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Why Pennsylvania?

Why Did German speaking Immigrants settle in Pennsylvania?

Though, says Peter Kalm, the Provices of New York has been inhabited by Europeans much longer than Pennsylvania, yet it is not by far so populous as that colony. This cannot be ascribed to any particular discouragement arising from the nature of the soil, for that is pretty good; but, I am told of a very different reason, which I will mention here.

In the reign of Queen Anne, about the year 1709, many German came hither, who got a tract of land from the English government, which they might settle. After they had lived there some time, and had built houses, and made corn fields and meadows, their liberties and privileges were infringed, and, under several pretences, they were repeatedly deprived of parts of their land. This at last roused the Germans. They returned violence for violence, and beat those who thus robbed them of their possessions. But these proceedings were looked upon in a very bad light by the government. The most active people among the Germans being taken up, they were roughly treated, and punished with the utmost rigor of the law.

This however, so far exasperated the rest, that the greater part of them left their houses and fields, and went to settle in Pennsylvania. There they were exceedingly well received, got a considerable tract of land, and were indulged in great privileges, which were given them forever. The Germans, not satisfied with being themselves removed from New York, wrote to their relations and friends, and advised them, if ever they intended to come to America, not to go to New York, where the government had shown itself so inequitable.

This advice had such influence that the Germans who afterwards went in great numbers to North America, constantly avoided New York and always went to Pennsylvania.

It sometimes happened that they were forced to go on board of such ships, as were bound for New York, but they were scarce got on shore, when they hastened on to Pennsylvania in sight of all the inhabitants of New York.



Peter Kalm's Travels in America, in 1747 and 1748, Vol I, pp. 270,271.


Source: A Collection of upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and other Immigrants in Pennsylvania From 1727 to 1776; Prof. I. Daniel Rupp, Second Revised Edition, 1876, Philadelphia.