German Immigration Essay

1268 words - 5 pages

In 1990 the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 57,985,595 people in the United States claimed some measure of German ancestry. This makes up almost a quarter of the U.S. population. German immigration started as early as 1607. The first three Germans to migrate to the U.S. were, F.Unger, H. Keffer, and F. Volday who were followers of Captain John Smith who settled in Jamestown, Virginia. They started the first German colony, known as the “Damned Dutch.” From 1820-1970 they estimated about 6.9 million Germans came to the U.S. which were 15% of the total immigrants. The peak years of migration were 1854, when 215,000 people arrived, and 1882, when 250,000 people arrived. Approximately 90 percent of all the people leaving Germany between 1835 and 1910 came to the United States.World Wars I and II interrupted the immigration of Germans to America. After World War I immigration picked up again from bad economic conditions in Germany. During World War II there was immigration restrictions placed on Germans. The Germans emigrated to the U.S. for different reasons being that German immigrants were the most diverse in background of all major immigrant groups. The availability of land and the desire for religious freedom drew the first Germans to America. Germans were victims of overpopulation in the wine growing regions. This caused too much competition for land and jobs. Plus the land was not too fertile, and the harsh winter of 1708-1709 forced people to leave. The taxes were high, and the people could not afford to pay. America was often advertised in Germany as in America everything is great! It was true to people looking for a lot of fertile land for not a lot of money. In 1829, a German named Gottfried Duden, who had spent three years living in Missouri, published a report praising the new land, where food and property were cheap, nature was beautiful and life was easy. This report enticed thousands of Duden’s countrymen-including well-educated aristocrats, scholars, and clergy to migrate. Other Germans left for religious reasons. Several groups among the mid-nineteenth century German immigrants saw America as a safe haven for religious freedom. About ten thousand Jews came to the United States from Bavaria in 1839, to escape the social and economic restrictions placed on Jews. Soon Jews from other German states followed. Around 1840, a number of Lutherans came as a result of their opposition to the forced unification of the Lutheran and Reformed churches by the state of Prussia. In the late 1870’s, many Catholics, especially priests and nuns, left to escape Otto von Bismarck’s anti-Catholic campaign, known as the Kulturkampf.Leaving Germany was not hard to do, but the ride to the new world was, and it was expensive. Many Germans came to America as “Redemptioners.” They were unable to pay for their own transportation, so they agreed to redeem their fare after arriving in America by being auctioned off as servants....

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