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German-American Essay

Individual Germans had been coming to the United States since the 17th century, and continued into the late 19th century at a rate exceeding that of any other country. Thefirst to arrive as a group were religious dissenters who landed at Philadelphia aboard the Concord in 1683. These settlers from Krefeld, Frankfurt and Palatinate, were led by a young lawyer, Franz Daniel Pastorius. With William Penn's help, Pastorius established “Germantown”, the settlement near Philadelphia. Lately, Germantown "became the distributing center through which the stream of German immigration poured into southeastern Pennsylvania, and finally overflowed down the Valley of Virginia into the back country of the colonies farther south"(Bittinger, 10). By 1727 there were about 20,000 Germans in Pennsylvania; by the start of the Revolution in 1776, the number jumped to 110,000 to 125,000. They were mostly farmers, simple rural folk, a few were skilled artisans. They became the forerunners of today’s “Pennsylvania GermanDutch” culture, and had almost no subsequent connection with Germany. In this early period, political, social, and economic collapse, crop failures, famine, religious persecution and tyrannical rulers were the main factors in thisfirst wave of German immigration.
After the Revolutionary War, the revival of German immigration in the 1830’s was due primarily to the economic opportunities which America had to offer to men and women who were eager to get ahead in the world. Cheap land, encouraging transportation companies and land speculators, and family letters from the New World spurred this tide, which “not only filled in the older eastern communities, but flowed westward along the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes into the Middle West”(Lass, 68). Censorship, espionage, and suppression drove German radical liberals out of their world (the universities and the Turner societies) into the New World. Another factor that led to Germa…

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