Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775

Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775

Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775

Hopeful Journeys: German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775

Synopsis

In 1700, some 250,000 white and black inhabitants populated the thirteen American colonies, with the vast majority of whites either born in England or descended from English immigrants. By 1776, the non-Native American population had increased tenfold, and non-English Europeans and Africans dominated new immigration. Of all the European immigrant groups, the Germans may have been the largest.

Aaron Spencer Fogleman has written the first comprehensive history of this eighteenth-century German settlement of North America. Utilizing a vast body of published and archival sources, many of them never before made accessible outside of Germany, Fogleman emphasizes the importance of German immigration to colonial America, the European context of the Germans' emigration, and the importance of networks to their success in America

Excerpt

Immigration to America calls to mind images of millions of Europeans crowding into eastern port cities, struggling to get ahead, to escape the slum and carve out a better life, either in the city itself or on the frontier. While it is self-evident that the immigrants sought opportunity, and that many also sought some kind of freedom, the degree to which they left behind the Old World or brought some of it with them is debated. When did they become Americans? What kind of Americans did they become? Or did America become them?

Most Americans have encountered these images or questions in one way or another, but attention has inevitably centered on the years 1815 1914, when some 38 million immigrants from Europe and Asia arrived. Much of what we think of as "America" came to be in this period, and immigrants were vital to the country's shaping. After World War I immigration continued at a significantly slower pace until the renewed wave of Spanish-speaking and Asian immigration during our time. But of course the story begins before 1815.

Before the millions of Europeans and Asians arrived in the nineteenth century, another large influx occurred in the decades before the American Revolution, and its magnitude and consequences, as well as the personal struggles involved, were no less significant: in the first three-quarters of the eighteenth century the immigration of hundreds of thousands of non- English-speaking Europeans and Africans transformed American society. in 1700, nearly a century after Jamestown, only about 250,000 white and black inhabitants populated the colonies, while the Native American population along the coastal plain and in the Piedmont region had declined dramatically from perhaps 700,000 inhabitants before European settlement. the vast majority of the white inhabitants were either born in England or descended from English immigrants. Only about 11 percent of the non-

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