Hungarian Americans

Hungarian Americans
amerikai magyarok
Total population
1,763,081 - 4,000,000
0.7%-1.75% of the US population (2013)
Regions with significant populations
Ohio, New York, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey, Michigan, Florida
American English, Hungarian, Yiddish, Romani
Roman Catholicism, Protestantism (Hungarian Reformed Church), Judaism, Greek Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy
Related ethnic groups
Hungarian Canadians, European Americans

Hungarian Americans (Hungarian: amerikai magyarok) are Americans of Hungarian descent. Estimates of the number of Hungarian Americans and the their descendants in the United States exceed 4 million, but also include the large number of ethnic Hungarian immigrants most of whom have emigrated from Romania, Czechoslovakia, or the former Yugoslavia.


In 1583, a Hungarian poet Stephanus Parmenius, joined Humphrey Gilbert's expedition to North America with the intention of writing a chronicle of the voyage and its discoveries. Parmenius reached Newfoundland, likely becoming the first Hungarian in the New World.

Hungarians have long settled in the New World, such as Michael de Kovats, the founder of United States Cavalry, active in the American Revolution. Hungarians have maintained a constant state of emigration to the United States since then; however, they are best known for three principal waves of emigration.

St. Stephen Hungarian Church in Birmingham, Toledo, Ohio

Agoston Haraszthy, who settled in Wisconsin in 1840, was the first Hungarian to settle permanently in the United States[1] and the second Hungarian to write a book about the United States in his native language.[2] After he moved to California in the Gold Rush of 1849, Haraszthy founded the Buena Vista Vineyards in Sonoma (now Buena Vista Carneros) and imported more than 100,000 European vine cuttings for the use of California winemakers. He is widely remembered today as the "Father of California Viticulture" or the "Father of Modern Winemaking in California."[3]

A statue Lajos Kossuth stands on 113th and Riverside Drive in Manhattan, New York City

The first large wave of emigration from Hungary to the United States occurred in 1849-1850, when the so-called "Forty-Eighters" fled from retribution by Austrian authorities after the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Lajos Kossuth gave a seven-month speaking tour of the US in 1851 and 1852 to great acclaim as a champion of liberty, thereby unleashing a brief outburst of pro-Hungarian emotions. He left embittered because his refusal to oppose slavery alienated his natural constituency, and his long-term impact was minimal.[4] By 1860, 2,710 Hungarians lived in the US, and at least 99 of them fought in the Civil War. Their motivations were not so much antislavery as a belief in democracy, a taste for adventure, validation of their military credentials, and solidarity with their American neighbors.[5]

St. Stephen Hungarian Roman Catholic Church in Toledo, Ohio

During the last decades of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century, the United States saw an immigration boom primarily of Southern and Eastern Europeans, among them approximately 650,000-700,000 ethnic Hungarian speakers. Unlike the educated classes who formed the core of the 1849 wave, the second Hungarian wave was mostly poor and uneducated immigrants seeking a better life in America.

Hungarian Reformed Church Fairport Harbor, Ohio

An increase of immigration from Hungary was also observed after World War II and The Holocaust, a significant percentage of whom were Jewish.

The circumstances of the third wave of emigration had much in common with the first wave. In 1956, Hungary was again under the power of a foreign state, this time the Soviet Union, and again, Hungarians rose up in revolution. Like the 1848 revolution, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution failed and led to the emigration of 200,000 "56-ers" fleeing persecution after the revolution, 40,000 of whom found their way to the United States.

There was a renewed economic migration after the end of communism in Hungary during the 1990s to 2000s.