The German Immigration into Pennsylvania:
Colonists were needed to found colonies and at
once every available agency was employed to make these
new lands profitable to their new owners.
Government companies were chartered, expeditions
were authorized, princely land grants were made to
individuals and each and all of these offered inducements
to the lower ranks in life, the husbandmen, the
mechanics and men of all work to enlist themselves
in these new enterprises. Of course the most attractive inducements were held out to set
this spirit of emigration in motion.
Scores of small pamphlets of from ten to one hundred
or more pages each were written, printed and scattered
throughout almost every country in Europe.
Allusion had already been made to the crushed,
oppressed and poverty-stricken character of the
peasantry in certain parts of Germany, notably in
the Rhine provinces,
commonly known as the Palatinate. Religious
persecutions were carried out against them even more
relentlessly than the red hand of domestic and
foreign wars. To a people ready to
sacrifice and suffer all for conscience sake, the
persecution by creed was as unbearable as that which
despoiled them of their homes and their substance.
Among these people thus affected,
carnage in the year 1671 and again in 1677. He could
enter into persecution for conscience the true inwardness
of the men of the Palatinate, console, soothe and encourage.
It was William Penn,
the Quaker, whose religious tenets they found in comparison
differed little from those held by the followers of
Menno Simon, which was in itself a strong bond of sympathy.
Penn's heart went
out to these resolute but amiable people. Still another bond,
one of kinship, drew them to him. His mother,
Margaret Jasper, was a Dutch woman and it has been alleged
that Penn spoke and wrote in
Dutch and in German also, although this is not certain.
At the period of his travels through Germany, Penn had
not yet acquired the ownership of Pennsylvania; it came
four years after his last visit. Naturally,
one of the first things he undertook
was to secure colonists for his newly acquired province.
A writer had referred to the influence exercised by the
personality of Penn upon the Germans in the Rhine
provinces in these words:
"To all of them the news in 1681 that the tall young
Englishman who four years before had passed through the
Rhine country, preaching a doctrine of religious life
not very different from that
of Menno Simon, was now the proprietor in America of a
vast region greater than all Bavaria, Wurtemburg and
Baden together and that he had invited them to come and
live there, without wars and persecutions,
under laws which they should share in making such news
must indeed have roused and stirred many a discouraged
Benjamin Furly, an English Separatist, was perhaps
the principal and most active of these and to him a large
measure of credit is due for giving direction to the
rising tide of Teutonic immigration.
As early as March 10, 1682, he had sold several 5000 acre
tracts of land to merchants of Crefeld. This was before
Penn had himself visited his princely domain. In 1683 the
elder Pastorius, an agent for a number
of German friends, bought 25,000 acres, and on these, the
town of Germantown was soon after located. That was the beginning, and thenceforward many other
agencies were at work to increase the number of German
immigrants. The Frankfort Land Company did its utmost to
attract settlers to its lands.
Such colonists as were already here wrote home attractive
accounts of the new home they had found in the forests
No one, however, was more industriously engaged in this
work than Penn himself. As early as 1681, he issued a pamphlet
giving information concerning his province to such as
wished "to transport themselves or servants into those
parts". German and Dutch translations were also printed and
scattered through the Low Countries and Germany.
In 1682 he sent out in English and German his brief
account of the Province of Pennsylvania.
There can be no manner of doubt that, scattered
throughout Central and Western Europe in various
languages, it was a mighty factor in directing
from the Fatherland towards Pennsylvania.
Then follow his several schemes for the settlement
of immigrants upon his lands. The amount of lands to be
allotted to each family; the improvements that will be
built for them, the stock and farming tools
that will be supplied, even their seed for the first
year's harvest; this is followed by the easy terms upon
which payment may be made, this for those who have the
means to transport themselves, but no more.
Still another plan provides for such as are destitute of
any resources. To each family of such 100 acres are allotted,
with 15 in hand before starting to provide
adequately for the journey.
TIMES FOR MAKING THE VOYAGE: While it was possible for ships to reach and leave
Philadelphia during every month in the year, except
occasionally during the inclement season of mid-winter,
the late winter and autumn months were generally
chosen for the departure from Europe. Accordingly, found
the ship arrivals were most numerous in early spring and
late in the fall. April and May, September, October and
November witnessed the largest influx of
immigrants during the year. The Passage was not to be
set by any man; for ships will be quicker or slower.
Some have been four months, and some, generally between
six and nine weeks.
The very minuteness with which every detail is given
indicates the desire to leave no room for misunderstandings.
He was anxious that there should be no cause for complaint.
His very frankness must have convinced his
readers and won them.
All this became apparent to the new immigrant and this was
no doubt one of the principal
reasons why the reports sent back to Germany were almost
universally favorable, and proved instrumental in keeping up
the immigration movement so many years.
The German Immigration into Pennsylvania:
Swiss-Huguenots, who came over in 1708 or 1709 and located
themselves in the Pequea Valley, Lancaster county, forming the
first settlement of Europeans within that County.
13 some members of that colony almost immediately
returned to Germany to bring over relatives and friends,
and between the years 1711 and 1717, and for some years later there
were large accessions to the colony.
It was one of the most substantial and successful settlements ever made in
Pennsylvania. Even then, as in later years, most of the colonists
came from the Palatinate, "which sent forth her children from
her burned cities and devastated fields, their faces turned towards the land of promise".
Just how many Germans landed at the port of Philadelphia prior to the passage
of the registry law of 1727. is unknown, but the number was undoubtedly large as may be
inferred from the quotation above from Jonathan Dickinson. It was not until 1707
however that Germans in considerable numbers began arriving.
From that time onward the number increased from year to year, and ten
years later began to attract the attended of the Provincial Government.
The country seemed to be filling up with Germans, and as a
result of the alarm that was caused thereby, Governor William
Keith soon after his arrival, on September 7, 1717, observed to
the Provincial Council sitting at Philadelphia
"that great numbers of foreigners from Germany, being imported into this Province
daily dispersed themselves immediately after landing, without
producing any Certificates, from where they came from
or what they were, without making application to himself or
to any of the magistrates. This practice might be of very
dangerous consequences, since by the same method any number of
foreigners from any nation whatever, as well enemies as friends,
might throw themselves upon us. The Governor, therefore,
thought it requisite that this matter should be considered, & thus
ordered that all the masters of vessels who have lately imported
any of these foreigners be summoned to appear at this Board,
to render an account of the number and
"Characters of the Passengers" respectively from Britain; and
all those who are already landed be required by a Proclamation,
to be issued for that purpose, to Repair within the space of one
month to some Magistrate, particularly to the Recorder of this
City (Philadelphia), to take such Oaths appointed by Law as are necessary
to give assurances of their being well affected to his Majesty
and his Government.
The Provincial Council perhaps never did an act that so much
deserved the thanks and the gratitude of those of German descent
in the State of Pennsylvania today as in embodying the
foregoing views in an Act of the Assembly a few years later.
It resulted in the registration of the many thousands of German and
other immigrants, and these ship masters' lists as we find them today in the
Colonial Records, Rupp's "Thirty Thousand Names", and Volume XVII
of the Second Series of Pennsylvania Archives are a
priceless treasure, a store house to which thousands of people
of German ancestry have gone on to find information concerning the
names, ages and time of arrival of their ancestors. Never was a government scare
so productive of good results.