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An Official Report on Norwegian and Swedish Immigration, 1870
By A. Lewenhaupt
With a Forward by Theodore C. Blegen  (Volume XIII: Page 46)

In 1870 A. Lewenhaupt, the charge d'affaires attached to the Swedish-Norwegian legation at Washington, made a report, based upon first-hand observation, on the immigration to the United States from Norway and Sweden, with special reference to the conditions met by the immigrants in America. This report is broad in scope: it examines the situation not only at Castle Garden but also in the areas of the Middle West to which the emigrants went. Lewenhaupt's findings are incisively presented, filled with concrete detail, and clearly of distinct historical interest.

It is a sixteen-page pamphlet entitled lndberetning fra hans majestæts charge d'affaires i Washington angaaende udvan-dringen fra de Forenede Riger til de Nordamerikanske Forenede Starer (Report from His Majesty's Charge d'Affaires at Washington concerning Emigration from the United Kingdoms to the United States of North America). I found a printed copy, in Norwegian, preserved in the Norwegian archives, and the present translation, which makes the document available for the first time in English, is based upon this copy. {1}

After the report proper, Lewenhaupt gives some extracts from American laws in reference to the traveling effects of immigrants and a statistical table having to do with prices of various American products, foods, clothing, and the like in certain selected states in 1869. This material is not included in the translation herewith presented.


Since immigration constitutes the chief means of contact between the United Kingdoms and the United States of North America, and in view of the fact that current business at the legation consists largely of commissions from the immigrants' relatives in the mother country, I have hereby the honor to present in part some information relative to immigration in general, as well as to render an account of the reason for the delay in the execution of the commissions presented to the legation.

Most of the immigrants from the United Kingdoms to America reach New York via England and on English steamships. Last year, however, a small group of about five thousand arrived on American steamships via Copenhagen. At present no immigrants are conveyed directly by steamship from the United Kingdoms to America. As a consequence of this situation, Swedish laws have definitely prohibited the overcrowding of immigrant ships such as prevails in other countries. Meanwhile, the immigrants complain more of the poor food aboard the ships than of the lack of sufficient space.

Upon arrival in New York the immigrant vessels land their passengers on a cliff that projects into the harbor; it is called "Castle Garden." There the passengers are received by the emigration commissioners or by a committee appointed by the state of New York, to whom the supervision of immigrants is entrusted. This committee has at its disposal a considerable sum of money; every passenger boat that arrives in New York must pay a fee of 7 rix-dollars, 50 øre (1 specie dollar, 105 Norwegian skilling) for each immigrant. This sum, which amounts annually to more than 3,000,000 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (750,000 Norwegian specie dollars), is used for the maintenance and expansion of the immigrant home on Ward's Island, an island situated at the entrance to New York. These fees also defray expenses incurred by the committee for the reception of the immigrants at Castle Garden and for their transportation to other points. All immigrants coming by way of New York have the right to free accommodation, if they need it, on Ward's Island during the first five years of their stay. The accommodations to be had there are necessarily comparable to those received at poorhouses; if they were otherwise the immigrant house would become overcrowded. The immigration committee's report for last year indicates, nevertheless, that immigrants seek admission to Ward's Island during the winter months in order to save their summer wages, which they deposit in savings banks.

During 1869 more than 20,000 immigrants arrived in New York, and of these 14,000 lived at the immigrant home for varying lengths of time. The average number of immigrants accommodated there during the year was 1,384. Most of them remained for only a short time--until they had recovered from temporary illnesses or until they had received answers to letters from relatives residing out west, or until they had found pecuniary employment. There are, however, others who because of insanity, incurable diseases, or lack of ability to support themselves remain at the immigrant home for five years, and who are then taken to the common poorhouse for the rest of their lives. The majority of such immigrants are, however, sent back to their home country under the supervision of the committee. Last year no Swedish or Norwegian immigrant entered the common poorhouse in New York.

During the year 1869 there arrived in New York 25,055 Swedish and 5,903 Norwegian immigrants. The low figure for the Norwegians may probably be accounted for by the fact that much of the Norwegian immigration went by way of Quebec. Of these Swedish and Norwegian immigrants, 669 Swedish and 58 Norwegian men were accommodated at the immigrant home, and of this number, 399 Swedes and 22 Norwegians were cared for in the hospital ward. It may be observed that the number of Swedes and Norwegians at the immigrant home, as compared with the total number of immigrants, is as follows: Swedes, about two and one-half per cent; and Norwegians, not quite one per cent. The reason for the tendency indicated is evidently that immigration from Norway to America, though previously greater than that from Sweden, is now less, and that a greater number of Norwegian immigrants have, therefore, friends and relatives in this country.

Upon arriving at Castle Garden the Scandinavian immigrants are received by a Danish official who is in the service of the committee and who imparts with the utmost willingness all necessary information. At Castle Garden they may exchange their foreign money; if they do so they receive a receipt stating the sum presented as well as that received. They may likewise obtain railroad tickets to any city in the United States, and transportation for themselves and their baggage to the railroad station. They are able to do all this without coming in contact with the many idlers who crowd about Castle Garden at the arrival of every immigrant boat. Although the immigrants may have no definite destinations in mind, they may register at the Castle Garden labor office. While awaiting employment, they may go to Ward's Island or to any of the hotels recommended by the committee. The proprietors of these hotels have obtained access to Castle Garden on the condition that their hotels be placed to a certain extent under the supervision of the committee. There are times, however, when work is very difficult to obtain, and those immigrants who have definite aims and who have someone upon whom they may depend for assistance during the early part of their stay are in a far more fortunate situation than others.

The appointment of a special agent for New York to assist the Swedish and Norwegian immigrants is unnecessary, and it would be impractical to appoint such an agent for the reason that the committee would not give him admission to Castle Garden, and he would, therefore, not even have a chance to see the majority of the immigrants. The reason that admission to Castle Garden is difficult to obtain is in part the common belief in the United States that immigration is harmful to the country, and that Congress should, therefore, curb it. Another reason is that collisions between such an agent and the one acceptable to the committee would be inevitable, unless the supervision of the entire Swedish and Norwegian immigration were transferred to the Swedish and Norwegian agent. The committee is, of course, by no means inclined to make such an arrangement. A Swedish and Norwegian agent would thus be able to assist only those immigrants who desire to remain in New York and who therefore venture outside of Castle Garden. What the nature of such assistance should be, however, is difficult to comprehend. Should an immigrant be unable to obtain work at the labor office in Castle Garden, there is no reason to suppose that an agent's assistance could be of any help in this respect. Should an immigrant be in need of money, naturally he could not expect financial aid from the agent, for if he could the demand would be so great that no relief plan would suffice. A credulous immigrant would, moreover, be exposed to fraud at the hands of the so-called "runners,'' since the agent could not always accompany him.

From Castle Garden nearly all the Swedish and Norwegian immigrants proceed to the West, where they have friends and relatives; they usually arrive in Chicago without any mishap, although the daily newspapers from time to time present accounts of how some credulous immigrant has been robbed of both money and effects. There is, however, no arrangement in Chicago that compares with Castle Garden; therefore the immigrants are much exposed there to fraud by heartless Swedes and Norwegians, who have been unable to secure for themselves a more profitable occupation than that of defrauding their countrymen. The immigrants who remain in Chicago are enticed by "runners" to hotels where they are compelled to pay two to three times the stipulated price, and since their funds are extremely limited, they are very often, after a couple of days' stay in Chicago, forced to give up their trunks as security. There is an immigrant house in Chicago which is maintained by voluntary contributions from the Swedish population, but since most of the Swedes in Chicago are in poor circumstances, the funds of this house are insufficient for the great immigration, and the want that the immigrants learn to know at the Chicago immigrant house is doubtless greater than that which they have experienced in their home land.

The immigrants who have through tickets to the West and who merely pass through Chicago are likewise often swindled there. A large number of immigrants--perhaps half of them--have bought tickets on credit or have received them from relatives who have previously migrated to America; these relatives prefer to forward tickets rather than traveling money, since experience has shown that money sent for traveling expenses is often used for other purposes. Then, too, tickets are often sent because the immigrant companies will extend credit for them when the purchaser is well known. The immigrant's entire resources upon his arrival in Chicago very often consist, therefore, of a few dollars, and this small sum is taken away from him in Chicago. According to similar testimony from immigrants who had passed through Chicago on different dates last summer, the procedure was about as follows: When the immigrants arrive in Chicago, they change trains; the new trains leave from different stations. A Swedish or a Norwegian "runner" then appears and informs the immigrants that the tickets undoubtedly entitle them to leave on the other trains, but that transportation of trunks from one station to another is arranged for, not by the immigrant company that sold the tickets, but by a different company, the so-called "Express Company." The "runner" then demands one, two, or three dollars of the immigrants, depending on the size and weight of the trunks. The immigrant protests, but the fear of not getting the trunk on the train with him eventually prompts him to pay the sum demanded.

It happened last summer that a group of immigrants, consisting of a married couple, two married women whose husbands had settled in Minnesota, and five children, were defrauded in this manner of all their money in Chicago. The immediate consequence was that the group had to go without food during the journey from Chicago to St. Paul, Minnesota, which took about twenty-four hours. The tickets took them as far as St. Paul, but it was found that their destination lay five Swedish miles out of St. Paul. It was, of course, possible for them to make. this trip by train in two hours for about two dollars each, but inasmuch as the group was entirely without funds, the husband of one of the women had to travel on foot to seek help from relatives and then return the following day to St. Paul with the money. This meant that the women and children had to remain in St. Paul another twenty-four hours without food. If they had not been defrauded in Chicago, the group could have continued without difficulty to their destination. This type of fraud is probably carried on to a great extent and since immigration is so large, it is naturally very profitable; but there seems to be no possibility of any attempt to curb it in Chicago. The only way to prevent it would be to request the immigration agents concerned in Sweden and Norway to indicate clearly on the ticket or contract that the company assumes the transportation of baggage in Chicago. The immigration company that transported the above-mentioned immigrant group has, however, upon investigation, explained that it does arrange for such transportation without charge; but it is probable that this duty is not always fulfilled.

According to testimony from other immigrants, it appears that those who come by way of Quebec are exposed to a similar fraud at the boundary line, although communications received in this respect have not been complete enough so that any investigation could be undertaken. Customs officials, or "runners" who represent themselves as customs officials, charge the immigrants duty on their trunks, and levy this so-called duty, including an additional one, two, or three dollars, according to the size and weight of the trunks, without regard to contents--which usually consist only of clothes, tools, and the like. Such baggage and personal effects, however, according to laws in force--an extract from one of which is herewith attached--are duty free, and when such fraud is attempted, the immigrant needs only refuse to pay.

Whether the immigrant's prospects after his arrival in a settlement in the West are so promising that immigration in general ought to be encouraged is, of course, a question familiar to the settlers. They all answer unhesitatingly, and the answer without exception is the same: "The question as to whether or not a person ought to emigrate depends entirely upon his private circumstances and upon his own ability to succeed; some ought to emigrate, but others do best by remaining at home." This is indeed the only answer that can be given. How far most of the immigrants who have come to the West may succeed in acquiring a better situation than the one they left behind, or could have expected in their homeland, is quite another matter. Among those who have visited the settlements no question with reference to this problem can arise. Most of the settlers really achieve, comparatively early, economic success on a higher plane than would have been possible had they remained at home; and most of them declare themselves content with their lot. This attitude is due primarily to the fact that the majority of the immigrants are young, strong, and respectable people. It is an exception to find an immigrant who has brought money along with him, and it is a common opinion among the settlers that a person who lives on his own farm and can support himself ought not immigrate in the hope of acquiring wealth here. In order to attain success in the West, it is essential that one should have physical strength to work on the land, and, as early as possible, buy with his accumulated savings a piece of land in those regions that the railroads have not yet reached, and where, consequently, the land is cheap. When the land has been bought, it increases in value, in proportion to the approach of the railroad and the increase in population, with unbelievable rapidity. If, on the other hand, the immigrant has poor health and strength, and the support of his family does not permit him to make the necessary savings toward the purchase of land, he cannot ordinarily expect a carefree existence and can expect wealth even less.

The most prosperous settlements are situated in the state of Illinois and were established about twenty-five years ago. The distance to the settlement from the nearest railroad station is usually not over one to two Swedish miles. At the station is a little town, where the traveler may easily secure a wagon, but usually not a driver. It is, however, easy to find the road because there are no byways, only one road that leads directly to the settlement, which is situated at the edge of a little forest, and consists of many beautiful farmhouses surrounded by luxuriant corn and wheat fields. The settlement usually has a Lutheran church and there are evidences that the church building has cost up to 180,000 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (45,000 Norwegian specie dollars). The dwellings are frame houses painted white; a building of this sort has four windows in the lower and two in the upper story, the latter covering only half the house. These buildings remind one forcefully of the small country dwellings near Stockholm. In addition to the dwelling house one usually observes the little shanty inhabited by the immigrant during his early years. The shortage of outbuildings is noticeable at once. Stables and barns are unnecessary because the winters are mild; in winter the cattle and horses are placed in large sheds covered with straw but open on the sides. Barns are not needed, as grain is threshed by a machine out in the fields.

It is not uncommon to find that a well-to-do farmer, who upon his arrival twenty years ago started out by mortgaging his trunk, is now the owner of a fine, well developed farm of 360 acres, of which the greater part is open field, and of seven cattle and nine horses, besides valuable farm implements and machinery. Since the present price of land in Illinois is 150 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (37 1/2 Norwegian specie dollars) per acre, and an ox or a horse costs 300 to 450 (75 to 112 1/2 Norwegian specie dollars), a sheep 180 to 225 (45 to 56 1/4 Norwegian specie dollars), a cow 150 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (37 1/2 Norwegian specie dollars), such a farm may have the present valuation of from 60,000 to 70,000 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (15,000 to 17,500 Norwegian specie dollars).

The statements concerning the method by which a poor immigrant may succeed in becoming a rich farmer all agree. A newly-arrived immigrant may obtain employment with a farmer at a wage of 60 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (15 Norwegian specie dollars) per month for eight to nine months, in addition to room and board; and although he must support himself during the winter months, he may still, as a rule, save 300 to 450 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (75 to 112 1/2 Norwegian specie dollars) yearly. The daily wages paid a man during the fall season may reach 4 rix-dollars, 50 øre, Swedish currency (1 specie dollar, 15 Norwegian skilling). Railroad workers receive 5 rix-dollars, 25 øre (1 specie dollar, 371/42 Norwegian skilling) per day. This is hard labor, however; furthermore the workers often fail to receive their wages from the railroad company. When the immigrant has succeeded in saving 1,200 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (300 Norwegian specie dollars) he buys himself two horses, a wagon, and a plow, and he is then able to earn 150 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (37 1/2 Norwegian specie dollars) per month, but out of this he must defray his own expenses.

Twenty years ago land could be bought in Illinois for 7 1/2 rix-dollars (1 specie dollar, 105 Norwegian skilling) and ten years ago for 15 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (3 specie dollars, 90 Norwegian skilling) per acre, and since one acre seeded into wheat might give an income of between 42 and 84 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (10 specie dollars, 60 skilling, and 21 specie dollars), it was naturally easy to buy land at that time. Once the land had been bought, its value rose from year to year with the approach of the railroad and the accessibility of a labor supply. A poor immigrant can no longer hope to buy land in Illinois, but must, in order to derive benefit from the same favorable circumstances, proceed to the western parts of Minnesota and Kansas. One must not imagine, however, that all the inhabitants of a settlement are rich. Besides the wealthy farmer one will meet a poor immigrant who owns only five acres and still lives in a little shanty, although he arrived at the same place at the same time as his neighbor. In the rich farmer's shanty are living a recently arrived immigrant family consisting of a wife with four children, all in tatters. The furniture in the house consists of a bed, one chair, one cradle, and the big chest. Questioned, the wife relates that the family has been here a year; that her husband has been ill, but that he has now received work as a carpenter in the nearest town for 4 rix-dollars, 50 øre (1 specie dollar, 15 Norwegian skilling) per day, out of which he must contribute daily I rix-dollar, 50 øre (45 Norwegian skilling) toward his own support. She and her husband had owned a farm in Sweden, but they had been forced into debt since and their income had not been sufficient to pay interest and taxes. The minister and the landlord had discouraged them from emigrating, but their relatives had encouraged them. Upon their arrival at the settlement they owned not a penny, but thanks to the liberality of the well-to-do settlers, they have not, of course, had to starve; she, whose parents were freeholding landowners, had never been in such poor circumstances as during the last year. A daughter fifteen years of age and a son of twelve were already hired out. As soon as her husband succeeded in collecting a little money, the whole family would go to Kansas, but they did not consider returning to Sweden, "first, because it is a waste of effort to consider the impossible, and second, when we see how pleasant Per Olsson has it, we might hope for something similar for ourselves."

A little farther on lives a tailor who owns a rather small house and a few acres of land, one old horse, and two cows. Since his arrival in the settlement over twenty years ago, he has always worked diligently, but as he is not a farmer, he has not had the success his neighbor has had, and even though he does save 300 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (75 Norwegian specie dollars) yearly, he says that the future seems dark to him, for his strength is gradually failing him and his family is large.

In Minnesota one meets Swedes and Norwegians on every railroad train. Some are going to Kansas to look about for land, while others, on the other hand, are traveling from Kansas to Minnesota for the same purpose. The majority of them are young laborers who are returning to the wealthier states in the East where wages are a little higher, to earn the necessary capital with which to purchase land. Most of them have been in America a couple of years, and as they have come in contact with many different types of persons, these years have had a considerable influence upon their experience of the world and upon their mental development.

Along the railroad running westward from St. Paul, one meets a very large number of newly-arrived immigrants; for where the railroad line ends and the older settlements cease, the immigrants must remain for a time in order to become accustomed to the new environment before they can consider settling in the more or less uninhabited regions. Since the land is less fertile, the climate more severe, the settlement younger, and the railroad only recently completed, there is less prosperity here than in Illinois; the houses are not so attractive, and many settlers still live in shanties. Some of the settlers who occupy uncultivated wooded districts live in very poor circumstances, even in great poverty, though they bought their land sixteen years ago. Here, too, one observes large prairies, and the wealthy settler drives four horses hitched to his threshing machine. At a railway station that was opened a year ago, one finds a little town, which with its small frame buildings presents a truly pretty picture on the flat prairie. At the station there is a large grain elevator. This and some rather large store buildings are owned by American merchants who live in the larger cities; but practically all the other buildings belong to Swedes. The hotel, where accommodations may be obtained for 15 rix-dollars, 75 øre (3 specie dollars, 112 1/2 skilling) per week, belongs, however, to an American who formerly traded in farm implements. This latter business is now managed by a former Swedish corporal who has already acquired sufficient English to make himself understood, although when he arrived at the station about a year ago, he knew no more of the English language than the English word for "work." His salary per month is 105 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (26 1/4 specie dollars) and board.

Next to the hotel is a little house with a single room. This house belongs to a Swedish tailor who arrived here about a year ago with his wife and child. He began his journey by borrowing the necessary traveling expenses from another immigrant, but has not yet been able to earn enough to pay off this debt. During the journey across Lake Michigan, while the immigrants were crowded upon the narrow deck, an intoxicated immigrant had pushed another so that he fell into the lap of the tailor's wife, who was pregnant. This resulted in a premature delivery on board the boat. When the tailor arrived in Milwaukee, he was therefore obliged to remain in a hotel, and when his funds were exhausted in paying the doctor's fee and the hotel bill, he had to pawn his trunks in order to continue his journey. During the year he had succeeded in building this little house, which with its furniture had cost him 600 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (150 Norwegian specie dollars). He had been unable, however, to buy the lot, and when it had risen in value from 150 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (37 1/2 Norwegian specie dollars) a year ago to the present price of 600 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (150 Norwegian specie dollars), he ran the risk of having to move the house. He and his wife regretted bitterly that they had immigrated, and they were definitely determined to return to Sweden as soon as possible. As for some time he has not had any work in his trade, he has been compelled to seek work with a farmer; but he has a weak chest and the work in the fields is too strenuous for him.

The nearest neighbor was another Swedish tailor, who with his family had also arrived a year ago. This one had, however, given up his craft and opened a saloon instead; in addition he had bought himself a few cattle, the support of which cost him nothing, since there was plenty of grazing land on the prairie outside the house. In the center of the little market place is located the immigrant house, owned by the state, where for a short time the immigrants may have a roof over their heads. It was occupied by a Swedish immigrant family who were in extremely helpless circumstances. The husband, a capable cabinet-maker, was unable to obtain work in his trade when he arrived and was forced to seek work with a carpenter. During the year he had succeeded, however, in earning about 300 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (75 Norwegian specie dollars) or the equivalent of a ticket for his family, whereupon he had immediately bought the ticket for his wife and children, "because it was so lonesome." Thus when the family arrived he was without funds; at the same time he was disabled for work because of a deep cut in his foot, caused by stepping on a nail, and the whole family was compelled to take refuge in the immigrant house. The wife, a young woman with a pleasing appearance, still dressed in the national costume of her home district, said that she could weave and sew but that work could not be obtained, "that it was impossible to get work in America--something which I never could have imagined, however." She had three small children and a sick husband, and was not very strong herself, so it was out of all question for her to work in the fields.

As there is yet sufficient land in Minnesota belonging to the state, every immigrant, according to law, may obtain 160 acres for the insignificant price of 142 rix-dollars (10 1/2 Norwegian specie dollars). In view of this fact, it seems at first strange that all do not take advantage of this opportunity to become landowners. In order to do this, however, the immigrant must settle on the land and furthermore must have the necessary means with which to purchase implements and cattle and pay his living expenses for the first year. Thus the necessary capital for a new settler may be estimated to be at least 600 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (150 Norwegian specie dollars). The districts open for settlement are probably only ten Swedish miles from the railroad, but the roads are poor, and the only means of conveyance is a wagon drawn by oxen. The nearest neighbors toward the west are Indians. In Minnesota, however, the Indians live on peaceful terms with the settlers, and often an Indian appears with some venison in exchange for a cup of coffee. During the first years the settler endures many hardships, and if the region is destitute of wood he must live in a sod house. Therefore many prefer to buy the so-called railroad land, which may be had for 15 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (3 3/4 Norwegian specie dollars) per acre, and is a distance of only one Swedish mile from the railroad and close to a settlement that may already have both church and congregation.

Swedish and Norwegian maidservants are much in demand and usually without much difficulty they can obtain positions in the cities at a salary of 24 to 36 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (6 to 9 specie dollars) per month. It is exceedingly important, however, that they should know some person when they arrive who can give them the necessary protection for a few days until positions may be secured.

It is impossible to travel in the West without reaching the conviction that the principal motive for immigration is fundamentally the hope of bettering the conditions of life, and that this hope may actually become a reality for the majority. It is frequently asserted in the daily newspapers that immigration is incited by an innate thirst for liberty within the immigrant that makes it impossible for him to tolerate political oppression or alleged slavery--to employ a term that American newspapers like to use--in his home country. This assertion, however, may safely be considered without foundation as far as the political form of government is concerned. The Swedish or the Norwegian pioneer in the West acquires American citizenship and, since the Republican party is predominant, usually votes under the influence of his district for some Republican candidate, of whose political views he has only a very hazy concept. He partakes very little in political controversies and leaves even the arrangement of municipal affairs to the American, since to the immigrant the Lutheran congregation still constitutes the community. It is only when the number of settlers becomes so great that they feel encouraged to demand the election of one of their countrymen to a state office that they show any perceptible interest in the exercise of their electoral privileges. Even in such circumstances their political principles are not so firm but that they support the Democratic party if by doing so they are sure of attaining their purpose. The settler does not discern any direct advantage in the privilege of voting for a person whom he has never seen and who nearly always is a native American.

On the other hand, the settler finds on the frontier a new and different attitude that contributes in a large measure to his daily welfare. Complete social leveling dominates the frontier; "for here we are all farmers; here are no lords and here no one needs to tip his hat." This feeling of equality, by which the American addresses all alike with the title "Mister," has had a completely contrary effect upon the Swedes and Norwegians. All titles are discarded, and all call each other "du," even at the first meeting. The settler, transplanted directly from the fatherland to the West, naturally imagines that this social equality rests in the republican form of government, whereas in reality it is merely a necessary consequence of the fact that all the people in the West stand on the same level of culture, practice the same living customs, have the same opportunity to satisfy their wants, if only--and this usually is the case--they have strong arms. In Chicago the social leveling is less marked, and in other states one meets a pronounced lack of social equality, although the determining forces are not the same as in Europe.

According to everyone's assertion, one aspect of life that was superior in the home country was the administration of justice. To judge from letters received from immigrants who have gone to states where no previous settlements of their countrymen are found, these immigrants, because of their ignorance of the language and conditions, find themselves in an almost helpless plight when the American employer refuses to fulfill his contractual obligations. If, as often happens, the immigrant complains to the nearest vice-consul, the latter can do nothing but refer him to the American authority concerned, unless both parties should come to him, in which case the vice-consul must attempt to effect a friendly settlement.

The functions of the vice-consul appointed in the West consist primarily in assisting the legation in matters that have been transferred to it relative to inheritance. Aside from a small income derived from legal services, a vice-consul can count on no other compensation than that provided if an inheritance is actually disbursed. And since the reason for the required intervention of the legation usually is that the disbursement of the small inheritance sums involves difficulties, the direct income of a vice-consulate cannot be regarded as a fair compensation for the inconveniences that have to be met. The reason that there are, nevertheless, persons who are willing to accept these positions lies in the fact that the vice-consul is usually also commissioner and immigrant agent; and that as a result of the confidence his appointment to serve the government inspires in the immigrants, he has opportunity to expand his private business. The money exchange between Sweden and Norway and America that has re-suited from immigration exceeds annually many times the aggregate value of imports and exports, and it exceeds the amount sent over by the immigrants to relatives in their native land by a very considerable sum. The esteemed Danish banking house of F. Winslow and Company, 2 South Clark Street, Chicago, which is well patronized by the immigrants, has for some time been sending to Sweden alone 120,000 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (30,000 Norwegian specie dollars) per month. Most of this amount is in all probability intended to be used in Sweden and not as money for traveling, because, as has been pointed out, settlers prefer to buy tickets for immigrants in America.

When the legation is requested to collect an inheritance, the beneficiaries usually imagine that because of his official position, the minister can be of greater assistance to them than a private commissioner. This, however, is not usually the case, for in truth, the only advantage to the heirs is that they may have the assurance of avoiding legal action against their own commissioner. There are no administrative authorities whose assistance may be counted upon to communicate with the holders of the inheritance who live in the Far West, and the minister is therefore unable to do anything but write the vice-consul, who in turn refers the matter to a person known to him, who resides in the district where the deceased lived. Should no vice-consul reside in the vicinity, the minister must write directly to some lawyer, and frequently in such cases the minister's letters are left unanswered. Usually the heirs can give no information except that they have received a letter from a certain immigrant who has offered to collect the inheritance for them, and they hesitate to give him authority to do this. In such a case there is no procedure open for the vice-consul other than to write to or to find this same immigrant. Since the latter's reason for communicating with the heirs is his hope for a fee through the collection of the inheritance, he naturally becomes dissatisfied with the distrust shown by the heirs, and is consequently disinclined to forward the necessary information.

When an accounting concerning the properties is finally obtained, it is discovered that they are in the hands of a person who is accustomed to considering them his own. A request to appoint a public administrator must then be made to the proper court, and the settlement of the estate requires ordinarily a period of two years. It happens frequently, therefore, that the administrator, in his turn, complicates affairs. It is always possible that the court in case of legal action may rule that the administrator has conceded that the expense of the administration--which is considerable--in addition to the debts of the estate, has consumed the estate's value. The minister therefore cannot take the risk of paying the costs himself; and since the heirs themselves neither can nor will guarantee these costs, sometimes all hope of getting the inheritance settled must be given up.

Strangely enough, the language spoken in the settlements is mixed only slightly with English words. Even the young, American-born generation speaks the mother tongue without the least English accent. For the children and commonly for young folks it seems to be an easy matter to learn English. But persons who immigrate at a more advanced age do not seem to acquire any great proficiency in the language; and there are even present instances of persons who speak poorer English than they did some years ago when there were few immigrants. One frequently meets persons in settlements who have been in America a few years and have acquired no more English than the word "yes," which is always used as a substitute for ja, a word that is subsequently banished frown the Scandinavian language. In one of the Swedish churches in Chicago is a school where all instruction is presented in the Swedish language. But in the so-called "Sunday school," which is attended by the generation raised in America, who have already had much contact with the Americans, the Swedish pastor is obliged to present his instruction in English.

The Swedish and Norwegian immigrants separate themselves into settlements according to nationality. Yet they seem to live on good terms with one another, at least in the country districts. The inhabitants in a settlement are practically all of the same nationality and are frequently from the same province. The separation between nationalities that takes place in the West is a natural consequence of the existing conditions. Immigration cannot be centered at one place, but must annually proceed westward; and the reason that the newly-arrived immigrant does not remain in the old settlement is the same as that which prompted him to leave his home, namely, the hope of gaining a better livelihood.

The Scandinavian population in the West, many of whom of course were born in America, is estimated to reach in round numbers about 500,000, of which 300,000 are Norwegians; 175,000, Swedes; and 25,000, Danes. It is a general belief that the different national groups will continue to exist as long as immigration takes place on a large scale, and the languages and contacts with the native land will thereby be retained. It seems reasonable to assume, however, that when these contacts are lessened the Scandinavian nationalities will soon disappear, and that they could never gain as firm a footing in America as could the German nationality. The chief reason for this might be attributed to the considerably greater number of Germans. Their number is estimated to be between four and five millions; and since German immigration began at a time when no railroad existed, the early immigrants, generation after generation, settled at the same place, with the result that whole districts were populated by Germans. This element of the population is found in many cities, especially in New York, which ranks third in German inhabitants, only Vienna and Berlin outranking it. The Germans are so numerous in these groups that they can live entirely independently of others. European immigration is expected to continue for many years into the same states as heretofore. But the prospects become yearly less alluring as a result of the lack of timber farther west, the greater distance, and the increased traveling expenses.

During recent years an increasing number of Swedish and Norwegian immigrants have migrated to the southern states. Concerning the immigrants' prospects in these states I have had no opportunity to secure definite knowledge. But if I take it for granted that it is possible to obtain full information regarding those immigrants who settled in the West, as to whether they have prospects, it is, nevertheless, my conviction that the publication of this information will not in the least exert any influence upon the immigrants' choice of residence. They always immigrate as a result of the influence of private letters from relatives who have gone before them, or because of verbal reports, or because of the influence of immigrant agents from America, whose words they most credulously accept.

The United States government has this year published statistical tables showing the wages and the prices of food, clothing, and shelter in the different states. Since the English as well as the American newspapers maintain that these tables ought to be of great service to the immigrants in their choice of residence, I have the honor of enclosing herewith a copy thereof, together with an abstract made by myself regarding the states of Illinois, Minnesota, Kansas, and Texas. It is, however, in my opinion, entirely impossible to form any concept by means of these tables as to the relative advantage of one state over another, since the tables contain no information regarding the most important factor from the Swedish and Norwegian immigrants' viewpoint, namely, conditions for the acquisition of land and the prospects for its subsequent rise in value.

The state of Maine last summer wrote for a few Swedish immigrant families; and although the land in the northern part of Maine, which is owned by the state, may be bought for 1 rix-dollar, 50 øre (45 Norwegian skilling) per acre, or 240 rix-dollars, Swedish currency (60 Norwegian specie dollars) for 160 acres, payment to be made within three years--these immigrants received as gifts one hundred acres per family besides the necessary buildings, the hope being that a part of the immigration, as a result of letters from these settlers to relatives at home, might be influenced to come to Maine. This hope seems to have been fulfilled to some extent, as the number of settlers there is now supposed to have increased to one hundred. It appears, however, that the price advance on land in these isolated regions will not be as rapid as in the West along the great transcontinental railway. In addition, the West possesses the great advantage that the immigrant may remain in an older settlement for a time and learn to know the conditions personally before making any decision regarding the purchase of land.

Washington, November 17, 1870.
A. Lewenhaupt


<1> The translation was made some years ago under my direction by Mr. J. A. Fagereng as part of a University of Minnesota CWA project.

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