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the quaint words of Thomas Paskell's letter from Philadelphia in 1683 are true in the great West to-day: "They [the Swedes] weer but ordinarily cloathed, but since the English came, they have gotten fine cloaths and are going proud." The first result of the later movement, both for the adopted country and for the immigrant, has been economic. The prime motive of the emigration throughout has been the betterment of material conditions. With few exceptions, political and religious persecution has played no part whatever. The forerunners of the later thousands were certain Norwegians who emigrated in the twenties and thirties,
men of the poorest classes of the communities whence they came, but not paupers or criminals. They were squeezed out from the bottom of society, escaping as it were through cracks and crevices. The average quality, how ever, steadily improved from the first, though poverty at home has always been one of the commonest reasons for emigration. Down to about 1878 the great majority came from the country parishes, where the dearest ambition was to own land, the more the better. But they could not expect to gain more than a few lean acres even by the hard, unceasing labor of a lifetime. From America came letters full of stories of prosperity. Occasionally a man returned to his old home, and men tramped scores of miles to hear him tell of a land of promise, which, if it did not flow with milk and honey, at least abounded with fabulously rich, level land, to be had at a nominal price. Sometimes these fascinating advantages were set forth, with purely benevolent intent, in a little pamphlet, rather more naïve and truthful than those circulated later by railroad and state land commissioners and immigration agents. I found one of these pamphlets, printed in the early forties, in the Royal Library at Copenhagen, and one of the advantages, described in boldfaced type, was that land was so plenty
that the pigs and cattle might be allowed to run at will. What more could a poor peasant ask? So the Scandinavians passed by the coast States, by the middle Western States, where their longing for land at a dollar and a quarter an acre could not be satisfied, and streamed into the Northwest: into Illinois and Wisconsin in the forties, into Iowa and Minnesota in the fifties, and then, as good government land grew scarcer, into Nebraska, Dakota, and the Far West. The Southwest attracted almost none of them, partly because of their hatred of slavery, partly because of the climate. Since 1835, when La Salle County, Illinois, received the first company, the Scandinavian has been among the foremost in redeeming the wilderness of prairie and forest. No other class of immigrants, and few Americans, have been so ready to undergo the hardship, privation, and isolation of the frontier for the sake of a far-distant competence. New-comers filtered through the old settlements, where land was well occupied and its price had risen, to the new regions beyond. They did not usually come empty-handed, since the average man brought about a hundred dollars in specie or exchange. This was put into land as speedily as possible, a hut was built, and a home was begun. years ago I became well acquainted with one of these average men, a young Swede. He had brought a little money with him, and by working two years on a farm he had saved enough to buy twenty acres of tilled land. Upon this he had had a shanty built, which, in the evolution of the estate, was to become a storeroom. After another year of work for wages he was married, and the shanty became a home. Men who had come before 1850, and had settled in Illinois and Wisconsin, were in 1870, in many cases, wealthy farmers, owning four hundred and even six hundred acres of land, and worth twenty thousand and thirty thousand dollars. Ease and independence had not been won by speculation or by politics,
but by hard work, care, thrift, and the normal increase in the value of their farms. Exactly the same thing is still going on in the Northwest wherever there is farm land open to settlers, as in northern Minnesota and North Dakota. In a quiet, determined way, the Scandinavian is gaining a home for himself and better conditions for his children. It is simply because he puts a higher value upon land-owning than any other immigrant, and has generally preferred to settle upon cheap wild land instead of purchasing at a higher price land already cultivated, or settling down in town, that millions of dollars have been so rapidly added to the valuation of the Northwestern States, like Minnesota and Iowa. The extension of railroads in turn attracting more settlers, the development of manufactures, particularly milling, and the increase of trade have been greatly hastened as a result of the Scandinavian's thrift and steadiness, qualities in which even the German cannot equal him.
It has been asserted by a noted writer on immigration that one reason why the Scandinavians have been so successful is that their standard of living is lower than that of other peoples, the Americans or Germans, for example. In other words, they sell everything they can, and live upon the rest. My own experience and observation among them do not confirm this. In 1886 I spent six weeks in the home of a Danish farmer in Minnesota, and frequently called upon his neighbors, both Swedes and Norwegians. There seemed to be no inferiority in their homes or their tables as compared with those of Americans in similar circumstances. On the frontier the same holds true, so far as I have observed. The standard of living in the log hut in a clearing in the forest, or in a sod house on the prairie, is about the same, whether the owner is American, German, or Scandinavian.
from the filling-up of the thinly settled regions is another which also springs from that strong sense of individuality and independence which characterizes the northern Teutons. Organized emigration has been quite unknown among them. There has been no exploitation of their labor by agents abroad or by American capitalists. They have come as individuals, as families, or as voluntary companies, and they have settled in the same fashion. In general, it is true that there is among them no large permanent class of men who have nothing but their hands. Great numbers of them are willing to serve for some years as farm hands, domestics, or operatives, while they are learning our language and getting a start, but they are not content to continue hired laborers. An independent business, however small, a farm or a shop of their own, is their ambition, and no labor is too severe to gain it. In the last fifteen years many people have been emigrating from the towns of Scandinavia, especially from those of Sweden, and these have located mainly in our cities and manufacturing towns. Large additions to the Eastern cities have been made in this period, and they seem to be joining the permanent wage-earning class. In Brooklyn, for example, the number of foreign-born Scandinavians rose from about 4000 in 1880 to 16,000 in 1890. Though many have made their mark in great commercial enterprises, it is as farmers that the Scandinavians have been preeminently successful. In a class by themselves belong the domestics, — the house servant, the coachman, and the general utility man. They are faithful, hard-working, and honest, as a rule, but they have a strong liking for doing things in their own way, regardless of instructions. They lack the faculty of implicit obedience. In the West the quality of those in domestic service seems to be better than it is in the East. The proletariat is not largely recruited Secret societies and in
Connected with the economic gain from them.
trigues are not their specialties. The anarchist does not look to them for allies or supplies.
The difficult problem of municipal government is of course complicated by the recent addition of a Scandinavian element. Any increase of the percentage of aliens in the urban population adds a danger. But it must be remembered that the new element is fairly well educated, and not inexperienced in self-government. It is capable and ready to assist in the solution of the problems, and is demonstrating its usefulness for that purpose. Minneapolis gives a good example in connection with its public school system, which is conceded to be one of the best in the United States. Any one acquainted with the development of the schools of that city must recognize the great services of Norwegians.
The political influence of the Scandinavians has been second to the economic. In no case have they exercised an influence proportionate to their numbers. In Minnesota they come nearer doing so than elsewhere, but even there, with about one fourth of the population, they have rarely had more than one sixth of the members in the state legislature. Of course, in towns and counties which are solidly filled up by Scandinavians, most of the offices are commonly taken by them. In the early years they were too much absorbed in home - building and money - getting to give much attention to politics, but with prosperity came a chance to indulge their taste for public affairs.
The Norwegian in particular seems to have a penchant for politics. He is a controversialist by nature, and takes delight in the excitement of a campaign. He has a clear notion at least of equality with every other man, and in shrewdness in pushing toward his political goal neither the Dane nor the Swede can compare with him.
An ingrained antipathy to slavery was undoubtedly the most powerful impulse which before the war carried the Scandi
navians into the Republican party. The example of the earlier immigrants, the anti-slavery tradition, and the prestige of the party after the war predisposed the new-comers in favor of the Republicans. It was a perfectly natural choice, and indicates nothing more than a conservative mind. I find very little evidence that dislike of the Irish had anything to do with the loyalty of the Scandinavians to the Republican party. The war brought some of them prominently before the public, and soon afterward they began to appear frequently in the state legislature in Wisconsin, as well as in purely local offices. They have filled various state offices in Wisconsin and Minnesota since 1869, when a Swede was first elected secretary of state for Minnesota. In 1892, and again in 1894, a Norwegian was elected governor of Minnesota, and that State is at present represented in the United States Senate by a Norwegian. In general, the allegiance to party has been stronger than any race feeling. Only very rarely has a Scandinavian Democratic candidate been elected by the aid of Scandinavian Republican votes. A Swede's loyalty to a Swede is usually stronger than his loyalty to a Dane or to a Norwegian. In fact, there is always an undercurrent of jealousy among the three nationalities. But it is rarely strong enough to overcome the ordinary obligations and motives of politics; and while each party usually apportions its candidates among the various nationalities, its failure to do so does not materially affect the result. For example, a state ticket in Minnesota, on which both the candidates for governor and secretary of state were Norwegians, polled the usual Swedish and Danish vote. Some years
ago, in Rockford, Illinois, the Democrats nominated a Swede for alderman, against a native American in a ward strongly Swedish and Republican. Though there was no particular issue, the Swedes could not be moved by the offer, and the American was elected. Demands are
sometimes made of conventions and of successful candidates, but these cases are rare, and confined mostly to municipal affairs. Nearly all who have risen to any prominence in state or national elections thus far have been Republicans, and the majority of them have been Norwegians. Out of six Scandinavian Representatives in Congress five have been Norwegians, though this proportion does not hold good in the state offices, which are more proportionately divided. Four of the six Representatives were Republicans, two Populists.
Towards the close of the decade 188090 the allegiance of the Scandinavians to the Republican party was gradually shaken. The original anti-slavery impulse had completely died out; the agrarian discontent affected those who were farmers, as it did Americans of that class, causing them to look to political forces to relieve them; the increased percentage of immigrants who went to the towns furnished material for labor agitators. Finally, the tariff reform sentiment had gained a great hold upon them; so great, in fact, that one of their Representatives was one of six Republicans who voted for the Mills bill in 1888. Altogether, the division of the Scandinavians, politically, is going on more and more along the same lines as among the Americans. The Populist party has gained the most in the readjustment of party affiliations, and has twice elected a Norwegian to Congress from the seventh Minnesota district. Though the Republican party still holds the majority of the Scandinavian voters, it can no longer make a respectable claim of a monopoly of them. A fair index of the loosening of party ties among them is found in the changed politics of their press. All told, they have about one hundred and thirty newspapers. In 1885, probably three fourths of those who had any political bias were Republican. At present less than one half of them can be so classed, the remainder being chiefly Independent or
Democratic. A few are Prohibitionist, while others are Populist. The change of politics has not usually been due to a transfer of ownership. The editor of Norden, of Chicago, a paper which became Democratic in 1888, told me that the change was made only after a careful investigation had shown that such a move would be approved by its support
Legislative acts due directly to Scandinavian influences are few. The most characteristic measure is that passed by the legislature of North Dakota in 1893, providing for courts of conciliation modeled after those which have worked so successfully in Norway. Attempts to pass a similar law in Minnesota and in Wisconsin had been made before, but had failed. The machinery of the act has not been widely used, and it is too soon to judge of the value of the law. Temperance legislation, whether high license in Minnesota or prohibition in North Dakota and Kansas, has had strong Scandinavian support, especially in the Lutheran churches.
On the social side, the people from the Northland are quite as remarkable, by contrast, for what they have not done as for what they have done. With rare exceptions, they have not attempted to maintain separate church schools for elementary instruction. Where other than public schools are opened, it is in the summer vacation, and for the purpose of teaching the church catechism and the mother tongue. The length of the term varies, sometimes extending through three months. The teacher, usually a minister or a student in some church seminary, is paid by the parents of the children taught or by the parish. Often the public school building is used, in country vil lages where the Scandinavians predominate. The maintenance of these summer schools is by no means general. The influence of the younger people is often against it, for they look upon it as an un-American custom, an attempt to per
petuate a language and distinctions which are destined to disappear among them. Not infrequently they revolt against the mild paternalism of the clergy who desire to keep them in the old paths, and the result is either indifference or a complete break with the old church. The public school is the great foe to clannishness, and their loyalty to it is one of the best evidences of the genuineness of their Americanization. It is a principle as well as a practice. Their vehement opposition to the famous Bennett law, enacted in Wisconsin a few years ago, would seem to contradict this statement; but a close examination of the law will make it clear that the resistance, in which Lutherans and Catholics, curiously enough, were allied in the Democratic party, was not to the principle of compulsory education, but to the manner of its appli
The great adaptability of the Scandinavians to the circumstances and customs of their adopted country is acknowledged on all sides. Whenever and wherever they have transplanted themselves, whether in England in the ninth century, in Normandy in the tenth, in Sicily in the eleventh, or in America in the nineteenth, the same process of transformation has taken place. No other people in all history has such a record. In the United States they have eagerly learned English, and have quickly done so because of its similarity to their own languages in structure and vocabulary. Of course, men who have come hither as adults always prefer the old speech, and in some districts in the country and in Scandinavian quarters of the cities it will be heard almost exclusively, because of the large numbers of the foreign-born. But the second generation quite invariably choose English, and many of them have forgotten the language of their fathers. At a town convention which I attended in 1894, in Chisago County, a large Swedish community, the proceedings went on smoothly in English for some time, until an elderly
Swede became somewhat puzzled, and asked the chairman, a young Swede, to explain the matter in Swedish. From that point all motions were put first in English, and immediately after in Swedish. Remarks were addressed to the chair in both languages.
In matters of religion Scandinavians have shown a peculiar facility in con forming to the bad American custom of multiplying denominations. In the home countries, though there is now practically complete toleration, the existence of a state church and an episcopal organization has maintained a good degree of uniformity. Neither of these restraining influences has ever operated in this country. There have been no bishops to check the tendency to diversity. Liberty to adopt any creed and to change church relations at will is freely used. The zeal of the Norwegian in controversy has found even a better field in the church than in politics. Before 1890, when three divisions united, there were five bodies of Norwegian Lutherans, while the Danes were comfortable with two, and the Swedes lagged behind with only one. What the Swedes lack in Lutheranism they make up in "dissenting sects," though none of them are large. The Mormon church has a very large number of Scandinavians, principally Danes, though few of them have been converted in this country.
The statistics of intemperance and illegitimacy, which are sometimes so alarming in parts of the Scandinavian countries, do not appear to find a parallel among the Scandinavians in America. But all such statistics are unsatisfactory, and frequently untrustworthy. Generalization is, therefore, unsafe. There are drunkenness and illegitimacy among them here, but I have not observed that it is more difficult to maintain order and decency in a city like Minneapolis with its Norwegians and Swedes, than in St. Paul with its Irish and Germans. Of the pauper and criminal classes the Scandinavians