GERMAN IMMIGRANTS TO THE USA
The Germans in America
Chronology1608 - Several Germans were among the settlers at Jamestown.
1626 - Peter Minuit, a German, came to New Amsterdam to serve as the governor of the Dutch colony, New Netherlands. Later he governed the Swedish colony in Delaware.
1683 - Thirteen families of German Mennonites seeking religious freedom arrived in Pennsylvania; led by Franz Pastorius, they purchased 43,000 acres of land and founded Germantown, six miles north of Philadelphia.
An elderly Amish couple, c. 1940.
Prints and Photographs Division
The Conestoga wagon was first designed and built by German settlers in Pennsylvania.
Prints and Photographs Division
1731 - Protestants were expelled from Salzburg, Austria, in this year. They subsequently founded Ebenezer, Georgia.
Two German 18th-century maps of Ebenezer, Georgia.
Prints and Photographs Division
1732 - The first German-language newspaper, Philadelphische Zeitung, was published in the United States. German publishing flourished in Philadelphia and in smaller communities such as Ephrata, Pennsylvania.
1733 - John Peter Zenger, who came to America as an indentured servant from the Palatinate region of Germany, founded a newspaper, The New-York Weekly Journal; two years later he was acquitted in a landmark trial involving freedom of the press.
1742 - Christopher Saur, a German printer in Philadelphia, printed the first Bible in America.
1778 - General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a Prussian officer, became inspector general of the Continental Army.
1783 - As many as 5,000 of the Hessian soldiers hired by Britain to fight in the Revolutionary War remained in America after the end of hostilities.
1790 - By this date as many as 100,000 Germans may have immigrated to America; they and their descendants made up an estimated 8.6 percent of the population of the United States; in Pennsylvania they accounted for 33 percent of the population; in Maryland for 12 percent.
1804 - A Protestant group from Wuerttemberg, named Rappists after their leader George Rapp, founded Harmony, Pennsylvania, a utopian community.
1814 - The Rappists purchased 30,000 acres of land in Indiana and founded a new settlement, New Harmony. In 1825 they returned to Pennsylvania and founded Economy, 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. Other towns founded by religious groups in this period included Zoar, Ohio, Amana, Iowa, and St. Nazianz, Wisconsin.
1821 - The Germanic custom of having a specially decorated tree at Christmas time was introduced to America by Pennsylvania Dutch in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Later in the century, the Pennsylvania Dutch version of St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, evolved into America's Santa Claus, popularized by a German immigrant and influential political cartoonist, Thomas Nast. The Easter bunny and Easter eggs were also brought to this country by German immigrants.
1829 - Gottfried Duden published in Germany his idyllic account of the several years he spent as a settler in Missouri; so popular that it appeared in three editions, the book caused numerous Germans to leave for the New World.
1837 - The German Philadelphia Settlement Society was founded and purchased 12,000 acres of land in Gasconade County, Missouri; two years later the society's town of Hermann was incorporated with 450 inhabitants.
1844 - Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels sailed to America with three ships and 150 families to settle in Texas; the following year, New Braunfels, Texas, was established.
1847 - The Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church was founded by German immigrants to combat what they saw as the liberalization of Lutheranism in America.
1850s - Nearly one million Germans immigrated to America in this decade, one of the peak periods of German immigration; in 1854 alone, 215,000 Germans arrived in this country.
1856 - Margaretha Meyer Schurz, a German immigrant and wife of Carl Schurz, established the first kindergarten in America at Watertown, Wisconsin.
1860 - An estimated 1.3 million German-born immigrants resided in the United States; 200 German-language magazines and newspapers were published in this country; in St. Louis alone, there were seven German-language newspapers.
1872 - The century-old privileges granted to German farmers settled in Russia were revoked by the Tsarist government, causing thousands of the farmers to emigrate. By 1920, there were well over 100,000 of these so-called Volga and Black Sea Germans in the US, with the greatest numbers in the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Colorado. Black Sea Germans soon became known for their skill as wheat farmers. In 1990 an estimated one million descendants of these Russian Germans lived in America.
1890 - An estimated 2.8 million German-born immigrants lived in the US. A majority of the German-born living in the US were located in the "German triangle," whose three points were Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and St. Louis.
1910 - In this year, an estimated 2.3 million German-born immigrants lived in the US. With declining immigration and increasing assimilation, the number of German-language publications fell to about 550.
1933 - The coming to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany caused a significant immigration of leading German scientists, writers, musicians, scholars, and other artists and intellectuals to the United States to escape persecution. Among them were such notables as Albert Einstein, Bruno Walter, Arnold Schoenberg, Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Hans Bethe, Thomas Mann, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Weil, Billy Wilder, Hannah Arendt, and Hans Morgenthau. By the end of World War II, there were some 130,000 of these German and Austrian refugees living in America.
1940 - An estimated 1.2 million German-born immigrants lived in the US.
1948 - The Displaced Persons Act made general provisions for the immigration of displaced persons in Eastern Europe, including ethnic Germans, to the US.
1950s - Between 1951 and 1960, 580,000 Germans immigrated to the US.
1960s - Between 1961 and 1970, 210,000 Germans immigrated to the US.
1983 - The US and Germany celebrated the German-American Tricentennial, marking the 300th anniversary of German immigration to Pennsylvania.
1987 - German-American Day was established by Congressional resolution and presidential proclamation.
1990 - According to the Bureau of the Census, 58 million Americans claimed to be solely or partially of German descent. German Americans were highly assimilated.... Some German language newspapers continued to be published in the US, for example the California Staats-Zeitung.