The Reverend Abraham Johannes "A.J." Muste (1885–1967) was a Dutch-born American clergyman and political activist. Muste is best remembered for his work in the labor movement, pacifist movement, anti-war movement, and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
Netherlands. Muste's father, Martin Muste, was a coachman who drove for a family that was part of Zeeland's hereditary nobility. With his economic prospects limited in the Netherlands, Martin Muste decided to follow four of his wife Adriana's brothers to emigration in America, making the cross-Atlantic trip as Third Class passengers in January 1891.
Muste's mother became ill aboard ship and remained hospitalized for a month at Ellis Island following the family's arrival. Upon her recovery, the family headed west for Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Adriana's four brothers worked at in a variety of small business pursuits.
The family attended services at the Grand Rapids Dutch Reformed Church, a Calvinist congregation in which religious services were conducted in the Dutch language and its very existence was testimony to the number of Dutch immigrants who made their way to the area. Dancing was prohibited by the church as a form of sinfulness, as was the singing of secular music and the viewing of performances in the dramatic theatre.
Members of the denomination tended to be of working class economic origins, as was the case with most Dutch people in the area, who were regarded as a source of cheap labor in the years before World War I by the longer-established English-speaking population. Muste later recalled of his fellow Reformed Dutch Church members that they were "all Republicans and would no more have voted for a Democrat than turned horse thief."..
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