STOYAN CHRISTOWE, AN ORIGINAL AMERICAN IMMIGRANT
The life of Stoyan Christowe is a quintessentially American story. Born in Ottoman Macedonia in 1898, Stoyan Christowe immigrated to the US in 1911, at the age of 13, and sought to meld his Macedonian roots with his American life. His was the journey of a determined boy who dreamed of something beyond his understanding, but not beyond his reach. Through his steadfast conviction that he would become an American, not just a naturalized citizen and a contributing member of this society, he first learned English, learned history, and embodied of the American culture. This peasant boy from Macedonia became a statesman and a statesman who was an introspective and relentless searcher for his own truth – his own identity.
A man of principle, he contributed to the well being of his adopted state, Vermont, taking great interest in education and health care. An author with the power to move and persuade, he put his pen to work as though it were a beacon that he shined upon the road to the essence of America for succeeding generations of immigrants.
His message was have faith in yourself, accept this country and its language and grow with it, and embrace your own identity.
The inspiration of his life lies in his transition from a peasant boy to American journalist, author and politician. From his seat #16 he voted on many amendments and laws, and brought motions that concerned the health of all Vermonters. He ardently believed that it was his duty to protect their rights and liberties, HIS liberties.
To know Stoyan Christowe we must know his works. In all, he published six books, three fictionalized histories and three autobiographical works. Most gained wide popularity and President Theodore Delano Roosevelt was said to have kept a copy of My American Pilgrimage on his work desk.
Through research of the records of the Vermont legislature, the district he represented, the US immigration records, genealogical information, and Burlington Northern Railway files we want to tell a story that will inspire students of all ages, and resonate with recent immigrants as well as second generation immigrants to whom Stoyan Christowe’s struggle is all but too familiar.
The challenges and successes of Stoyan Christowe’s life are universal. The film will contribute to a broader understanding of immigrant life in America, and multiculturalism, on which rests the strength of the American society today.
Three quarters of a century before, Stoyan Christowe embraces multiculturalism and it is why his immigrant journey was a success.
America had seeped into every tissue and fiber of my being; had in fact, so completely infused itself into my consciousness that a strange feeling came over me whenever I stopped and recalled the fact that I was not born here, Stoyan Christowe wrote in his second novel, This is My Country.
He was an American hero and a patriot without being born in America. His love of country can inspire and challenge young immigrants today, in an era when our national security is threatened and when Americans of all ethnic background need to stay alert and vigilant in protecting America’s freedom and values.