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The Political Position of Emigranten in the Elections of 1852
A Documentary Article
By Harold M. Tolo (Volume VIII: Page 92)

The press has ever been a mirror of public opinion. The larger a paper's circulation, the more extensive is its sphere of influence and the more conservative its position. Just as a large business firm aims to serve the varied demands of its customers, so a newspaper selects a gospel --- social, economic, or political --- that will please or flatter its readers. To a marked degree was this true of early foreign-language newspapers in America. They realized that their sphere of influence was limited: their purpose was to serve their chosen people. To hurry the process of Americanizing their readers, to acquaint them with the fundamentals of American citizenship, and to preserve a partial bond between the frontier settlements and the homeland, was the mission of the pioneer foreign-language newspapers. The aim of this paper is to study the published propaganda in a typical paper during the tensest months of the election of 1852.

The scarcity of the printed word on the frontier increased its effectiveness. For the Scandinavians, the foreign-language press served to quench in part the thirst for something to read. Emigranten is selected as representative because its continued existence, from 1852 down to our own day, indicates that it was a stable publication enjoying a host of readers and continued support.

A short survey of the conditions under which Emigranten was established is necessary to understand why its political position was, at first, so uncertain, and why, later, it shifted its stand when its Democratic policy had become unpopular among the Norwegians. The general situation incidental to the founding of the Norwegian press is described by Carl Hansen:

In the early years of the Norwegian-American press the southeastern corner of Wisconsin was the center of the Norwegian population. According to the census of about 1850, there were in America 12,678 of Norwegian birth, 3,559 Swedish born and 1,838 of Danish descent. Of the total number of Norwegians in America, 8,651 lived in Wisconsin; the Norwegians in Wisconsin constituted nearly one-half of the total Scandinavian population in the United States. {1}

It was natural, therefore, that the pioneer ventures of this press should have been made in the state of Wisconsin. Nordlyset was first published in 1847 in Norway, Racine County. The editor was James D. Reymert, and Even Heg and Søren Bache aided him in providing the initial capital for the undertaking. The paper assumed a Free-soil garb that proved very popular among the land-hungry Norwegians; but hard times and the difficulties of delivering the paper spelled ruination for Reymert's effort at providing a Licht an dem Weg for his comrades among the Norwegian pioneers. Soon afterwards Nordlyset was revived under the title of Democraten. The nature of this publication is made clear by Carl Hansen:

Democraten was a paper that supported the Democratic party. The publication, as judged by its editorial staff, had every reason to hope for prosperity. Editor Langland was well versed in political affairs and he defended his position and his party ably against its Whig rival, De Norskes Ven. Both papers were published in Madison, Wisconsin. Unfortunately Langland showed a political flightiness and tactlessness that proved his downfall. Many articles were published that should never have seen the light of day. This press effort was further doomed after a siege of literary tuberculosis, and died after its first volume was completed. De Norskes Ven was first edited in 1850 by O. Torgerson. The editor gave up the project, however, before the year had been concluded. It is said that De Norskes Ven exemplified a vain effort to establish a Whig paper among the Norwegians. {2}

The year 1851 was a banner year in the history of the Norwegian-American press. In that year four Norwegian papers were established, and preparations were being made for the publication of a fifth, which was finally put on sale in January, 1852. The first of these publications, Maanedstidende for den Norsk-evangelisk-luthersk kirke i Amerika, was edited by Pastors C. L. Clausen and H. A. Stub, and published at Inmansville, Rock County. This paper first appeared in March, 1851; it was a semi-religious and semi-socializing organ intended to serve the Norwegian pioneers. In direct opposition to this, Hatlestad published his Kirketidende. Towards fall three Republican Scandinavians of New York published in that city the first issue of Skandinaven. Friheds-Banneret completes the quadruple group of Norwegian papers born in 1851.

The pastoral group that was responsible for the publication of Maanedstidende decided that its paper should be rid of all political taint and should be conducted as a strictly religious magazine. In order that the same ministerial element might have a political voice, the Scandinavian Press Association was established. This body sponsored the editing of Emigranten, around which this discussion centers.

Number 1 of the first volume of Emigranten was dated January 23, 1852, and was published at Inmansville, Rock County, Wisconsin. Its motto, emblazoned in large type on the frontispiece, was Enighed, Mod, Utholdenhed (Unity, Courage, Perseverance), a plea to its readers for a conscientious acceptance of the political advice offered by this corporate body of ministers and laymen. Introducing himself as editor, C. L. Clausen wrote:

I realize that it will be very important for the Scandinavians in America to have a newspaper in their mother tongue, whereby they may be informed of institutions and conditions in the country of their adoption; through it they will learn of their American privileges and responsibilities. For this reason it is important that the editor should know his people and their status; he must know their wants and must enjoy their confidence; he must be so schooled in experience that he may well serve his people.

Some readers may conclude that I have accepted the editorship in order that I may, through these columns, carry, on a quasi religious, political controversy with the dissenters m our church; or, that this paper shall become merely an addendum to Maanedstidende, wherein the pastors may discuss more freely the current political problems. However, our plan of procedure is quite different from this. Each church faction already has its own publication and therefore a third paper of that sort is quite unnecessary.

The name Emigranten speaks for itself. I merely wish to state that I shall expend every effort to make it so worth while that each immigrant will welcome it to his home. It is twice as large as any previous Scandinavian publication in this country and the publishers can assure you that it will be so printed and published that no one need be ashamed of it. The editorial staff --- the newly established Scandinavian Press Association --- has already arranged for an exchange department with papers in Norway. This arrangement will make it possible for me to .publish each week in Emigranten the most salient and interesting excerpts. {3}

Turning to his neighbor editors, Clausen writes, in the same issue, a longer article in the English language:


It is with sincere gratitude that we recollect the frequent manifestations of your friendly feelings towards us and our people generally. We came here as strangers and friendless, ignorant of your institutions, your language and your customs; but you cheered our hearts with a friendly welcome. You extended to us the rights of citizenship and equal participation in your privileges.

Through our paper we hope to hurry the process of Americanization of our immigrated countrymen. We want to be one people with the Americans. In this way alone can they fulfill their destination and contribute their part to the final development of the character of this Great Nation.

In regard to politics, our views and principles are Democratic. Some people will perhaps think that, as there is but one political paper among the Norwegians, it ought to be entirely neutral in political matters until the readers were more enlightened and able, without prejudice, to decide for themselves. We have well considered these reasons and were at one time more than half inclined to adopt them as principles and follow them; yet experience shows us that among all the thousands of political papers in this country, yea, even amongst those that profess neutrality, there is scarcely a single one to be pointed out, that has not a decided leaning to one or the other of the political parties --- more or less perceptible. We must for a great deal rely on those papers for our news and information and could hardly help now and then to be led more than would be consistent with a full and complete neutrality--however much we might sincerely wish it otherwise.

To maintain the character and appearance of perfect neutrality, the editor could never give his sanction and defense, directly or indirectly, to any of those principles and measures, about which there exist contentions between the political parties, however much they might agree with his own conviction. The consequences would then be that he, for the sake of neutrality, must exclude politics entirely from his paper. This would not agree with the true interest of the readers. He might also be forced to use violence against his own conscience and convictions --- a thing no honest man can do. Or he must take the desperate alternative, i.e., to work for the destruction of the existing parties and, from out of the ruins, to create a new political party, which he ought to call the "neutral party," so that the name could express the self-contradiction in the whole thing.

Such being our views, we have without hesitation declared ourselves for the Democratic principles --- knowing that the majority of our people coincide with us in our strong predilection for those principles. But we must here beg to let it be understood that although we, in general, join and make common cause with the Democratic Party, we, by no means, pledge ourselves to follow it through "thick and thin" for we are sorry to say, that its practise has not always had Truth and Right and the interests of the people in mind as it ought to have had, but sometimes been culpable of the too common fault --- to let itself be led by self-seeking demagogues and office-hunters who willingly set the interest of both party and people aside, to gratify their own wishes and interests.

That the other parties are equally culpable in this respect, cannot in our opinion excuse the Democratic Party; its better political principles ought also to be accompanied by a better practise. In as far as the Democratic Party will permit itself to be guided by true Democratic principles, and adopt the corresponding practise of abiding by them, the party has our hearty cooperation; but, as soon as it betrays those principles, we stop short and care not a straw for any of the too common party denunciations that may be hurled against us. This stand in regard to politics we take in duty to our leaders and in accordance with our conviction of what is right. {4}

That the editors sought an occasion to actualize their political creed and apply it to a local problem is seen in the publication of the complete report of the "Status of the State of Wisconsin" given before a joint session of the senate and the house of representatives by Governor Leonard J. Farwell on January 3, 1852. Clausen said, editorially:

As regards the actual message, we have neither time nor space this time to express our reaction to it. Yet on the whole it is a. satisfactory report, since it tries to maintain a non-partisan view throughout. The old Federalist or Whig party receives little support regarding its protective tariff and internal improvements measures; abolitionists regarding their fugitive slaves; the Union party regarding the maintenance of law and order; the Democratic party against monopolies and special privileges, and the Free-soilers regarding the reduction of the price on government lands. In short, it indicates that the governor is one of the people and has a soft spot in his heart for each class. While we cannot agree with all his ideas and arguments, we do realize that each point deserves our serious attention. {5}

The public land question was again revived during this pre-election discussion of possible party issues. Emigranten cited, in toto, a discussion of the resolutions presented by Seward and Cass, respectively, as to intervention in the Hungarian affair and the justice of issuing local land warrants. As an introduction to this lengthy discussion, the editor wrote:

Since we [immigrants] are residents of the West and since many falsehoods about us have been popularized, it is not out of place to express ourselves on a question in which we are all so vitally interested. Emigranten was not opposed to the current sale price of land; it even wanted it increased. But the fear was that speculators would wedge their way into every community. It requested Congress to enact a law immediately permitting every person in need of land to be given a quarter section, not yet taken, and forbidding other persons who do not need any land from annexing it. Whether the settler should be made to pay a meager sum or not was considered a minor matter. "No public lard shall be sold to speculators." This was the most important provision that Emigranten wished enacted. Land speculation is a curse and a land evil, the destroying influence of which is not half realized. While the original price of land is ten shillings, most of the settlers have paid two or three times that price. Some, who care not for schools, churches, or any other civilizing influence for their children, wander out into the wilderness as soon as the land is acquired from the Indians and take the best areas at regular government prices; and in a few years they sell them for three or four times the original prices. However, most settlers wish to locate in more settled communities where they may have schools for their children and where they may gather for religious service. At the first sign of settlement, the speculators have been buying up land warrants and if settlers wish to stay there they must give the speculators a four or five hundred per cent profit. In this way the land-speculating evil tends to divide up --- to retard and to barbarize --- our Norwegian settlements. {6}

The publishers of Emigranten realized, however, that their paper must contain something besides political scandal; the continued absence of any constructive discussion of American politics would make Emigranten what it accused its rivals of being --- a scandal sheet, with an organized group of faultfinders as its editors. Emigranten kept its word about printing news from the several sections or bygder of Norway; and it featured local information reprinted from the English-language newspapers of Madison, Wisconsin. To give continuity to its subject matter, it began on February 20, 1852, to publish, in serial form, a group of articles entitled, De Forenede Staters eller Den Amerikanske Republiks Historie. The arrangement of topics was chronological. Each weekly issue of Emigranten contained one or two chapters, interestingly presented, of this long story of the United States. In thus familiarizing its readers with national history, Emigranten typified foreign-language newspapers generally. The publication of these articles continued through 1852 and the current history of the fifties was not put into print until far into 1853. Beginning June 4, 1852, a similarly written history of the state of Wisconsin was published in like manner.

In March, 1852, Emigranten was already making editorial forecasts about the election of that year:

We have every reason to think that the coming election will be a constant struggle between the old parties; I mean thereby the Democrats and the Whigs. The Free-soilers will soon disappear and their membership will fall into the rank and file of the Democrats and Whigs. The Abolitionist party is simply a relic of what it has been and the Union party is singing its last stanza. Only the older parties need to be considered. So far the main problem is, who shall be the standard bearers for the old parties?

For the Democrats we have Lewis Cass of Michigan, W. L. Marcy from New York, and Stephen A. Douglas from Illinois. These three are all able men and the one selected will be firmly supported by the entire Democratic party. If Cass had not been defeated in the last presidential election on account of Van Buren's underhand methods, he would, without doubt, be a candidate; even though he is now the most popular, possibly a few of the delegates in Baltimore will hesitate to nominate an already defeated general. Governor Marcy has much support in New York and, if he can feel sure of the entire state, his candidacy will have more than a passing interest. Marcy is very popular in all the northern and western states, but Cass and Douglas also have a host of supporters in the same states. The main objection to Douglas is that he is so young; while this may be in his disfavor, it will appeal to even a greater group.

In the Whig faction, it is merely a choice of one of the following: General Scott, President Fillmore, or Secretary of State Daniel Webster. All of these are very able men, possibly the best men, next to Henry Clay, that the party could present. A while ago, the Whig press seemed unanimous for Scott; but recently Fillmore and Webster have been featured. Webster, second only to Clay, is their ablest statesman. His position, however, has always been a mystery to the whole Whig party and therefore their support will not likely be given to him. On the other hand, Fillmore, with little difficulty and much aided by good fortune, has risen high in the estimation of his party. Since his presidency he has won many intimate and influential friends who will do all in their power to retain him in the national executive's chair. {7}

It was to be expected that June --- the month for the national conventions --- would bring out many thrilling news reports in partisan press columns. An editorial of June 4, 1852, sought to explain the cause for the pending split in the Whig party:

The controversy comes from the necessity of setting a time and a place for the national Whig convention which shall determine the party nominations of president and vice-president of the United States. Mr. Marshall of Kentucky states that before that can be determined, the assembly must state its position on the so-called "compromise resolutions" and the previously passed resolutions regarding the slavery question in the new territories, in the District of Columbia, and so forth. The assembly sought to bring together all Whigs under the old Whig platform and discouraged the insertion of any new dogmas into their political creed that might disrupt entirely their voting strength.

As a result, a faction, dissatisfied with the action of the leaders, withdrew and vowed that unless the nominated personnel was satisfactory to them, they would not support the Whig candidates.

Shortly afterwards, Emigranten received the following contribution with the request that it be printed: 


1. This party encourages the education of youth --- the basic reason that we have liberty and our political success; it tends to suppress anarchy and despotism.

2. The Whig party is a peaceful party.

a. The Democrats instigated the Mexican War by the insistence of our ownership of some land to which we had no title and which did not belong to Texas.

b. The Democrats forced Mexico to sign a treaty by giving her $15,000,000 for one-half of her territory.

c. The Democrats encouraged a piratical attack upon Cuba, under the pretense of delivering it from Spanish oppression.

d. The Democrats are still trying to excite a Mexican revolution.

3. The Whigs are spending every effort towards all kinds of local improvements, canals, and railroads, so as to increase our national wealth and happiness.

4. The Whigs encourage industry by means of a protective tariff.

a. Proof: Now the price of one hundred bushels of wheat is about $50, with freight to England $30 --- in all $80; but note that the freight must be paid, so what can actually be made for manufacture is $50. On the other hand, with a high tariff, wheat in Chicago is $80; the value to be exchanged for a manufactured value is $80. Permit now the manufactured values to increase twenty-five per cent in price and there will be $60 compared to England's $50.

b. This loose figuring shows the basic principle of the tariff system. Factories and manufactures will thrive everywhere and will make our nation rich and independent of England.

This is a short presentation of my Whiggism and if you will be kind enough to publish this letter in its entirety in your paper, I believe it will benefit the Norwegian immigrants, make them independent thinkers, and enable them to judge politics more wisely. {8}

Early in the campaign, local associations based on nationalistic lines were organized. Typical of this group was the Scandinavian Democratic Association of Wisconsin. Its preamble and constitution, as published in Emigranten, read in part:

We, the undersigned, with the hope of enjoying the privileges reserved for every American citizen, and in the hope of propagating the Democratic principles among our countrymen, have agreed to abide by the following propositions: ---

1. Only those of Norwegian, Swedish, or Danish descent who are citizens of Wisconsin are eligible to become members of this association.

a. Each eligible person must be nominated for membership by a current member and his desirability must be verified by a two-thirds vote of the organization in session assembled.

2. Each new applicant must pay a twenty-five-cent membership fee.

3. Each new member must agree to the details of the constitution of the association. The annual fee shall be fifty cents and is payable to the treasurer before the first Monday in February . . . .

Signed: B. A. Froiseth; B. Madsen; J. C. Dass; P. C. A. Petterson; Ole Laurence; Ole Rasmussen; Gabriel Bjornson; Joh. Hauge.

Emigranten had at this stage already become definitely a partisan paper. It blindly supported the Scandinavian Democratic Association of Wisconsin; it criticized the national Democratic convention for its selection of candidates. An excerpt of June 11 reads:

The Beloit Journal announces that at the national Democratic convention at Baltimore on June 5, Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire was nominated for president and William R. King as vice-president. It is rather a disgusting fact that the convention could not agree upon Cass, Buchanan, Marcy, or Douglas --- upon whom the attention of the nation had long been centered. {9}

The other national conventions were held during the same summer. Emigranten pointedly criticized their selections of candidates and, through the Democratic periscope, made some very daring forecasts. An editorial of July 9 is titled: "Whigs Have General Scott as Candidate for President and Will A. Graham for Vice-President. The Vote on the Fifty-third Ballot Was: Scott 148, Fillmore 118, Webster 26 --- Hurrah for Franklin Pierce!" The article says in part:

Up to this time we have made little comment upon the wisdom of the Democratic nominations, in order that we might see what the Whigs had to offer. This comparison is necessary before we can form our political horoscope. With this information available, we feel able to congratulate the Democrats upon their complete victory, which they have not as yet formally won. The Whigs have, by this selection, made the great mistake of selecting a general instead of a statesman. They criticized the Democrats for selecting General Jackson as their candidate, even though this warrior was even a greater statesman; yet the Democrats selected him, not on account of his war record, but because of his position regarding the privileges of the common people. He incorporated these features into our Republican government, despite all the criticisms showered upon him.

It is not our intention to attack the veteran general selected as the Whig presidential nominee. He is, no doubt, a ranking military leader and every American ought to be proud of him. He is no statesman, however, and the Whigs might as well admit that now. The last victory won by the Democrats was in 1844, when Polk was elected. At that time the Democrats were divided into many factions. Now Franklin Pierce has been nominated and all the nation is rejoicing. In 1845 the Whigs were solidly united; now their party is divided into three parts, one part of which is headed by Fillmore, a man winning as many votes as will Scott. What can the result be other than a victory for the Democrats --- a victory even greater than the one in 1844!

In much the same tone the nominations made by the buffer party were announced:

The so-called "Native-American party" has held a convention in Trenton, New Jersey, and has designated Daniel Webster as its candidate for president and George C. Washington from Virginia for vice-president. Meanwhile, it is quite certain that Webster will not accept the nomination. Secretary of the Navy Graham, the Whig candidate for vice-president, has resigned his position and will, as soon as his business matters have been arranged, return to North Carolina. General Scott, however, will not resign his position as commandant until he sees that his election is assured. He will no doubt retain his military assignment. {10}

These political comments served as an introduction to the more thorough serial discussion begun in the very next issue, of July 30; it was titled, "The Large American Political Parties." This discussion, second only to Emigranten's serial "History of the United States," was its most impartial comment on the status quo of politics.

The readers of Emigranten and the Protestant Scandinavians were one and the same body of persons. To keep religious comments out of a political newspaper became difficult. A longer editorial is quoted because it shows why some pioneers believed that church and state ought to be linked; they were so accustomed to it from their homeland that this trend of thought was habitual. The sincerity of the article more than offsets its extreme cautiousness.


(From the Lutheran Standard)

In the next fourteen months our nation will be stirred by the excitement of the presidential election. We do not doubt that there will be more personal enmity, more new platforms and new challenges than in any previous election; it is certain that the general political interest will be even greater than it was in 1840.

At the genesis of this drama, as we see the several parties forming their battle arrays, we wish to speak a word to the Christian element of the nation. We do not suggest that Christians should belittle politics; they are as much interested and concerned as are any of the others and their influence is great, for they are "the salt of the earth." On the other hand, it is unfortunate that they so often absent themselves from the nominating conventions and even from the local caucus. . . . The God-fearing pastors have a right to have their political views; they have the privilege to express themselves at the proper time and place without being molested. Every effort to suppress this right of speech should surely be quelled. But it is hoped that they have enough sense not to defame the pulpit by speaking of politics in their sermons; politics have no place in the church and its services. . . . Nevertheless, the pastors must be permitted to express themselves and to deny them this privilege is unjust. The Christian in politics! Is there no danger that Christians will degenerate into mere politicians? Permit us to point out a few dangers to which political Christians make themselves liable:

1. Such an ardent campaign as the coming one will make them slight their religious duties in favor of the political. Many will forget their prayer sessions; they will fail to read their Bibles; political interests will disturb them while in church and will even keep some from attending at all. Whoever is elected president, let the individual make sure that he continues to he a consistent, firm, and praying Christian.

2. He will lose his self-control; circumstances will arise that will make him disregard his better judgment and he will say or do things that will blot his religious record and bring criticism upon the church to which he belongs.

3. There will be a temptation to gamble. So many, even Christians, make hers or wagers on the outcome of the election. Such minor beginnings can have only bad results. The fact that some states consider betting a crime and others even throw out the vote of one having made a wager shows the anti-Christian nature of such practices.

4. In every campaign there is much slandering and misrepresentation. Each party seeks to discredit the candidates of the opposition; so true it is, that a certain Englishman once said, in speaking of the Adams and Jackson campaign, that the Americans must have picked two of the worst men in the nation as their presidential candidates.

5. There will be a great temptation to use money illegally. The practice of paying out all expenses for a political party from a common party campaign fund is common; but some items of expense may be found to be merely money expended for the security of votes. Christians should avoid implicating themselves in such frauds.

Between the extremes of carelessness, on one side, and the ardency of party support, there is a middle-of-the-road position one may take, i.e., the firm, Christian attitude of a Knight of Justice and Right. We are less concerned about the outcome of the election than about the tactics of the election. It is hoped that each voter will so proceed that, in retrospect, he may be proud of his position and his party. {11}

Soon after the appearance of the preceding article, one reader became aware of the political conservatism of the Norwegians; hoping to put new life into the campaign, he begged Editor Clausen to publish his contribution:


For a long time the undersigned has been amazed at the lack of interest of our people in the West regarding political matters. Whenever you meet a Norwegian, the conversation veers towards farming problems or towards religious controversies; politics is, for him, a closed book.

What is the reason for this? First of all, the wealthier Norwegians brought this lack of interest in politics with them from Norway; there, all responsibilities were left to the pastor and the justice of the peace. Each person merely wished to live in peace and quiet; he demanded nothing else. Yet, the Norwegian immigrant farmer must remember that he is no longer in Norway but in a country where each citizen assists in the machinery of government. He must not permit himself to be fooled by the Yankees, who will first speak well of the Norwegians and then, later on, laugh at their simple-mindedness.

How shall a Norwegian acquire this training in citizenship? Of course he must listen to speeches and he must do much reading. We have a Norwegian political paper and it is published for the immigrant's benefit. The presidential election is drawing near. How many of the Norwegian farmers, do you suppose, are interested in who becomes president? For my part, I fear that if some farm work is to be done on election day, they will fail to go to the polls even though the work could easily be postponed. It is a sad situation; it indicates that the Norwegian-American has no conception of what it means to be an American citizen. Let us compare him to the Yankee. The most ordinary American can speak readily about political questions, and if asked whether he is a Whig or Democrat, he will state his position and why he is a member of that party. On the other hand, if a Norwegian is asked the same question, he will answer, "I am a Democrat." When asked: "Why are you a Democrat?" then --- the Lord help us --- he is silent and cannot make the simplest answer.

Let us try to create a little political instinct in ourselves! Let us read and listen and I am sure you [Norwegians] will more than stand your ground also in political colloquia of the future. {12}

Late in September Emigranten found it advisable to publish a detailed biography of Franklin Pierce, the Democratic candidate. This article covered the entire front page, and its very position indicated the necessity for the Norwegians to support Pierce and King. It emphasized the modesty of Pierce and, as proof, quoted his letter, dated May 27, 1852, to Colonel Lally of New Hampshire. In part he said: "As I have said before, my name will not come before the convention. I feel that what happens at the convention is more important than personalities and parties and that it will greatly affect the future of the Democratic party as well as the prospect of maintaining a civic democracy in the United States." The biographer continued:

In spite of this modesty, he was nominated by a union of all the political factions of the Democrats. The delegates from the East and West voted for him; in nominating him, the North and the South joined hands and pledged mutual allegiance. The Right and the Left of the Democratic party again joined the Center. His selection will show the world, especially Europe, that, even if a new country has its cycles of depression and instability, a Democratic nation never goes backward or loses ground. Now, Northmen, forward march! When you have done your duty, victory will be ours. {13}

This campaign propaganda was, per se, not extremely unreasonable. As a partisan editorial, it was surely permissible. The situation did, however, savor of the petty when, two weeks later, the paper warned its readers against Whig efforts to capture Norwegian votes by printing, in Norwegian, a similar biography of General Scott. Late in the summer of 1852, C. L. Clausen had resigned his position as editor of Emigranten and was succeeded by Carl M. Riise. Riise was a more ardent politician than Clausen had been. He stamped his publication as Et Uafhængigt Demokratisk Blad (An Independent Democratic Paper) and adopted as its motto, Fremad til Sandhed og Oplysning (Forward to Truth and Enlightenment). Early in October Riise attacked the Norwegian biography of General Scott that had been published in the Janesville Gazette on September 25:

We do not feel that this move will have any Whiggish influence; still we take this opportunity to warn the Norwegians against any such influence. This article also has its good feature --- that is, the Norwegians who have small children may use the General's "life story" as a picture book; it is so uninteresting that it could have no other use. Such a collection of deception and exaggeration must lead one to a comparison of the thusly described General Scott and the unassuming, noble, and high-minded Franklin Pierce and each one, not entirely blind, must admit the desirability of Pierce. {14}

In the issue of October 1, Riise copied from the columns of Skandinaven (published in New York) a series of letters written by the Swedish doctor, G. C. Hebbe of Washington, who was a well-versed politician. In these letters the author discussed the planks in the Whig platform and showed how all of them seemed hostile to the interests of the immigrant; he implied constantly that the Democratic party was the haven of the oppressed and needy. In conclusion, Dr. Hebbe wrote:

Let us unanimously support General Franklin Pierce --- New Hampshire's favorite son --- and hereby aid the nation in raising the dignity of the presidential position. He is free from a criminal taint and is everybody's friend; he knows no difference between an adopted and a native-born citizen. He wants people of all nations to enjoy the opportunities which America offers. Let us, by our votes, show that we are able to distinguish between the democratic creeds of Jefferson and John Adams and let us show America that it has no better citizens than the adopted sons of Scandinavia.

In the same issue, the editor published two separate paragraphs which he hoped would injure Scott's Scandinavian support. The first was an excerpt from a letter written by General Winfield Scott to George Washington Reed and others at the Philadelphia convention: "It pleases me to see the Philadelphia 'Native Americans' exclude religion from their platform. Ardent Protestant as I am, both by birth and by conviction, I shall never agree to any party or state religion. Religion is too holy a thing to be mixed with other matters. This should be a matter between one's self and one's God and should not be altered except by a willful conversion."

The second paragraphic insertion was an editorial note announcing a big Democratic mass meeting at Beloit on October 23. In an effort to stir up the foreign element against the Whigs, and especially against the Beloit Journal, a Whig paper, the editor concluded:

Dr. Hebbe will be the main speaker at this great Democratic get-together. Let us show the Whigs that Pierce and King have no warmer friends than the Norwegian farmers. Let us show the Whigs that we have not forgotten General Scott's letter of 1841 wherein he said that he himself was not so very sure whether he should vote for the proposals that aliens must reside here twenty-one years before they can become citizens or whether he should advise a complete repeal of all naturalization laws. What future may we look for with such a man as president? We hope to see you all at Beloit, Saturday, October 23.

Election day was at hand. Emigranten proudly prophesied a landslide for the Democrats; on November 5 Riise wrote:

The people of the United States have now decided whom they wish to have as their president for the next four years. We have not the full particulars of the victory, but we feel sure that Franklin Pierce will be elected by a huge majority. We attended the election in a certain town where everyone feared a huge Whig landslide. The real truth is that the Whigs admitted defeat in the presidential election and have now pinned all their hopes on a few local county offices. We take this opportunity to thank our countrymen for their steadfastness towards the Democratic party even though we are aware that the Whigs tried their best to entice them from voting properly.

A week later more complete election reports were available and Emigranten was very proud of its first political victory. The editor felt that it was a work well done, so, in retrospect, he wrote:

Never have the Democrats in the United States won such a complete victory as they did this year. General Pierce has been elected by a vast majority. Only the state of Vermont went to General Scott and that by a majority of 8,000 to 10,000. New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, in short, all the states give Pierce their preference. Truly it may be designated as a Domesday Act. Rock County [where Emigranten is published] has up to this time been a strong Whig center, but this time we have carried through the Democratic ticket, "a nice clean sweep."

Politically the campaign of 1852 marked a decisive victory for the seeming old-line Democrats just as it sounded the death knell of the old Whig faction. The wave of Know-Nothingism was growing and native Americanism became a household expression. The election marked also the current success of a partisan Norwegian press venture; it indicated that the Norwegian vote, from then on, must be courted and its demands given recognition. The year 1852 marks the genesis of a non-religious Norwegian publication which has been published regularly ever since. When Emigranten, because of personal motives, saw fit to change its name and editorial personnel, its place of publication was changed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and its new titular garb became the Minneapolis Tidende. Today, in spite of the great anti-foreign press clamor, Minneapolis Tidende continues as a flourishing organ of the ultra-Norwegian element in the United States. Emigranten was, throughout its many decades of existence, often a victim of current upheavals. As issues grew or waned, it discovered that it was on the wrong side of the political fence; in religious upheavals --- such as those raging among the Norwegians in the eighties and the nineties --- it realized, perhaps, that its allegiance was with the wrong group of pastors. Very often, then, it is not a sign of political timidity or lack of moral conviction for a newspaper to change its position. Current developments, factual revelations, or the threat of "you change or you die" have made many publications seem flighty and insincere. Emigranten was in 1852 a Democratic paper; in 1860 it supported Lincoln enthusiastically. In judging this political transformation, it must be remembered that, during the intervening eight years, the old Democratic party had been made over; the last rites had been read for the Whig element; Know-Nothingism had been planted, had flourished, and had vanished during the same few years. The Democrats of 1860 were not of the same political creed as those of 1852. That Emigranten was able to anticipate the now and the future, and guide its policy accordingly, is the best reason for its continuous publication since 1852. Had it continued in its rigid conservatism and had it intimated that all the rest of the world was wrong, it would have suffered the fate of its sister publications, such as Nordlyset, Democraten, Den Norske Amerikaner, and Friheds-Banneret. Its foes could not comment on it as did Editor Riise about Friheds-Banneret: "It is dead. A postmortem reveals that the cause of death was 'Brain fever with periodic attacks of insanity.'" Under this comment Riise placed a picture of a cannon with which "a salute was fired in memory of the departed." {15} The enemies of Emigranten were not privileged to sing its funeral dirge.


<1> "Pressen til borgerkrigens slutning," in J. B. Wist, ed., Norsk-Amerikanernes Festskrift 1914, 9 (Decorah, Iowa, 1914).

<2> Hansen in Festskrift, 13.

<3> A copy of the first volume of Emigranten is to be found in the archives of Luther Theological Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota. With the exception of a statement that Clausen ran in English, all passages drawn from this volume of Emigranten have been translated from the Norwegian by H. M. Tolo.

<4> Clausen's cumbersome English expressions indicate his preference of Norwegian diction to that of the English.

<5> Emigranten, January 30, 1852.

<6> February 13, 1852. In a parenthetical note the editor admits that his ideas are taken largely from the editorial page of the New York Tribune.

<7> Issue for March 19.

<8> Charles Wilson in a letter to Emigranten, July 23, 1852.

<9> June 11, 1852.

<10> July 23, 1852.

<11> September 3, 1851.

<12> September 17, 1852.

<13> September 24, 1852.

<14> October 1, 1852.

<15> Hansen in Festkrift, 23.

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