The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia:
Saint Andrew Oct. 27 300
Bilender Thistle Oct. 28 152
Elizabeth Oct. 30 95
Charming Nancy Nov. 9 200
Enterprise Dec. 6 120
Very frequently two ships came into port on the same day. On September 3, 1739, and again on September 16, 1751, and September 27, 1752, three of these vessels sailed into port. The latter year is noted for its double arrivals, there having been two on the 22d of September, two on the 23d and three on the 27th. September 30, 1754, beat all records, no fewer than four immigrant ships having come into the port of Philadelphia on that day.
From 1737 to 1746, sixty-seven ships arrived bringing nearly fifteen thousand Germans, nearly all of whom sailed from Rotterdam. Of the first 100 ships that came with immigrants, four came in the month of May, one in June, one in July, fourteen in August, fifty in September, nineteen in October, five in November, four in December, and one each in January and February-the latter doubtless delayed by contrary winds or storms beyond their usual times. Among that 100 were seventy different ships. Some made a regular business of this kind of traffic and came a number of times. The Samuel has six voyages to her credit; the Saint Andrew four, the Royal Judith five and the Friendship five. Many names continue on the lists for many years. Some of these craft were called vessels, others ranked as ships, while there were still others known as "snows," "brigantines," "pinks," "brigs" and "billenders," names apparently applied to small craft, and which nomenclature, in part at least, is no longer current among ship-builders and sea-faring men.
The size of the ships on which these immigrants reached Pennsylvania, varied very considerably. A list of sixteen which I have found gives the smallest as 63 feet long over the gun deck, 20 feet 11 inches breadth of beam and 9 feet 7 « inches as the depth of hold, with a tonnage of 108 73/94 tons; and the largest 99 feet 8 inches as length of deck,
Caption: Budd's Tract on Pennsylvania Title-Page of Budd's Tract, printed by William Bradford, Philadelphia. 26 feet 5 inches as breadth of beam and a tonnage of 311 16/94 tons. The average tonnage of the sixteen was 178 tons.
In some years the immigrants were nearly all from the Palatinate. Then again Wurtembergers, Hannoverians, Saxons and Alsatians came, flocking by themselves, doubtless because, coming from the same locality, they desired to settle together after their arrival. At still other times the immigrants on a ship were composed of the subjects of half a dozen German rulers.
The principal port of embarkation was Rotterdam, and thence to Cowes, on the Isle of Wight. Sometimes ships would load up in London, but generally with small numbers. Among the other points of departure were Rotterdam and Leith; Rotterdam and Deal; Rotterdam and Plymouth, Rotterdam and Portsmouth; Hamburg and Cowes; Amsterdam and Cowes, and other places. In 1770 three ships arrived from Lisbon, Portugal, with mostly Germans, but a few of other nationalities. In October, 1774, the ships Polly and Peggy, arrived from Lisbon, bringing an entire cargo of Portuguese, Spaniards or French.
I quote the following from a prominent historian as pertinent to the question of numbers.
"In the summer of 1749 twenty-five sail of large ships arrived with German passengers alone; which brought about twelve thousand souls, some of the ships about six hundred each; and in several other years nearly the same number of these people arrived annually; and in some years near as many from Ireland. By an exact account of all the ships and passengers annually which have arrived at Philadelphia, with Germans alone, nearly from the first settlement of the Province till about the year 1776, when their importation ceased, the number of the latter appears to be about thirty-nine thousand; and their internal increase has been very great. The Germans sought estates in this country, where industry and parsimony are the chief requisites to procure them." 20
This statement is self-contradictory. In the first place, very few of the ships brought 600 passengers. That seems to have been about the extreme limit that came on any one vessel at a time. Only the very largest ships could carry that number. The smaller craft, and they were far more numerous than the large ones, carried less than half as many. Taking the records for a period of ten years, I find that the average carried by the nearly 70 ships that arrived during that period to have been about 300 each. Even that seems a large number when the average size of the ships-less than 200 tons-is considered. Then, again, if we take the number of recorded immigrant ships during the period mentioned by Proud, and allow them an average of only 200 passengers each, we get as a result nearly twice the total number of German immigrants as given by him. Besides, we are aware from many other sources that his is an underestimate as to totals, very much too low, in fact, as will be shown later on.
There was very little German immigration during the years immediately following the close of the Revolutionary War. The British Consul at Philadelphia puts the number of arrivals between 1783 and 1789 at 1,893 or only about 315 each year, on an average. In the latter named year, out of 2,176 arrivals only 114 were Germans.
But the action already taken did not wholly allay the fears of the Proprietary government. Those fears were supplemented by instructions from the British ministry, and two years after the Legislation already recorded, the impolitic Act of the Assembly, laying a head tax upon all aliens who should come into the Province, was consummated.
Gordon intimates that "a regard to revenue may have assisted this determination, as many thousands of Germans were expected in the ensuing year. In justice to the Germans, it should be told, that this law was enacted in the face of a report of a committee of the House, containing satisfactory evidence of their good conduct." 21
Here is the report alluded to in the foregoing paragraph: "The Palatines who had been imported directly into the Province, had purchased and honestly paid for their lands, had conducted themselves respectfully towards the government, paid their taxes readily, and were a sober and honest people in their religious and civil duties. Yet some who have come by the way of New York and elsewhere, had seated themselves on lands of the Proprietaries and others, and refused to yield obedience to the governments."
The latter allusion refers to the colony which came down the Susquehanna in 1729, under the leadership of John Conrad Weiser, the younger, and settled in the Tulpehocken region of Berks county. The persistence of the Germans in adhering to their mother tongue was perhaps the principal reason for this uneasiness; besides, they generally managed to settle near each other, so that communities composed almost exclusively of Germans grew up in many places.
As few acts of the Assembly at that early day have received more comment than the one laying a head tax on aliens, the law is here quoted. The word "Germans" is not found in the law, but as there were few other aliens besides these, at that time, the Germans were the persons against whom the statute was aimed.
The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
An Act Laying a Duty on Foreigners and Irish Servants Imported into this Province, Passed May 10, 1729.
"Whereas an act of general assembly of this province was made in the eighth year of the reign of the late King George for preventing the importation of persons convicted of heinous crimes, and, whereas, it appears necessary that a further provision be made to discourage the great importation and coming in of numbers of foreigners and of lewd, idle and ill-affected persons into this province, as well from parts beyond the seas as from the neighboring colonies, by reason whereof not only the quiet and safety of the peaceable people of this province is very much endangered, but great numbers of the persons so imported and coming into this government, either through age, impotency or idleness, have become a heavy burden and charge upon the inhabitants of this province and is daily increasing. For remedy whereof:
"Be it enacted by the Honorable Patrick Gordon, Esquire, Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Pennsylvania, &., by and with the advice and consent of the freemen of the said Province in General Assembly met, and by the authority of the same, That all persons being aliens born out of the allegiance of the King of Great Britain and being of the age of sixteen years or upwards shall within the space of forty-eight hours after their being imported or coming into this province by land or water, go before some judge or justice of the peace of the said province or before the mayor or recorder of the city of Philadelphia for the time being and there take the oaths appointed to be taken instead of the oath of allegiance and supremacy, and shall also take the oath of adjuration, for which each person shall pay to the person administering the said oaths the sum of twelve pence and no more. And if any such alien (being of the age aforesaid) shall refuse or neglect to take the oaths aforesaid, it shall and may be lawful to and for any judge, justice of the peace or other magistrate of this government forthwith to cause such person or persons to be brought before them, (and) oblige them to give security for their good behavior and appearance at the next court of general quarter-sessions of the peace to be held for the city or country where such magistrate resides.
* * * * * * * *
"Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every person being an alien born out of the allegiance of the King of Great Britain and being imported or coming into this province by land or water shall pay the duty of forty shillings for the uses of this act hereinafter mentioned.
"And that all masters of vessels, merchants and others who shall import or bring into any port or place within this province any Irish servant or passenger upon redemption, or on condition of paying for his or her passage upon or after their arrival in the plantations, shall pay for every such Irish servant or passenger upon redemption as aforesaid the sum of twenty shillings." 22
The foregoing includes only a portion of the first and second sections of the Act, which runs to six sections in all. The other sections allude to a number of other things, such as the carrying out of the law, and the penalties imposed for non-compliance. In section third occurs this clause, which throws some light upon the methods employed by ship-captains and importers to smuggle objectionable persons into the province without a compliance with the laws: "And whereas it hath been a practice for masters of vessels, merchants and others trading into this province, with intent to avoid complying with the payment of the duties and giving the securities required in the cases of convicts by the aforesaid act of assembly, to land their servants in some of the adjacent governments, which servants and convicts have afterwards been secretly brought into this province."
I have found in Watson a case which was one of the many that caused the insertion of the last quoted paragraph in this Act. He copies the following paragraph from the Pennsylvania Gazette: "An errant cheat detected at Annapolis! A vessel arrived there, bringing sixth-six indentures, signed by the Mayor of Dublin, and twenty-two wigs, of such a make as if they were intended for no other use than to set out the convicts when they should get on shore." 23 It was a clever ruse to get into the country a lot of convicts by means of fraudulent papers and other devices, and dispose of them as honest servants.
It will be observed that the foregoing Act also takes full cognizance of the importation of persons for sale, of redemptioners, the practice being already so general, not alone as to Germans, but also to Englishmen, Irishmen, Scotch and Welsh, a fact that is rarely alluded to by writers when discussing this subject. In another chapter this fact will be more fully examined and additional testimony offered, although this allusion to the practice in the Act of the Assembly puts the matter so plainly as to admit of no dispute.
Prior to 1741 all the Germans who came to Pennsylvania were called Palatines on the ship lists, irrespective of the place of their nativity. Subsequent to that time, however, the terms "Foreigners," "inhabitants of the Palatinate and places adjacent" were applied to them. Still later, after 1754, the German principalities from which they came are not mentioned. 24
Caption: Typical Pennsylvania-German Cradie, With sacking bottom and top cords, showing how the infant was tied in.
The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
The Voyage Across the Ocean.-Discomforts and Privations Attending It.-Insufficient Room.-Deficient Supplies of Food and Drink.-Unsanitary Conditions and Excessive Mortality. "Borne far away beyond the ocean's roar, He found his Fatherland upon this shore; And every drop of ardent blood that ran Through his great heart was true American." "Lasst hoch die Heimath leben! Nehmt all' ein Glas zur Hand! Nicht Jeder hat ein Liebchen, Doch Jeder ein Vaterland."
The uncertainties attending the length of the voyages often entailed great hardships and misery upon the immigrants. The ships were crowded with passengers beyond their proper roomage, as Mittelberger and others relate. As I have shown elsewhere chests and other property which should have come with the voyagers, were left behind so that more human freight could be put on board. These latter consequently often took up a part of the space that should have been given to provisions and water. When the voyages were prolonged-a very common occurrence-the food ran short in a corresponding degree, and not that only, but deteriorated to an extent that often rendered it uneatable, save in cases of dire necessity. Low fares were the rule and that of course also meant provisions of the cheapest kind, and as few of them as the captain of the vessel could keep his passengers alive on, and he was not always over-particular concerning the latter. As it was with the food so it was with the water supply. The allowance of the latter, never over-abundant, nearly always ran short, when the supply was of course curtailed to the passengers. Passing vessels were often stopped to secure fresh supplies both of water and food, and pastor Muhlenburg relates how passing showers were sometimes made to yield their contributions.
In this connection it deserves to be mentioned that in those days little or no regard was paid to sanitation on board ships. They were not constructed with such ends in view but to secure the largest amount of room for the least expenditure of money. In fact, these things were very poorly understood at that time. Therefore, with insufficient and often unwholesome food, short water supplies that were unfit to drink, and the crowded condition of the vessels into the bargain, we need feel no surprise at the dreadful mortality that so often occurred on board. We are well aware to-day that typhoid fever is very generally the result of the use of contaminated water, and that the demand for greater and purer water supplies is the unceasing cry from all large and small communities. Need we wonder that under the stress of all these unhappy concurrent conditions on shipboard, the mortality in many instances was frightful?
Under conditions of discouragement, robbery, wrong, deception and contumely that almost exceed the limits of human credulity, these poor but enthusiastic people continued to make their way to America. The story of their treatment and sufferings while on shipboard equals all the horrors we have been told of the "middle passage." On shore the land shark in the shape of the broker and merchant awaited their arrival to finish the work of spoliation if the ship captain had not already completed it. It was but little these helpless sons of toil had, but in their huge wooden chests were stored a few heirlooms, generations old sometimes; the few household treasures their scant earnings had enabled them to accumulate, and which, until now they had tried to keep together. These at once became the objects of English covetousness, and too often became the reward of English cupidity. We can scarcely realize the dismal tale, but it comes to us from so many sources, official and otherwise, that we can only read, pity and believe. Herein at least the world has grown better. If such things are still practiced, it is done secretly; openly they have ceased to vex the earth with their detestable inhumanity.
Expatriation is usually a severe trial to the men of all nations, and perhaps to none so much so as to those of the Teutonic race. They are steady and constant by nature. Their affection even from days of childhood for their native soil is deep-rooted, while their love and reverence for home and fatherland is strong and abiding. Yet in this exodus to the New World all these deep-seated sentiments gave way under new feelings and impulses. They migrated to escape from the contracted and unfavorable conditions of their home environment, which were unbearable. That these people should venture their all in a quest for rest and comfort in a new and strange land, marks an era in the migrations of the human family.
The German immigrants seem to have been regarded as legitimate game by nearly all the men who in any manner were brought into relations with them. We must, of course, believe that there was some honesty among the men who had control of this traffic for so many years, but truth compels us to say that such men were not the rule but its exceptions. They had no more interest in these incoming aliens than what they might make out of them, legitimately or otherwise. In this they were greatly aided by the fact that the Germans were unacquainted with the English language, and therefore prevented from defending their rights when they were assailed. Furthermore, honest themselves, they were prone to put trust and confidence in others. Here they committed a grievous mistake. They were dealing with men in whom all the ordinary instincts of humanity save that of cupidity appear to have been almost entirely absent. What show could the trustful German, fresh from the fields of the Fatherland, have against men who seemingly lived only to defraud?
A memorial letter written by a well-known Philadelphia clergyman in 1774 to the then Govenor, gives us an insight into the frauds perpetrated on these people.
The Memorial of Lewis Weiss, 1774.
"To the Honorable John Penn, Esqr., Govenor and Commander in Chief of the Province of Pennsylvania, &c.
"The Memorial of Lewis Weiss, most respectfully showeth,
"That altho' in the Bill now before your Honor, `to prevent infectious Disease being brought into this Province,' great care and Tenderness is shewn for the unhappy sick
Caption: Bom's Account of Pennsylvania Title-Page of Cornelis Bom's Account. and of curing them if possible, yet there seems something very material that might be added by the Goodness and Humanity of the Legislative Body of this Province in order to enlarge the Benefit of an act that is partly intended to relieve the poor, the sick, and the Stranger, to wit, the Custody and preservation of their Property shipped on board of such sickly vessel.
"May it please your Honor to put a Benevolent Construction on this your Memoralist's humble application by him made (indeed not only on behalf of his Countrymen, the Germans, but) for all unfortunate Strangers taking refuge in your blessed Province. And for as much as he has these nineteen years of his Residence here lent his ear to their numerous Complaints; he begs Leave to explain the Substance thereof in as concise a manner as he is able to contract in Words so extensive a Subject.
"Passengers having Goods of any value on board of the same Ship in which they transport themselves hardly ever take Bills of Lading for such Goods, the Merchants, Captains, or their Subordinates persuading them that it could do them no Good but rather involve them into Difficulties at their arrival. If they leave any Goods in the Stores of the Freighter of such vessel they will now & then take a little Note `that the Merchant has such Chests, Casks, Bales, &c., and under takes to send it by next Vessel free of Freight, &.,' to the person who deposited such Goods with him. The Passenger puts the note in his Pocket Book, he has also the Invoice of his Goods, and his Money he has sowed up in his old Rags or in a Belt about his Waist. But in the voyage he or his Wife or some of his Family, or all of them grow sick. Then the plunder upon the sick or dead begin, and if the old ones recover or small Children survive the goods are gone, and the proofs that they had any are lost. The Captains never reported to any public officer how many passengers he took in at the Port from whence he sailed, or how many died on the voyage, never any manifest of the Goods belonging to passengers is produced. But in short hardly any vessel with Palatine Passengers has arrived in the Port of Philadelphia but there has been Clamours and Complaints heard of Stealing & pilfering the Goods of the Sick & of the dead. And if your Honour will be pleased to inquire of the Register General, whether within the space of twenty-five years or since the passing of the Act 23. Geo. 2, intitled `An Act for the prohibiting of German & other Passengers in too great Numbers in any one Vessel,' any considerable Number of Inventories of Goods & Effects of Persons who died in their Passage hither or soon after have been exhibited into that Office, you will find that the practice is otherwise than the Law.
"Upon the whole your Memorialist humbly apprehends that if sick Passengers shall by Virtue of the Bill now before your Honour be landed & nursed at the Province Island and their Chests and other Goods go up to Philadelphia, it will require a particular Provision of what shall be done for the preservation of their Goods on board.
"Philada, Jan. 19. 1774."
In some instances these German immigrants have recorded in writings which are still accessible the story of their sufferings and their wrongs. We have a case of this in the record of the voyage of the ship Love and Unity, than which no vessel was perhaps ever more unaptly named. This ship under the command of Captain Lobb, sailed from Rotterdam for Philadelphia in May, 1731, with more than one hundred and fifty Palatines. Instead of going to Philadelphia, these people, or rather the survivors, were landed on the island of Martha's Vineyard, off the southern coast of Massachusetts. Of their number, only thirty-four reached Philadelphia in May, 1732. 25
In a letter written by Johannes Gohr, Jacob Diffebach, Jonas Daner, Jacob Kuntz and Samuel Schwachhamer, dated February, 1732, to the Rev. Michael Weiss, a German Reformed minister in Philadelphia, they say among other things: "Captain Lobb, a wicked murderer of souls, thought to starve us, not having provided provisions enough, according to agreement; and thus got possession of our goods; for during the voyage of the last eight weeks, five persons were only allowed one pint of coarse meal per day, and a quart of water to each person. We were twenty-four weeks coming from Rotterdam to Martha's Vineyard. There were at first more than one hundred and fifty persons-more than one hundred perished. * * * To keep from starving, we had to eat rats and mice. We paid from eight pence to two shillings for a mouse; four pence for a quart of water. * * * In one night several persons miserably perished and were thrown naked overboard; no sand was allowed to be used to sink the bodies but they floated. We paid for a loaf of Indian corn eight shillings. Our misery was so great that we often begged the captain to put us on land that we might buy provisions. He put us off from day to day for eight weeks, until at last it pleased Almighty God, to send us a sloop, which brought us to Home's Hole, Martha's Vineyard. * * * Had he detained four days longer every one of us would have famished; for none had it in his power to hand another a drop of water. * * * All our chests were broken
Caption: German Immigration Into Pennsylvania. Domestic Industries. Tow and Flax Reels. Hanks of Spun Flax. open. * * * The captain constrained us to pay the whole freight of the dead and living, as if he had landed us at Philadelphia, and we agreed in writing to do so, not understanding what we signed; but we are not able to comply, for if we are to pay for the dead, we should have taken the goods of the dead; but in discharging the vessel, we found that most of their chests were broken open and plundered.
"The captain however, has determined, that we shall pay him in three weeks; we, therefore, desire you to instantly assist us as much as is in your power. For if we have to pay, the wicked captain will make us all beggars. * * * We would have sent two or three men with this letter, but none of us is yet able to stir, for we are weak and feeble; but as soon as there shall be two or three of us able to travel they will follow." 26
The whole history of American colonization may confidently be challenged to present so pathetic and sorrowful a tale. The voyage of the "Mayflower" has been told and retold in song and story. It is the entire stock in trade of certain writers. If I remember it aright its one hundred and two Puritans were all landed after a voyage of sixty-five days duration. Not a death from any cause, certainly none from starvation. Yet that voyage is extolled as the one beyond all others where the courage, fortitude and endurance of colonists were tried to their utmost. If the student of American colonization wishes to learn where humanity's sorest trial on this continent occurred, he must turn to the German immigration to Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century.
In this instance the deception and rascality perpetrated on these poor people became the subject of official investigation. 27
The sequel to this tale of oppression and suffering is not the least interesting part of the story. It appears that several of these wretched German immigrants had charged Captain Lobb with killing several of their countrymen by his brutal treatment. Such an accusation could hardly be passed over in silence, so he haled his accusers into the Massachusetts courts, and after a prolonged trial, the captain was not only acquitted of the charge but the witnesses against him were saddled with the costs of the trial and sent to jail until they were paid. The Philadelphische Zeitung of 1732 has an account of the proceedings. 28
The foregoing action on the part of Massachusetts had its counterpart in Pennsylvania in January, 1796. A ship arrived in Philadelphia in the fall of 1795 with a large number of French immigrants, many of whom were women and children. On January 13th of the first named year, the Legislature passed an Act appropriating $1,500 for their relief, and two hundred and twenty persons were thus aided. 29
In addition to this Martha's Vineyard episode, there is still another New England Palatine story, less fully authenticated, but of the truth of the main details there seems to be no question. As the story goes, a number of Palatine immigrants were either shipwrecked or landed under very destitute circumstances on Block Island towards the middle of the eighteenth century. No record of the occurence has been preserved so far as is known; tradition only has dealt with it, and that says many of these people were landed there and that some of them perished. Some of the survivors got away from the island. A woman who remained is reported to have married a negro.
The name of the vesselis said to have been the Palatine, but perhaps that is a mere supposition, the result of confounding it with the country whence these unfortunates came. The fancy of the poet has been called in to lend attractiveness to the tale, and Whittier tells a weird story about the ship Palatine in his "Tent on the Beach." Listen to his melodious verse: