German Immigration to America Timeline
Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation in Germany and like many of the Northern European countries the new ideas replaced the Catholic religion. Protestant reform groups emerged including the Lutherans and Calvinists. Other smaller sects such as the Mennonites and Moravians also developed and many of these congregations immigrated to America.
The first German American was Dr. Johannes Fleischer joined English colonists to establish the Jamestown settlement in the Virginia Colony
Other Germans including sawyers, glassmakers and mineral experts joined the English colonists.
Map-maker Johannes Lederer, aka John Lederer, was hired by Sir William Berkeley to explore the lands to the west of the Virginia colony. Johannes Lederer was the first to see the Allegheny Mountains.
The first wave of 50 German immigrants were a radical wing of the Protestant Reformation called the Mennonites (Anabaptists). Their congregation led by Francis Daniel Pastorius purchased 43,000 acres of land and founded Germantown (aka Germanopolis) in Pennsylvania.
The search for religious freedom and employment opportunities prompted other Germans to immigrate in the 1700's. Many poor Germans opted to sign contracts for 5- 7 years as indentured servants, called Redemptioners. 50 - 70% of Germans made their way to America as redemptioners settling in Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Between 1708 - 1760, war, poverty, hunger, and persecution drove 100,000 German immigrants ("Auswanderungs") to America.
French Catholics were threatening to invade the Palatine region of Germany. Over 13,000 "Poor Palantines" fled to England and 3000 were given permission to settle in the colonies. The "Poor Palantines" agreed to work off their passage in the English settlements along the Hudson River.
Over 250,000 people or 41% of the population of East Prussia died of starvation and disease during the famine of 1708-1711.
More than 15,000 Germans immigrated to the English farming colonies of Pennsylvania and the Carolinas.
French Roman Catholics tried to eradicate Protestant heresy in Upper Alsace and the Alsatians were forced to immigrate to escape religious persecution.
Lutheran Protestants were expelled from Salzburg, Austria and emigrated to America founding the town of Ebenezer in Georgia.
The Moravian religious Protestant sect were forced to flee their homes due to religious persecution. The Moravians established the towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth in Pennsylvania.
Many of the settlers from Germany fought against British tyranny in the American War of Independence (1775–1783).
The British hired 30,000 German soldiers, called Hessians, to fight against the American rebels. Many Hessian soldiers had been forced to serve in the military. Many were encouraged to desert and join the large German-American population. At the end of the Revolutionary War nearly 5000 Hessian soldiers made their home in the United States.
According to the U.S. census of 1790 it is estimated Germans migrants constituted nearly 9% of the white population in the United States
Johann Georg Rapp led a group of Separatists, called Rappists, to the United States. The Rappists had purchased 30,000 acres of land in Indiana where they founded a new settlement in Indiana.
The great European famines of the 1840's hit Germany which suffered from serious crop failures including the potato blight (1845-1849) leading to dire poverty. This resulted in a great wave of German migrants, the flow was halted by the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861 - 1865).
The Adelsverein, spearheaded by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels was an attempt to establish a new Germany in Texas and was the largest single migration of Germans to the United States. 6,000 immigrants from Germany settled in Texas.
Political refugees called the Forty-Eighters immigrated to the United States following the failure of the revolutionists during the European Revolutions of 1848. Many of the Forty-Eighters settled in Galveston, Texas. The Forty-Eighters are credited with helping to developed the beer and wine making industries in the United States.
The Panic of 1873 led to the 6 year period called the 'Long Depression' that led to riots, strikes and an increase in anti-immigrant sentiments.
The nation recovered which led to an explosion of immigrants to the United States. Industries were booming due the Industrialization of America. During the 1880's nearly 1.5 million Germans left their homeland to settle in the United States. In 1882 about 250,000, the greatest number ever, entered the country.
Between 1881 - 1890 5,246,613 immigrants gained entry to the United States and pressure mounted to pass restrictive immigration laws.
The 1891 Immigration Act provided for the regulation of the inspection and deportation of immigrants.
The Ellis Island immigration center (1892 - 1954) was opened in New York Harbor where immigrants from Europe, including Germany, were required to undertake to medical and legal inspections. The Ellis Island immigration center was a frightening ordeal but preference was shown to the "Old Immigrants" and few Germans were turned away.
The Panic of 1893 led to a four year economic depression, and unemployment levels reached 20% leading to a rise in prejudice and discrimination against immigrants.
World War I (1914 - 1918) broke out leading to strong anti-German feelings in the United States
Hunger and famine caused by the British blockade of Germany in WWI (1916–1917)
The 1921 Emergency Quota Act used of percentage system to restrict the number of immigrants based on the country of origin
The Immigration Act of 1924 (aka Johnson-Reed Act) restricted the number of immigrants even further
The Great Depression (1929 - 1939) engulfed the United States, unemployment rose and immigration plummeted
The Nazi party assumed power leading to a rise in German refugees fleeing to the United States.
The outbreak of World War II (1939 - 1945) and strong anti-German sentiments swept through the US.
The 1940 Alien Registration Act required the registration and fingerprinting of all ADULT aliens in the United States.
The number of German immigrants decrease from this time, most immigrants are people wishing to join their family or friends in the US.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (Hart-Celler Law) abolished the nation-of-origin restrictions on immigrants.
German Immigration to America Timeline
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