THE movement of the peoples of Europe to the New World was but a part of the strange age-long migration of the race toward the setting sun. Great masses of people, such as came to America in colonial times, do not move without some deep, underlying cause. Men and women do not leave their homes and friends and brave the dangers of such an ocean voyage as was required to reach America before the age of steam without some strong, compelling force.

      The greatest admirer of the New World could hardly claim that it possessed any powerful attractions at this time. The best that it could offer to the first comers was a chance to struggle with the forces of nature in a state of society but little removed from savagery. Yet hundreds of thousands of people did come to America during the three centuries after its discovery.

      If there were no powerful attractions drawing them on, the cause of their migration must be sought in the land from which they came.

      It was a time of social upheaval and revolution in Europe. The merchant class was ruling. It was the first division of the great capitalist army, - the advance guard, whose work it was to explore the world and clear the way for the army of occupation, - the industrial capitalist.



      The forces of feudalism were not yet completely conquered, and the new class was compelled constantly to fight to hold its position and gain greater power. It was a time when nations and religions were being born, and when in all fields of social life mighty forces were struggling for the mastery.

      As fast as the merchant or the manufacturing class attained to power, its members set about divorcing the former serfs and peasants from the soil, and dissolving all old feudal relations, in order that the workers might be "free" to hunt for employers. So it was that in nearly all the leading European nations the people were being driven out of their ancient homes.

      In England, for example, this was a time of great growth in the woolen industry. Tenants were being driven off the old estates that great sheep pastures might be created. Seldom has this process been more vividly depicted than in a famous extract from the "Utopia" of Sir Thomas More. This was written in 1615, and the author makes one of his characters say concerning the condition in contemporary England: -

"Your sheep, which are naturally mild and easily kept in order, may be said now to devour men and unpeople, not only villages, but towns, for, wherever it is found that the sheep of any soil yield a softer and richer wool than ordinary there the nobility and gentry, and even those holy men, the abbots, not contented with the old rents which their farms yielded, nor thinking it enough that they, living at their ease, do no good to the public, resolve to do it hurt instead of good. They stop the course of agriculture, destroying houses and towns, reserving only the churches, and inclosed grounds that they


may lodge their sheep in them. As if forests and parks had swallowed up too little of the land, those worthy countrymen turn the best inhabited places into solitudes; for when an insatiable wretch, who is a plague to his country, resolves to inclose many thousands of acres of land, the owners, as well as tenants, are turned out of their possessions, by tricks, or by main force, or, being wearied out with ill-usage, they are forced to sell them. By which means those miserable people, both men and women, married and unmarried, old and young, with their poor but numerous families (since country business requires many hands), are all forced to change their seats, not knowing whither to go; and they must sell almost for nothing their household stuff, which could not bring them much money, even though they might stay for a buyer.

      All Europe was in a turmoil. The Hundred Years' War had just ceased when Columbus discovered America. Within the next three centuries nearly every nation of Europe was to be engaged in armed conflict, and for much of that time war was practically epidemic on the continent of Europe. Most of these wars were waged nominally around questions of religion. This was simply because the industrial revolution, which placed the capitalist class in power, necessarily had its religious expression. The Reformation, with its individualism in theology, was as perfect a reflex of capitalism as "free competition" and laissez faire in economics. "Every one for himself and the devil take the hindmost" was the motto in industry, economics, religion, and politics, and it is noteworthy that the best authorities in each of these fields agreed that the majority of mankind is condemned to perdition.


      Nowhere did these religious wars rage with such fury as in Germany, and it was from the locality in which the fighting was most destructive that the largest number of German emigrants came to the New World. The great and fertile Rhine Valley, once the main highway of commerce from the Mediterranean to northern Europe, and therefore the best hunting ground for the robber barons, was now the seat of war after war. The first of these was the Thirty Years' War, ended by the peace of Westphalia in 1649. Historians vie with one another in describing the horrible devastation of this conflict upon the locality in which it was waged. Says one writer: -

Not only were horses and cattle carried away by the various armies which shifted back and forth over the length and breadth of the land; not only were houses, barns, and even crops burned; but the master of the house was frequently subjected to fiendish tortures, in order that he might thus be forced to discover the hiding place of his gold; or, as often happened, as a punishment for having nothing to give. At the approach of a hostile army the whole village would take to flight, and would live for weeks in the midst of forests and marshes, or in caves. The enemy having departed, the wretched survivors would return to their ruined homes and carry on a painful existence with the few remains of their former property, until they were forced to fly again by new invasions.
     The years 1635 and 1636 mark the period of the most terrible misery. In the years 1636-1638 famine and pestilence came to add to the suffering. The people tried


to satisfy hunger with roots, grass, and leaves; even cannibalism became more or less frequent. The gallows and the graveyards had to be guarded; the bodies of children were not safe from their mothers. So great was the destruction that where once were flourishing farms and vineyards, now whole bands of wolves roamed unmolested.1

      Even yet the cup of misery of this ill-fated land was not filled. The peace signed at Westphalia in 1649 was quickly broken so far as the Palatinate was concerned. In 1674 another war broke out between France and Holland, that lasted with but few interruptions and with slight changes of combatants for several years more. Finally, in 1689 the French determined completely to depopulate this country. The result has been stated in one of Macaulay's striking paragraphs: -

The commander announced to near half a million human beings that he granted them three days of grace, and that within that time they must shift for themselves. Soon the roads and fields, which then lay deep in snow, were blackened by innumerable multitudes of men, women, and children flying from their homes. . . . The flames went up from every market place, every parish church, every country seat, within the devoted province. The fields where the corn had been sowed were plowed up. The orchards were cut down.

      These poor hunted creatures fled by tens of thousands to the valleys and broad fields of Pennsylvania, where they have preserved their language, customs, religion, and traditions even to the present day, presenting the

1. Oscar Kuhns, "The German and Swiss Settlements of Colonial Pennsylvania," pp. 3-9.


strange paradox of the oldest "Americans" speaking a "foreign" tongue. They fled down the Rhine, crowded into Amsterdam, where they became the victims of a horde of hyena-like shipping agents, who plundered them of their last coin, then shipped them upon overcrowded and unseaworthy ships, with such accommodations that sometimes half of them died upon the passage, and the remainder were landed in America, so indebted to the ship's officers that they were sold into temporary slavery to pay their passage.1

      Throughout this period, whichever of the warring religious sects gained control of any government promptly used its power to "stamp out the heresy" of its competitors. So there was never a lack of religious refugees seeking an asylum in America, although the number of these has been vastly exaggerated, since the love of religious freedom is ordinarily looked upon as a much higher motive for emigration than economic necessity. It is almost needless to say that each little flock of refugees was no sooner safely settled in the New World than it proceeded to discover new heretics among its own members, who were piously driven into the surrounding wilderness.

      During the eighteenth century another important element was added to the stream of immigration. This time it came from Ireland and was composed of that body that was to play such an important part in certain phases

1 For details of these matters, see Frank R. Diffenderfer, "The German Immigration into Pennsylvania through the Port of Philadelphia from 1700-1175," in Part VII of the "Narrative and Critical History of Pennsylvania"; also same author, "The Redemptioners in Pennsylvania," in German Society Publications, Vol. X; Geiser, "Redemptioners in Pennsylvania."


of American history, the Scotch-Irish. An explanation of this movement is contained in the following extract from Campbell's work on "The Puritan in Holland, England, and America" (Vol. II, p. 427): -

In 1698, upon the demand of the English manufacturers, the woolen industry of Ireland was utterly destroyed. It was claimed that labor was cheaper there than in England, and that, therefore, the product could be sold at a lower price. This was not to be endured. The interference of Parliament was invoked, and by a series of repressive acts, the Irish looms were closed. As one result of this legislation twenty thousand of the Protestant artisans of Ulster, deprived of employment, left Ireland for America, carrying with them the remembrance of how English faith, plighted to their forefathers, had been broken under the influence of English greed.

      The next step was the enactment by Queen Anne's parliament of laws persecuting the Scotch-Irish for their religious belief, and this was followed by the establishment of the "rack-renting" system, under which the native Irish, with a lower standard of living, were enabled to underbid the former tenants. Add to this a famine in 1740, and it is no wonder that this "was by far the largest contribution of any race to the population of America during the eighteenth century."1

      It is the same story everywhere. It was not because America drew them on, but because Europe drove them out, that the colonists came to America. Thousands of the poorer colonists sold themselves for a series of years as slaves in order to pay the passage money that had been advanced by the shipowners. In

1 John R. Commons, "Races and Immigrants in America," pp. 34-36.


fact, John R. Commons estimates that probably one half of all the immigrants of the colonial period landed as "indentured servants."

      There were three classes of "white slaves" in colonial times. The larger class, to which reference has just been made, were those who agreed with the masters of some vessel that in return for a passage to the New World the shipowner should have the right to sell the, passenger into servitude for a definite number of years. In the majority of cases this sale was made at the wharf, and the newspapers of the time regularly contain advertisements of the arrival of ships with "indentured servants" to be sold. In case no buyers came to the strip the passengers were sold to agents, who chained them together and peddled them through the towns and villages.

      Another large class of slaves was made up of criminals, sent here largely from England, and sold to the colonists for a term of years.

      As the raising of cotton and tobacco and some other staple crops became more profitable, and the close vicinity of the forest with free land made it difficult to keep employees at the beggarly wages which prevailed, the demand for workmen became so great that a regular trade in the stealing of persons for colonial slavery sprung up in England. So prevalent did this practice become that it added a new phrase to the language. Those who stole these children for export to America were called "spirits," and from this came the phrase to "spirit away":

Children and adults alike were lured or forced upon vessels in the harbor, or carried to the numerous cookshops in the neighborhood of the wharves in the principal seaports, and here they were kept in close confinement


until sold to merchants or masters of ships which were about to sail for the colonies. As a result of this spiriting away, frauds became so common, that in 1664 the Committee for Foreign Plantations decided to interfere. . . . A committee was appointed whose duty it was to register the names and ages of all who wished to emigrate to America. But this did not put a stop to the practice. Ten years after this act became a law, it was stated that 10,000 persons were annually spirited away from England by kidnappers.

      Finally more than 200,000 negro slaves were stolen from their homes in Africa by Dutch or New England traders and sold to the planters of the Southern colonies. Historians have told us much of the discomforts of the voyagers on the Mayflower, but they have had little to say of the horrors endured by the miserable fugitives from the Palatinate, and still less of the terrible sufferings inflicted upon the helpless children stolen from their homes in London to become the slaves of American planters and farmers.

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