent immigrant populations. [12]

Opinion poll type of survey

An opinion poll, often simply referred to as a poll or a survey, is a human research survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence intervals.

Ethnic group Socially defined category of people who identify with each other

An ethnic group or an ethnicity, is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, society, culture or nation. Ethnicity is usually an inherited status based on the society in which one lives. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language or dialect, symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, art or physical appearance.

Irish Americans are an ethnic group comprising Americans who have full or partial ancestry from Ireland, especially those who identify with that ancestry, along with their cultural characteristics. About 33 million Americans — 10.5% of the total population — reported Irish ancestry in the 2013 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. This compares with a population of 6.7 million on the island of Ireland. Three million people separately identified as Scotch-Irish, whose ancestors were Ulster Scots and Anglo-Irish Protestant Dissenters who emigrated from Ireland to the United States. However, whether the Scotch-Irish should be considered Irish is disputed.

The majority—57%--of the Founding Fathers of the United States were of English extraction. English immigrants in the 19th century, as with other groups, sought economic prosperity. They began migrating in large numbers, without state support, in the 1840s and continued into the 1890s. [13]

Founding Fathers of the United States Group of Americans who led the revolution against Great Britain

The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simply the Founding Fathers, were a group of philosophers, politicians, and writers who led the American Revolution against the Kingdom of Great Britain. Most were descendants of colonists settled in the Thirteen Colonies in North America.

Sense of identity

England United States. Shows the first permanent English settlement of Jamestown in 1607. England United States Locator.png
     England       United States. Shows the first permanent English settlement of Jamestown in 1607.

Americans of English heritage are often seen, and identify, as simply "American" due to the many historic cultural ties between England and the U.S. and their influence on the country's population. Relative to ethnic groups of other European origins, this may be due to the early establishment of English settlements; as well as to non-English groups having emigrated in order to establish significant communities. [14]

Since 1776, English-Americans have been less likely to proclaim their heritage, unlike African Americans, Irish Americans, Scottish Americans, Italian Americans or other ethnic groups. A leading specialist, Charlotte Erickson, found them to be ethnically "invisible," dismissing the occasional St. George Societies as ephemeral elite clubs that were not in touch with the larger ethnic community. [15] In Canada, by contrast, the English organized far more ethnic activism, as the English competed sharply with the well-organized French and Irish elements. [16] In the United States the Scottish immigrants were much better organized than the English in the 19th century, as are their descendants in the late 20th century. [17]

Number of English Americans

Self-identification per U.S. census
YearPopulation% of the United States populationRef(s)
198049,598,03526.34 26.34
[18] [19]
199032,651,78813.1 13.1
200024,515,1388.7 8.7
201025,927,3458.4 8.4

The original 17th century settlers were overwhelmingly English. From the time of the first permanent English presence in the New World until 1900, these immigrants and their descendants outnumbered all others firmly establishing the English cultural pattern as predominant for the American version. [23]

Colonial period


According to the United States Historical Census, the ethnic populations in the British American Colonies of 1700, 1755 and 1775 were:

Ethnic composition of the British American Colonies 1700 - 1775
English / Welsh 80.0%English / Welsh52.0%English48.7%
African 11.0%African20.0%African20.0%
Dutch 4.0%German7.0%Scots-Irish7.8 %
Scottish 3.0% Scots-Irish 7.0% German 6.9%
Other European 2.0% Irish 5.0%Scottish6.6 %
--Dutch3.0% French 1.4%
--Other European2.0% Swedish 0.6%
Flag of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg Twelve Colonies*100.0% Red Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg Thirteen Colonies 100.0% Grand Union Flag.svg Thirteen Colonies100.0%
Source: [24] [25] [26] (*Province of Georgia not included)
Colonial English Ancestry 1776
Colonies% of approximate population
New England 70.5%
Middle 40.6%
Southern 37.4%
Source: [27]

The category 'Irish' represents immigrants from Ireland outside the Province of Ulster, the overwhelming majority of whom were Protestant and not ethnically Irish, though from Ireland. The distinction between Scots-Irish (Protestant) and Irish (Catholic) came about in the mid-19th century: prior to this time all Irish persons whatever religion were identified as 'Irish.'


National origins, 1790

In 1790 the U.S. conducted its first national population census. The ancestries of the population in 1790 has been estimated by various sources, first in 1932 then again in 1980 and 1984 by sampling distinctive surnames in the census and assigning them a country of origin. There is debate over the accuracy between the studies with individual scholars and the Federal Government using different techniques and conclusion for the ethnic composition. [28] [29] A study published in 1909 titled A Century of Population Growth by the Government Census Bureau estimated the English were 83.5% of the white population. [30] [31] The states with the highest percentage by the same Census Bureau data in 1909 (% of the total European population) of English ancestry were Connecticut 96.2%, Rhode Island 96.0%, Vermont 95.4%, Massachusetts 95.0%, New Hampshire 94.1%, Maine 93.1%, Virginia 85.0%, Maryland 84.0%, North Carolina 83.1%, South Carolina 82.4%, New York 78.2%, Pennsylvania 59.0%. [32] [33]

Another source by Thomas L. Purvis in 1984 [34] estimated that people of English ancestry made up about 47.5% of the total population or 60.9% of the white or European American population (his figures can also be found, and as divided by region, in Colin Bonwick, The American Revolution, 1991 p. 2540-839-1346-2). [34] [35] Some 80.7% of the total United States population was of European origin. [36] Around 757,208 were of African descent with 697,624 being slaves. [37]


In 1980, 23,748,772 Americans claimed only English ancestry and another 25,849,263 claimed English along with another ethnic ancestry. [38] It must be noted that 13.3 million or 5.9% of the total U.S. population chose to identify as "American" (counted under "not specified") as also seen in censuses that followed. [39] Below shows the persons who reported at least one specific ancestry are as follows. [40] [41]

ResponseNumberPercent Northeast North
South West
Single ancestry23,748,77247.9%2,984,9314,438,22312,382,6813,942,937
Multiple ancestry25,849,26352.1%5,190,0457,099,9617,235,6896,323,568
Total reported49,598,0358,174,97611,538,18419,618,37010,266,505


At a national level the ancestry response rate was high with 90.4% of the total United States population choosing at least one specific ancestry and 9.6% ignored the question completely. Of those who chose English, 66.9% of people chose it as their first response. Totals for the English showed a considerable decrease from the previous census. [42]

First ancestry21,834,16066.9%
Second ancestry10,817,62833.1%
Total reported32,651,788

Responses for "American" slightly decreased both numerically and as a percentage from 5.9% to 5.2% in 1990 with most being from the South. [43]


In the 2000 census, 24.5 million or 8.7% of Americans reported English ancestry, a decline of some eight million people. At the national level, the response rate for the ancestry question fell to 80.1% of the total U.S. population, while 19.9% were unclassified or ignored the question completely. [44] Some Cornish Americans may not identify as English American, even though Cornwall had been part of England since long before their ancestors arrived in North America. Responses were: [45]

First ancestry16,623,938-24.9%
Second ancestry7,885,754
Total reported24,509,692
Comparison between 1790 and 2000
1790 estimates2000
Ancestry Number% of
AncestryNumber% of
Other Race756,77019.0 African 36,419,43412.9
Scotch-Irish 320,0008.0Irish30,594,13010.9
German 280,0007.0English24,515,1388.7
Irish 200,0005.0 Mexican 20,640,7117.3
Scottish 160,0004.0 Italian 15,723,5555.6
Welsh 120,0003.0French10,846,0183.9
Dutch 100,0002.5 Hispanic 10,017,2443.6
French 80,0002.0 Polish 8,977,4443.2
Native American 50,0001.0Scottish4,890,5811.7
Spanish 20,0000.5Dutch4,542,4941.6
Swedish and Other20,0000.5 Norwegian 4,477,7251.6
--- Scotch-Irish 4,319,2321.5
United States4,000,000100.0United States281,421,906N/A
Source: [46] [35] [47] [48]

In 1900, an estimated 28,375,000 or 37.8% of the population of the United States was wholly or primarily of English ancestry from colonial stock. [47] As with any ethnicity, Americans of English descent may choose to identify themselves as just American ethnicity if their ancestry has been in the United States for many generations or if, for the same reason, they are unaware of their lineages.

English expatriates

In total, there are estimated to be around 678,000 British born expatriates in the United States with the majority of these born in England. [49] There are around 540,000 of any race in the United States, 40,000 Asian British, 20,000 Black British people and approximately 10,000 people of a mixed background. [50]

Geographical distribution

Percentages by county in the 2000 census.
Population by state in the 2000 census.
Percentages by U.S. State in the 2000 census.


English Americans are found in large numbers throughout America, particularly in the Northeast, South and West. According to the 2000 US census, the 10 states with the largest populations of self-reported English Americans are:

United States ancestry map Most common ancestry in the United States by county.png
United States ancestry map
The ten states with the most English AmericansStates with the highest percentages:
1 California (3,521,355 - 7.4% of state population)1 Utah (29.0%)
2 Florida (1,468,576 - 9.2%)2 Maine (21.5%)
3 Texas (1,462,984 - 7%)3 Vermont (18.4%)
4 New York (1,140,036 - 6%)4 Idaho (18.1%)
5 Ohio (1,046,671 - 9.2%)5 New Hampshire (18.0%)
6 Pennsylvania (966,253 - 7.9%)6 Wyoming (15.9%)
7 Michigan (988,625 - 9.9%)7 Oregon (13.2%)
8 Illinois (831,820 - 6.7%)8 Montana (12.7%)
9 Virginia (788,849 - 11.1%)9 Delaware (12.1%)
10 North Carolina (767,749 - 9.5%)10 Colorado, Rhode Island, Washington (12.0% each)

English was the highest reported European ancestry in the states of Maine, Vermont and Utah; joint highest along with German in the Carolinas.


Following are the top 20 highest percentages of people of English ancestry, in U.S. communities with 500 or more total inhabitants (for the total list of the 101 communities, see the reference): [51]

Top 20 highest cities with over 500 Population: English Ancestry (In Progress)
1 Hildale Utah66.9
2 Colorado City Arizona52.7
3 Milbridge Maine41.1
4 Panguitch Utah40
5 Beaver Utah39.8
6 Enterprise Utah39.4
7 East Machias Maine39.1
8 Marriott-Slaterville Utah38.2
9 Wellsvile Utah37.9
10 Morgan Utah37.2
11 Harrington Maine36.9
12 Farmington Utah36.9
13 Highland Utah36.7
14 Nephi Utah36.4
15 Fruit Heights Utah35.9
16 Addison Maine35.6
17 Farr West Utah35.4
18 Hooper Utah35.0
19 Lewiston Utah35.0
20 Plain City Utah34.7

On the top right, a map showing percentages by county of Americans who declared English ancestry in the 2000 Census. Dark blue and purple colours indicate a higher percentage: highest in the east and west (see also Maps of American ancestries). Center, a map showing the population of English Americans by state. On the right, a map showing the percentages of English Americans by state.


Statue of John Smith for the first English settlement in Historic Jamestowne, Virginia. View of James Town Island, Captain John Smith Statue.jpg
Statue of John Smith for the first English settlement in Historic Jamestowne, Virginia.

Early settlement and colonization

English settlement in America began with Jamestown in the Virginia Colony in 1607. With the permission of James I, three ships (the Susan Constant, The Discovery , and The God Speed ) sailed from England and landed at Cape Henry in April, under the captainship of Christopher Newport, [13] who had been hired by the London Company to lead expeditions to what is now America. [52]

The first self-governing document of Plymouth Colony. English Pilgrims signing the Mayflower Compact in 1620. The Mayflower Compact 1620 cph.3g07155.jpg
The first self-governing document of Plymouth Colony. English Pilgrims signing the Mayflower Compact in 1620.

The second successful colony was Plymouth Colony, founded in 1620 by people who later became known as the Pilgrims. Fleeing religious persecution in the East Midlands in England, they first went to Holland, but feared losing their English identity. [53] Because of this, they chose to relocate to the New World, with their voyage being financed by English investors. In September 1620, 102 passengers set sail aboard the Mayflower , eventually settling at Plymouth Colony in November. [54] Of the passengers on the Mayflower, 41 men signed the "Mayflower Compact" aboard ship on November 11, 1620, while anchored in Provincetown Harbor. Signers included Carver, Alden, Standish, Howland, Bradford, Allerton, and Fuller. [55] [56] This story has become a central theme in the United States cultural identity.

A number of English colonies were established under a system of proprietary governors, who were appointed under mercantile charters to English joint stock companies to found and run settlements.

England also took over the Dutch colony of New Netherland (including the New Amsterdam settlement), renaming it the Province of New York in 1664. [57] With New Netherland, the English came to control the former New Sweden (in what is now Delaware), which the Dutch had conquered from Sweden earlier. [58] This became part of Pennsylvania.

English immigration after 1776

Cultural similarities and a common language allowed English immigrants to integrate rapidly and gave rise to a unique Anglo-American culture. An estimated 3.5 million English immigrated to the U.S. after 1776. [59] English settlers provided a steady and substantial influx throughout the 19th century.

English immigration to the U.S. 1820-1970
Total arrivals: 3,084,066 [60] [61] [62]

The first wave of growing English immigration began in the late 1820s and was sustained by unrest in the United Kingdom until it peaked in 1842 and declined slightly for nearly a decade. Most of these were small farmers and tenant farmers from depressed areas in rural counties in southern and western England and urban laborers who fled from the depressions and from the social and industrial changes of the late 1820s-1840s. While some English immigrants were drawn by dreams of creating model utopian societies in America, most others were attracted by the lure of new lands, textile factories, railroads, and the expansion of mining.

A number of English settlers moved to the United States from Australia in the 1850s (then a British political territory), when the California Gold Rush boomed; these included the so-called "Sydney Ducks" (see Australian Americans ).

During the last years of the 1860s, annual English immigration grew to over 60,000 and continued to rise to over 75,000 per year in 1872, before experiencing a decline. The final and most sustained wave of immigration began in 1879 and lasted until the depression of 1893. During this period English annual immigration averaged more than 82,000, with peaks in 1882 and 1888 and did not drop significantly until the financial panic of 1893. [63] The building of America's transcontinental railroads, the settlement of the great plains, and industrialization attracted skilled and professional emigrants from England.

English-born in the U.S. 1850–2010
YearPopulation% of foreign-born
1850 278,67512.4
1860 431,692-
1870 550,92410.0
1880 662,676-
1890 908,1419.8
1900 840,513-
1910 877,7196.5
1920 813,853-
1930 809,5635.7
1940 --
1950 809,563-
1960 528,2055.4
1970 458,1144.8
1980 442,499-
1990 405,588-
2000 423,609-
2010 356,4890.9
Source: [63] [64] [65]

Also, cheaper steamship fares enabled unskilled urban workers to come to America, and unskilled and semiskilled laborers, miners, and building trades workers made up the majority of these new English immigrants. While most settled in America, a number of skilled craftsmen remained itinerant, returning to England after a season or two of work. Groups of English immigrants came to America as missionaries for the Salvation Army and to work with the activities of the Evangelical and LDS Churches.

The depression of 1893 sharply decreased English emigration to the United States, and it stayed low for much of the twentieth century. This decline reversed itself in the decade of World War II when over 100,000 English (18 percent of all European immigrants) came from England. In this group was a large contingent of war brides who came between 1945 and 1948. In these years four women emigrated from England for every man. [63] In the 1950s, English immigration increased to over 150,000.and rose to 170,000 in the 1960s. [66] While differences developed, it is not surprising that English immigrants had little difficulty in assimilating to American life. The American resentment against the policies of the British government [67] was rarely transferred to English settlers who came to America in the first decades of the nineteenth century.

Political influence

As the earliest colonists of the United States, settlers from England and their descendants often held positions of power and made and enforced laws, [68] often because many had been involved in government back in England. [69] In the original 13 colonies, most laws contained elements found in the English common law system. [70]

John Trumbull's famous painting, Declaration of Independence. Declaration of Independence (1819), by John Trumbull.jpg
John Trumbull's famous painting, Declaration of Independence .

The majority—57%-- of the Founding Fathers of the United States were of English extraction. Scottish extraction characterized 16%, 19% were Irish or Scots-Irish, and 5% were Welsh. A minority were of high social status and can be classified as White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP). Many of the prewar WASP elite were Loyalists who left the new nation. [71]

While WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants usually of English origins) have been major players in every major American political party, an exceptionally strong association has existed between WASPs and the Republican Party, before the 1980s. A few top Democrats qualified, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt. Northeastern Republican leaders such as Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, Prescott Bush of Connecticut and especially Nelson Rockefeller of New York exemplified the pro-business liberal Republicanism of their social stratum, espousing internationalist views on foreign policy, supporting social programs, and holding liberal views on issues like racial integration. A famous confrontation was the 1952 Senate election in Massachusetts where John F. Kennedy, a Catholic of Irish descent, defeated WASP Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.. However the challenge by Barry Goldwater in 1964 to the Eastern Republican establishment helped undermine the WASP dominance. [72] Goldwater himself had solid WASP credentials through his mother, of a prominent old Yankee family, but was instead mistakenly seen as part of the Jewish community (which he had never associated with). By the 1980s, the liberal Rockefeller Republican wing of the party was marginalized, overwhelmed by the dominance of the Southern and Western conservative Republicans. [73]

Asking "Is the WASP leader a dying breed?" journalist Nina Strochlic in 2012 pointed to eleven WASP top politicians—typically scions of upper class English families. She ending with Republicans G.H.W. Bush elected in 1988, his son George W. Bush elected in 2000 and 2004, and John McCain, who was nominated but defeated in 2008. [74]


English language distribution in the United States. English USC2000 PHS.svg
English language distribution in the United States.

English is the most commonly spoken language in the U.S, where it is estimated that two thirds of all native speakers of English live. [75] The American English dialect developed from English colonization. It serves as the de facto official language, the language in which government business is carried out. According to the 1990 census, 94% of the U.S. population speak only English. [76] Adding those who speak English "well" or "very well" brings this figure to 96%. [76] Only 0.8% speak no English at all as compared with 3.6% in 1890. American English differs from British English in a number of ways, the most striking being in terms of pronunciation (for example, American English retains voicing of the letter "R" after vowels, unlike standard British English) and spelling (one example is the "u" in words such as color, favor (US) vs colour, favour (UK)). Less obvious differences are present in grammar and vocabulary. The differences are rarely a barrier to effective communication between American English and British English speakers, but there are certainly enough differences to cause occasional misunderstandings, usually surrounding slang or dialect differences.

Some states, like California, have amended their constitutions to make English the only official language, but in practice, this only means that official government documents must at least be in English, and does not mean that they should be exclusively available only in English. For example, the standard California Class C driver's license examination is available in 32 different languages.


"In for a penny, in for a pound" is an expression to mean, ("if you're going to take a risk at all, you might as well make it a big risk"), is used in the United States which dates back to the colonial period, when cash in the colonies was denominated in Pounds, shillings and Pence. [77] Today, the one-cent coin is commonly known as a penny. A modern alternative expression is "In for a dime, in for a dollar".

Cultural influences

American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, and the American flag. Motherhood and apple pie.jpg
American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, and the American flag.

Much of American culture shows influences from English culture.



The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony by English Pilgrims in October 1621. Thanksgiving-Brownscombe.jpg
The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony by English Pilgrims in October 1621.


English-born Henry Chadwick is often called the "father of Baseball". Henry Chadwick (NYPL b13537024-56451) (cropped).jpg
English-born Henry Chadwick is often called the "father of Baseball".


The American legal system also has its roots in English law. [89] For example, elements of the Magna Carta were incorporated into the United States constitution. [90] English law prior to the revolution is still part of the law of the United States, and provides the basis for many American legal traditions and policies. After the revolution, English law was again adopted by the now independent American States. [91]


Another area of cultural influence are American Patriotic songs:

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom.

English ballads had a large influence on American folk music, eventually spawning such genres as old time, country, and bluegrass.

English family names

Of the top ten family names in the United States, seven have English origins or having possible mixed British Isles heritage, the other three being of Spanish origin. [100] Many African Americans have their origins in slavery (i.e. slave name). Many of them came to bear the surnames of their former owners. Many freed slaves either created family names themselves or adopted the name of their former master. According to 2000 U.S. Census data, eight of the top ten surnames in the United States are of British Isles origin, while two are the most common surnames among Hispanics. [101] In the last UK Census in 2001, surnames in England can be compared to the United States with 6 of the family names in England being in both their top ten. [102] Many English surnames are also found in Ireland. This is attributable to a number of factors, including the Protestant Plantation of Ireland, the imposition of the Penal Laws in the 1700s which forced many Irish people to Anglicize their surnames, and English ancestry in the Irish population itself, especially in the area around Dublin. Also, in the 9th century, Viking invaders brought many Norse names to Ireland that they had already brought to England when they established and settled the Danelaw. Scandinavian names may have been brought to England in pre-Viking times, especially in the North and East, due to Anglo-Saxons from Denmark. and the Anglo-Normans who invaded Ireland in the 1170s brought many Norman French names which had already spread to England.

NameRank - 2010NumberCountry of OriginEngland - 2001 [102] [103]
Smith 12,442,977England, [104] Scotland, [105] Ireland [106] (Common however also among German Americans who are likely originally held the surname "Schmidt") Smith
Johnson 21,932,812England, Scotland [107] [108] Jones
Williams 31,625,252England, Wales [109] Taylor
Brown 41,437,026England, Ireland, Scotland [110] Brown
Jones 51,425,470England, Wales [111] Williams
García 61,166,120Spain [112] , Mexico and other Hispanic nations Wilson
Miller 71,161,437England, Ireland, or Scotland (Miller can be the anglicized version of Mueller/Müller - a surname from Germany) [113] Johnson
Davis 81,116,357England, Wales [114] Davies
Rodríguez 91,094,924Spain [115] Robinson, Roderick
Martinez 101,060,159Spain, Mexico and other Hispanic nations Wright

It should be pointed out, however, that a significant number of non-English immigrants anglicized their surnames. For example, "Smith" may come from German Schmidt, or Dutch Smit; "Johnson" from Norwegian or Danish Johansen, Dutch Jansen, or Swedish Johansson, "Brown" from German Braun, "Miller" from German Müller, and so forth.[ citation needed ] On the other hand, "Williams", [116] "Jones", [117] and "Davis", [118] which are often associated with Welsh ancestry due to their common occurrence in Wales, are actually mostly English, as Wales has a much smaller population (and diaspora) than England.

English place names in the United States

Boston Financial District skyline.jpg
Boston, Massachusetts, is named after Boston, England.
Statue of Liberty with One World Trade Center.jpg
In 1664, the English renamed "New York" after (James II of England) the Duke of York. [119]

There are many places in the United States named after places in Great Britain as a result of the many British settlers and explorers; in addition, some places were named after the English royal family. These include the region of New England and some of the following:







New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York


The Carolinas



Georgian style homes in Philadelphia. Georgian Homes, Philadelphia.jpg
Georgian style homes in Philadelphia.

American Architecture, particularly in the nation's earlier years, has long been strongly influenced by English styles. The United States Capitol building, for example, was first designed by English-educated American Architect William Thornton, and bears a resemblance to St Paul's Cathedral in London. Also, many American college campuses, such as Harvard, Penn, Yale, Brown, Williams, Princeton University, and the University of Delaware, have English Georgian or English gothic architecture.

Notable people

Presidents of English descent

Most of the Presidents of the United States have had English ancestry. [140] The extent of English heritage varies in the presidents with earlier presidents being predominantly of colonial English Yankee stock. Later US Presidents' ancestry can often be traced to ancestors from multiple nations in Europe, including England.

18th century

George Washington [141] [142] , John Adams [143] [144] .

19th century

Thomas Jefferson, James Madison [145] John Quincy Adams [143] [144] , Andrew Jackson [146] [147] , William Henry Harrison [148] , John Tyler [149] ,Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore [150] ,Franklin Pierce [151] , Abraham Lincoln [152] [153] , Andrew Johnson [154] , Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes [155] , James A. Garfield [156] , Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley.

20th century

Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft [157] [158] , Warren G. Harding [159] , Calvin Coolidge [160] , Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman [161] [162] , Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter [163] , Ronald Reagan [164] , George H. W. Bush [165] [166] , Bill Clinton.

21st century

George W. Bush [167] , Barack Obama [168] [169]

The U.S. Presidents which lacked recent English ancestry were James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy. Also, President Donald Trump does not have recent English ancestry, with all of his recent ancestry coming from Germany and Scotland. [170]

See also

Related Research Articles

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