The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Chapter VII.

"The law is, that `a man may get security as good as he can.' But when merchants BIND some other people together, whose families were obliged to die, and who are famished for want, and as a prisoner at the vessel is retained and forced to bind himself-one for two or three, who are greatly indebted and who, perhaps, pays his own debt while the others can't-he is freed to go out of the
Caption: Early Coffee Mill. country, and will go rather than go to prison; and if poor widows are bound for others much in debt, who will marry such a one? Must she not go sorrowful most of her lifetime?

"Formerly, our Assembly has bought a house on an island in the river Delaware, where healthy people will soon become sick. This house might do very well in contagious distempers, but if a place were allowed on a healthy, dry ground-where, by a collection, the Germans might build a house, with convenient places, and stoves for winter, etc.; it would be better for the people in common sickness where their friends might attend them and take care of them. They would do better than to perish under the merciless hands of these merchants; for life is sweet.

"Beloved sir, I am old and infirm, bending with my staff to the grave, and will be gone by and by, and hope that your Honor will not take it amiss to have recommended to you the helpless. We beg and desire in our prayers that the Lord may protect you from all evil, and from all encroachments, and if we do the like unto them that are in poor condition and danger, we may expect the Lord will do so to us accordingly; but, if we do to the contrary, how can we expect the Lord's protection over us? For He promises to measure to us as we do measure.

"I conclude with a hearty desire that the Lord will give your Honor wisdom and patience, that your administration may be blessed, and in His time give you the reward of a good, true and faithful servant, and I remain your humble servant,

"Christoph Saur,

"Printer in Germantown."

For some reason, Governor Morris, who was on bad terms with the House, did not regard the proposed bill favorably although he had recommended such a measure himself in a message to the House on December 12th of the previous year. 147 This angered the Assembly who sent him a sharp message on May 15, 1755, part of which is here given. "* * * The grevious Calamities we were then threatened with, the melancholy Spectacle of the Distress of so many of our Fellow Creatures perishing for Want of Change of Apparel, Room, and other necessaries on board their Ships, and after being landed among Us the extreme Danger of the Benevolent and the Charitable exposed them to in approaching those unhappy Sufferers, together with the Governor's own Recommendation, gave Us Reason to hope that he might be at Liberty and that his own Inclinations would have induced him to have passed such a Bill as might prevent the like for the future, but we are under the greatest Concern to find Ourselves disappointed in these our reasonable Expectations.

"By our Charters and the Laws of this Province the whole Legislative Power is vested in the Governor and the Representatives of the People; and as we know of no other Negative upon our Bills but what the Governor himself has, we could wish he had been pleased to exercise his own Judgment upon this our Bill without referring the Consideration of it to a Committee of his Council most of them Such, as We are informed, who are or have lately been concerned in the Importations, the Abuses of which this bill was designed to regulate and redress.

"The German Importations were at first and for a considerable Time of such as were Families of Substance and industrious, sober, People, who constantly brought with them their Chests and Apparel and other Necessaries for so long a voyage. But these we apprehend have for some time past been shipped on board other vessels in order to leave more Room for crowding their unhappy Passengers in greater Numbers, and to secure the Freights of such as might perish during the voyage, which experience has convinced us must be the Case of very many where such Numbers (as have been lately imported in each Vessel) are crowded together without Change of Raiment or any other Means of Keeping themselves sweet and clean. But this Provision the Governor has been pleased to throw out of our Bill; and yet we think it so essentially necessary that the Want of it must necessarily poisen the Air those unhappy Passengers breathe on Shipboard, and spread it wherever they land to infect the Country which receives them, especially as the Governor has likewise altered the Provision We had made by the Advice of the Physicians for accommodating them with more Room and Air upon their Arrival here.

"We have reason to believe that the Importations of
Caption: Currency of the Revolutionary Period. Continental Currency Printed at Ephrata. Fac-simile of an uncut sheet, by Julius F. Sachse.
Caption: The German Immigration into Pennsylvania. Germans have been for some Time composed of a great Mixture of the Refuse of their People and that the very Gaols have contributed to the Supplies We are burdened with. But as there are many of more Substance and better Character, We thought it reasonable to hinder the Importer from obliging such as had no connections with one another to become jointly bound for their respective Freights or Passages; but the Governor has thought fit to alter this also in such a manner as to elude the good Purposes intended by the Act, by which means those who are of more Substance are involved in the Contracts and Debts of Others, and the Merchants secured at the Expence of the Country where they are necessitated and do become very frequently Beggars from Door to Door, to the great Injury of the Inhabitants, and the Increase and Propogation of the Distempers they have brought among us. Many who have indented themselves for the Payment of their Passages have frequently been afflicted with such frequent and loathesome Diseases at the time as have rendered them altogether unfit for the Services they had contracted to perform, for which we had provided a remedy by the Bill; but the Governor has thought fit to strike it out and leave Us exposed to this grevious Imposition without a Remedy," etc.

The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Chapter VII.

It was this action on the part of the Governor Morris that called out Christopher Saur's second letter, which is also given.

Two months later this staunch and steady friend of his countrymen, whose wrongs were daily brought under his notice, again wrote to Governor Morris on this subject, as follows:

"Germantown, Pa., May 12, 1755.

"Honored and Beloved Sir:

"Although I do believe with sincerity, that you have at this time serious and troublesome business enough, nevertheless, my confidence in your wisdom makes me to write the following defective lines, whereby I desire not so much as a farthing of profit for myself.

"When I heard last that the Assembly adjourned, I was desirous to know what was done concerning the Dutch bill and was told that your Honor have consented to all points, except that the German passengers need not have their chests along with them; and because you was busy with more needful business, it was not ended. I was sorry for it, and thought, either your Honor has not good counsellers or you cant think of the consequences, otherwise you could not insist on this point. Therefore I hope you will not take it amiss to be informed of the case, and of some of the consequences, viz.:-The crown of England found it profitable to peopling the American colonies; and for the encouragement thereof, the coming and transportation of German Protestants was indulged, and orders were given to the officers at the customhouses in the parts of England, not to be sharp with the vessels of German passengers-knowing that the populating of the British colonies will, in time become, profit more than the trifles of duty at the customhouses would import in the present time. This the merchants and importers experienced.

"They filled the vessels with passengers and as much of the merchant's goods as they thought fit, and left the passengers' chests &c behind, and sometimes they loaded vessels wholly with Palatines' chests. But the poor people depended upon their chests, wherein was some provision, such as they were used to, as dried-apples, pears, plums, mustard, medicines, vinegar, brandy, gammons, butter, clothing, shirts and other necessary linens, money and whatever they brought with them; and when their chests were left behind, or were shipped in some other vessel they had lack of nourishment. When not sufficient provision was shipped for the passengers, and they had nothing themselves, they famished and died. When they arrived
Caption: Clock of the Provincial, Period. alive, they had no money to buy bread, nor anything to sell. If they would spare clothes, they had no clothes nor shirt to strip themselves, nor were they able to cleanse themselves of lice and nastiness. If they were taken into houses, trusting on their effects and money, when it comes, it was either left behind, or robbed and plundered by the sailors behind or in the vessels. If such a vessel arrived before them, it was searched by the merchants' boys, &c., and their best effects all taken out, and no remedy for it, and this last mentioned practice, that people's chests are opened and their best effects taken out, is not only a practice this twenty five, twenty, ten or five years, or sometime only; but it is the common custom and daily complaints to the week last past; when a pious man, living with me, had his chest broken open and three fine shirts and a flute taken out. The lock was broken to pieces and the lid of the chest split with iron and chisels. Such, my dear Sir, is the case, and if your honor will countenance the mentioned practices, the consequences will be, that the vessels with passengers will be filled with merchant's goods, wine, &c., as much as possible, and at the King's custom they will call it passengers' drink, and necessaries for the people, then household goods, &c., which will be called free of duty. And if they please to load the vessels only with chests of passengers and what lies under them, that will be called also free of duty at the customhouses; and as there are no owners of the chests with them, and no bill of loading is ever given, nor will be given, the chests will be freely opened and plundered by the sailors and others, and what is left will be searched in the stores by the merchants' boys and their friends and acquaintances. Thus, by the consequence, the King will be cheated, and the smugglers and store boys will be glad of your upholding and encouraging this, their profitable business; but the poor sufferers will sigh or carry a revenge in their bosoms, according as they are godly or ungodly, that such thievery and robbery is maintained.

"If such a merchant should lose thirty, forty, fifty or ten thousand pounds, he may have some yet to spend and to spare, and has friends, but if a poor man's chest is left behind, or plundered either at sea or in the stores he has lost all he has. If a rich man's store, or house, or chest is broken open and robbed or plundered there is abundance of noise about it; but if 1,000 poor men's property is taken from them, in the manner mentioned, there is not a word to be said.

"If I were ordered to print advertisements of people who lost their chests, by leaving them behind against their will, or whose chests were opened and plundered at sea, when they were sent after them in other vessels, or whose were opened and plundered in the stores of Philadelphia-should come and receive their value for it, (not four fold) but only single or half; your honor would be wondering of a swarm from more than two or three thousand people. But as such is not to be expected, it must be referred to the decision of the great, great, long, long day, where certainly an impartial judgment will be seen, and the last farthing must be paid, whereas in this present time, such poor sufferers has, and will have no better answer than is commonly given: `Can you prove who has opened and stolen out of your chest?' or `Have you a bill of loading?' this has been the practice by some of the merchants of Philadelphia, and if it must continue longer, the Lord our God must compare that city to her sister Sodom, as he said: `Behold this was the iniquity of Sodom: pride, fullness of bread and abundance of idleness was in her. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy (Ezekiel, 16:40) but rather weakened the hand of the poor and needy' (18:2)."

* * * * * * * * *

The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Chapter VII.

In a postscript, as if he could not write too often or too forcibly of the wrongs of these poor people, he adds, conveying a threat:

"The Lord bless our good King and all his faithful ministers, and your Honor, and protect the city of Philadelphia and country from all incursions and attempts of enemies. But if you should insist against a remedy for the poor Germans' grievances-although no remedy is to be had for that which is past-and an attempt of enemies should ensue before the city of Philadelphia, you will certainly find the Germans faithful to the English nation; as you might have seen how industrious they are to serve the King and government, for the protection of their substance, life and liberties. But, as there are many and many thousands who have suffered injustice of their merchants at Philadelphia, it would not be prudent to call on them all for assistance, as there are certainly many wicked among the Germans; which, if they should find themselves overpowered by the French, I would not be bound for their behaviour, that they would not make reprisals on them that picked their chests and forced them to pay what they owed not! and hindered yet the remedy for others. No! if they were all Englishmen who suffered so much, I would much less be bound for their good behaviour.

"Pray sir do not look upon this as a trifle; for there are many Germans, who have been wealthy people are many Germans, who have lost sixty, eighty, one, two, three, four hundred to a thousand pounds' worth, by leaving their chests behind, or were deprived and robbed in the stores, of their substance, and are obliged now to live poor, with grief. If you do scruple the truth of this assertion, let them be called in the newspaper, with hopes for remedies, and your Honor will believe me; but if the Dutch (German) nation should hear that no regard is for them, and no justice to be obtained, it will be utterly in vain to offer them free schools-especially as they are to be regulated and inspected by one who is not respected in all this Province.

"I hope your Honor will pardon my scribbling; as it has no other aim than a needful redressing of the multitude of grievances of the poor people, and for the preserving of their lives and property, and that the Germans may be adhered to the friendship of the English nation, and for securing the honor of your Excellency, and not for a farthing for your humble servant.

"Christopher Saur,

"Printer of Germantown."

It will be noted that both the Assembly and Saur averred that some of the members of the Governor's Council were engaged in this most disreputable business, and it may be that the influence of these interested persons was at the bottom of his rejection of the measures proposed to remedy these evils. On the day following the delivery of the message of the House to the Governor, the latter replied with equal acerbity. He briefly gives his reasons for his action in the matter, but they are lame and unsatisfactory, strengthening the belief that he was trying to take care of his friends.

It is said of the elder Christopher Saur that "on learning from time to time that a vessel containing passengers had arrived in Philadelphia from Germany, he and his neighbors gathered vehicles and hastened to the landing place, whence those of the newcomers who were ill, were taken to his house, which for the time being was turned into a hospital, and there they were treated medically, nursed and supported by him until they became convalescent and able to earn their own living." 148
Caption: An Old Germantown Landmark.
Caption: Old Robert's Mill, Near Germantown.

 

Chapter VIII.

The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Chapter VIII.

The Mortality that Sometimes came upon the Immigrants on Ship-board.-Organization of the German Society of Pennsylvania, and its excellent Work.- Lands assigned to Redemptioners at the End of their Terms of Service, on easy Terms. "Er ward in engen Koje Kalt, Kam nie zurck zum Port. Man hat ihn auf ein Brett geschnallt, Und warf ihn ber Bord." "Dem bieten grane Eltern noch Zum letztenmal die Hand; Den Koser Bruder, Schwester, Freund: Und alles schweigt, und alles weint, Todtbloss von uns gewandt."

In a general way, the mortality among the immigrants resulting from the crowded condition of the ships, the bad character of the provisions and water and frequently from the scant supply of the same, the length of the voyage and other causes, has already
Caption: Arms of the Palatinate. 149 been alluded to. But it is only when we come down to an actual presentation of the records that have reached our day, that we get a correct idea of the appalling character of the death rate upon which the German settlements in Pennsylvania were built. Doubtless something beyond the ordinary was seen in the migration from Europe to other portions of the American continent, but as that migration was more circumscribed in its numbers and the rapidity of its inflow, so also was the death rate attending it on a minor scale. It is surprising that the reality, as it became known in the Fatherland, did not hold back the multitudes anxious to come over. Perhaps the ebb and flow, as we now know it, greater in some years, and then again greatly diminished in others, may be accounted for by the fears that came upon the intending immigrants as letters from friends gradually drifted back to the old home. Some of them must have been of a character to daunt the courage of even the stout-hearted dwellers along the Rhine. We only know that these people continued to pour into the province for more than a century in spite of all the drawbacks that were presenting themselves during all that time.

Although the first large colony of German immigrants to cross the ocean, and that suffered excessive losses on the voyage, did not come to Pennsylvania, it nevertheless deserves special mention here, because it was the largest single body of colonists that ever reached America, and because many of its members eventually found their way into the valleys of the Swatara and Tulpeh ocken. It was the colony sent to the State of New York at the request of Governor Hunter, who happened to be in England when the great German Exodus to London occurred, in 1709. Even the members of this early colony were redemptioners, in fact if not in name. They contracted to repay the British government the expenses incurred in sending them over. They were called "Servants to the Crown." After they had discharged their obligations, they were to receive five pounds each and every family forty acres of land.

Three thousand and more of these people were embarked in midwinter for New York. The exact date is unknown. It was probably some time during the month of January, 1710. The diarist Luttrell says, under date of December 28, 1709, "Colonel Hunter designs, next week to embark for his government at New York, and most of the Palatines remaining here goe with him to people that colony." Conrad Weiser, who was among them, wrote at a late period of his life that "About Christmas-day (1709) we embarked, and ten ship loads with about 4,000 souls were sent to America." Weiser was a lad of thirteen years at the time, and wrote from recollection many years after. As he was wrong in the number who set sail, so he no doubt was as to the time of embarcation. These 3,000 persons of both sexes and all ages were crowded into ten ships. No official register of them is known. The vessels were small and as about 300 persons were crowded into each one, the voyage was a dreary one. By the middle of June seven of the ships had made land; the latest did not arrive until near the close of July-a five months' voyage, and one, the Herbert, did not come at all, having been cast ashore on Long Island and lost. The deaths during the voyage were "above 470," writes Governor Hunter, but other authorities place them at a far higher
Caption: Seal of Germantown. number. Conrad Weiser, in his old age and without actual data for his estimate, places the loss at 1,700, which is much too high. The best authorities place the number at 859, showing a mortality of more than 25 per cent. Boehme states that "Of some families neither parents nor children survive." Eighty are said to have died on a single ship, with most of the living ill. It deserves also to be stated that the children of these maltreated immigrants were by order of Governor Hunter apprenticed among the colonists, which act was bitterly resented by the parents. It was one of the first of the long series of wrongs that befell them. It was no doubt the sorrowful experience of these ten ship-loads of Germans that thereafter turned all the immigrants towards Pennsylvania. But one more ship with Palatines went to New York, and that was in 1772. It is even possible this ship was carried out of its course and made port at New York instead of Philadelphia.

Christopher Saur in his first letter to Governor Morris asserts that in a single year two thousand German immigrants found ocean burial while on their way to Pennsylvania.

Caspar Wistar wrote in 1732: "Last year a ship was twenty-four weeks at sea, and of the 150 passengers on board thereof, more than 100 died of hunger and privation, and the survivors were imprisoned and compelled to pay the entire passage-money for themselves and the deceased. In this year 10 ships arrived in Philadelphia with 5,000 passengers. One ship was seventeen weeks at sea and about 60 passengers thereof died."

Christopher Saur in 1758 estimated that 2,000 of the passengers on the fifteen ships that arrived that year, died during the voyage.

Johann Heinrich Keppele, who afterwards became the first president of the German Society of Pennsylvania, says in his diary that of the 312« passengers on board the ship in which he came over, 250 died during the voyage.

But it must not be supposed that all ships carrying immigrants encountered the appalling losses we have mentioned. In 1748 I find this in Saur's paper: "Seven ships loaded with German immigrants left Rotterdam; of these three have arrived in Philadelphia, making the passage from port to port in 31 days, all fresh and well so far as we know. They were also humanely treated on the voyage."

A ship that left Europe in December, 1738, with 400 Palatines, was wrecked on the coast of Block Island. All save 105 had previously died and fifteen of those who landed also died after landing, making a loss of seventy-seven per cent.

A vessel that reached the port of Philadelphia in 1745, landed only 50 survivors out of a total of 400 souls that had sailed away from Europe. In this case starvation was the principal cause of the appalling mortality.

In 1754, the sexton of the Stranger's Burying Ground in Philadelphia, testified under oath that he had buried 253 Palatines up to November 14th, to which "six or eight more
Caption: An Old Tar Bucket, Such as was Always Carried by the Conestoga Wagons. should be added." It seems the diseases contracted on ship-board followed them long after they reached Philadelphia. 150

In February, 1745, Saur said in his newspaper: "Another ship arrived in Philadelphia with Germans. It is said she left port with 400 souls and that there are now not many more than 50 left alive."

"On the 26th of December, 1738, a ship of three hundred tons was wrecked on Block Island, near the coast of the State of Rhode Island. This ship sailed from Rotterdam in August, 1738, last from Cowes, England. John Wanton, the Governor of Rhode Island, sent Mr. Peter Bouse, and others, from Newport, to Block Island, to see how matters were. On the 19th of January, 1739, they returned to Newport, R. I., reporting that the ship was commanded by Capt. Geo. Long, that he died on the inward passage, and that the mate then took charge of the ship which had sailed from Rotterdam with 400 Palatines, destined for Philadelphia, that an exceedingly malignant fever and flux had prevailed among them, only 105 landing at Block Island, and that by death the number had been further reduced to 90. The chief reason alleged for this great mortality was the bad condition of the water taken in at Rotterdam. It was filled in casks that before had contained white and red wine. The greater part of the goods of the Palatines was lost." 151

It may be stated in this connection that the ship Welcome, on which Penn came over in the fall of 1683, was of 300 tons. The small-pox broke out on board and proved fatal to nearly one-third of those on board. 152

 

Chapter VIII.

The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Chapter VIII.

Formation of the German Society.

Despite all the efforts made by private individuals, and the various enactments of the Provincial Assembly, effectual and permanent relief was not destined to come in that way. It was not until a united, influential and determined body of men formed themselves into a corporation and set to work at the task before them with a will, that the dawn at last began to break. It was on Christmas day in 1764 that a number of the most influential German residents in Philadelphia met in the Lutheran School House, on Cherry street and organized the "German Society of Pennsylvania." It was legally incorporated on September 20, 1787, but it did not wait for that legal recognition to begin its work. Its first president was Johann Heinrich Keppele, an opulent and influential merchant of Philadelphia. His efficiency in conducting the affairs of the Society was so clearly recognized that he was annually re‰lected to the Presidency for a period of seventeen years.
Caption: German Immigration Into Pennsylvania. Henry Reffele

No time was lost in beginning the work mapped out, to do away with the manifold abuses that attended the immigration of Germans, to succor the sick and to lend substantial aid to the needy and deserving. The Assembly was at once taken in hand and certain reforms demanded. The matter came up before that body on January 11, 1765, and an act in nine sections, prepared by the Society, was laid before it, in which the rights of immigrants were provided for while on the sea, and safeguarded after their
Caption: Seal of the German Society of Pennsylvania. landing. Objections were at once made by prominent merchants who had previously driven a very profitable trade in Redemptioners, and who saw in the passage of the proposed act an end to their iniquitous but profitable traffic; but it was enacted into a law despite their protests. Governor John Penn, however, refused to sign the act because it was presented to him on the last day of the session. It has been suspected that his principal reason was that he was unwilling to give offense to his many influential English friends whose revenues it was certain would be interfered with.

But the German Society meant business and was not to be turned down by a single rebuff, from whatever source. During the following summer another bill was brought forward, modifying the former one in some particulars. This one was also passed and this time the Governor's signature was added, May 18, 1765. All immigrants who had complaints to make were invited to present them to the Society, which in turn became the champion of these oppressed people. In 1785 it succeeded in procuring legislation providing for the establishment of a Bureau of Registration, and the appointment of an official who could speak both the German and English languages. Previously the newcomers had been haled before the Mayors of the city, to take the necessary oaths; yet Seidensticker tells us that from 1700 to 1800 there were only two Mayors of Philadelphia who could speak the German. language. For a time, this active and unceasing energy put an end to the most serious complaints, but later they again came to the front, and in 1818 still another act, and a more strict and exacting one, was passed, after which these long-continued wrongs finally disappeared.

The Society was of much assistance in a financial way to the needy immigrants, aiding thousands to better their condition, and on the whole did an untold amount of good. It solicited outside contributions but most of the money expended was contributed by the members themselves. It supplied bread, meat and other good and fresh food to the needy ones, but sometimes the need was even greater than the Society's means would allow. It sent the sick to special houses and appealed to the authorities whenever an injustice was brought to its notice. But the Society frequently had its own troubles with those whom it tried to succor. Its generous deeds sometimes failed to satisfy the wishes and expectations of the newcomers. They looked for more. They expected that the Society would also clear the rough land for them and hand it over to them according to the terms of their contracts with the Newlanders, which was of course an impossibility. Some also insisted that the Society should buy their time, clothe and keep all the old, poor, infirm and sick, and give them a decent burial when dead. 153
Caption: An Old Map of the Palatinate. Map of the Palatinate in 1690.

Able men presided over the destinies of the Society. The elder Muhlenberg took a warm interest in it and had advised its organization in the Hallische Nachrichten. Two of his sons were among its presidents; General Peter Muhlenberg in 1788 and also from 1801 to 1807 and his brother Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg from 1789 to 1797, at the same time that he was serving as Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. The Society has continued its good work down to our own time. It has not only a fine Society Hall, but an excellent library and a very considerable endowment.

Friedrich Kapp gives a single example out of the hundreds of cases in which the German Society interfered in the interests of persons and families and saw justice done them. It is the case of one George Martin, who, for himself, his wife and five children, two of whom were under five years of age and who under the regular custom should be counted as one full freight, contracted with the captain of the ship Minerva to be carried to Pennsylvania for the sum of £9 per head, or £54 for all charges. He advanced forty guilders in Rotterdam, or about $16.66. Martin died on the passage across the ocean. When the rest of the family reached Philadelphia, the three eldest sons were each sold by the captain to five years' service for £30, or £90 in all; the remaining two children under five years of age were disposed of for £10 for the two, in all £100 to pay the £58 agreed upon in the contract. But that was not all; the forty-six-year-old widow was also sold to five years of servitude for £22. The Society secured the widow's release, but she made no objection to the children paying the passage money in the manner indicated. 154

At the present hour steamship companies are doing just what the individual ship owners did one hundred and fifty years ago. They have their regular agents in Italy, Austria, Germany and Poland, who are painting the old pictures over again, holding up the old attractions and, often in ways far from reputable, securing emigrants to fill their coffers. In this way we can easily account for the 500,000 persons who have come to this country during the present year. Before the Chinese exclusion law was passed, thousands of those people were brought here by syndicates and their services sold to those who would have them. The Padrone system which prevails among the Italian immigrants of the poorer classes is also little else than a revival of the old-time methods that prevailed in the goodly Province of Pennsylvania during the period under consideration. As practiced now it is shorn of its worst features by the humanity of the times, but the underlying principles are not widely different.


Chapter VIII.

The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Chapter VIII.

Land Provided for Redemptioners.

At some time, and somewhere, either by written page or verbal declaration, it was decreed that bond servants should receive at the expiration of their term of service, fifty acres of land from the Proprietary Government at the exceedingly low annual quit rent of two shillings, or about one cent per acre. Nothing in the various regulations and laws prescribed for the government of the Province was more generous and wise than that. It was designed to give the newly freed man an opportunity with every other immigrant to get a good start in life. It cast behind what the man had previously been and recognized him as a free man, entitled to all the rights and privileges of full citizenship. His quit rent was to be only one-half that which his former master was required to pay. In short, the fullest opportunity was given him to repair his fortunes if his industry and thrift so inclined him.

But all my researches to trace the origin of this practice of bestowing these fifty acres of land upon bond servants, have been unavailing. There are many allusions to it scattered throughout the laws regulating the affairs of the Province, as well as among more recent writers, but it is always alluded to as an already existing law. The original decree or place of record is nowhere revealed. For instance,
Caption: Gourd for Seine Float. in Penn's "Conditions and Concessions" the seventh section reads as follows: "That for every Fifty Acres that shall be allotted to a Servant at the End of his Service, his Quitrent shall be Two Shillings per Annum, and the Master or Owner of the Servant, when he shall take up the other Fifty Acres, his Quitrent shall be Four Shillings by the Year, or if the Master of the Servant (by reason in the Indentures he is so obliged to do) allot out to the Servant Fifty Acres in his own Division, the said Master shall have on Demand allotted to him from the Governor, the One Hundred Acres at the chief Rent of Six Shillings per Annum." 155 Grahame makes an emphatic declaration about such a law in a paragraph discussing this very article in the "Conditions and Concessions." 156

Benjamin Furley, the English Quaker and a life-long friend of Penn, whose principal agent he was for the sale of lands in the newly acquired Province, in a letter to a friend sets forth under date of March 6, 1684, certain explanations concerning the conditions granted to settlers. Among other things he has a paragraph relative to


Chapter VIII.

The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Chapter VIII.

Renters.

"To those who have enough money to pay the expense of their passage as well for themselves as for their wives, children, and servants, but upon their arrival have no more money with which to buy lands, the Governor gives full liberty for themselves, their wives, children and servants who are not under the age of sixteen years, whether male or female, each to take fifty acres at an annual rent in perpetuity of an English dernier for each acre, which is less than a Dutch sol. It will be rented to them and to their children in perpetuity the same as if they had bought the said land. For the children and servants after the term of their service will have expired, in order to encourage them to serve faithfully their fathers and masters, the Governor gives them full liberty for themselves and their heirs in perpetuity, to take for each 50 acres, paying only a little annual rent of two English shillings (Escalins) for 50 acres, which is less than a farthing for each acre. And they and their fathers and masters will be regarded as true citizens. They will have the right of suffrage not only for the election of Magistrates of the place where they live but also for that of the members of the Council of the Province and the General Assembly, which two bodies joined with the Governor are the Sovereignty, and what is much more they may be chosen to exercise some office, if the community of the place where they live considers them capable of it, no matter what their nationality or religion." 157

It will be seen from the foregoing that these 50 acres of land which were allotted to Redemptioners at the conclusion of their term of service, were not an absolute gift or donation by the Proprietors, as so many writers seem to think, but were rented to them on more reasonable terms than to their masters. I have nowhere found whether other equally favorable concessions were made when the Redemptioner purchased his 50 acres outright or when he after a while preferred exclusive ownership in preference to the payment of quit-rent. Doubtless, in the latter case, he came in on the same footing as any other original purchaser. A recent history ventures upon the following explanation: "The land secured by settlers and servants who had worked out their term of years, was granted in fee under favor which came directly or indirectly from the crown." 158 To the average reader that must appear like an explanation that does not explain, and is incorrect in addition. The regulation did not convey an absolute title to land. It was granted under a reservation and not in fee simple. Every student knows that all the laws passed in the Province were subject to revision by the crown, and therefore whatever law or custom, to be legal, must have received the royal assent. What is much more to the point is when and where that concession to indentured servants was first proclaimed and put upon record. It seems unreasonable that there was no legal authorization of the practice.



Chapter VIII.

The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Chapter VIII.

Addend a.

Long after the foregoing remarks and speculations concerning the time and place where the custom of allowing indentured servitors to take up 50 acres of land at a nominal quit-rent had been written, and after the chapter in which they appear had been printed, I had the good fortune to find the authorization that had so long eluded my search.

On March 4, 1681, King Charles signed the document which gave to William Penn the Province of Pennsylvania. Very soon thereafter Penn wrote an account of his new possessions from the best information he then had. It was printed in a folio pamphlet of ten pages, entitled: "Some ACCOUNT of the Province of Pennsilvania in AMERICA; Lately Granted under the Great Seal of ENGLAND to William Penn, Etc. Together with Priviledges and Powers necessary to the well-governing thereof. Made publick for the Information of such as are or may be disposed to Transport themselves or Servants into those Parts. London: Printed, and Sold by Benjamin Clark Bookseller in George-Yard Lombard-Street, 1681." The title of the tract in fac-simile will be found on page 272.

In this scarce and valuable little tract Penn sets forth the "Conditions" under which he was disposed to colonize his new Province. Condition No. III. reads as follows:
Caption: LONDON: Printed, and Sold by Benjamin Clark Bookfeller in George-Yard Lombard-flrect, 1681, Penn's First Pamphlet on His American Possessions.

"My conditions will relate to three sorts of people: 1st. Those that will buy: 2dly. Those that take up land upon rent: 3dly. Servants. To the first, the shares I sell shall be certain as to number of acres; that is to say, every one shall contain five thousand acres, free from any Indian incumbrance, the price a hundred pounds and for the quit-rent but one English shilling or the value of it yearly for a hundred acres; and the said quit-rent not to begin to be paid till 1684. To the second sort, that take up land upon rent, they shall have liberty so to do paying yearly one penny per acre, not exceeding two hundred acres.-To the third sort, to wit, servants that are carried over, fifty acres shall be allowed to the master for every head, And Fifty Acres To Every Servant When Their Time is Expired. And because some engaged with me that may not be disposed to go, it were very advisable for every three adventurers to send an overseer with their servants, which would well pay the cost."
Caption: Coat-of-Arms of George Ross, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, from Lancaster, Pa.
Caption: The old Market Square at Germantown.

 

Chapter IX.

The German Immigration into Pennsylvania though the Port of Philadelphia: 1700-1775
Chapter IX.

The Traffic in Redemptioners as Carried on in the Neighboring Colonies-Men Kidnapped in the Streets of London and Deported-Prisoners of War sent to America and sold into Bondage in Cromwell's Time. "God's blessing on the Fatherland, And all beneath her dome; And also on the newer land We now have made our home." "Ein dichter Kreis von Lieben steht, Ihr Brder, um uns her; Uns Knpft so manches theuere Band An unser deutsches Vaterland, Drum f„llt der Abschied schwer."
Caption: Old-Time Wooden Lantern.

While my discussion of this question has special reference to the Province of Pennsylvania, the trade had so ramified into the neighboring regions to the south of us, that a brief glance at what prevailed there will assist us in understanding the situation at our own doors. In fact we may be said to have taken it from them, because it prevailed there many years before it developed in Pennsylvania. It prevailed in Virginia from an early period, and when Lord Baltimore established his government in his new Province of Maryland, he was prompt to recognize the same system in order to more rapidly secure colonists. In the beginning the term of service there was fixed at five years. In 1638 the Maryland Assembly passed an act reducing it to four years, which remained in force until 1715, when it was amended by fixing the period of service for servants above the age of twenty-five years, at five years; those between the age of eighteen and twenty-five years, at six years; those between fifteen and eighteen at seven years, while all below fifteen years were compelled to remain with their masters until they reached the age of twenty-two years. 159

Servants in Maryland were from the first placed under the protection of the law, which no doubt threw many safeguards around them, preventing impositions in many cases, and securing them justice from hard and inhuman masters. Either by law or by custom the practice grew up of rewarding these servants at the expiration of their time of service, as we find in 1637 one of these servants entitled to "one cap or hat, one new cloth or frieze suit, one shirt, one pair of shoes and stockings, one axe, one broad and one narrow hoe, fifty acres of land and three barrels of corn" out of the estate of his deceased master. 160 There, as in Pennsylvania, the way to preferment was open to man and master alike. There as here many of these Redemptioners became in time prosperous, prominent people. No stigma was attached to this temporary servitude, and intermarriages between masters and their female servants were not infrequent, nor between servants and members of the master's household. But these people could not select their masters. They were compelled to serve those who paid the sums due the ship captain or ship owner. Indeed their lot was often during its duration actually harder than that of the negro slaves, for it was to the owner's interests to take care of his slaves, who were his all their lives, while the indentured servants remained with him for a few years only. There were consequently as many complaints there as in Pennsylvania.

We must not lose sight of the fact, however, that for many years these Redemptioners were almost exclusively of English and Irish birth. It was not so easy to deal with them as with foreigners. They sent their complaints to England, and measures were taken there to prevent the abuses complained of. The press even took up the refrain and the letters sent home appeared in the newspapers, accompanied by warnings against entering into these contracts. It was not until the institution was in full career in Penn's province that it began there. The first Germans who reached Maryland in considerable numbers were such as migrated out of Pennsylvania. Lancaster county lay on the Maryland border, and the migrating instinct soon took them to Baltimore, Harford, Frederick and the western counties. As these people made themselves homes and became prosperous, they needed labor for their fields and naturally enough preferred their own countrymen. The
Caption: German Immigration Into Pennsylvania. John Cr?? Newlanders, however, were just as willing to send their ship-loads of human freight to Baltimore as to Philadelphia, and it was not long before ships began to arrive in the former port even as they were doing at the latter.

While Pennsylvania, in 1765, at the instigation of the German Society newly formed in the State, passed laws for the protection of these immigrants, nothing of the kind was done in Maryland until a long time afterwards. The Maryland newspapers of the period teem with notices of the arrivals of immigrant ships and offerings for sale of the passengers, just as did those of Philadelphia. Here are a few examples:

From the Baltimore American, February 8, 1817-

"GERMAN Redemptioners.

"The Dutch ship Jungfrau Johanna, Capt. H. H. Bleeker, has arrived off Annapolis, from Amsterdam with a number of passengers, principally farmers and mechanics of all sorts, and several fine young boys and girls, whose time will be disposed of. Mr. Bolte, ship broker of Baltimore, will attend on board at Annapolis, to whom those who wish to supply themselves with good servants, will please apply; also to Capt. Bleeker on board."

Two weeks later this appeared in the same paper:

"That a few entire families are still on board the Johanna to be hired."

Here is another:

"For Sale or Hire.

"A German Redemptioner, for the term of two years. He is a stout, healthy man, and well acquainted with farming, wagon driving and the management of horses. For further particulars apply to

"C. R. Green, Auctioneer."
Caption: Shipmaster's Advertisement of Redemptioners.

On April 11th we have this:

"GERMAN REDEMPTIONER-$30 REWARD.

"Absconded from the Subscriber on Sunday, the 5th inst., a German Redemptioner, who arrived here in November last, by name Maurice Schumacher, about 30 years of age, 5 feet 9 inches, well proportioned, good countenance, but rather pale in complexion, short hair, has a very genteel suit of clothes, by trade a cabinet maker, but has been employed by me in the making of brushes. He is a good German scholar, understands French and Latin, an excellent workman, speaks English imperfectly. $30 Reward if lodged in jail.

"Jos. M. Stapleton,

"Brush Maker,

"139 Baltimore Street."

On March 3d a reward is offered for the capture of a German Redemptioner, a tailor who took French leave from Washington.

On March 11th a reward of $30 is offered for the capture of a German Redemptioner, a bricklayer.

As late as April 7th of the same year, 1817, I find our old friend, the Johanna, which, arriving on February 8th, had not yet disposed of her living cargo, as the following advertisement shows:

"German Redemptioners.

"The Dutch ship Johanna, Captain H. H. Bleeker, has arrived before this City, and lies now in the cove of Wiegman's Wharf; there are on board, desirous of
Caption: The Price of a "Dutch Boye." binding themselves, for their passage, the following single men: Two capital blacksmiths, a rope maker, a carrier, a smart apothecary, a tailor, a good man to cook, several young men as waiters, etc. Among those with families are gardeners, weavers, a stonemason, a miller, a baker, a sugar baker, farmers and other professions, etc."