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A Norwegian Schoolmaster Looks at America
An America Letter Translated and Edited by C. A. Clausen  (Volume XIII: Page 75)

"The most effective agents were after all the letters which came from America throughout the whole century. They told of economic progress in a country where democracy and social equality ruled, and the same letters stimulated those who remained in Norway to demand greater democratic rights for themselves." Thus a Norwegian authority concludes her study of the forces which kept the vast stream of Norwegian immigration flowing into the United States for a hundred years. {1} The letter translated below illustrates how the America letters served this double purpose of stimulating the people back home either to "run away from or seek to reform" the conditions in their native land. The writer eulogizes the economic possibilities that greet the immigrants in this new land, but he pictures America not only as a land of economic opportunity. He waxes still more enthusiastic when he praises America as the land of freedom. Here the immigrants can enjoy that full religious and civil liberty "for which Europe's millions sigh." Here the immigrants have an opportunity to cast aside that "spiritual poverty . . . which most of them brought along to the land of liberty." Here even the poor man has the right to elect his civil and religious leaders and to be tried by a jury of his peers. The lesson to the Norwegian common man is clear. He must throw off his shackles and thus learn for himself how real liberty operates. This admiration for his new homeland naturally made our letter writer sensitive to any movement which he felt challenged the American way of life. Thus in politics he is violently anti-Democratic because that party had championed slavery. Even Thaddeus Stevens could not hate the southern "aristocrats" and the "slave president," Andrew Johnson, more vehemently than this Norwegian who had been in America less than one year. "Copperheads" and "Copper-snakes" are names which the Democrats "richly deserve," while he pictures the Republican party either as a loving father chastising his erring children or as a knight in shining armor doing battle for the people's rights.

His ardent Republicanism was no doubt greatly intensified by a strange ideological civil war which was raging among the Norwegian Americans in the later 1860's. Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation and Lee had surrendered at Appomattox, but that did not prevent Norwegian-American society from being torn asunder by the purely theological question of whether or not slavery was a sin. Purely theoretical it was because none of the people who took part in the debate ever owned slaves, and all of them agreed that slavery was an evil. But a small group of well-trained ministers in the Norwegian Synod looked at the question primarily from a theological point of view. They took their stand on the Bible, and unless they could be convinced by the actual word of God that" slavery in itself" was a sin, they would not condemn it as such. "To uphold the authority of Scriptures was the sine qua non to the clergy. Unless they should change their whole method of Biblical interpretation, they had to maintain that slavery was not necessarily a sin. That it was a great evil and led to many sins, they all recognized." {2} This seeming distinction without a difference was too subtle for the laymen. They felt that slavery was opposed to the spirit of Christ and therefore could not be sanctioned by the word of God. Naturally this debate tied up with politics, and our correspondent seems on the point of reading out of Christianity anyone who could not accommodate himself within the Republican party. He admits freely that the subject of politics "runs away" with him. And when he fulminates against the "aristocrats," big or little, European or American, he piles clause upon clause in his indignation until his sentences become quite top-heavy. For the sake of the reader--not to mention the translator--these sentences have been divided into more manageable parts in the English version wherever this could be arranged without doing violence to the meaning of the original.

Although this letter is addressed to a particular friend, it clearly was intended for wider circulation. This intention was achieved, for we know that it was published in at least two of Norway's most prominent newspapers. {3} C.A.C.


February 4, 1868.


Much have I seen and experienced during the time that has passed since I last wrote you. I have also taken a trip of 155 miles in order to get better acquainted here. The more I learn about America the better I like it. In no other country in the world is there such progress in wealth, power, and political greatness as in the United States. With giant strides the Union extends its sway from one great ocean to the other. Hundreds of thousands of vigorous laborers increase annually a population which already numbers thirty-six millions. And these newcomers whom the aristocrats of Europe (the grimmest enemies of liberty and human rights in the Old World) have often deprived of the rewards of their labor and robbed of the franchise and put in a class with Negro slaves--these people, these millions of our fellow men, we could offer an abundance of bread and better pay for their labor than any other country in the world, and besides, as a dowry, grant them that full religious and civil liberty, for which Europe's millions sigh, so far in vain. To these millions of emigrants America can bid a welcome. Yes, with full sincerity we also dare call out to the suppressed cotters, the many hungry and impoverished lodgers, and the poor laborers and craftsmen in dear old Norway: "Come over to us!" Here is land for the landless and bread for the breadless; here you are paid well for your labor so you and your children can lead a life free from worry; here is equality before the law; here a person is not robbed of his franchise like a criminal unless he is deprived of it by his own baseness. Here a man like you, if industrious and dependable, is highly honored and respected. It was, of course, exactly such poor and oppressed people as you, oh, impoverished laborer of my fatherland, who came over a few years ago without owning a dollar, and now these people constitute nine-tenths of the most progressive and prosperous farmers in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota; and year by year they are becoming richer and more well-to-do, and gradually they also work themselves out of that spiritual poverty and tyranny which, unfortunately, most of them brought along to the land of liberty. But a person is greatly mistaken if he assumes that America does not demand and receive any returns from her poor immigrants for all the gifts which are here bestowed upon them. As a man behaves toward others, so is he usually treated. That is the style here. People are well pleased in America because it is clear to them that their labor and toil are appreciated and rewarded and they themselves properly respected ....

But God be praised for the new ruling in the common school in my homeland. I have never more appreciated the school law of May 16, 1860, {4} than since I came to America and became acquainted with the American common school. The new school arrangement in my native land has a marked similarity to the common school system here, which is the pride and glory of the American people. If we now could also be granted the joy of seeing more folk high schools erected like the one set up by our honorable fellow citizen, Herman Anker, at Hamar, {5} then the young people would find an open door where further instruction in the regular school subjects would be placed on a broad popular basis and would proceed along lines beneficial to the Norwegian youth. The Norwegian people cannot be sufficiently thankful to these champions of popular enlightenment and liberty, who, despite the vigorous opposition of the pastors in the Storting, managed to force the school law through. And the man who did most for the people in this great cause was Secretary Nissen of Christiania, who made the motion for the school law. The new law, well enforced, will eradicate most of the prejudice, superstition, and artificially inspired movements against schoolbooks. Yes, we even entertain the definite hope that it will have beneficial effects clear over in America inasmuch as the Norwegian people here will gradually be spared the numerous visitations of those groups of ignorant, stupid, and "half-cocked" immigrants upon whom the Yankees have bestowed the expressive epithet of "Norwegian Indians."

I have already stated that America does not offer the immigrants her rich gifts without receiving anything in return. No, even during the first year the immigrants contribute to the harvesting of the hay and the innumerable, endless wheat fields which put so many millions into the pockets of the farmers.

Before the expiration of the current year the thousands upon thousands of immigrants who crossed the ocean in 1867 will, with their powerful arms, have been instrumental in bringing millions of bushels of wheat to market, the sale of which will furnish America with new capital, new millions to add to her present wealth. Whether the newcomer tills his own soil or works for some farmer here, he will, under any circumstances, be well paid for his labor, and within a few years, by means of diligence and honesty, he will himself be a well-to-do farmer, who with joy and delight opens his door and spreads his table for some hungry, depressed newcomer. During my travels here my heart has often been cheered when ! personally have witnessed the great helpfulness and kindness which the Norwegian farmers bestow upon the poverty-stricken immigrants.

Politics I hardly dare mention because that subject runs away with me. Undoubtedly you are acquainted with the two strongly opposing parties here, namely the Republican and the Democratic. Among the people here the Democrats are known as "Copperheads" or "Coppersnakes," names which they richly deserve. The expenses incurred in suppressing the rebellion which these black enemies of human liberty brought upon the Union must now be repaid, and with interest. It is of course quite natural that these people do not relish seeing their dear slave principles torn up by the roots, and, on top of that, be forced to contribute to the healing of the deep wounds which they have brought upon the land and the people. But here it does not help the aristocrats to be stiff-necked. The stubborn President Johnson himself must humbly accept commands. And during these days he has even been obliged to bite the sour apple and reinstate Minister Stanton in the position from which he recently discharged him. In order to prevent the slave-president from committing any more scoundrelly tricks against the free American people, Congress is determined to remain in session until he quits the White House and the nation thus gets rid of him.

The Republican party, or in other words the loyal American people, can in this case be compared to a fond but just father who is in possession of a large house in which his many children are gathered. When the oldest ones, who ought to have the most sense, nevertheless behave like rascals and refuse to listen to the father's exhortations, then the father (in this case the people) is forced to use the rod before it is too late, well knowing that he who spares the rod hates the son while he who loves him chastises him early. We are convinced over here that President Johnson will from time to time feel the congressional rod upon his miserable back if he persists in his shamelessness. In this fashion the American people chastise even their domineering and disobedient children unto righteousness. I have often wished from the bottom of my heart that very many of you, my dear countrymen, would take a trip across the ocean and thus be able to see with your own eyes how true civil and religious liberty really expresses itself in practical affairs. It is of little avail that people back home shout for liberty as long as civil and especially religious freedom exists only on paper and is void of any practical reality. As long as people in dear old Norway will not grant the common man his just share of the civil rights (the franchise and complete industrial liberty), as long as labor and the laborer shall be slighted and despised simply because he must perform the coarser and heavier work with his hands, as long as the people are not allowed directly to choose their own parliamentary representatives, as long as the people do not by legal means secure the natural rights to judge for themselves who have sinned against the laws which they have given themselves, {6} as long as these blessings are denied "the ordinary man" (as they choose to style the laborer and the artisan in the country districts in Norway), just so long these people will be unable to thrive in their own beloved fatherland, because the Norwegians are by nature a liberty-loving race. You will therefore have to rest satisfied with seeing the young vigorous men and women, and families by the thousands, cross the ocean in order to settle here where already 300,000 of their own stock live and partake of the benefits which the authorities back home were foolish enough to deny them.

In ecclesiastical affairs there are also many unnecessary and unchristian bonds back home which merely produce trouble and harm, yes, great harm both to pastor and parish. As examples let us mention compulsory confirmation, the obligation to use one's own minister, and on the whole that state of nonage in which the parishes find themselves as regards the right to choose their own ministers and sextons, etc., etc., not to mention the pinch in which a sincere minister will of necessity find himself when faced by the conflicting demands which church and state make upon him. He must indeed serve two masters, but then his services are of course accordingly. We are free of all such unnecessary and harmful bonds here. As a result--insofar as human beings are able to judge -- there seems to be more spiritual life here and greater interest in congregational affairs in the various parishes scattered over this broad land.

I cannot refrain from saying a few words about the friction between the various denominations over here which have assumed the Lutheran name. As you know, the many Scandinavians in this country have united to form parishes, which parishes again have clubbed together in three synods under certain accepted synodic constitutions. These are the Wisconsin Synod, {7} the Augustana Synod, and the Ellingian Synod, which latter has the smallest membership and is almost void of any ecclesiastical organization. In their confessions and teachings the Ellingians do not deviate from the confessions of the Lutheran church but abide strictly by the writings of Francke, Luther, and Pontoppidan. They also lead a respectable, Christian life. But their unreasonable fear of secular knowledge and especially of theological studies will naturally cause the denomination-because of a lack of educated men and leaders--to disintegrate rapidly and merge with the quite powerful Augustana Synod with which it already basically agrees. It cannot be assumed that such childish matters as those which revealed themselves at a recent conference between these two synods will long keep them apart. The strife at this conference seemed primarily to revolve about the ministerial gown and ruff, which were thorns in the eyes of the Ellingians. These things were remnants of papism, so they contended, wherefore Christ also had warned against the long gowns. Otherwise I have personally learned to know these people as very helpful, industrious, Christian folk, and consequently as good citizens who with great unity and vigor have fought against the "Copperheads"--the champions of slavery--and all other political and ecclesiastical highhandedness.

Within the Wisconsin Synod the regular customs and usages prevail, to the best of my knowledge, and there you will presumably find the most able educators. But among the professors and several ministers of this synod a desire to dictate over the parishes has unfortunately expressed itself--causing confusion and disorder--yea, an orthodox arrogance and a formalism which of necessity must bear evil fruit. This has especially revealed itself in Professor Larsen and the Wisconsin clergy's teaching about the unsinfulness of slavery, in Larsen's advocacy of a blind obedience to authority under all circumstances, and in his contention that any rebellion is manifest sin. Furthermore the ministers of the Wisconsin Synod reject and condemn every organization or affiliation of secular or moral import insofar as these do not exactly coincide with their own so-called orthodox formulas and theories. Under this sweeping condemnation come Bible societies, mission societies, other church denominations, temperance unions, insurance companies, interest charges, life insurance, etc. Similarly they condemn the American common school, which these lords designate as a "heathen school." {8} "Secular school" is altogether too honorable a name, they feel. In order that the readers of my letter may be convinced of the truth of the assertion made above, I permit myself to add some statements touching these unpleasant subjects, made by Professor Larsen and other like-minded pastors of this Synod during the heat of battle. Concerning slavery, human slavery here in America, Professor Larsen writes:

(1) Slavery has been a means in the hand of God to civilize and Christianize people, probably much more effective than the mission system, Bible societies, etc.

(2) The slave is a true possession of the slaveholder like any other honestly purchased property.

(3) A slave trader has the proprietary right to the person of his fellow creature, both before man and God, even if he has paid no more than a glass bead for the slave.

This beautiful gospel of Larsen's has been re-echoed by most of the pastors in the Wisconsin Synod. And as if the very essence of the Articles of Faith themselves were under attack, each and all of them, with the full force and fervor of their entire ability, have striven with mouth and pen to persuade and convince the people that this doctrine is established in the Old Testament as well as the New, and consequently that slavery itself is not a sin, but merely the abuse of slavery is a sin .... Here a person must involuntarily ask: How can a sin be abused? Is not the use itself a sin?

One of the main reasons for Reverend H. Preus's visit to Norway last summer {9} was undoubtedly to induce the theological faculty in Christiania to canonize and put its stamp of approval upon this beautiful doctrine. To the accomplishing of this journey most of the farmers in that minister's parish contributed their dollars, although quite likely they were unacquainted with its purpose. That enlightened and Christian people will from now on rid themselves of such teachings as well as of such teachers, a person must conclude when he reads and hears the sound, weighty, and forceful refutations brought forth by laymen in this strife. But as cheering as it is to come in touch with the sound, sober sense which the Lord always has reserved unto Himself among His people in the parishes--which sense the people also have demonstrated in this case--equally saddening it is to discover that only one single one of the many Lutheran pastors here has had enough courage and love of truth to raise his voice in behalf of "Truth" and "Liberty." {10} This one man of God is Pastor Clausen, who was in Norway at the same time as Preus, his opponent. The fact that nothing has been heard from the defenders of slavery since Preus returned from the fatherland seems to indicate that the faculty in Christiania also resisted this third attempt--and presumably the last--to pin the slavery badge upon their sleeve. To be sure, a little bull from Pastor Preus did make its appearance at the synodical meeting at Koshkonong last June. Of course it was hurled against such monstrous sinners as Clausen and all other people who would not cheerfully accept the doctrine that it is compatible with the words and spirit of Christ to buy, sell, and keep one's fellow men, one's neighbors, as slaves. But since this bull does not seem to have been made public- still less had any effect- we may presume that the president [of the Synod] was not any more fortunate in his assault upon the faculty this time than he was on the two former occasions. However, if any more bulls concerning this affair or any other matters should issue from the papal chair in Missouri, to which the Wisconsin Synod belongs, {11} we can quite surely assume that the Norwegian people will handle these bulls as the champion Luther handled the papal bull in the year 1520. Apparently the ministers themselves anticipate some such fate, for they are quietly withdrawing from the field of battle. Very likely this is done in order to make the defeat as inconspicuous as possible and to keep their faithful adherents from realizing that the "defense" has been abandoned in the same way as slavery itself was handed over to the judgment and condemnation of the people. At least our heroes are wiser than the southern slave owners who fought until they and their followers stood there in nothing but their bare shirts.

This is of course the dark side of the priesthood in the Wisconsin Synod. It must be added that not all the ministers of this Synod share these views. Some of them hail, love, and defend the people's rights (i.e. the Republican party). To this minority belong especially the younger ministers. It would also be unjust and ungrateful on the part of the people if they should overlook the good for which these men have striven. They have strengthened and educated the people in the Word of God and the truths of the Lutheran doctrine. They have also gathered the people into regular parishes under a real denomination based upon a decent congregational system in accordance with Christian custom and usage, thus saving the multitude from being swallowed up by that maelstrom of sects which everywhere threatens to engulf them. The seminary in Decorah and the numerous Norwegian Lutheran churches in this immense land are not only a proof of sincerity and ability on the part of the ministers to manage and conduct such matters, but they also prove that the Norwegian people have a realization of the importance and need of such things. It should be noted that no compulsion, no governmental command has raised the schools and the churches.

During my travels among the people of Wisconsin, I have not heard anything concerning that lack of ministers in America which has become such a common cry, and I believe that this cry originated not among the people but among the ministers. {12} The seminaries in Decorah and Missouri can undoubtedly satisfy the demand as far as numbers are concerned. But people everywhere complain greatly about the lack of able, religious teachers to help them give their children a thorough grasp of Christian doctrines so that they will have something firm to cling to when they leave their homes and go out among the many sects where the fundamentals of their faith are often attacked and put to the severest test. Unfortunately it is altogether true that the Norwegian people have been slow in getting their eyes opened to this fact, and knowledge of the rudiments of Christian beliefs is in a sad state among the rising generation here in America. It is also incomprehensible that no cry of alarm in this connection has been heard from the ministers who have spent many years in this country. And this becomes still more difficult to understand when a person learns from several quarters that the ministers have even opposed the resolutions of the congregations to secure able teachers of religion from the old country.

People have been fed with the hope of securing instructors from the school in Decorah. But this hope also proves to be rather ill-founded, since it has been discovered that the few seminarians who graduate from there usually become clerks or secure other positions. {13} And as for the few who may become teachers, the question will probably be raised as to how well they are suited to strengthen the demand for any more schooling; this primarily because of the spirit which dominates the institution where they are educated. We have enough slavery defenders and "Copperheads" without fetching a new spawn from Decorah to spread their poison among the liberty-loving, promising young generation of our people in America, that generation which bids fair to reap the rewards of their parents' hard struggle for liberty, independence, and happiness.

One thing can quite easily be foreseen, and that is that the surest way of locking the church doors and making ministers, teachers, and religion all superfluous will simply be to continue the present system of educating the rising generation in the tenets of Christianity. What fruits this system has borne, what love and respect for religion is created by allowing the children thoughtlessly to jabber a memorized lesson without understanding a word of the contents, and after that by having them study one, two, yes, even three years with the minister preparing for confirmation, where among other things there are frequent reprimands, and even occasional slaps on the ear--what sort of fruit this produces is unfortunately illustrated by numerous sad examples from the old educational methods in Norway. It is altogether too true that this system is much in vogue among the Norwegians over here, and it will be no less true that in the future the young generation in America will say "No, thanks" to such an educational system. Here they have too good an opportunity to see and hear and experience things which will give them new ideas about such matters. Presumably the enlightened Norwegian farmer here in America will also ask himself if it is not just as important to spend money in order to provide his children with a Christian education and useful knowledge as to build new churches and maintain the theological school. To ignore the former and carry on the latter, as has been done up to now, will scarcely work any longer. Would it not be sensible and beneficial in this instance to follow the example of the Americans: schools and education first, and then churches and ministers? This is to build from the foundation upward, while, as the case now is, we build our structure from the top downward. But what will the foundation of such a structure be?

To these short remarks concerning political and religious conditions in America I must add a bit of advice to the many people who, while I am writing these words, may already be equipping themselves for the long and difficult journey over the ocean. Even though have thus far spoken very favorably of America as a whole, will not advise those people to come over who live in somewhat favorable conditions in the old country, who are independent, own their house and home, and otherwise find themselves satisfied with civil and religious conditions over there. This refers especially to people who have reached a mature age or have grown old. The life of a newcomer in America--and all who come over must sooner or later endure this--makes full demands upon a young and powerful man. The more endurance and strength a laborer has, the sooner he will enjoy independence and prosperity. Older people always find it more difficult to acquaint themselves with the new conditions here and will long miss the familiar things of their homeland. Young people, on the other hand, easily familiarize themselves with all the newness and soon like the country very much even though they lived in good circumstances in Norway. And when ! think of the numerous poor, able-bodied, young, and healthy people of both sexes, the many poor cotters and lodgers, the many laborers and poor handicraftsmen who still have the power to work, then I do not hesitate a moment to advise them to come over if they have any desire so to do. Under ordinary circumstances these people will, within a few years, have won for themselves an independent and favorable position, and they and their contributions will be held in high esteem, worthy of the same full civil rights as those enjoyed by the most prominent citizen of the state.

Shall a person come to America by steamboat or sailboat? This question will, of course, frequently present itself to the emigrants. It is difficult to give a definite answer. Occasional free and single people, who have the means and opportunity, might find it advisable to travel by steamboat. But I have talked with many who regretted bitterly that they went with a steamer. To be jammed together with the raw and brutal Irish-men--who man almost every steamboat--without being able to understand a single word of the language and not have anyone to turn to in case of need, this is a very sad condition. Children and seasick people are not well cared for when they are given foreign and strangely prepared foods three times a day, as for example a piece of half-raw pork and meat with bread. In this respect it is far better aboard the sailboats, where people cook and prepare their own food according to their desires. And what a comfort it is for the poor emigrants to have their own dear countrymen (the captain and the sailors) to turn to when harassed by seasickness, storm, and misery. I have fully experienced this myself, and it can much more easily be felt than described. Our Norwegian captains have usually behaved very honorably toward the emigrants, and many of them deserve special thanks for this. Among those whom I know personally and whom I therefore can recommend with entire confidence to those of my countrymen who may wish to emigrate next spring are the brothers Rød of Tjømø. The ships of these gentlemen all leave from Christiania and the passengers are registered by the duly authorized emigration agents Johan Stolt & Swang, Prindsens Gade No. 1.

In spite of the fact that my letter may tire the reader I cannot deny myself the pleasure of relating a few incidents which happened during my trip to America in the spring of 1867 with the brig "Atalanta," Captain Ludvig Rød. Although we made a very quick trip, only five weeks to Quebec, some of the families had used kettle and skillet, spoon and fork so industriously that the bottoms of their food chests were already scraped clean several days before we reached Quebec. As an experienced man the captain had a good and large store of provisions aboard. Out of this the poor destitute people had to be supplied, and soon they resumed their old places in the kitchen, where everything went along merrily. Throughout the whole voyage our dear captain gave us all possible help and assistance, for which I again thank him. But a person must by no means believe that the difficulties of the trip are ended when one puts foot upon the Land of Promise on arrival in Quebec. No, as yet the first act of the drama has hardly been played. Just then it is important for the helpless emigrants to have a dependable man to cling to who knows the English language. Such a man, in every respect, we had in Captain Rød. Not only did Captain Rød help all his own emigrants, of whom a great number lacked money to pay expenses for the immensely long distance from Quebec to Chicago and beyond, but his help also reached out to numerous other poor emigrants from other Norwegian ships. The captain stayed by us throughout the long trip into the country and often had occasion to help the emigrants.

Finally we reached Chicago, an immense city, where the screech of steamboat and locomotive whistle, where horses, carriages, and the jostling multitudes must make even the strongest man dizzy. There seems to be no good reason why newcomers should tarry in Chicago; and I hold my newly-arrived countrymen fortunate who, the sooner the better, get out of there and into the country. It might be that handicraftsmen could do well in Chicago, but sickness and misery are likely to haunt the newcomers who settle there. The emigrants usually leave the same day or the day after their arrival. The poor fellows who have no money with which to buy tickets, and probably are in debt for the whole passage from Quebec, usually hang around the station until it becomes necessary to send them off with some charitable railroad company--still on into the West, whither the course has been laid ever since leaving the dear old fatherland.

To be stranded in Chicago without money, acquaintances, or relatives is undoubtedly tough, but many of our countrymen, who now sit in wealth and happiness in this country, have experienced exactly this. Under such circumstances they have assuredly regretted bitterly that they ever came to America and wished themselves back home again. Now sound advice is valuable--however, one thing above all is important: do not lose your courage! You will stumble on to some good Samaritan who will help you get into the country where you and your dependents can secure both work and bread. Here our good captain had a last opportunity to help his poor emigrants. Out of his own pocket he bought tickets for those whom he had been unable to provide for otherwise. It was therefore with sad hearts and with tears in their eyes that the emigrants said farewell to Captain Ludvig Rød. And it is exactly into the hands of such men that I am strongly moved to commend those of my people who intend to leave for America.


<1> Ingrid Gaustad Semmingsen, "Norwegian Emigration to America during the Nineteenth Century," in Norwegian-American Studies and Records, 11: 81. Footnotes throughout the article are the translator's.

<2> For accounts of the slavery controversy among the Norwegian Americans see Karen Larsen, Laur. Larsen, 126-130, 133-135, 173-180 (Northfield, 1936); Theodore C. Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America, 2: 418-453 (Northfield, 1940); Magnus Rohne, Norwegian American Lutheranism up to 1872, 2O2-222 (New York, 1926).

<3> This letter was found by Dr. Blegen in the Norwegian newspaper Verdensgang, May 13, 27, 1868. The following note accompanied it: "This letter, which we take the liberty of reprinting from Hamars stiftstidende, was written by a former schoolteacher from Hedemarken. We copy the letter, not because we fully agree with the opinions expressed, but as an evidence of how vigorously the feeling of liberty and independence comes to life among our emigrated country-men."

<4> " In 1860 a new school law was passed, based on recommendations submitted by Hartvig Nissen, by which a public school system was created in the kingdom. All herreds and parishes should be divided into school districts, and compulsory school attendance was established for all children between eight and fourteen years of age. In all districts where the homesteads were so situated that thirty pupils could attend daily, permanent schools should be erected, and in districts where this was not the ease, instruction should be given in their homes by itinerant teachers." Knut Gjerset, History of the Norwegian People, 2: 531 (New York, 19l5).

<5> Herman Anker and Olaus Arvesen founded the first Norwegian folk high school, modeled on those of Grundtvig in Denmark, near Hamar in 1864. It was called Sagatun.

<6> The jury system was introduced in Norway in 1887 and practically unrestricted manhood suffrage was established in 1898.

<7> Throughout the letter the Norwegian Synod is referred to as the Wisconsin Synod. The Norwegian Synod was organized in Wisconsin in 1855, and most of the early Synod leaders lived in that state. A good discussion of the various Norwegian-American church bodies will be found in Blegen, Norwegian Migration, 2: 131-174.

<8> The Synod leaders felt that the common school was irreligious, inefficient, and unsuited to Norwegian pioneer conditions. They wished to set up a system of parochial schools where Lutheranism would be stressed and where the Norwegian language could largely be used. In their attitude toward slavery and toward the common school the Synod leaders were strongly influenced by their close affiliations with the powerful German Missouri Synod. For accounts of the heated common school controversy among the Norwegian Americans see L. M. Larson, The Changing West, 116-146 (Northfield, 1937), and Blegen, Norwegian Migration, 2: 241-276.

<9> The Synod leaders referred the slavery question to the theological faculty of the University of Christiania, but as the Christiania theologians seemed to side with the opposition, the Synod theologians endeavored to convince them of their erring. Accounts of the exchange of opinion between the Synod and the Christiania theologians can be found in Blegen, Norwegian Migration, 2: 439-444, and Rohne, Norwegian American Lutheranism, 213--215.

<10> This is of course altogether too sweeping a condemnation of the Lutheran ministers. Practically all the ministers outside of the Norwegian Synod seem to have condemned slavery not only as an evil hut also as a sin. The Augustana Synod declared that slavery was a sin, and Elling Eielsen never wavered in his opinion that slavery was incompatible with Christianity.

<11> Between 1858 and 1876 the theological students of the Norwegian Synod received their advanced training at Concordia College in St. Louis, the main educational institution of the Missouri Synod.

<12> The Synod leaders appealed to young Norwegian ministers to come over and help them with their pioneer work, but the appeals had little success.

<13> According to the official report in 1873 of President Larsen of Luther College most of the students "who did not become ministers or teachers became farmers instead of choosing other life work." Karen Larsen, Laur. Larsen, 242.

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