German and Northern European Migration (1840-1860): Chasing the "American" Dream

German Immigrants and Scandinavian Immigrants, Northern Europeans, were of the largest groups to migrate to America before, throughout and even after the 1800’s. The Scandinavians consisted and still do today primarily of Immigrants from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland.

German Migration:

German immigrants were one of the first immigrant groups to inhabit America. They even helped form the first permanent settlement in Virginia called Jamestown in 1608. German
explorers, just as the Scandinavians, explored other various parts of the "New World" as well.
Though it was not until the 1600 and 1700's that German's began to migrate to America in search of religious freedom and religious tolerance. William Penn of England went caused vast amounts of Germans to immigrate to America, spreading word of the religious freedom found in the American colonies. This created a basis for a strong German population in the late 18th and throughout the 19th century.
By the mid to late 1700's, the German made up one-third of the American Colonies' population. The German population became very apparent in society, copies of the Declaration of Independence were even commonly sold in German in 1776.
Though German immigration was then slowed down by various wars in America and Europe until the 1830's. ABove 10,000 German immigrants immigrated from Germany in 1832. And had increased even more by approximately 200,000 immigrants by 1854. This was all due to the new found availability and safety of immigrating to America.

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A German Pioneer Family - Many Germans moved out West to Texas and North and South Dakota.

German Immigration
An article from the New York Daily Times written on January 6, 1855 on German Immigration in America.

Scandinavian Immigration Overview:

Prior to the 19th century, the Scandinavian's, people of the origin of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland, originally came to discover new lands or to practice their own faith, seeking religious freedom.
Throughout the 19th century, the people native to Scandinavian land's came for simpler reasons very similar to those of others. They wished to start a new and to create a new life for themselves. They came wishing for more. They tended to migrate to mainly Northern cities, though they formed communities all throughout the country from New York to California.

The Swedish Migration:

Originally in the early 1600's, the Swedes were the actual first immigrants to come and travel to America from Scandinavia. They were even the original habitants of the city of Wilmington, Delaware, which at the time they founded as the town of Fort Christina.
The Swedes' immigrant population continued to grow though was eventually overpowered by the large English settlement founded by English man WIlliam Penn, the same man who inspired Germans to flee to America for religious freedom.

Though beginning in the early-mid 1800's the Swedish farmers began to take part in a vast migration to America in search of land and religious freedom, like many others did at the time. This migration continued to grow into the mid 1800's as a result of the over-population crisis in Sweden, having been doubled in a 100 years from 1750 to 1850. Especially as famine started to sweep the country rules for emigration were lessened causing vast amounts to leave their native country.

Swedish Immigration

The Norwegian Migration:

Though not as much as others, Norway still had many people migrate to America. From 1820 to 1920, 1 million Norwegians migrated to America. Which, was almost the majority of their country's population at the time.

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The Gunnar G. Felland Family - Norwegian Americans - 1880

Many Norwegians primarily migrated to America in the Mayflower with separatists attempting to escape the Church of England in 1620. Further in time, the end of the civil war caused mass amounts of new immigrants to travel to America. And by 1860, there were approximately 40,000 Norwegians living in America. Later followed by the immigration of about one-ninth of Norway's population in the 1880's.

The Danish Migration:

As other Scandinavian groups migrated towards and to America, so did the Danes. The majority of Danes tended to settle near farm lands and in agricultural areas. The majority being in places such as Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Kansas, where there had been a prevalent German population as well. Though many eventually migrated towards cities and larger towns, finding it easier to live a city lifestyle. Their population in America swelled. This was also propelled in 1850,when various Danish missionaries who spread frequent tales of a new forming faith in America, which later formed into Mormonism. By the late 1800's 20,000 Danes had been converted and had left for America.

Danish Immigrant John Peter Rasmus' Diary 1864
A first hand account of John Rasmus' journey across America to Utah.