According to American Community Survey in 2010 data, Americans reporting English ancestry made up an estimated 9.0% of the total U.S. population, and form the third largest European ancestry group after German Americans and Irish Americans. However, demographers regard this as an undercount, as the index of inconsistency is high, and many, if not most, people from English stock have a tendency to identify simply as Americans or, if of mixed European ancestry, identify with a more recent and differentiated ethnic group. Throughout the nineteenth century, England was the largest investor in American land development, railroads, mining, cattle ranching, and heavy industry. Perhaps because English settlers gained easy acceptance, they founded few organizations dedicated to preserving the traditions of their homeland.
In the 1980 United States 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. This outnumbered the population of England at the time.
In 1982, an opinion poll organization 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%.
The overwhelming majority of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America were of English extraction, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
As with most immigrant groups, the English later sought economic prosperity and began migrating in large numbers without state support, particularly in the 19th century.
- 1 Sense of identity
- 2 Number of English Americans
- 3 1790 Census
- 4 2000 Census
- 5 History
- 6 Political involvement
- 7 Language
- 8 American cultural icons
- 9 Beverages
- 10 English family names
- 11 English place names in the United States
- 12 Architecture
- 13 Law
- 14 Presidents of English descent
- 15 Other notable English Americans
- 16 See also
- 17 References
Sense of identity
Americans of English heritage are often seen, and identify, as simply "American" due to the many cultural ties between the two countries and their impact on the population of the United States of America, which has hardly disappeared. In the context of other European ethnic groups (as opposed to the native population), this may be due to the early establishment of English settlements, as well as a non-English population that took time to emigrate to establish significant communities.
In the succeeding years since the founding of the United States of America, English-American have been less likely to proclaim their heritage in the face of the upsurge of cultural and ethnic pride by African-Americans, Irish-Americans, Scottish-Americans, Italian-Americans or other ethnic groups. While there may be many reasons for this, after centuries of intermarriage and internal geographic mobility, many are unable to determine a specific English origin. For these reasons, no other part of the pluralist American society is so difficult to describe as a separate entity as the English. English immigrants were and are often seen as an invisible ethnic group, due to the length of time their ancestors may have been in the United States, as the majority of the founding colonists were English people.
Number of English Americans
From the time of the first permanent English presence in the New World until 1900, these immigrants outnumbered all others, therefore the cultural pattern had been firmly established as the American model.
According to the United States Historical Census Data Base (USHCDB) (2002), the ethnic populations in the American Colonies of 1775 were:
|Populations in the American Colonies of 1775 |
|Note - If the Scottish and Ulster Scots
(known as Scotch-Irish) are added together they form 14.4%.
The United States Census of 1790 was the first census conducted in the United States. It was conducted on August 2, 1790. The ancestry of the 3,929,214 population in 1790 has been estimated by various sources by sampling last names in the very first United States official census and assigning them a country of origin. The estimate results indicate that people of English ancestry made up about 47.5% of the total population or 60.9% of the European American population. Some 80.7% of the total United States population was of European heritage. Around 757,208 were of African descent with 697,624 being slaves. Of the remaining population, more than 75% was of British origin.
The states with the highest percentage of English ancestry were Massachusetts 82%, Vermont 76%, Rhode Island 71%, Virginia including West Virginia 68.5%, Connecticut 67%, Maryland incl.DC 64.5%, North Carolina 66%, New Hampshire 61%, South Carolina 60.2%, Maine 60%, Delaware 60%, Kentucky and Tennessee 57.9%, Georgia 57.4%, New York 52%, New Jersey 47%, Pennsylvania 35.3%,
|Estimated origin - 1790 United States Census |
|European American Ancestry only||Percentage|
|African Americans were some 19.3% of the total U.S population.|
|1790 U.S Ancestry
Based on Evaluated census figures
|2000 U.S Ancestry
from the official U.S census
|Swedish or other||20,000||0.5||Norwegian||4,477,725||1.6|
In the 2000 census, 24.5 million Americans reported English ancestry, 8.7% of the total U.S. population. This estimate is probably a serious undercount by over 30 million given that, in the 1980 census, around 50 million citizens claimed to be of at least partial English ancestry. In 1980, 23,748,772 Americans claimed wholly English ancestry and another 25,849,263 claimed English along with another ethnic ancestry.
In 1860, an estimated 11 million or almost 35% of the population of the United States was wholly or primarily of English ancestry. The population has increased by almost ten times the numbers in 1860. 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.
In total, there are estimated to be around 678,000 British born expatriates in the United States with the majority of these being English. By American definition there are around 540,000 English people of any race in the United States, 40,000 Asian English, 20,000 Black British people and approximately 10,000 people of a mixed background.
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):
- Hildale, UT 66.9%
- Colorado City, AZ 52.7%
- Milbridge, ME 41.1%
- Panguitch, UT 40.0%
- Beaver, UT 39.8%
- Enterprise, UT 39.4%
- East Machias, ME 39.1%
- Marriott-Slaterville, UT 38.2%
- Wellsville, UT 37.9%
- Morgan, UT 37.2%
- Harrington, ME 36.9%
- Farmington, UT 36.9%
- Highland, UT 36.7%
- Nephi, UT 36.4%
- Fruit Heights, UT 35.9%
- Addison, ME 35.6%
- Farr West, UT 35.4%
- Hooper, UT 35.0%
- Lewiston, UT 35.0%
- Plain City, UT 34.7%
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
|The ten states with the most English Americans||States with the highest percentages of self reported English ancestry are:|
|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)|
On the left, 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.
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, who had been hired by the London Company to lead expeditions to what is now America.
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. 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. This story has become a central theme in the United States cultural identity.
England also took over the Dutch colony of New Netherland (including the New Amsterdam settlement), renaming it the Province of New York in 1664. 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. This became part of Pennsylvania.
English immigration after 1776
|English-born in the United States 1850-1990 |
|Year||Population||% of foreign born||% of total population|
An estimated 3.5 million English immigrated to the U.S. after 1776. English settlers provided a steady and substantial influx throughout the nineteenth century. The first wave of increasing 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 United States from Australia in 1850s (then a British political territory), when California Gold Rush boomed; these included the so-called "Sydney Ducks" (see Australian Americans).
During the last years of 1860s, annual English immigration increased 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. The building of America's transcontinental railroads, the settlement of the great plains, and industrialization attracted skilled and professional emigrants from England. 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. In the 1950s, English immigration increased to over 150,000.and rose to 170,000 in the 1960s. 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 governmentwas rarely transferred to English settlers who came to America in the first decades of the nineteenth century.
Throughout American history, English immigrants and their descendants have been prominent in every level of government and in every aspect of American life. Eight of the first ten American presidents and more than that proportion of the 42 presidents, as well as the majority of sitting congressmen and congresswomen, are descended from English ancestors. The descendants of English expatriates are so numerous and so well integrated in American life that it is impossible to identify all of them. While they are the third largest ethnic nationality self reported in the 1990 census, they retain such a pervasive representation at every level of national and state government that, on any list of American senators, Supreme Court judges, governors, or legislators, they would constitute a plurality if not an outright majority. Today it is estimated that over 80 million Americans are of English ancestry, not including African Americans, who also have some English ancestry.
As the earliest colonists of the United States, settlers from England and their descendants often held positions of power and made or helped make laws, often because many had been involved in government back in England. In the original 13 colonies, most laws contained elements found in the English common law system.
The Founding Fathers
The lineage of most of the Founding Fathers was English. Such persons include Samuel Adams. Others signatories of the Declaration of Independence, such as Robert Morris were English born. Of the "Committee of Five" (the group delegated to draft the Declaration of Independence), John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin  of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut had English roots. The United States Declaration of Independence was written primarily by Thomas Jefferson.
The English have contributed greatly to American life. Today, 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. English was inherited from English colonization, and it is spoken by the vast majority of the population. 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. Adding those who speak English "well" or "very well" brings this figure to 96%. 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 (a classic example being the "u" in words such as color, favor (USA) vs colour, favour (UK)). Less obvious differences are present in grammar, vocabulary, and slang usage. 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 region dialect differences. The two are however generally treated as mutually intelligible.
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. Today, the one-cent coin is commonly known as a penny. A modern alternative expression is "In for a dime, in for a dollar".
American cultural icons
- Flag of the United States - Based on the British Grand Union Flag and is considered to be the first national flag of the United States, first flown on December 2, 1775.
- Apple pie - New England was the first region to experience large scale English colonization in the early 17th century, beginning in 1620, and it was dominated by East Anglian Calvinists, better known as the Puritans. Baking was a particular favorite of the New Englanders and was the origin of dishes today seen as quintessentially "American", such as apple pie and the baked Thanksgiving turkey. "As American As Apple Pie" is a well known phrase used to imply everything that is All-American.
- Roast Beef - In the mid-17th century a second wave of English immigrants began arriving in North America, settling mainly around Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and Maryland. Often eaten with Yorkshire puddings and horseradish sauce. Despised by the French.
- Thanksgiving -In England, thanks have been given for successful harvests since pagan times. The celebrations on this day usually include singing hymns, praying, and decorating churches with baskets of fruit and food in the festival known as Harvest Festival, Harvest Home or Harvest Thanksgiving. In the U.S. it has become a national secular holiday with religious origins, but in England it remains a Church festival giving thanks to God for the harvest. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by English settlers to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive the brutal winter. The modern Thanksgiving holiday traces its origins from a 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the Plymouth settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. William Bradford is credited as the first to proclaim what the American cultural event is generally referred to as the "First Thanksgiving".
- Baseball - English lawyer William Bray recorded a game of baseball on Easter Monday 1755 in Guildford, Surrey; Bray's diary was verified as authentic in September 2008. This early form of the game was apparently brought to North America by English immigrants. The first appearance of the term that exists in print was in "A Little Pretty Pocket-Book" in 1744, where it is called Base-Ball. Today, Rounders which has been played in England since Tudor times holds a similarity to Baseball. Although, literary references to early forms of "base-ball" in England pre-date use of the term "rounders".
- American football - can be traced to early versions of rugby football, played in England and first developed in American universities in the mid-19th century.
Another area of cultural influence are American Patriotic songs:
- American national anthem - takes its melody from the 18th-century English song "To Anacreon in Heaven" written by John Stafford Smith from England for the Anacreontic Society, a men's social club in London and lyrics written by Francis Scott Key of English descent. This became a well-known and recognized patriotic song throughout the United States, which was officially designated as the U.S. national anthem in 1931.
Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom.
- The Liberty Song - written by John Dickinson of English descent in 1768 to the music of Englishman William Boyce's "Heart of Oak", is perhaps the first patriotic song written in America. The song contains the line "by uniting we stand, by dividing we fall", the first recorded use of the sentiment.
- My Country, 'Tis of Thee - whose melody was indirectly derived from the British national anthem, also served as a de facto anthem before the adoption of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
- Amazing Grace - written by English poet and clergyman John Newton became such an icon in American culture that it has been used for a variety of secular purposes and marketing campaigns, placing it in danger of becoming a cliché.
- Harley-Davidson - co-founder was William S. Harley born to English parents, was one of the people who began the American motorcycle manufacturer.
Automobile maker Ford Motor Company: founded by Henry Ford, born to an English father, William Ford
The first sales were at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886. It was initially sold as a patent medicine for five cents a glass at soda fountains, which were popular in the United States at the time due to the belief that carbonated water was good for the health. Pemberton claimed Coca-Cola cured many diseases, including morphine addiction, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headache, and impotence. Pemberton ran the first advertisement for the beverage on May 29 of the same year in the Atlanta Journal.
Dr Pepper is a soft drink and was invented in the 1880s by pharmacist Charles Alderton in Waco, Texas, and first made in 1885. Charles Courtice Alderton was born in Brooklyn, New York to English parents who was later sent to England to be educated. It is the oldest of the major brand soft drinks in America.
English family names
Of the top ten family names in the United States, eight have English origins or having possible mixed British Isles heritage, the other two being of Spanish origin. This is the first time two surnames of non-British Isles origin have been in the top 10 most common family names. 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, the top ten surnames in the United States are: 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. Many English surnames are also found in Ireland. This is attributable to a number of factors, including the Protestant Plantation of Ireland, as well as the imposition of the Penal Laws in the Middle Ages, which forced many Irish people to Anglicize their surnames. 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. Although some Scandinavian names may have been brought to England in pre-Viking times, especially in the North and East (who says?). Moreover, the Anglo-Normans who invaded Ireland in the 1170s brought many Norman French names which they had already spread to England.
|Name||Rank - 2000||Number||Country of Origin||England - 2001 |
|Smith||1||2,376,207||England, Scotland ||Smith|
|Brown||4||1,380,145||England, Ireland, Scotland ||Brown|
|Jones||5||1,362,755||England, Wales ||Williams|
|Miller||6||1,127,803||England, Ireland, or Scotland (Miller can be the anglicized version of Mueller/Müller - a surname from Germany)||Wilson|
|Davis||7||1,072,335||England, Wales ||Johnson|
|Wilson||10||783,051||England, Scotland ||Wright|
English place names in the United States
There are many places in the United States named after places in England as a result of the many English settlers and explorers. These include New York (after the Duke of York), New Hampshire (after Hampshire), New Jersey after the British Crown Dependency of Jersey. Manchester, Boston, Southampton, Gloucester and the region of New England. In addition, some places were named after the English royal family. The name Virginia was first applied by Queen Elizabeth I (the "Virgin Queen") and Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584., the Carolinas were named after King Charles I and Maryland named so for his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria (Queen Mary) and also Georgia was named after King George II
Architecture such as the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. which was first designed by English-educated American Architect William Thornton. Also, many American college campuses, such as Harvard, Yale, Brown, Williams, Princeton University, and the University of Delaware, have English Georgian or English gothic architecture.
The American legal system also has its roots in English law. For example, elements of the Magna Carta were incorporated into the United States constitution. 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.
Presidents of English descent
Most of the Presidents of the United States have had English ancestry. 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.
- George Washington (English)
- 1st President 1789-97 (great-grandfather, John Washington from Purleigh, Essex, England.)
- John Adams (English)
- 2nd President 1797-1801 (great-great-grandfather, Henry Adams born 1583 Barton St David, Somerset, England, immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts.)
- Thomas Jefferson (English and Scots-English)
- 3rd President 1801–1809 (Maternal English ancestry from William Randolph.)
- James Madison (English)
- 4th President 1809-17
- John Quincy Adams (English)
- 6th President 1825-29 (Henry Adams born 1583 Barton St David, Somerset, England.)
- William Henry Harrison (English)
- 9th President 1841-1841 
- John Tyler (English)
- 10th President 1841-1845 
- Zachary Taylor (English)
- 12th President 1849-50
- Millard Fillmore (English)
- 13th President 1850-1853 
- Franklin Pierce (English)
- 14th President 1853-1857 
- Abraham Lincoln (English, Welsh)
- 16th President 1861-65 (Samuel Lincoln baptised 1622 in Hingham, Norfolk, England, died in Hingham, Massachusetts.)
- Andrew Johnson (Scots-Irish and English)
- 17th President 1865-1869 
- Ulysses S. Grant (Scots-Irish, English & Scottish)
- 18th President, 1869-77
- Rutherford B. Hayes (English)
- 19th President 1877-1881 
- James A. Garfield (English, Welsh and French)
- 20th President 1881-81 
- Chester A. Arthur (Scots-Irish and English)
- 21st President 1881-85
- Grover Cleveland (Scots-Irish & English)
- 22nd and 24th President, 1885-89 and 1893-97
- Benjamin Harrison (Scots-Irish & English)
- 23rd President, 1889-93
- William McKinley (Scots-Irish & English)
- 25th President, 1897-1901
- Theodore Roosevelt (Scots-Irish, Dutch, Scots, English & French)
- 26th President, 1901-09
- William Howard Taft (Scots-Irish & English)
- 27th President 1909-13
- Warren G. Harding (Scots-Irish & English)
- 29th President 1921-23
- Calvin Coolidge (English)
- 30th President 1923-1929 
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (Dutch, French & English)
- 32nd President 1933-45
- Harry S Truman (Scots-Irish, English & German)
- 33rd President 1945-53
- Lyndon B. Johnson (English)
- 36th President 1963-69
- Richard Nixon (Scots-Irish, Irish, English & German)
- 37th President, 1969-74
- Gerald Ford (English)
- 38th President 1974-77
- Jimmy Carter (Scotch-Irish & English)
- 39th President 1977-81 (Thomas Carter Sr. emigrated from England to Isle of Wight County, Virginia.)
- Ronald Reagan (Scots-Irish, Irish, English & Scottish)
- 40th President 1981-89: He was the great-grandson, on his father's side, of Irish migrants from County Tipperary who came to America via Canada and England in the 1840s. His mother was of Scottish and English ancestry.
- George H. W. Bush (Scots-Irish, English, Dutch & German)
- 41st President 1989-93: County Wexford historians have found that one of his ancestors, Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke nicknamed "Strongbow" offered his military services in the 12th-century Norman invasion of Wexford, Ireland. Strongbow married Aoife, daughter of Dermot MacMurrough, the Gaelic king of Leinster who had welcomed the Norman assistance to regain his throne in Ireland. .
- Bill Clinton (Scots-Irish & English)
- 42nd President 1993-2001
- George W. Bush (Scots-Irish, English, Dutch, German & Welsh)
- 43rd President 2001-2009: Reynold Bush from Messing, Essex, England emigrated in 1631 to Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Barack Obama (Luo, English & Irish)
- 44th President 2009-: His maternal ancestors came to America from France, England, Germany, Switzerland and Ireland. His ancestors lived in New England and the South and by the 1800s most were in the Midwest. His father was Luo (or Jaluo) from Kenya, and was the first person in his family to travel or live outside of Africa.
Other notable English Americans
- Americans or American people
- Anglo America
- English (ethnic group)
- Anglo-American relations
- Anglo-Celtic Australian
- Boston Brahmin
- British American
- Demographic history of the United States
- English colonial empire
- English place names in the United States
- European American
- Immigration to the United States
- List of English Americans
- Scottish American
- Welsh American
- Maps of American ancestries
- White Anglo-Saxon Protestant
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- US Census 1980
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