National Geographic : 1975 Jan
Rhode Island Sound ,j Block Island Nantucket Island The tide of immigration has washed tens of thousands of Portuguese into the Bay State over the years. Rhode Island also claims a large colony, nestling around Narragansett Bay. During the great whaling era of the 19th century, New England vessels bound for the Pacific built up their crews en route. The Azores and the Cape Verde Islands became favorite sources of seamen; thus began the influx to U. S . seacoast towns. Portuguese-Americans add a colorful, independent stitch to the American patchwork quilt, with countless festivals, a tangy cuisine, and a special love for the sea. The nation also counts the writings of John Dos Passos and the marches of John Philip Sousa among their gifts. A revised immigration law in 1965 threw wide the gate for the Portuguese. The previous year, 2,000 came to the United States; the year after, the number soared to almost 9,000. Forty-ton calling card? Dr. Manuel da Silva (above) theorizes that Dighton Rock in Berkley, Massachusetts, proves Portuguese explorer Miguel Corte Real was the first European to set foot in what became the United States. The sketch (left) shows Dr. da Silva's reading of some of the markings: the date 1511, Corte Real's name, and Portuguese coats of arms and Crosses of the Order of Christ.