The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of
It was customary to take the immigrants upon disembarkation to the Court House in Philadelphia to be qualified, but this practice was varied. Sometimes this ceremony occurred at the office of the Mayor, and again at the office of some attorney, no doubt authorized for that purpose. 42
The names of the incoming Palatines were published in the Colonial Records from September 21, 1727, until August 30, 1736, when the practice was discontinued.
The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Where Some of Them Went.
It is interesting to follow these people after reaching Pennsylvania. The little colony of 33 persons who planted
Caption: Conestoga Team and Wagon. themselves at Germantown under the headship of Francis Daniel Pastorius, in 1683, was slowly augmented during the following two decades. But by 1702, as Judge Pennypacker tells us, they began to penetrate into the regions beyond their own limited domain. The acquisition of land seems ever to have been a prominent characteristic with the Germans, and it may be said to continue to this very hour. Even then the spirit of speculation was rife among them. Their early cleared farms had become valuable. There were always those who, having money, preferred to buy farms from which the heavy timber had been cleared and on which good buildings were erected. The prices for wild lands were so reasonable that men were tempted to sell their early holdings and, with the aid of their sturdy sons and daughters, to enter upon and conquer new lands in the interior.
Then, too, the inflowing tide became so strong that there were no longer lands near the older settlements to be taken up, and they were perforce compelled to move far into the backwoods. Lancaster County, Berks County, Lebanon County, York and Dauphin, Schuylkill, Lehigh and Northampton all heard the tread of the invading hosts.
One characteristic of these German immigrants deserves especial mention. While many of them were handicraftsmen, by far the greater number were bauern-farmers -and to this calling they at once betook themselves. Indeed, the first thing upon their arrival in Philadelphia was to find out the nearest route to the unsettled lands of the Proprietary, and thither they betook themselves at the earliest possible moment. The backwoods had no terrors for them. As a race of tillers of the soil, they were well aware that the character of the timber was an indication of the nature of the ground on which it stood. They were not afraid to work. The felling of the trees and the clearing of the land neither intimidated nor deterred them from locating where these impediments to farming were greatest. The fatness of the land they knew was greatest where trees were largest and stood thickest. The mightiest forests fell at the resounding blows of the woodman's axe, even as the arch enemy of mankind shrunk at the potent thrust of Ithurial's spear. Their presence was manifested in every fertile valley. Wherever a cool spring burst from the earth, on every green hillside and in the depths of the forest, their modest homes appeared. The traditional policy of the Proprietary Government also pushed them to the frontiers-the places of danger. Let the truth be told, even as history is to-day writing it. It is the boast of the historian that so mild and generous was the dealing of the Quaker with the aborigines that "not a drop of Quaker blood was ever shed by an Indian." 43 Shall I tell why? It was because the belt of Quaker settlement was enclosed in a circumference described by a radius of fifty miles from Penn's city on the Delaware. Beyond that point came the sturdy Germans, the Reformed, the Lutherans, the Dunkers, the Mennonites and the Moravians, whose settlements effectually prevented the savages from spilling Quaker blood. Instead, the tomahawk and scalping knife found sheath in the bodies of the sturdy children of the Palatinate. Let the sacrificed lives of more than three hundred men, women and children from the Rhine country, who fell along the Blue Mountains between 1754 and 1763, give the true answer to the Quaker boast. 44
There were many entire settlements throughout eastern Pennsylvania as early as 1750 where no language but the German was heard. They went to the north, the south, and to the west. Soon they reached the Appalachian chain of mountains, climbed its wooded sides and debouched into the wild regions beyond until the Ohio was in sight. But on, still on, went that resistless army of Commonwealth-builders. To-day they are spread over the fairest and most fertile lands of the great West. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and other states, the entire continent in fact, count among the best of their citizens the men who went out of Pennsylvania with Luther's bible in their hands and the language of Schiller and Goethe upon their lips. Wherever they went their fervent but unobtrusive piety went with them. As early as 1750 there were already forty well-established German Reformed and thirty Lutheran congregations in Pennsylvania. 45 Of the minor church organizations, or rather of those who had no such organizations, "the sect people," like the Mennonites, the Dunkers, Schwenkfelders and many more, we cannot speak. In the aggregate they were very numerous and in their quiet way brought credit on their country and on their lineage, wherever they located themselves; and all that was said of them at that early period attaches to them to-day.
The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
The German Population of Pennsylvania as Estimated by various Writers at various Epochs. - Often Mere Guesses. - Better Means of Reaching close Results now. - Some Sources of Increase not Generally Considered. "Ay, call it holy ground, The soil where first they trod; They left unstained what there they found Freedom to worship God." O mighty oaks centennial, On field and fell that stand; Keep watch and ward perennial Above that faithful band.
Dow many Germans came to Pennsylvania during the eighteenth century? That query will probably occur to many readers, because it is one of the most interesting of all the questions connected with this subject. In the absence of direct and indisputable evidence every effort to solve the problem must of necessity be in the nature of an approximation, or if you will, only a guess. A score of writers have tried their hands at the problem, and their guesses are as various as the writers themselves. In fact, these estimates are hopelessly discordant and some of them are here given that the reader may understand the situation and exercise his own judgment in the matter from the evidence that has been laid before him in the course of this narration.
Sypher, for example, says "in 1727, nearly 50,000 persons, mostly Germans, had found a new home in Pennsylvania," 46 which I venture to think exaggerates the number at that time so far as the Germans are concerned. Dr. Charles J. Still has estimated the population of the State in 1740, at 100,000, and he adds, "of the inhabitants of the Province one-fourth or one-fifth were Quakers, about one-half Germans and the rest emigrants from the North of Ireland." 47 Governor Thomas, who ought to be good authority, expressed the opinion that in 1747 the population numbered 120,000 of which three-fifths or 72,000 were Germans. I find an estimate in the Colonial Records, on what authority is not stated, which gives the population at 220,000 in 1747 of which it is said 100,000 were Germans. In 1763, a Committee of which Benjamin Franklin was chairman, reported to Parliament that 30,000 laborers, servants and redemptioners had come into the Province within twenty years and yet "the price of labor had not diminished." 48 This is an interesting fact and is conclusive evidence that nothing was so much needed in the growing Province in those early days as men who knew how to work and were willing to do so. In 1776 Dr. Franklin's estimate was 160,000 colonists of whom one-third or 53,000 were Germans, one-third Quakers and the
Caption: German Immigration Into Pennsylvania. Domestic Utensils. 1 Wrought Iron Candle Stick. 2 Pat Lamp on Earthenware Stand. 3 Wall Sconce. 4 Pat Lamp on Portable Base. 5 Lard Lamp. 6 Can for Warming Lard. 7 Wooden Lamtern. 8 Tin Candle Stick. 9 Fish Oil Lamp. 10 Bunch of Sulphur Sticks. rest of other nationalities. Michael Schlatter, the eminent missionary and organizer in the Reformed Church, in 1751 gave 190,000 as the total population of Pennsylvania, of whom one-third or 63,000 were Germans.
Proud, the historian, who ought to be a very competent authority, estimated the entire population of Pennsylvania in 1770 at 250,000, with the Germans as one-third of that number or 83,000. Menzel, in his history of Germany, informs us that from 1770 to 1791, twenty-four immigrant ships arrived annually at Philadelphia, without reckoning those that landed in other harbors. 49 This is a wholesale exaggeration of the actual facts. This statement indicates the arrival of more than 500 ships during the 21 years mentioned. We know that is more than the total recorded number from 1727 to 1791. From 1771 until 1775 there were only 47 arrivals. There were hardly any German arrivals during the Revolutionary War, and comparatively few from 1783 until 1790. We know there were only 114 in the year 1789. It is easy for historians to fall into error when they draw on their fancy for their facts. According to Ebeling, the German inhabitants of Pennsylvania numbered 144,660 in the year 1790. 50 Seidensticker gives the inhabitants of the Province in 1752 at 190,000, of which he says about 90,000 were Germans. The Lutherans in 1731 are supposed to have numbered about 17,000 and the German Reformed 15,000. 51 In 1742 the number of Germans was given at 100,000 by Hirsching. 52 Rev. J. B. Rieger estimated the number of Germans in the Province in 1733 at 15,000. In the notes to the Hallische Nachrichten, we find this: "If we estimate the Germans of Pennsylvania, at the middle of the eighteenth century, at from 70,000 to 80,000, we shall not be far out of the way." 53
Franz Lher, in his Geschichte und Zustnde der Deutschen in Amerika, has some interesting remarks on this subject. 54
Amid this multiplicity of estimates the writer of to-day is reluctant to enter the field with some of his own. The observant men who lived here between 1725 and 1775, should certainly have been more capable of forming an accurate estimate than those who came a century or more after them. But it is evident that many made mere guesses, without actual knowledge, and their views are, therefore, without special value. The tendency in almost every case was to exaggerate. But to-day we know with tolerable accuracy the number of ships that reached Philadelphia, and have the ship lists. We know, too,
Caption: Pennsylvania and New Jersey Described. Title-Page of Original Edition of Gabriel Thomas' Account. that many were here when the registry law went into operation and who go to swell the whole number; that in addition, others came from New York prior to 1700.
In the year 1738 sixteen immigrant ships reached port, bringing from 15 to 349 each, or a total of 3,115. The average per ship was about 200. It is reasonable to suppose that was also a fair average for previous and succeeding years. Between 1727 and 1750, the latter year and that of 1745 when there were no arrivals not included, there were 134 arrivals of ships of all sizes. Allowing these an average of 200 each, we get as a result 26,800 souls, or an average of about 1,220 annually. As has elsewhere been stated the number of arrivals in 1732 was 2,093, and in 1738, 3,257. In 1728, 1729 and 1730 the arrivals were 390, 243 and 458 respectively, which, of course, counter-balance such big years as 1732 and 1738.
We are in the dark as to the ship arrivals between 1714 and 1727, but the accounts are agreed the number was considerable. I am inclined to accept the Rev. Rieger's estimate of 15,000 in 1727, instead of in 1733, where he places it. That number added to estimated arrivals between 1727 and 1749, both years included, gives us in round numbers about 42,000 in 1750, to which must be added the natural increase which was, perhaps, 5,000 more, or a total German population of 47,000 souls in the Province in 1750. Between 1750 and 1775, both years inclusive (but not counting 1757, '58, '59 and '60, during which there were no arrivals) we have a total of 196 ships in 21 years, which reckoned at the average of 200 to each vessel gives us 39,000 arrivals or rather less than an average of 1,900 yearly. This added to our previous estimate for 1750 gives us with the natural increase fully 90,000 Germans in the Province when the Revolutionary war broke out. Indeed, I am inclined to believe the number was nearer 100,000 than 90,000, for these early Germans were noted for their large families. There is, however, considerable unanimity in one particular among most of the authorities, and that is that the Germans at any and every period between 1730 and 1790 constituted about one-third of the total population. This statement is unquestionably correct as we approach the years nearest the Revolutionary period. The English Quakers and the Welsh had not been coming over in any considerable number, and the same may, perhaps, be said of the Scotch-Irish. The Germans formed the bulk of the immigrants and necessarily increased their numerical ratio to the total population of the Province which, according to the first census in 1790, was 434,373. Accepting the ratio of one-third being Germans, we get 144,791 as the German population at that period.
There is still another large increase in the German population of Pennsylvania prior to 1790 which writers do not reckon with, but which must not be left out of our estimates. It is those German soldiers who remained in the State at the close of the Revolutionary War. The number of these men who were sent to America and fought under the banner of George III., was, according to the best authorities, 29,867. 55 Of that number, 17,313 returned to Europe in the autumn of 1783. The number that did not return was 12,554. These have been accounted for as follows:
Killed and died of wounds. 1,200
Died of illness and accident 6,354
Here we have five thousand men, most of whom remained scattered among their countrymen throughout Pennsylvania. The few hundred who perhaps settled in other states were more than made up by those German soldiers who, by agreement with the several German States, enlisted in the English regiments, some of which had recruiting stations at various places along the Rhine, and who were not counted in the financial adjustment of accounts between Great Britain and the German Princes, nor compelled to return to Europe. 56
It is well known that during the first quarter of the nineteenth century the German immigration to this State was well sustained so that probably the Germans and their descendants have pretty nearly kept up the percentage of population accorded them by general consent so long as one hundred and fifty years ago.
The opinion seems to prevail very generally that in 1700 all the Germans in Pennsylvania were those who were gathered at the Germantown settlement, along the Wissahickon and immediately around Philadelphia. Rupp expressly states that there were only about 200 families of Germans in the Province in 1700. I do not coincide with that view. The colonists which Sweden had begun to send to the Delaware as early as 1638, were not composed of Swedes and Finns only; special privileges were offered to Germans and these, too, came along.
An examination of the Colonial History of New York and O'Callagan's Documentary History of New York, shows that a number of settlements had been planted on the delaware by the City of Amsterdam. Colonies of Mennonites are mentioned as having settled in New York prior to 1657. In a report on the State of Religion in New York, dated August 5, 1657, addressed to the Classis of Amsterdam, I find this: "At Gravesend, on Long Island, there are Mennonists * * * yea they for the most part reject infant baptism, the Sabbath, the office of preacher and the teachers of God's word, saying that through these have come all sorts of contention into the world. Whenever they meet together one or the other reads something for them." 57 I also find that Governor Fletcher, of New York, wrote in 1693 that "more families are daily removing for Pennsylvania and Connecticut to be eased from taxes and detachments." 58 The Rev. John Miller writes in 1696 that "the burdens of the Province (N. Y.) have made two or three hundred families forsake it and remove to Pennsylvania, and Maryland chiefly." 59
Here we are told of the migration of as many German families from New York to Pennsylvania prior to 1693, as are credited to all Pennsylvania in the year 1700. I regret that time has not allowed me to examine more fully the documents here mentioned. There are a great number of references in them to Mennonites in New York, and as these disappeared from that colony at an early date, there seems to be abundant reason for believing that they nearly all found their way into Pennsylvania, swelling the German population to no inconsiderable extent. We undoubtedly have here a factor which must be reckoned with in any summary we may make of the early population of Pennsylvania.
I am therefore not ready to accept the generally believed statement that the colony of Crefelders who settled at Germantown in 1683 were the only Germans around Philadelphia at that time. The evidence is scattering but none the less direct. Watson tells us that one Warner had settled at William Grove, two miles beyond the city limits as early as 1658. Also that Jurian Hartsfelder took up 350 acres of land in March, 1676, nearly six years before Penn's arrival. 60 Pennypacker says he was "a stray Dutchman or German, who had been a deputy Sheriff under Andross in 1676." 61 Rupp tells us that one Heinrich Frey had reached Philadelphia two years before Penn's arrival, and a certain Plattenbach somewhat later. 62 There was a large general immigration in 1682, about 30 ships having arrived with settlers. 63 We can no more divest ourselves of the belief that there were many Germans among these than we can that there were many Germans among the Swedes and Finns who first came fifty years earlier, because we know Gustavus Adolphus asked the Protestant German princes to allow their subjects to join his own subjects in forming the Swedish settlements on the Delaware. Johannes Printz, who succeeded Peter Minnewit as Governor, was a German, a Holsteiner, and he brought with him fifty-four German families, mostly from Pomerania. 64 It is a very logical supposition that these were only a portion of the Germans who planted themselves along the Delaware at various times between 1638 and 1682. When therefore Rupp tells us that there were only about 200 German families in Pennsylvania in 1700, I cannot accept his statement, because I cannot escape the conclusion from all the evidence accessible, that those figures should be increased several hundred per cent. Neither do I doubt that in the fullness of time an abundance of confirmatory evidence of this view will be forthcoming.
The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Their Detractors and their Friends. - What Both Parties have said. - The Great Philosopher Mistaken. - How the Passing Years have Brought Along their Vindication. "Vergessen soll die Feindschaft Sein Vergessen dann das Schwert; Wir wollen uns wie Brder freu'n-Uns freun an einem Heerd."
It will hardly be questioned, I suppose, that Benjamin Franklin was the greatest American of the Revolutionary era. He certainly was from a political point of view. Coming into the Province in 1723 and dying in the State in 1790, his residence here covers almost three-quarters of a century. He literally grew up with the Province, saw it in almost every phase of its career, from its earliest struggles until the strong Commonwealth was established, let us hope for all time. The proprietary period was by no means an ideal one. The student of that early time is confronted on almost every page of our history by the quarrels and disputes between the Governors of the Province and the Provincial Assemblies. The former in standing up for the rights of the Penn heirs, and the latter jealous of the rights and interests of the people, presented a condition of turbulence hardly equalled in any of the American colonies.
Franklin was on the spot when the great German immigration set in. He saw it all and could hardly help understanding it. He could not avoid coming in contact with these people. He did, in fact, come into very close and profitable relations with them. For years he owned and conducted the best equipped printing establishment in the Province, if not in the entire country. This brought him into very close business relations with the Germans, for there were many men of high culture among them, who wrote learned books which Franklin printed for them at his establishment. Had he understood the Germans better he might have appreciated this more. At all events he seems to have misunderstood them, and through that misunderstanding to have done them a great wrong. It may not have been willful, but it was, nevertheless, inexcusable.
Other men prominent in affairs, Secretary Logan and some of the early Governors, have had their fling at the German colonists, but they also in time paid ample testimony to their excellent qualities. But from none of them came so severe a blow as from Dr. Franklin. Under date of May 9, 1753, he wrote a letter to his friend Peter Collinson, in which he speaks thus unkindly of these people, the very bone and sinew of the great State that was to be:
"I am perfectly of your mind, that measures of great temper are necessary touching the Germans, and I am not without apprehensions, that, through their indiscretion, or ours, or both, great disorders may one day arise among us.
Caption: German Immigration Into Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin. Those who came hither are generally the most stupid of their own nation, and as ignorance is often attended with great credulity, when knavery would mislead it, and with suspicion when honesty would set it right; and, few of the English understand the German language, and so cannot address them either from the press or pulpit, it is almost impossible to remove any prejudices they may entertain. Their clergy have very little influence on the people, who seem to take pleasure in abusing and discharging the minister on every trivial occasion. Not being used to liberty, they know not how to make modest use of it. * * * They are under no restraint from ecclesiastical government; they behave, however, submissively enough at present to the civil government, which I wish they may continue to do, for I remember when they modestly declined intermeddling with our elections; but now they come in droves and carry all before them, except in one or two counties.
"Few of their children in the country know English. They import many books from Germany, and of the six printing houses in the Province, two are entirely German, two half German, half English, and but two are entirely English. They have one German newspaper, and one-half German Advertisements intended to be general, are now printed in Dutch (German) and English. The signs in our streets (Philadelphia) have inscriptions in both languages, and some places only in German. They begin, of late, to make all their bonds and other legal instruments in their own language, which (though I think it ought not to be), are allowed in our courts, where the German business so increases, that there is continued need of interpreters, and I suppose in a few years, they will also be necessary in the Assembly, to tell one-half of our legislators, what the other half says. In short, unless the stream of importation could be turned from this to other colonies, as you very judiciously propose, they will soon outnumber us, that all the advantages we will have, will in my opinion, be not able to preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious." 65
The wisest mortals are sometimes short-sighted and Dr. Franklin must be allowed a place in that category. His letter is unsound throughout. First he calls them stupid and ignorant; later he admits they import many books. If so ignorant and stupid what did they want with so many books? If so steeped in mental darkness, how is it that there were more German newspapers printed in the Province at that very hour than in English? The generally shrewd philosopher, patriot and statesman involved himself in contradictions such as not even the "stupid" Germans would have done. I may even go further and say, that at the time Dr. Franklin's letter was written there were many Germans in Pennsylvania incomparably superior to him in the learning of the schools. He does not appear to have thought of that. Perhaps he did not know it-could not comprehend it.
Well-nigh one hundred and fifty years have come and gone since his unjust tirade against the German colonists. Not one of the fears that seemed to have possessed his soul has been realized. It is true the Quaker no longer governs the land. He went to the rear as the Germans came to the front and assumed control of the Government. They became the dominant race, and they are so to-day. They did no violence to the laws; they upheld them and enforced them. They have made the State the grandest of all the forty-five. Dr. Franklin lived to see how idle his predictions were, and even he recanted.
Caption: Falckner's Continuation of Gabriel Thomas. Falckner's Congtinuation of Gabriel Thomas' Account.
There were a number of others whose views coincided with those of Franklin, at
least in some particulars. On the other hand there were those who spoke and
wrote as decidedly in their behalf. Among these was the historian Macaulay, who
calls them "Honest, laborious men, who had once been thriving burghers of
Mannheim and Heidelberg, or who had cultivated the vine
on the banks of the Neckar and Rhine. Their ingenuity and
their diligence could not fail to enrich any land which should afford them an
Against the jaundiced views of Dr. Franklin I set those of a man of our own times, one who from his public position and his superior opportunities for forming correct views of the early German immigrants is eminently entitled to be heard on this question. I mean Dr. James P. Wickersham, for nearly fifteen years Superintendent of Public Instruction in Pennsylvania. Of Quaker descent, he was nevertheless broad-minded and liberal, and did not strive to close his eyes to the good qualities of the early Germans, with whose descendants he became so intimately connected and acquainted. He says: "Pennsylvania as a land of promise became known in Holland, Germany and Switzerland. * * * But it was not long until numbers of the oppressed inhabitants of nearly all parts of Germany and Switzerland, and especially of districts along the Rhine, began to seek homes, with wives, children and all they possessed, in the wilds of Pennsylvania. Among them were members of a dozen different religious denominations, large and small. They all came with the common object of bettering their condition in life, and securing homes in a country where they could enjoy unmolested the right to worship God as their consciences dictated. In Pennsylvania, if nowhere else, they knew they would secure civil and religious liberty. Some of them were very poor, even coming without sufficient money to pay the expenses of their passage, but others were well to do, bought land, built houses, and soon by patient industry had about them the comforts to which they had been accustomed. The German immigrants were mostly farmers, but among them there was a smaller proportion of different kinds of mechanics. They brought few books with them, but nearly every individual possessed a Bible and a Prayer or Hymnbook, and many had in addition a Catechism or a Confession of Faith. These were the treasures that could not be left behind, and they are still preserved as heirlooms in hundreds of old German families.
"When they came in bodies, they were usually accompanied by a clergyman or a schoolmaster, or both. They were not highly educated as a class, but among them were some good scholars, and few could be found who were not able to read. The impression has prevailed that they were grossly ignorant; it is unjust; those who make the charge either do not take the pains to understand, or wish to misrepresent them. Their average intelligence compared favorably with that of contemporary American colonists of other nationalities. If they did not keep pace with others in subsequent years, their backwardness is easily accounted for by their living for the most part on farms, frequently many miles separated, and extending over large sections of country; their division into many religious denominations, among which there was little unity; their inability, scattered and broken as they were, to support ministers and schoolmasters, or even to secure the advantages of an organized community; their use of a language which in a measure isolated them from the neighboring settlers, and shut them out from the social, political and business currents that gave life to the communities around them; their unacquaintance with the proper forms of local self-government, and the habit brought with them, in all public concerns, of deferring to some outside or higher authority; and above all, perhaps, their quiet, confiding disposition, quite in contrast with the ways of some of the more aggressive, self-asserting classes of people with whom they were brought in competition. * * *
"Although invited to settle in Pennsylvania, the Germans, arriving in such large numbers and spreading over the country so rapidly, seem to have created a fear on the part of other settlers and of the provincial authorities that they would form an unruly element in society, and eventually work the overthrow of the government, or assume possession of it, as their countrymen had done long before in England. Laws restraining their immigration were passed, and the alarm disturbed even such well-balanced minds as those of Logan and Franklin. It is almost needless to add now that such a fear was groundless and arose wholly out of the political and sectarian prejudices of the day. On the contrary, it is only just to say that to all that has gone to build up Pennsylvania, to enlarge her wealth, to develop her resources, to increase her prosperity, to educate her people, to give her good government from the first, the German element of the population has contributed its full share. Better citizens cannot be found in any nation on the face of the globe." 66
No truer tribute was ever paid the German immigrants than this one, before the Assembly on January 2, 1738, by Lieutenant-Governor George Thomas when urging the establishment of a hospital for sick arrivals: "This Province has been for some years the Asylum of the distressed Protestants of the Palatinate, and other parts of Germany, and I believe it may with truth be said that the present flourishing condition of it is in a great measure owing to the industry of these People; and should any discouragement divert them from coming hither, it may well be apprehended that the value of your Lands will fall, and your Advances to wealth be much slower; for it is not altogether the goodness of the Soil, but the Number and Industry of the People that make a flourishing Colony." 67
Caption: Specimen of Early Pennsylvania Pottery.
The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
The Germans as Farmers.-Answer to a Recent Historian who Asserts They, a Race of Farmers, did not Take the Same Enjoyment in Agricultural Pursuits as the Scotch-Irish and Some Others!! "Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield, Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; How jocund did they drive their teams afield! How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!" "Und der Vater mit frohem Blick, Von des Hauses weitschauendem Giebel berzhlet sein blhend Glck, Siehet der Pfosten ragende Bume, Und der Scheunen gefllte Rume, Und die Speicher, vom Segen gebogen Und des Kornes bewegte Wogen."
This chapter is supplementary. It had no place in the original plan of the writer. It has been called forth by a brief sentence found in a recently published history of Pennsylvania, and is the last written chapter of this book-written long after the rest. While not germane to the general title, it yet deserves a place here inasmuch as it strikes at one of the innumerable errors and misrepresentations concerning the early German population of Pennsylvania which crowd the pages of some recent writers. These errors, I am persuaded, are more the result of ignorance than of design, but they are errors nevertheless, and should be killed at their birth. That is the only plan known to me to keep down the abundant crop of ignorance which springs up as often as writers draw on their imagination for their facts. It is rarely, however, that anything so gross as the blunder to which I shall refer appears in print, as genuine history.
I was much surprised to find in a recently issued history of Pennsylvania, the following surprising statement: "The Germans perhaps were less given to the enjoyment of agriculture than the Scotch-Irish and other settlers, yet in their own way they enjoyed existence, etc." 68 By no conceivable possibility is such a statement likely to be accepted by any one who has actual knowledge of the German immigration into this or any other country in America. It shows such a superficial acquaintance with the subject discussed as to carry its own condemnation with it. Yet, lest future writers of our history be lured into making similar statements, I shall take it upon myself to adduce such proof in contradiction of the statement quoted, as will, I believe, set the question at rest effectually and permanently.
I think it will be conceded, as a general proposition, that men in all
civilized countries follow those pursuits to which they are best adapted and
most inclined, whether for profit or enjoyment. It is true that when Roman
civilization first came into contact with the Germanic tribes, the latter were
more given to war and the chase than to agriculture.
But even then they grew corn and lived largely upon the
products of the field. In time they became agriculturists and
for hundreds of years parts of Germany have been among the best cultivated
portions of Europe, even as they are to-day. In the seventeenth century, the
Palatinate and the Rhine provinces generally were the
garden of Europe. They hold the same rank at this very hour. Other pursuits were
followed, it is true, but outside the cities the prevailing pursuit was
agriculture. The German immigration to Pennsylvania was very largely from the
Palatinate, not only in its early stages, but subsequently.
Lying before me are lists of those who reached London during the great German Exodus in 1709, on their way to America. One of these gives the pursuits of the 2,928 adult males; of that entire number 1,838 were farmers, while the remaining 1,073 were classified under 24 other distinct mechanical and other professions. Another list containing 1,593 had 1,083 farmers and 510 men trained to 26 other pursuits; more than 67 per cent. of the entire number were farmers.
I think it is entirely within bounds to say that 75 per cent. of the German colonists in Pennsylvania were agriculturists. The first thing they did was to take up land, generally in the legally prescribed way, but sometimes irregularly. Nine-tenths of them went into the country, that is beyond the immediate bounds of Philadelphia, and most of them took to farming. In fact there was nothing else for them to get at for many years. Even most of those who had mechanical trades were compelled to take to farming because there was not much of a demand for bakers, glass-blowers, millers, engravers, and some other classes of handicraftsmen.
Look at the counties settled principally by these people-Lancaster, Berks, Lebanon, York, Lehigh and Northampton. They comprise to-day the great agricultural region of the Commonwealth, and the men who are doing the farming on their fertile acres are the lineal descendants three, four or five generations removed from the first farmer immigrants. It was in every instance the agriculturists that pushed and were pushed to the outskirts of civilization. Did they go there for the profit and enjoyment they had in farming or for the fun of the thing, as we are asked to infer? What is more, they were the best and most successful farmers Pennsylvania had during the eighteenth century, just as they are the best and most successful farmers in United States to-day, and yet we are deliberately and the gravely informed they did not enjoy agriculture as much as the Scotch-Irish and other settlers! What is the record? Where are all the Scotch-Irish farmers to-day? Why are they not on the ancestral acres as the Germans are? Cumberland county was settled mainly by Scotch-Irish. In Northampton county there were many Irish and Scotch-Irish. Three-fourths of all the land in both these agricultural counties are to-day tilled by Pennsylvania-Germans. There are several townships in Lancaster county once largely occupied by Scotch-Irish of the best class. One can ride through them an entire day now without finding one farm tilled by an Ulster Irishman. Nine-tenths of the farmers in eastern Pennsylvania to-day are descendants of the men who, we are gravely informed, did not find the same enjoyment in agriculture as the Scotch-Irish, Welsh, English and others. If such an array of facts, susceptible of verification by any one who cares to make the test, is not deemed sufficient, I will produce further evidence from contemporary sources to fortify the position here taken.
The most eminent medical man in Pennsylvania, if not in the United States during the last century, was Dr. Benjamin Rush. In the course of a very busy life he found time to write and publish a little volume dealing with the Germans of this State and especially with the German farmers. 69 I will be pardoned if I quote numerous passages from this book, written by one who had a thorough personal knowledge of all he tells us.
"The principal part of them were farmers. * * * I shall begin this account of the German inhabitants of Pennsylvania by describing the manners of the German farmers. The Germans, taken as a body, especially as farmers, are not only industrious and frugal, but skillful cultivators of the earth. I shall enumerate a few particulars in which they differ from most of the other farmers of Pennsylvania. In settling a tract of land, they always provide large and suitable accommodation for their horses and cattle, before they lay out much money in building a house for themselves. * * * The first dwelling house upon this farm is small and built of logs. It generally lasts the lifetime of the first settler of a tract of land; and hence, they have a saying, that `a son should always begin his improvements where his father left off,' that is by building a large and convenient stone house.
"They always prefer good land, or that land on which there is a large quantity of meadow land. From an attention to the cultivation of grass, they often double the value of an old farm in a few years, and grow rich on farms, on which their predecessors of whom they purchased them had nearly starved. They prefer purchasing farms with improvements to settling on a new tract of land.
Caption: German Immigration Into Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania-German Farm Life. Raking the Bake-Oven.
"In clearing new land, they do not girdle or belt the trees simply, and leave them to perish in the ground, as is the custom of their English or Irish neighbors; but they generally cut them down and burn them. In destroying underwood and bushes, they generally grub them out of the ground, by which means a field is as fit for cultivation the second year after it is cleared as it is in twenty years afterwards. The advantages of this mode of clearing, consists in the immediate product of the field, and in the greater facility with which it is ploughed, harrowed and reaped. The expense of repairing a plow, which is often broken, is greater than the extraordinary expense of grubbing the same field completely, in clearing.
"They feed their horses and cows well, of which they keep only a small number, in such a manner that the former perform twice the labor of those horses, and the latter yield twice the quantity of milk of those cows, that are less plentifully fed. There is great economy in this practice, especially in a country where so much of the labor of the farmer is necessary to support his domestic animals. A German horse is known in every part of the State; indeed, the horse seems `to feel with his lord, the pleasure and the pride' of his extraordinary size or fat.
"The fences of a German farm are generally high and well built, so that his fields seldom suffer from the inroads of his own or his neighbors' horses, cattle, hogs or sheep.
"The German farmers are great economists in their wood. Hence they burn
it only in stoves, in which they consume but a fourth or fifth of what is
commonly burnt in ordinary open fireplaces; besides their horses are saved by
means of this economy, from that immense labor of hauling wood in the middle of
winter, which frequently unfits the horses of their (Scotch) neighbors for the
toils of the ensuing spring. Their houses are, moreover, rendered so
comfortable, at all times, by large close stoves, that twice the business is
done by every branch of the family, in knitting, spinning and
mending of farming utensils, that is done in houses where every member in the
family crowds near a common fireplace, or shivers at a distance from it, with
hands and fingers that move, by reason of the cold,
with only half their usual quickness. They discover economy in the preservation and
increase of their wood, in several other ways. They sometimes defend it, by high
fences, from their cattle; by which means the young forest
Caption: Primitive Lantern. trees are suffered to grow, to replace those that are cut down for the necessary use of the farm.
"They keep their horses and cattle as warm as possible, in winter, by which means they save a great deal of their hay and grain, for these animals when cold, eat much more than when in a more comfortable situation.
"The German farmers live frugally in their families, with respect to diet, furniture, and apparel. They sell their most profitable grain, which is wheat, and eat that which is less profitable, that is rye, or Indian corn. The profit to a farmer, from this single article of economy, is equal, in the course of a life-time, to the price of a farm for one of his children.
"The German farmers have large or profitable gardens near their houses. These contain little else but useful vegetables. Pennsylvania is indebted to the Germans for the principal part of her knowledge in horticulture. There was a time when turnips and cabbage were the principal vegetables that were used in diet by the citizens of Philadelphia. This will not surprise those persons who know that the first settlers in Pennsylvania left England while horticulture was in its infancy in that country. Since the settlement of a number of German gardens in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, the tables of all classes of citizens have been covered with a variety of vegetables in every season of the year, and to the use of these vegetables in diet may be ascribed the general exemption of the citizens of Philadelphia from diseases of the skin.
"The Germans seldom hire men to work upon their farms. The feebleness of that authority which masters possess over their hired servants is such that their wages are seldom procured from their labor, except in harvest when they work in the presence of their masters. 70 The wives and daughters of the German farmers frequently forsake for a while their dairy and spinning wheel, and join their husbands and brothers in the labor of cutting down, collecting and bringing home the fruits of the fields and orchards. The work of the gardens is generally done by the women of the family.
"A large strong wagon, the ship of inland commerce, covered with linen cloth, is an essential part of the furniture of a German farm. In this wagon, drawn by four or five horses of a peculiar breed they convey to market, over the roughest roads from 2,000 to 3,000 pounds weight of the produce of their farms. In the months of September and October, it is no uncommon thing, on the Lancaster and Reading roads, to meet in one day fifty or one hundred of these wagons, on their way to Philadelphia, most of which belong to German farmers. 71
"The favorable influence of agriculture, as conducted by the Germans, in extending human happiness, is manifested by the joy they express upon the birth of a child. No dread of poverty, nor distrust of Providence, from an increasing family, depresses the spirit of these industrious and frugal people. Upon the birth of a son, they exult in the gift of a plowman or a waggoner; and upon the birth of a daughter, they rejoice in the addition of another spinster or milk-maid to the family.
"The Germans set a great value upon patrimonial property. This useful principle in human nature prevents much folly and vice in young people. It moreover leads to lasting and extensive advantages, in the improvement of a farm; for what inducements can be stronger in a parent to plant an orchard, to preserve forest trees or to build a commodious house than the idea that they will all be possessed by a succession of generations who shall inherit his blood and name.
"From the history that has been given of the German agriculture, it will hardly be necessary to add that a German farm may be distinguished from the farms of the other citizens of the State, by the superior size of their barns, the plain but compact form of their houses, the height of their inclosures, the extent of their orchards, the fertility of their fields, the luxuriance of their meadows, and a general appearance of plenty and neatness in everything that belongs to them."
I think the eminent professor of the University of Pennsylvania, of 1789, writing with a thorough knowledge of the German agriculture of his time, may be fairly set against the professor in the same great school, writing in the year 1900, whose statement concerning them is so at variance with the facts, so incorrect and misleading, that the inference is irresistible that he wrote without a due examination of the question.
But we need not rely on Dr. Rush alone for evidence that the Germans were the
best farmers in the State, that they were given to enjoyment in agricultural
pursuits and that their descendants are to this day
keeping up the reputation of their ancestors on the ancestral acres. The
evidence is so manifold and so conclusive that I almost
feel like making an apology for introducing it.
Watson, the annalist, says the best lands in Lancaster county, and deemed, in general, the finest farms in the State, are those possessed by the German families." 72
Another writer says this:
"The Germans wisely chose some of the best land in the State, where they soon made themselves comfortable, and next grew quietly rich. * * * The German population of Pennsylvania, naturally increasing, and augmented by continual accessions from the Fatherland, has since spread over a large portion of the State, still inheriting the economy and prudent foresight of their ancestors, and generally establishing themselves on the most fertile soils." 73
Bancroft, in speaking of the German immigrants to this country, says: "The Germans, especially of the borders of the Rhine, thronged to America in such numbers, that in course of a century, preserving their line of rural life, they appropriated much of the very best land from the Mohawk to the valley of Virginia." 74
Caption: Early Settlers and Their Visitors.
Rupp bears this testimony: "The Germans were principally farmers. They depended more upon themselves than upon others. They wielded the mattock, the axe and the maul, and by the power of brawny arms, rooted up the grubs, removed the saplings, felled the majestic oaks, laid low the towering hickory; prostrated, where they grew, the walnut, poplar, chestnut-cleaved such as suited for the purpose, into rails for fences-persevered untiringly until the forest was changed into arable fields." 75
"The Germans," says Proud, "seem more adapted to agriculture and improvements of a wilderness; and the Irish for trade. The Germans soon get estates in this country, where industry and economy are the chief requisites to procure them." 76
In the fall of 1856, the Philadelphia Ledger, in reply to some stupid strictures in a New York journal, said: "No one familiar with the German farmers of Pennsylvania, need be told that this (the article referred to) is a stupid and ignorant libel. Its author has either never travelled through our State, or has maliciously misrepresented what he saw. So far from our German farmers being on a level with the serfs of a hundred and fifty years ago, they are vastly in advance of contemporary German or French farmers, or even of English farmers of similar means. On this point we need go no further for authority than to Mr. Munch, who though hostile in politics to our German farmers in general, was forced, during his tour through Pennsylvania, to admit their sterling worth. Mr. Munch is an experienced and practical agriculturist, so that his judgment on such a question is worth that of a score of visionary, ill-informed, prejudiced, disappointed demagogues. After eulogizing the picturesque natural features of the landscape of our German counties, praising the excellent taste which has preserved the woods on the hillsides, and extolling the appearance of the farms, this gentleman adds significantly that he found the population of `a genial, solid and respectable stamp, enviably circumstanced in comparison with the European farmer, and very far his superior in intelligence and morals.' * * * In many particulars, the German farmers surpass even the people of New England, who, of late, have put in a claim, it would seem to be the ne plus ultra in all things. The German farmers understand, or if they do not understand, they observe the laws of health, better than even the rural population of Massachusetts; and the result is that they are really the finest race of men, physically, to be found within the borders of the United States. * * * To be plain, if some of our crochetty, one-ideaed, dyspeptic, thin, cadaverous, New England brethren would emigrate to our German counties; follow, for a generation or two, the open-air life of our German farmers; and last of all marry into our vigorous, anti-hypochondriacal German families, they would soon cease to die by such scores of consumption, to complain that there were no longer any healthy women left, and to amuse sensible people with such silly vagaries of Pantheism, or a thousand and one intellectual vagaries which are born of their abnormal physical condition." 77
Still another quotation will be allowed me: "Latterly much has been heard of an `endless chain,' used in a financial sense. There is an endless chain of another kind in existence among the substantial Germans in the German counties of this State. While many of New England's sons have sold or abandoned their ancient acres and sought new homes in other States, the lands of these first Palatine emigrants still remain in the possession of their descendants, held by ancient indentures, supplemented by an endless chain of fresh titles from father to son, reaching backward to the original patents from Penn." 78
One of our most eminent historians remarks:
"A still larger number of these German exiles found refuge in
Pennsylvania, to which colony also many were carried as indentured servants. * *
* It was this immigration which first introduced into America compact bodies of
German settlers, and along with them the dogmas and
worship of the German Lutheran and German Reformed
churches. Constantly supplied with new recruits, and
occupying contiguous tracts of territory, the immigrants preserved and
have transmitted to our day, especially in Pennsylvania, the German language and
German manners. Their industry was remarkable; they took care to settle on
fertile lands, and they soon became distinguished as
the best farmers in America."
A traveller who passed through the Shenandoah Valley during the French and Indian War writes as follows: "The low grounds upon the banks of the Shenandoah River are very rich and fertile. They are chiefly settled by Germans (and Pennsylvania-Germans at that, who went there prior to 1748), who gain a sufficient livelihood by raising stock for the troops, and sending butter down into the lower parts of the country. I could not but reflect with pleasure on the situation of these people, and I think, if there is such a thing as happiness in this life, they enjoy it. Far from the bustle of the world, they live in the most delightful climate and richest soil imaginable. They are everywhere surrounded with beautiful prospects and sylvan scenes; lofty mountains and transparent streams, falls of water, rich valleys and majestic woods, the whole interspersed with an infinite variety of flowering shrubs constitute the landscapes surrounding them. They are subject to few diseases, are generally robust and live in perfect liberty. They know no wants, and are acquainted with but few vices. Their inexperience of the elegancies of life precludes any regret that they have not the means of enjoying them; but they possess what many princes would give
Caption: Ox Yoke and Threshing Flail. half their dominions for-health, contentment, and tranquility of mind." 80
Dr. Oswald Seidensticker, while living, an honored professor in the University of Pennsylvania, and who has, perhaps, given the German immigration into Pennsylvania as much careful and intelligent study as any one else, has this to say of them as farmers: "Often as the Germans have been spoken of contemptuously in certain matters, that was not valid when urged against them as farmers. The very sight of their farms is sufficient to tell that they are well and carefully managed, providing blessed and happy homes. Their knowledge of properly preparing the soil, of growing fine cattle, and of erecting proper buildings, and their manner of life led the eminent Dr. Rush to study their character and habits and in his book to encourage others to imitate their example." 81
Still another and a recent author writes thus: "In all they did, they were moved thereto by one great, irresistible desire, and that was the love of home. * * * Now that they had found this "home," they were content to abide on it and to make of it a very garden spot and horn of plenty for the Province. * * * Because the Germans were truly in earnest did they persevere until they have spread abroad over the entire land, supplementing their less stable brethren of other nationalities. Before even the break of day, during the heat of the noontide sun they toiled on, and until its rays had disappeared beneath the western horizon, when darkness made work impossible, and then they sought their needed rest in slumber, but not before each little family had gathered about its altar to sing their hymns of praise and invoke the same Divine blessing upon their future undertaking which had been showered upon their past.
"Other settlers have likewise toiled and struggled, but it may well be asked what other settlers can show an equal result to these Palatine immigrants within the same length of time. Hardly had a decade of time elapsed, when, on all sides, were to be seen flourishing farms, with fields of waving grain, orchards laden with fruit, and pastures filled with well-conditioned domestic animals. The temporary log house has given place to a two-story stone structure, a most durable, commodious and comfortable home; in place of the shedding, hurriedly erected, now stands the great red barn, upon its stone base, and with its overhanging frame superstructure bursting with plenty; and everywhere are scattered the many little adjuncts of prosperity and comfort. How well the fathers then built is evidenced by the existence of scores of these buildings, still homelike and inviting as of old." 82
A recent writer, in discussing some changes that have taken place, how German virility and race-tenacity have resulted in the elimination of some peoples and the substitution of themselves, humorously but truly remarks: "Penn attempted to engraft on his English stock other scions, trusting to the virility of his masterful race to preserve the English type, but the strong German sap has outworn them all in Lancaster county. The descendants of the early English who own acres of land here to-day are becoming rare. The children of the Scotch-Irish by a kind of natural selection have quit farming and taken to politics and business, and their ancient acres are covered with the big red barns that betoken another kindred. The Welshman has been lost in the shuffle, and the Quaker is marrying the Dutch girl in self defense. So reads the record at the close of the nineteenth century. It has taken almost two hundred years to get there. But `by their fruits ye shall know them.'" 83
Caption: German Immigration Into Pennsylvania. The Oldest House in Lancaster County. The Christian Herr, Built 1719.
Although the foregoing evidence abundantly disproves the absurd statement that the German colonists found less enjoyment in agriculture than other nationalities, the panel of witnesses is by no means exhausted and the testimony could be expanded into a volume. Most of it is from contemporaneous sources and deals with the question as it stood one hundred or one hundred and fifty years ago. Let us turn from that long-gone time and look at the situation as we find it at this very hour. 84
I invite the reader to accompany me for a brief interval to Lancaster county, as typical a Pennsylvania region today as it was one hundred and fifty years ago. Its earliest settlers were Germans and Swiss Huguenots. They were agriculturists. They bought lands, settled on them, farmed them, and their descendants in the fourth and fifth generations are engaged in the same enjoyable pursuit to-day. Other men also came into the county: Quakers, Scotch-Irish and Welsh, but to-day nineteen twentieths of the more than 10,000 farms in the county are owned and cultivated by the descendants of the early German settlers. The townships of East and West Donegal, Conoy, Mt. Joy and portions of West Hempfield were settled almost exclusively by the Scotch-Irish. To-day there is not a single farm in any of those districts owned and farmed by a Scotch-Irishman! In this instance at least, it was "the other fellow" and not the German farmer that did not find enjoyment in his vocation. In the townships of Fulton and Little Britain the settlers were almost exclusively Scotch-Irish; these have maintained themselves more stubbornly on the ancestral acres, but in recent years an invasion of German farmers has been steadily encroaching on their ancient domain, and the fate that has befallen the Donegals seems to be awaiting them also.
Let the man-or men, if there be more than one-who does not believe the German pioneers had pleasure, enjoyment and content on their broad acres, go into that same county of Lancaster and look the landscape over. He will find a territory of unsurpassed fertility-another evidence of the sound agricultural judgment of these people-yielding
Caption: Early Pennsylvania Printing Press. as abundantly to-day as when it was virgin, two centuries ago. It has enriched every generation of those who have owned it. There have, of course, been some failures, but the record on the whole, stands unchallenged. Pride of ownership went hand in hand with agricultural skill. The land was treated even as their cattle were, carefully and plentifully. The result is there are no deserted farms and ruined farmhouses, as may be seen all over New England. Even at the present depreciated prices for real estate, the farms still sell at $200 and more per acre. Look at the great barns in which their crops are stored and their cattle housed! Large as they are they are generally inadequate to contain the farm products, and a dozen grain and hay ricks are built elsewhere on the farm until the grain can be threshed. Nor is the barn the only building besides the dwelling house, on the farm; sheds, stables, and other outhouses are scattered around until the farmer's home resembles a hamlet in itself. All the modern farm machinery, and that too of the best possible type, is there; cunning devices of many kinds that rob labor of half its terrors.
The farmer's house is generally a model of a farmhouse. There are some that have all the best modern accessories-steam heat, gas, electric bells, cemented cellars, and similar improvements. Within, there is not only comfort but luxury-fine furniture, pictures, costly carpets, imported crockery, generally an organ and often a piano. There are books, magazines and newspapers, and much else. The son, and often the sons, have their individual teams, and they use them too. No farmer's outfit in these days is complete without a fine vehicle or two. It may safely be said that there is no spot encompassed by the four seas that hem in this North American continent, nay, none be-neath the blue canopy that overspreads the entire earth, where the agriculturist is better educated, more intelligent in his calling, better fed and clothed and enjoys so many of the luxuries of life as the Lancaster county families in the year of grace, 1900. Go and look at him where he is; sit at his table and see the fullness thereof, and you will then be able to give a fitting answer to the calumny, born of ignorance, that says the German colonists in Pennsylvania did not, and inferentially do not, find that enjoyment in agricultural pursuits as the races whose farms they have bought and now own and cultivate.
One paragraph more will be pardoned: the theme is an attractive one
I leave it with reluctance. To understand fully what these Germans have done for
themselves and for the county of Lancaster a few
figures may be introduced. Being official, and on
record they will be accepted. Lancaster county is not one of the large counties
of the State or Nation, but it is the richest so far as its agricultural wealth and
products are concerned of all the three thousand or more within all the States and
Territories. For a quarter of a century it has stood at the head of them all in
the money value of its agricultural products. The census of 1890 gives them at
$7,657,790. Her nearest competitor does not come within a million and
a half dollars of equalling it. The assessors' lists for 1899 give the value of
her real estate, at the usual low estimate, at $86,796,064 and
of her horses and cattle at $1,958,802. Her citizens
report $20,802,634 at interest: the real amount is three times that sum. To give
even a more condensed idea of what these farmers, who took such little enjoyment
in their chosen pursuit, have done to make their county rich, it may be stated
that there are at the present moment on this little area of 973 square miles, 26
National Banks, with an aggregate capital of $3,750,000, and
deposits aggregating $7,000,000; also 3 Trust companies, with large assets, and
7 Building and Loan Associations, controlling large
sums of money.
It is aggravating that it should be necessary at this late day to be compelled to enter into a discussion of this subject. But we cannot forget that all the opprobrium and misrepresentation that has been cast upon the Germans of Pennsylvania has long been borne without a protest. The chief offenders during the present century are men who have had no intimate acquaintance with the characteristics of the men whom they falsely deride and abuse. New England has contributed even more than her quota to the number of these defamers. Their scurrilous falsehoods have so long gone unchallenged that some have accepted them as truths and reiterated them with all their original fervency. The day for that has gone. The faults and shortcomings of the German pioneers and their descendants were many and obvious. I do not seek to extenuate them in the slightest degree, but I do assert-and the authorities to prove it are legion-that with all their short-comings, they were the peers of any race of men that set its feet upon the Western Hemisphere, and that in every qualification that goes to the making of the highest class of citizenship, they stand at the very forefront to-day.
They brought with them none of the vindictive bigotry that burnt witches and swung Quakers from the scaffold. They at once made their own the doctrines of the broad-minded Penn, that religious and political tolerance were among the natural and inalienable rights of men. The subjects of kings and princes in Europe, they left kingcraft behind them and proclaimed the evangel of freedom in their new home. Let it not be forgotten through all the years, that these people, whom a few historians and a host of inconsequent minor scribblers have denounced and derided as indifferent boors, were nevertheless the first men on the continent of America to denounce the wrong of human slavery and petition for its abolition; yea, a century before the sensitive soul of New England even took thought of the subject, while it was still selling Indians and Quakers into West Indian slavery and only forty years after the great celebrity of Massachusetts, Governor Winthrop, disposed of slaves in his will.
The age of the defamer has not gone by, and most probably never will. Like the liar and the thief he will maintain his footing among men even unto the end. The men who have assailed the good name of the German immigrants to Pennsylvania are, however, in a fair way to die out. The truth confronts their falsehoods at every stage and the latter are borne down in the contest. Even now their numbers are growing fewer and their idle gossip no longer receives credence as history. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the greatest and grandest of all the members in the Brotherhood of States, confronts them and confutes their idle tattle, born of misapprehension and ignorance, and here I may safely leave them.
Caption: Arms of Great Britain.
The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Who and What They were.-A Condition Born of Necessity beyond the Sea and transferred to America.-The serveral Kinds of Bond Shrvants.-A striking Feature in the History of Pennsylvania. "Haz gala, Sancho, de la humilidad de tu linage, y no te desprecies de decir que vienes de labradores; por que viendo que no te corres, ninguno se pondra a correrte." "Und wenn wir dankbar auch ermessen, Was uns das neue Heim beschied, So knnen wir doch nie Vergessn Der alten Heimath, Wort und Lied."
The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
The history of the Germanic immigration to the Province of Pennsylvania naturally divides itself into two well-defined parts or chapters. Of one of these, dealing with the arrival and dispersion of these people, I have endeavored to write with that fullness and exactitude which the importance of the subject deserves, in the earlier part of this work. The other, which remains to be taken up, will deal with that portion of these people whose means were scant even at the outset of their journey, and wholly inadequate to bear the strain of a long and tedious sea voyage. Who arrived virtually penniless and dependent; who had not been able to pay for their passage across the ocean, and who, upon their arrival, were compelled to barter or sell their personal services for a stated period of time, at a stipulated price, and under prescribed legal regulations, to such of their fellowmen as stood in need of their labor, and who were willing to discharge the debts they had been compelled to incur through their desire to reach this promised land, this modern Eden, a new Canaan in a new world.
The inflowing tide of German immigrants to the Province of Pennsylvania, through the port of Philadelphia, is not secondary in importance to the coming of William Penn himself and the establishment of his Government on the banks of the Delaware. Considered in its historic bearings, it is not only one of the most noteworthy events associated with the colonization of America, but is besides invested with a more special interest, all its own, of which I shall attempt to give the more important details.
The first Germans to come to America, as colonists in Pennsylvania, were, as a rule, well to do. Nearly all of them in the beginning of that mighty exodus had sufficient means to pay all the charges incurred in going down the Rhine to the sea, and enough besides to meet the expenses for carrying them across the ocean, and yet have some left when they arrived to pay for part or all of the lands they took up. 85 The large tracts taken up by the colony at Germantown and at Conestoga are all-sufficient evidences of this. And this continued to be the rule until about 1717, 86 and perhaps later, when the great exodus from the Palatinate set in. Then the real race to reach the New World began. The poorer classes had not been unobservant of what was going on. If America was a place where the rich could become richer still, surely it must be a place where the poor also might better themselves. At all events, nothing could be lost by going, because they had the merest pittance to begin with. Besides, all the accounts were favorable. Those already in Pennsylvania sent back glowing descriptions of the ease with which land could be acquired, the productiveness of the soil, the abundance of food, the freedom from taxation and the equality of all men before the law to their natural rights and their religious creeds.