The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia:
"- Dipt into the future far as human eye could see; Saw the vision of
the world, and all the wonder that would be."
William Penn in Pennsylvania and the Governors of New York and other nearby States were not the only persons who made efforts to secure these immigrants. During the first half of the eighteenth century some of the large landed proprietors in the New England colonies were intent on the same game. They sent agents across the Atlantic, who fairly flooded the Palatinate and other German provinces with hand-bills and other documents to encourage immigration into that region. Nor were their efforts unsuccessful. A number of small colonies were persuaded to come over, and they were settled along the bleak seacoast. But the unkindly climate, added to the sterility of the soil, and in some cases also fraudulent titles to their lands, soon had the effect of driving them away, they finding more congenial homes in the Middle and Southern Colonies.
It cannot be gainsaid that the Germans were preminently such settlers as the Province of Pennsylvania needed. From the earliest times they lived in the forests and cultivated the soil. One of the greatest of the Latin historians has told us that none of the German nations lived in cities, "or even allow contiguous settlements. They dwelt scattered and separate, as a spring, a meadow or a grove might chance to invite them. Their villages are laid out in rows of adjoining buildings, but every one surrounds his house with a vacant space, either by way of security against fire, or through ignorance of the art of building. For indeed they are unacquainted with the use of mortar and tiles and for every purpose employ rude misshapen timber fashioned with no regard to pleasing the eye." 31 Csar speaks to the same purpose, and says, "they think it the greatest honor to a nation to have as wide an extent of vacant land around their dominions as possible." 32
An eminent German historian has said that the overplus population of Germany has ever emigrated; in ancient times for the purpose of conquering foreign powers; in modern times for that of serving under them. In the days of German heroism, her conquering hordes spread towards the west and south. During the Middle Ages her mailclad warriors took an easterly direction and overran the Slavonian countries. In modern times, her political and religous refugees have emigrated in scarcely less considerable numbers to countries far more distant, but in the humble garb of artificers and beggars, the Parias of the world. Her ancient warriors gained undying fame and long maintained the influence and the rule of Germany in foreign lands. Her modern emigrants have quitted their native country unnoted, and as early as the second generation intermixed with the people among whom they settled. Hundreds of thousands of Germans have in this manner aided in aggrandizing the British colonies, while Germany has derived no benefit from the emigration of her sons. The industry and honesty for which the German workmen are remarkable caused some Englishmen to enter into a speculation to procure their services as white slaves. The greatest encouragement was accordingly given by them to emigration from Germany. 33
Early in the eighteenth century one of the most distinguished of the sons of Ireland came to the New World. He had all the culture of the schools. There were few departments of learning that were unfamiliar to him. Best of all, his heart was full of love for the human race, for he caught his inspiration in the same school that gave the world men like Locke and Penn and Hampden. He came here full of high hopes and the most exalted ambition. Unfortunately, his schemes for the uplifting of the American people, from the Red Man in his forest home to the refined dweller in the cities, were not realized, and George Berkeley returned to Europe, eventually to receive a bishopric he did not covet. But the heart of the gentle prelate turned with
Caption: German Immigration Into Pennsylvania. Arranged and Photo, by J. F. Sachse. Pennsylvania-German Enterprise. Glassware Made by Baron Stiedel (1768-1774). Manheim. Pa. Specimens in Danner Collection. an unquenchable and ever-living love to the green fields, the prosperous villages, and to the happy men who dwelt in America. Through the mists of the future he thought he saw what was destined to transpire in that land of his affection in the years that were still to come, and when the spirit of prophecy came upon him, he wrote words that have come down to us, their music reverberating through the corridors of time.
"In happy climes, the seat of innocence,
Where nature guides, and virtue rules;
Where men shall not impose for truth and sense
The pedantry of courts and schools:-
"There shall be sung another golden age,-
The rise of empire and of arts,-
The good and great inspiring epic rage-
The wisest heads and noblest hearts.
"Not such as Europe breeds in her decay;
Such as she bred when fresh and young,
When heavenly flame did animate her clay,
By future poets shall be sung.
"Westward the cause of empire takes its way.
The first four acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day.
Time's noblest offspring is the last."
Is it too much to say to-day that the hopes of William Penn and the prophetic visions of the poet-Bishop have already had their realization? Is not Pennsylvania at this very hour the grandest colony ever founded in the New World. Which surpasses her? Which equals her? Does she not stand peerless, an empire Republic, largely the result of this German immigration?
The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
A Glance at the Quarrels between the Proprietary Governors and the Legislatures.-It was not the Political "Golden Age" to which we sometimes Refer with so much Pride and Pleasure. "In Deutsche Eichenforste, Auf Berge, hoch und grn Zu frischen Au'n der Donau Zog mich das Heimweh hin." "Wie wird es in den fremden Waldern Euch nach der Heimathberge grn, Nach Deutschlands gelben Weizenfeldern, Nach seinen Rebenhgeln ziehn."
Agreat deal is said and read in these latter days of the golden age of our provincial times. The present generation is told to refer to that idyllic period as a time and when the golden rule was the reigning law among men, to contrast it with the spirit of legislative strife, contention and corruption which we are told hold sway to-day. The myth has done duty for many a year and those who are content to take things at second hand, accept and believe it. But that golden colonial period derives its fine reputation from the glamor the passing generations of men have thrown upon it. Let the student carefully study the Colonial Records and the First Series of Pennsylvania Archives, and he will have his mind promptly disabused of these pleasing ideas. The trouble began even before the death of Penn and it was continued between nearly all the succeeding Governors and the Assemblies until the Proprietary rights were extinguished by the Revolution. No, quarrels between the legislative and executive departments of our fair Province of Pennsylvania were a constantly recurring affair, and often were anything but beneficial to the inhabitants.
This fact is recalled now to exemplify a case where it resulted in the neglect to do a very necessary thing, which both the Governor and the Assembly seemed anxious to do, but which through their obstinacy and recriminations, was long delayed. The need of a hospital or lazaretto for the reception of immigrants and others who came to Philadelphia on pest-infected vessels, was recognized long before action was taken to establish one. Not only did the German residents of Philadelphia urge it, but English subjects also. In 1738 the influence brought to bear on Governor Thomas was so strong that at a Council meeting held on January 2d of the above mentioned year, he made an address, in which among other things he highly complimented the German immigrants and declared the progress and prosperity of the Province was largely due to their industry and thrift. He further said: "The condition, indeed, of such as arrived here lately has given a very just alarm; but had you been provided with a Pest House or Hospital, in a proper Situation, the Evils which have been apprehended might, under God, have been entirely prevented. The Law to Prevent Sickly Vessels from coming into this Government, has been strictly put in Execution by me. A Physician has been appointed to visit those Vessels, and the Masters obliged to land such of the Passengers as were sick, at a distance from the City, and to convey them at their own Expence, to Houses in the Country convenient for their Reception. More could not have been done without inhumanly exposing great Numbers to perish on board the Ships that brought them. This accident, I cannot doubt, will induce you to make a Provision against the like for the future." 34
Owing, however, to the causes just alluded to, the Assembly ignored the Governor's suggestion about providing a hospital for sick immigrants, and the records make no further mention of the matter until the 26th of January, 1741, when the Governor laid before the Council the following address or message which he said he had sent to the General Assembly, viz:
"Several of the most substantial Germans now Inhabitants of this Province, have joined in a petition to me, setting forth in Substance, That for want of a Convenient House for the reception of such of their Countrymen as, on their Arrival here, laboured under Diseases Contracted in a long Voyage, they were obliged to continue on board the Ships which brought them, where they could not get either Attendance or Conveniences suitable to their Condition, from whence many have lost their Lives; And praying that I would recommend to the Assembly the Erecting of a proper Building at the public Expence, not only to accommodate such as shall arrive hereafter under the same Circumstances, but to prevent the future Importation of Diseases into this City, which has more than once felt the fatal Effects of them.
"The numbers of People which I observed came into this Province from Ireland & Germany, pointed out to me the necessity of an Hospital or Pest House, soon after my arrival here; (August, 1738.) and in 1738 I recommended it to the Assembly of that year, who seemed so far from disapproving it, that they gave me hopes of building. one so soon as the Circumstances of the Province should admit. I very heartily wish for the sake of such ffamilys, Inhabitants of this City, as suffered in the late Mortality by the Loss of some who were their Chief Support, and will therefore feel it for Years to come, and on account of the Irish & German Strangers, that it had indeed been done as soon as the Circumstances of the Province did admit of it. But as it can profit nothing to bewail Evils past, I hope you will now make the proper Use of them by doing all in your Power to Prevent the like for the time to come.
"I am not insensible that some look with jealous Eyes upon the yearly concourse of Germans to this Province, but the Parliament of Great Britain see it in a different Light, and have therefore given great Encouragement by a late Act to all such foreign Protestants as shall settle in his Majesty's Dominions; And indeed every Man who well Considers this Matter must allow that every industrious Laborer from Europe, is a real addition to the wealth of this Province, and that the Labor of every foreigner in particular is almost so much clear Gain to our Mother Country.
"I hope I need not take up more of your or my own Time to convince you that what is now again recommended is both for the interest of the Province and the Health of this City. Evils felt are the most convincing Arguments. I shall only add, that as Christians and as Men, we are obliged to make a Charitable Provision for the sick Stranger, and not by Confining him to a Ship, inhumanly expose him to fresh Miserys when he hopes that his Sufferings are soon to be mitigated. Nothing but the building an Hospital or Pest House in a proper situation can, in my Opinion, be a suitable Charity or an Effectual security for the future, more especially as the Country people are grown so apprehensive of the Disease that they will not be persuaded to admit the infected into their Houses."
To the foregoing message, every word of which was true, the Assembly returned the following answer:
"A Message to the Governor from the House of Representatives.
"May it please the Governor:
"As great numbers of People from Ireland & Germany are yearly imported into this Province, some of whom have been affected with Malignant & Dangerous Distempers, it is Evident to Us that a convenient House to accommodate such as shall hereafter arrive under the like Circumstances, may be of great Use to them, and a means to prevent the spreading of infectious Distempers among Us, the Effects of which the City of Philadelphia has lately felt, altho' we think a due Execution of the Laws might in part have prevented them. How this failure happened, at whose Door it ought to lye, and the Means of preventing it for the future, we shall take another Occasion to Consider, and therefore we wave further Notice of it here.
"When the Governor was pleased to recommend the Building an Hospital or Pest-house to the Assembly in the Year 1738, it was thought too great an undertaking for the Circumstances we were then in; and if it be Considered that the Province hath since been at great and unusual Expences, we think it may justly be said that the State of the Public Treasure neither at present nor at any time since the year 1738 hath been in a much better Condition for such an Undertaking than it was at that time. Nevertheless, as it will not only be Charitable to Strangers who may hereafter come among us in the distressed Circumstances before mentioned, but also of benefit to the inhabitants of this Province, we are therefore determined to take this Matter into Consideration, and to direct a plan to be proposed and an Estimate made of the Money which would be requisite for the Building and yearly maintenance of such an Hospital, to be laid before Us at our next Sitting. In the mean Time, as it is a Matter of Considerable Importance, we may have the Opportunity of Knowing more generally the Minds of our Constituents, and it will give such of them as shall think it fit an Opportunity of applying to us touching the necessity of such a Building, and the Manner of doing it which may render it most useful & least burthensome to the Province; And on the whole we may the better be enabled to judge of the part it will become Us to act in the Affair.
"Who they are that look with jealous Eyes on the Germans the Governor has not been pleased to inform Us, nor do we know; Nothing of the kind can justly be attributed to Us, or any preceeding Assembly to our knowledge; On the Contrary, the Legislature of this Province, before the late Provision made in the Parliament of Great Britian, have generally, on application made to them, admitted the Germans to partake of the Privileges enjoyed by the King's natural born Subjects here, and as we look upon the protestant part of them in general to be Laborius, Industrious people, we shall cheerfully perform what may reasonably be expected from Us for the benefit of those already among Us, and such who may hereafter be imported.
"Signed by Order of the House.
It will readily be seen that the foregoing reply is so much petty quibbling, intended to excuse the non-performance of a duty, for neglect of which there really was no excuse. But Governor Thomas was a good politician, had as good a command of the English language as the members of the Legislature, and above all had the right side of the question. He promptly sent that body a rejoinder on the following day, January 8th, in the following words:
"I am not a little pleased to find by your Message of Yesterday, that you agree to the necessity of building a Pest House for the reception of Sick strangers, and to prevent the Spreading of infectious Diseases they may happen to have Contracted in their Voyage hither, and I cannot allow myself to doubt of your taking a speedy & proper Means for the Completion of so charitable a Work.
"Whilst the German petitioners complain that many have lost their Lives by being confined to the ships, you express your Dissatisfaction that the Laws have not been Executed; that is, I suppose, that sick passengers were not confined to the Ships. A former Assembly however, composed
Caption: Pastorius' Tract on Pennsylvania Title-Page of Melchior Adam Pastorius' Tract on Windsheim and Pennsylvaina. of many of the same Members with the present, after the very same Measures taken as to me, were pleased to tell me in their address `That they had a grateful sense of my Care in putting in Execution the Law for preventing Sickly vessels from coming into this Government.' But all I say or do now must be wrong. The Resolutions of the last Assembly on this Matter sufficiently explain to me what is meant by `taking another occasion to consider at whose Door the late sickness in Philadelphia ought to lie.' I shall be glad to see your attempt to justify what was insinuated & assumed in those Resolves; Accusations & Complaints are no new things to me, but thanks to my Integrity they have been so far from doing me a prejudice that they have shown me to his Majesty & his Ministers in a Light more advantageous than I could otherwise have expected; ffor this favor tho' not designed as such, Gentlemen, I thank you.
"If I do not strictly adhere to form in imputing to you what was done by the two preceeding Assembly's I hope you will excuse me, for as you are nine in ten of you the same Members, I do not know how to separate your actions from your Persons.
"I cannot but differ with you (which I am sorry is too often the Case) in the State of the Public Treasury since 1738, for the Public accounts in my Opinion Show that the Province has at no point of Time since been unable to Erect the proposed Building; you have, I confess, been at some unusual Expence, but I cannot call it great as you do, since £1,500 out of the £2,500 said to be Expended has been stopt out of my support. I know of no other call Upon the Province since for an Unusual Expence. If you have generously and out of Compassion for the Sufferings of your Subjects in Britain remitted £3,000 to your Agent for their Relief, I conclude you were well able to Spare it, And that otherwise you would not have done it.
"Either the Memory of some of your Body who were members in 1738, must have failed them very much; or their Sentiments of the Importation of foreigners are, for very Substantial Reasons, much alter'd; ffor, not to dwell upon a small Instance of the assembly's Displeasure to me at that Time for saying a little too much of the Industry of the Germans, I refer you to the Minutes for the Assembly's address to the Proprietor in 1738, to convince you that what I said of their having been looked upon with Jealous Eyes by some, was not altogether without foundation. What follows may be found in that address:
"And this House will, in a proper Time, readily join with the Governor in any Act that may be judged necessary, as well for protecting the property of the Proprietors and others from such unjust Intrusions for the future and for the preservation of the peace of the Government, as for Guarding against the Dangers which may arise from the great & frequent Importation of fforeigners." 35
It is not necessary to follow this quarrel between the Governor and the Assembly any further. Suffice it to say that eight days later the Assembly replied to the last quoted communication of the Governor in a screed nearly thrice as long, in which an attempt is made to traverse the latter's very effective and convincing homethrusts.
It appears that a Dr. Gr??me had for many years, more than twenty, by appointment of an earlier Governor and the consent of the Provincial Council, visited unhealthy vessels. About this time he presented a bill reading as follows: "To going on Board Visiting & reporting to his Honour, the Governor, the State and Condition as to Sickness & Health of six Palatine vessels, and one with Negroes from South Carolina, at a Pistole each, £9. 16s." Of course the Assembly found fault: there was no explanation of the service rendered; the names of the ships were not given, there was no evidence they were infected; so the House would not approve the bill. It turned up again in the following year accompanied by another bill for £8. 8s., but without the desired explanations. Finally he was allowed £10 in payment of both. After that he refused to serve any longer, and Dr. Lachany and some other doctors, no doubt moved by professional etiquette, also refused to act in this capacity, and the result was another war of words between the Governor and his unmanageable Assembly. The latter body drew up and passed a series of resolutions, the first one of which read as follows: "That for the Governor & Council to draw in Question, arrange & Censure the proceedings of the Representatives of the ffreemen of this Province in Assembly met, after the Adjournment of such Assembly, is assuming to themselves a power the Law hath not intrusted them with, is illegal, unwarrantable, a high breach of their Privileges, and of Dangerous Example." 36 With the discharge of this Parthian shot we shall leave these beligerents, who kept up their quarrels for a long time after with all their original impetuosity.
The outcome of this quarrel was, however, that in 1742, Fisher's Island was purchased for the sum of £1,700 by a Committee who were to hold the estate in trust. This island contained three hundred and forty-two acres, and was situated near the junction of the Schuylkill with the
Caption: German Immigration Into Pennsylvania. Head Dress and Utensils. (A) Quilted Hood, Beaver Hat. Leghorn Bonnet and Tortoise-Shell Combs. (B) Seine Ploat, Bread Tray, Fruit Basket. Spark Catcher and Warming Pan. Delaware, on the southwest side of the Schuylkill, near its mouth. The name Fisher's Island was taken from the man who owned it. The named was changed to Province Island, and later to State Island. There were some buildings on it at the time and these were utilized as hospitals. Fines were imposed upon any one harboring a person who had been ordered to the Island. In January, 1750, the Assembly appropriated £1,000 to erect a pest house. 37
Sometimes when the passengers on an arriving ship were afflicted with a severe disorder, they were not permitted to land, but were compelled to remain on board the close quarters of the infected vessel, a practice which it may be supposed did not contribute much to their speedy restoration to health. 38
Under date of October 27, 1738, Lloyd Zachary and Th. Bond, physicians, presented a certificate to the colonial council to the following effect: "We have carefully examined the state of health of the marines and passengers on board of the ship St. Andrew, Captain Steadman, from Rotterdam, and found a great number laboring under a malignant, eruptive fever, and are of the opinion, they cannot, for some time, be landed in town without the danger of infecting the inhabitants."
Again: "The foreigners, in number 49, imported in the ship Francis and Elizabeth, Captain Beach, being sickly, were not permitted to be landed. Likewise the foreigners, in number 53, imported in the ship Rachel, Captain Armstrong, were so sickly that it was thought dangerous to suffer them to land altogether; whereupon the sick were ordered to be separated from the well, and such as recovered, with the well were to be qualified occasionally." 39
Caption: Skimmer and Musstopf.
Early Demand of the Germans for Naturalization. -Request Denied, but Granted Later.-How They Spread over all the Land and became the Shield and Bulwark of the Quakers by Guarding the Frontiers against the Indians. "From Delaware's and Schuylkill's gleam, Away where Susquehanna twines, And out o'er Allegheny's stream In places distant fell their lines." By river and by fountain, Where'er they touched this strand; In wood and vale and mountain, They found a fatherland.
Caption: Royal Arms of Holland, A. D. 1694.
As has already been stated the great and persistent influx of Germans alarmed the Provincial Assembly, which at that early period was composed almost exclusively of British born subjects. Several efforts to secure naturalization met with much coldness. Their industry and abstention from politics were well known, but failed to remove the existing jealousy. As early as 1721, Palatines, who had long been residents in the Province, applied for the privileges of naturalization, but their claims were quietly ignored until 1724, when permission was granted to bring in a bill, conditionally however, that each applicant should obtain from a justice of the peace a certificate of the value of their property and the nature of their religious faith.
A bill carrying the foregoing provisions was passed and laid before the Governor in 1725, but was returned by him without his approval, on the ground that in a country where English law and liberty prevailed, a scrutiny into the private conversation and faith of the citizens, and especially into the value of their estates was a measure at once unjust in its character and establishing a dangerous precedent. The House yielded to the Governor's reasoning and the bill was withdrawn. But the Palatines became more urgent for the privileges of citizenship as they saw a disposition on the part of the authorities to defer their request, doubtless apprehending that sinister motives controlled the action of the Assembly.
In 1729 the question was once more brought up and the following bill was introduced. It was passed on October 14, 1729, and received the assent of Governor Gordon:
Whereas, By encouragement given by the Honorable William Penn, Esq., late Proprietary and Governor of the province of Pennsylvania, and by permission of his Majesty, King George the First, of blessed memory, and his predecessors, Kings and Queens of England, &c., divers Protestants, who were subjects to the Emperor of Germany, a Prince in amity with the Crown of Great Britain, transported themselves and estates into the Province of Pennsylvania, between the years one thousand seven hundred and eighteen; and since they came hither have contributed very much to the enlargement of the British Empire, and to the raising and improving sundry commodities fit for the markets of Europe, and have always behaved themselves religiously and peaceably, and have paid a due regard to the laws and Government of this province; And whereas, many of said persons, to wit, Martin Meylin, Hans Graaf and others, all of Lancaster county, in the said province, in demonstration of their affection and zeal for his present Majesty's person and Government, qualified themselves by taking the qualification, and subscribing the declaration directed to be taken and subscribed by the several acts of parliament, made for the security of his Majesty's person and Government, and for preventing the dangers which may happen by Popish Recusants, &c., and thereupon have humbly signified to the Governor and Representatives of the freemen of this province, in General Assembly, that they have purchased and do hold lands of the proprietary, and others, his Majesty's subjects within this province, and have likewise represented their great desire of being made partakers of those privileges which the natural born subjects of Great Britain do enjoy within this province; and it being just and reasonable, that those persons who have bona fide purchased lands, and who have given such testimony of their affection and obedience to the Crown of Great Britain should as well be secured in the enjoyment of their estates, as encouraged in their laudable affection and zeal for the English constitution:
Be it enacted by the Hon. Patrick Gordon, Esq., Lieutenant Governor of the province of Pennsylvania, &c., 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 (here follow the names of one hundred and five heads of German families) all of Lancaster county, be, and shall be to all intents and purposes deemed, taken and esteemed, His Majesty's natural born subjects of this province of Pennsylvania, as if they, and each of them had been born within the said province; and shall and may, and every one of them shall and may, within this province, take, receive, enjoy, and be entitled to all rights, privileges and advantages of natural born subjects, as fully, to all intents and constructions and purposes, whatsoever, as any of His Majesty's natural born subjects of this province, can, do, or ought to enjoy, by virtue of their being His Majesty's natural born subjects of His Majesty's said province of Pennsylvania." 40
From this time forward long lists of persons, mostly Germans, however, were presented to the Assembly, asking that the petitioners be granted the privileges of naturalization and citizenship. As we are nowhere informed that these hard-working, industrious citizens anywhere turned in and kicked the Quaker law makers out of their places of honor and profit, it may be taken for granted they did all they promised in their oaths of naturalization. When the troublesome times of the Revolution came along none were stauncher in their support of the Independence of the Colonies.
From the following endorsement which appears on the copy of an act passed by the General Assembly, sitting from October 14, 1738, until its adjournment on May 1, 1739, naturalizing a large number of Germans, I infer there must have been a charge for naturalization and that considerable revenue was derived from this source: 41
Philadel'y, the 18th of September.
Then received of Abraham Witmer the sum of one pound and two shillings (and one pound before) which is in full for his Naturalization. I say received by me.