Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Historical background
 German culture 1600-1800
 German influence in America
 Comments and conclusions

Title: German culture and the influence in the American colonies 1600 - 1800
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Title: German culture and the influence in the American colonies 1600 - 1800
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Language: English
Creator: Harper, Doyle R.
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Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1978
Copyright Date: 1978
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
    Table of Contents
        Page ii
        Page 1
    Historical background
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
    German culture 1600-1800
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
    German influence in America
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
    Comments and conclusions
        Page 26
        Page 27
Full Text




Doyle R. Harper

Prepared for

Professor Phillip P. Wisely

as partial fulfillment for AE 675

Winter, 1978

March 13, 1978



1. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . .. . 1


The Protestant Reformation . . . . .. 4

The Thirty Years' War ... . . . . 7

German City and Rural Life . . . 8

American Colonization . . . . . . 15

3. GERMAN CULTURE. . .. . . . .... 18

Religion . . . . . . . . 18

Education . . 18

Literature . . . . . . . . . 19
Literature .. ............. 19

Art and Architecture . . . . . 20

Music .. . . . . 21



BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . 27

Chapter 1


America has been called "the great melting pot," and

rightly so for more than any other country on Earth, she has

accepted peoples of all classes and nationalities. Although

mass immigration occurred during the nineteenth century,

America had many nationalities within her boundaries before

the Revolution of 1776.

One group that had an enormous influence upon the Re-

volution and upon all American culture was the Germans, It

is the purpose of this paper to investigate the culture of

this central European nationality between 1600 and 1800,

and to identify its influences on colonial American and

American culture.

Chapter 2


A brief review of German history is surely more difficult

to begin than almost any other subject since, in this case,

there is not a clearly defined subject. Medieval Italy has

been called a mere geogra-hical expression, Germany has not

even been that.

Since the crowning of Charlemagne in 800 A.D. there has

been some degree of Ge:. kingdom. However, the kings

were prevented from ruliP effectively, because within Ger-

many they were plaqued by subordinate units strong enough to

challenge even feudal conceptions of monarchy. The kings

became involved in a complicated relationship with the church

to obtain help in counteracting the influence of the sub-

ordinate princely units. In an attempt to be linked

through Charlemagne with the Roman Empire of antiquity, the

German kinps assumed the title of "Roman Emperors" and were

customarily crowned by the popes--whence the name "Holy

Roman Empire of the German Nation".

In exchange for their recognition by the papcy and

suroort by the high officials of the church in Germany, the

kings supported the Vatican with military aid.

The Holy Roman Empire, despite the rest of its name,

was not exclusively German; it included the Burgundian

inheritance (the Carolingian "middle kingdom") and parts of


Italy and the Netherlands, which were not German in any ethnic

sense. The extensive and desperate nature of the territories

tended to involve Germany in many foriegn quarrels which

only ignited her internal problems.

The feudal princes were by no means eliminated as a

political power by the emperors' alliance with the papacy.

The princes of the church that were to help contain the

temporal princes, themselves became more independent from

both the Emneror and the church, thus further restricting the

emperors control over the territories. In an attempt to

rectify the situation, the popes lost more to the increasing-

ly powerful nrinces. A group of more powerful German princes

arbitarily constituted themselves into an electoral college

to elect the German ruler. But, for another century the

papacy claimed the right to veto imperial elections. In

1356, the Hapsburg emperor Charles IV escaped this situation

by means of his famous Golden Bull, in which he acknowledged

and regulated the electoral procedures.

At the same time that "national" feudalism was

established in England and royal power was consolidated in

France, Germany increased feudalization by introducing a

feudal hierarchy in which the head was elected. In Germany

as well as elsewhere, cities began to flourish. City life

and institutions, so different than feudal agrarian life,

were thus born into an environment which placed power and

prestige in the hands of the feudal princes. From the begin-

ning German cities were condemned to being isolated islands

in an agrarian and feudal sea.

German history between the thirteenth and nineteenth

centuries is largely the history of individual German

principalities, of their relationships with the Empire and

with foreign powers, and of intermittent and always frustrat-

ed attempts to achieve a more substantial and permanent unity.

Germany was a state dominated by Estates.

The Protestant Reformation

No place in Europe, other than in Germany, could the

setting have been better suited for religious reformation.

The German populace was willing to accept new ideas toward

reli-ion as a result of their familiarity of disunity and

their disgust with the Catholic Church and its high officials.

The condition of the Catholic Church, against which the

Reformation movement generally was a protest, needs to be

made clear. The beginning, a clerical disintegration, is

visible in the early fourteenth century. The priesthood

played fast and free with the rites of the Church. New

saints were created by the dozen. Clergy showed open dis-

belief in the doctrines they professed and contempt was

displayed for the ceremonies they performed. It was common

for priests to have a flourishing trade as money lenders,

landlords of ale houses, gambling dens, and even brothel-

keepers. In some convents promiscuous intercourse between

the sexes was openly practiced, the offspring being raised

as nuns or monks. In addition, the German people were feel-

ing the added burden of investitures and Papal dues and

taxes. Excessive exploitation by Pope Leo X for the purpose

of completing the cathedral of Saint Peter's at Home caused


special offences. These activities and burdens directly led.

to the dramatic incidents with which the Lutheran Reforma-

tion opened.

Martin Luther, an ex-monk and university lecturer, nail-

ed his theses onto the door of the Schloss-Kirche in Wittenburg

on October 31, 1517. This act has been recognized as the

official opening of the Reformation. It is not important

here to discuss the acts and effects of Luther and the

Beformation--history tells that story. It is interesting,

however, to mention that Luther had a more than modern,

liberal view of marriage. He felt that marriage was purely

for the purpose of sexual satisfaction. He also felt

nothing was wrong with polygamy, and he wrote that celibacy

was shameful.

Probably Luther's most important work was that of trans-

lating the Bible into a German language. This opened the use

of the Bible to every German that had a mastery of reading

his own language. All discussions of the day were on the

divine writings of the Bible. Merchant, prince, and peasant

now had access to the divine word for their own interpreta-

tion. The development of the printing press also helped

the spread of religious thought and activities. The introduction

of literature in the German language and the press making

new writings more readily available probably also contributed

to more unrest and reformation in Germany--a new national

feeling was felt among the peoples.

The peasant revolts of 1525 reveal the unrest that was

present during these times, During this year the peasants

of southern and western German provinces revolted against

the powerful nobles. The movement was supported by strong

religious, political, and economical demands of the peasants

being justified by Biblical quotations. The revolt spread

quickly and before it could be put down much destruction

prevailed. Before the year's end hundreds of castles and

monasteries were destroyed, almost as many villages and towns

were levelled to the ground, and thousands had been brutally

killed. Even today ruins of this period may be seen across


Arising out of the remains of the 1525 peasant revolt

came a new religious movement known as the Anabaptist

Movement. This group of believers began in Switzerland

and quickly spread it ideas into Germany, up the Rhine, and

into the Netherlands. The early groups soon developed into

a united radical and strict group much hated by both Catholics

and Lutheran Protestants. In 1534-1535 this opposition and

mistrust came to a head and the Anabaptists were destroyed

at Monster in the "reign of saints." Its members were kill-

ed and its leaders were tortured and executed as an example

to others.

Later a more moderate section formed under the

leadership of Menno Simon. This group, under the name of

Mennonite, settled down into a mere religious sect. Their

importance to Colonial America cannot be overlooked. However,

their history and direct influence is illustrated in another

student's research report, so it will not be discussed here.

The Thirty Years War

The disunity of the sixteenth century never really

improved. Forever, the disputes and wars of that century

were nothing in comparison to the devastation that occurred

in the first half of the seventeenth century under the name

of the Thirty Year's war,

Both religion and politics were involved. The Catholics

were on the offensive with their Counter Reformation, seek-

ing not only to contain but to reverse the Protestant tide.

This movement was most effective in the Hapsburg territories

where the resulting tension and hostility finally exploded

into a war with the Irotestant revolt against the

Hapsburgs in 1618. Soon the religious war spread throughout

Germany and then beyond its borders. As time went on the

political interests of the European powers overshadowed the

religious issue. Religious differences soon were forgotten

however, and Catholic France supported the Frotestant king

of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus. Germany became a passive

battlefield on which the European powers fought their contest

for political supremacy.

With the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which attempted to

restore the status quo of 1624, Germany still had a strong

religious division. However, religious differences soon

subsided to some extent and interest turned to more economical

and social matters. The confusion, dislocation, and sheer

misery accumulated by 1648 exceeded anything within the

knowledge of people at that time. The population of Germany

was reduced by one-third during the war. Internal migrations

produced severe shortages of manpower in many localities.

Entire villages were deserted and vanished from the face of

the earth. All land was heavily in debt.

The town dwellers, although protected by city walls,

were badly hit indirectly--trade, capital, industry, and

mining were all seriously dislocated; standards of production,

as well asstandards of living, fell steeply. Perhaps

most seriously hurt was urban morale. With all effort be-

ing given to bare survival, idealism and cultural values were

left to second place. A generation had grown up that had

never known peace. It tended to be wild, rough, unscrupulous,

and drunk. In cultural terms this development was disastrous

in the towns as they were the bearers of cultural tradition.

It was under these conditions that the first groups

of Germans left Germany and settled in America. The memory

of this awful war erd its destruction greatly encouraged

and influenced the migrations of the Germans to peaceful

America. Survival in the American wilderness could be no

harder than survival in war-torn Germany.

German City and Rural Life

Germany, during this period of study, was a complex

mixture of estates owned by county gentlemen and of cities

of various types. To understand the private lives of the

people one must understand their respective environment,

There were basically two types of cities. The first

and oldest was the free city. It was formed along and at

the "cross-roads" of early trade routes. These cities were

usually free from the control of a land holder or Junker

and attempted to have their own representative present at

sessions of the Reichstadt.

The second type of city was oftentimes smaller and

owed its existence to a noble landholder. Although the

allegiance of the citizens varied, the private life of the

people was very similar.

The character of a sixteenth century town may be

drawn from portions of a narrative:

As evening approaches, our traveller strolls

forth into the streets and narrow lanes of the town,

lined with overhanging gables that almost meet

overhead and shut out the light of the afternoon

sun, so that twilight seems already to have fallen.

Observing that the burghers, with their wives and

children, the work of the day being done, are all

wending toward the western gate, he goes along

with the stream till, passing underneath the

heavy portcullis and through the outer rampart,

he finds himself in the plain outside, across which

a rugged bridle-path leads to a large quadrangular

meadow, rough and more or less worn, where a

considerable crowd has already assembled. This is

the Allerwiese, or public pleasure-ground of the

town. Here there are not only high festivities on

Sunday and holidays, but every fine evening in

summer numbers of citizens gather together to

watch the apprentices exercising their strength in

athletic feats, and competing with one another in

various sports, such as running, wrestling,

...As the shadows deepen and darkness falls upon

the rlain, our visitor joins the groups which are

now fast leaving the meadow, and repasses the great

embrasure just as the rushli-hts begin to twinkle

in the windows and a swinging oil-lamp to cast a

dim light here and there in the streets...At last,

however, the visitor reaches his inn by the aid of

a friendly guildsman and his torch; and retiring

to his chamber, with its straw-covered floor,

rough oaken bedstead, hard mattress, and coverings

not much better than horse-cloths, he falls asleep

as the bell of the minster tolls out ten o'clock

over the now dark and silent city.(Bax, 1915, pp.


Houses of the time varied much in size--in Frankfort,

for instance, there were houses with four and houses with

sixteen or more rooms. They were, however, roughly of the

same type as early medieval houses with steep pitched roofs

perpendicular to the street. The poorer people did not

live in smaller houses but in sublet portions of larger

houses. "Even in a small town like Durlach (1716) only

about a quarter of the total number of houses had one story

and were meant for a single family. Most had two or three

stories with perhaps a shop or workshop and one small flat

(consisting of a kitchen, livingroom, and perhaps a bedroom)

on the ground floor, and two similar flats on each of the

other floors" (Buford, 1965, p. 209). A flat of the kind

described above was the general unit. If a family needed

more space, it had to take two flats. There were often six

to ten or more persons living in a similar three room flat.

The most common house had three stories. The ground

floor was built around a large hall, entered from the street

by a wide door, led to a courtyard behind with outbuildings

around it. The merchant and craftsmen had their shops on

this ground level with storage in the cellar or outbuildings.

The second story contained the reception rooms and several

bedrooms around an unper hall, where the great chests stood

with the family linen. The top story contained the remain-

ing bedrooms. There were, however, innumerable modifications

as every house was built for a different owner.

Stone houses were by no means common even to the rich.

The usual tyDe was the Fackwerk, or half-timbered, house

with a thatched or shingled roof.

The typical middle-class home indicated a general

desire for comfort. The decorations and furnishings ranged

from primitive to almost luxury. The panelled walls of

earlier times had been replaced by loose hangings hung on

hooks. These were usually of woven material or leather

and were liked because they didn't harbor rats as did the

panelled walls.

Furniture was solid and plain. In the ordinary home it

was, for the most part, made from pine and painted green or

nut-brown. There was little beyond cupboards or chests for

linen and clothes; a table, perhaps of oak; chairs and a box

bench; and a wooden bedstead. Better homes might have a

chest of drawers made from walnut.

Respecting the food of the early German, it is stated
that he ate his full in flesh of every kind--fish, bread,

fruit, and drinking wine often to excess. He had three

hearty meals a day with at least four courses each. Crabb

Robinson (as stated by Bruford, 1965) gives an Englishman's

impression of German cooking in 1800. He was particularly

struck with the excellence of German soups, but deplored the

absence of puddings. He.quotes as a typical meal at

his inn in Frankfort, he was given soup, boiled meat, a

dish of vegetables with an entremets, and lastly, roast beef

and dessert, the whole washed down with a pint of Rhine wine.

The everyday life and thought of the country dwellers

were like one might expect, given the fundamental conditions

of their life. There were great differences from family to

family and from region to region. Those in the north and

east of Germany were much worse off than those of the south

and north.

The following description by Prothero (Social Englsnd,

as stated by Bruford, 1965) of English rural life of this

period could be applied almost in every detail to German


The inhabitants had little need of communica-

tion with their immediate neighbors, still less with

the outside world. The fields and livestock provided

the necessary food and clothing. Whatever wood

might be required for buildings, fences, or fuel

was provided on the waste. Each village had its

mill, generally the property of the lord of the

manor. Almost every house had its own oven and brew-

ing kettle. Women spun wool into coarse cloth; men

tanned their own leather...The rough tools required

for cultivation of the soil and the crude household

utensils needed for the comfort of daily life were

made at home. In the long winter evenings farmers,

their sons, and their servants carved the wooden

spoons, platters, and the beechen bowls; fitted

and rivetted the bottoms into the horn mugs or closed,

in coarse fashion, the holes in the leather jugs...

Traveling carpenters, smiths, and tinkers visited

farmhouses and more remote villages at rare inter-

vals to perform those parts of the work which needed

this professional skill...Spinning wheels, distaffs,

and needles were never idle. Coarse, homemade

cloth and linen supplied all wants. The very names

spinster, webster, shepster, litster, brewster, and

baxtter show that women spun, wove, cut-out and

dyed cloth as well as brewed and baked in the


The peasants' clothes followed utilitarian demands

rather t'an fashion. Styles of dress did change over great

periods of time, but very slowly because the peasants used

their clothes until they were worn out.

The peasant was strongly attached to tradition, but

he was no more incapable than any other man of modifying

what he borrowed to serve his own needs and of having

good ideas of his own. Although the peasant was held to be

coarse, stupid, dishonest, and a drunk, the counrty-man

was, in his own way, a completely civilized person who was

superior to the townsman in many areas. Because he was so

seldom called upon to adapt himself to new situations, the

the average citizen was intensely conservative. There was

something almost sacred for him in the established order of

things, both in his trade and quite trivial matters of every-

day life. Life was governed by petty rules and convention

to an extent which today seems incredible.

The traveler often was amazed to see the hard work of

the German peasant. The Englishman, Howitt, minimized the

hardness of the peasants' lot however, because these peasants,

for the most part, owned the property which they cultivated,

whereas in England the peasant usually was a laborer for a


Howitt also noted (as stated by Bruford, 1965) that,

"the hoarding of linen and of stockings is a passion with

most German ladies. Spinning wheels abound, and are to be

seen in the houses of many people of great pretensions: in

still more of the burgher class, and in every house of the

common people. Ladies of rank and fortune are still plenti-

ful, who spend their mornings in the kitchen up to their

elbows in flour." Bread, preserves, soap, and candles were

made in the home.

A trait of all Germans was their love of the soil.

This was evident wherever there were Germans, in their

tender loving care of gardening and the flower pot--in large

cities the flower box--which always accompanied a German

house. The German peasant clung tenaciously to his soil.

For him soil was not capital, but a refuge amid the uncertain-

ties of life. The peasant class was therefore the most stable

class in Germany (Diesel, 1931).

American Colonization

At the time that other European powers were develop-

ing colonies in America, Germany was concerned with internal

problems and conflicts. Germany did however, give much

thought to colonization. In 1662, Germany offered to buy

New Amsterdam from the Dutch, but before a settlement could

be made the English captured the colony and gained control.

Germany's continental expansion eastward provided ample

new sources for rye, fish, and beer. So, in 1842, when an

offer was made by Mexico to sell its territory in the

American Southwest, the Prussian rulers turned down the

opportunity to create a vast German Colony in that area

(Hansen, 1924).

The lack of a German colony in America did not seem

to discouraPe the Germans from immigrating. In 1683, the

first group settled at Germantown, Pennsylvania under the

leadership of Francis Daniel Pastorious. This was a Pietist

group that obtained a plot of land from William Penn. The

Germans found Pennsylvania especially suited to their liking

because the Quakers offered them religious tolerances not

found elsewhere, and the land was well suited to their agrarian

background. The Germans felt at home among the Quakers

because both groups were pacifists and the Quaker colony

promised prosperity.

During the next twenty years many hundreds of other

sectarians came from the Rhineland: German Quakers, Men-

nonites, and many German Baptist Brethren sometimes called

Dunkers (1719-1727).


These groups settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and

later spread to the south and west.

Most of these people come with substantial money or

financial backing to set-up as independent farmers or to

establish their own particular trades. Pastorious (as stated

by Wright, 1957) wrote a year after his arrival, "My com-

pany consisted of many sorts of people, there was a doctor

of medicine with his wife and eight children, a French

captain, a low Dutch cakebaker, an apothecary, a glassblower,

a mason, a smith, a wheelwright, a cabinetmaker, a cooper, a

hatmaker, a cobbler, a tailor, a gardener, farmers, seamstresses,

etc. in all about eighty person besides the crew." Most all

of the groups were just as diverse as the first and except

for the German Lutherans, which came later, all were finan-

cially stable.

Not all Germans immigrated through Philadelphia. Many

Germans and German Swiss landed at Charleston, South Carolina

and settled in the back country of that colony. A few tried

to settle in Maine, but New England colonies proved unfavor-

able compared to other, more hospitable regions.

Another group of United Brethren, or Moravians, tried

to settle Georgia, but fled to Pennsylvania when a war with

the Spanish of Florida seemed eminent. This group of Germans

re-settled at Bethlaham and Nazareth, Pennsylvania and

became noted for their schools, their music, and their re-

lationships with the Indians.

German industry, thrift, and capacity for hard work

made the German settlements prosperous within one generation,

and their sense of family solidarity made for economic

stability. German communities could be identified by the

large barns, sleek cattle, and stout workhorses. Flour mills

and saw mills dotted their territory. In their great covered

wagons, they hauled flour, meat, fruit, and vegetables to

town markets considered too distant to be used by other

farmers. So productive were the German farms that it is said,

Pennsylvania alone could have fed the rest of the colonies

(Wright, 1957).

The Germans were well known for their crafts and work-

manship. Their influence in many fields is still present

today. However, this influence is illustrated in another

student's research report, so it will not be discussed here.

Chapter 3



The Germans are religious by nature. The best

illustration of this is the Reformation, which is undoubt-

ly Germany's best contribution to civilization. The effects

that the Reformation had on Germany have been discussed in

a previous chapter. With the Reformation all citizens be-

came aware of their true religious feelings. This started

a movement that acted like a sieve to sift everyone into

groups with similar beliefs. Once these groups organized

and became established, their individual beliefs caused dis-

agreements among the different neighboring groups. As a

result, those groups that took the brunt of these disputes

emmirrated to more peaceful and hospitable areas, America

was fortunate that many of these groups finally made their

way to her golden shores.


The free common school is a German institution. Martin

Luther gave popular education its first start in his church

schools, out of which grew the present plan and system of


In the larger cities of Germany there were both church

schools and some private schools. The private schools were

usually limited to the wealthy who could afford to have their

son taught Latin, mathematics and worldly knowledge. Some

cities also were seats for colleges or universities, The

Reformation brought with it new ideas and procedures to be

used in the universities. The time was right and many of

these ideas were adapted permanately.

Rural areas also had common schools. Here boys and

girls attended school oftentimes in a single room of a

peasant house. The schoolmaster was poorly paid and usually

had another job. His pay was so low that quite often he

slept in the room in which he taught. These rural schools

taught the three R's--reading, writing and 'rithmatic.

They were not as elaborate as the city schools but they did

provide a good basic education where the student could study

until they reached their early teens.


This period of concentrated study contains four great

periods of German literature. They are the Period of the

Thirty-Years War (1600-1748), the Classical Period (1748-1832),

the Romantic Feriod (1797-1830), and the Period of Realism


Of the first period only four men echeived distinction,

Three were hymn writiers--von Spee, Gerhardt, and Fleming.

The4ourth, Hans Christoffel Grimmelshausen, wrote a great

panorama of the life during the Thirty Years' War.

Goethe and Schiller were the headliners of the Classical

Period. They were mutal friends, although unlike in person-

alities, they complimented one another. Goethe is well

noted for his light and lively historical stories. His work

shows his admiration for Homer, Shakesneare, and Rousseau.


Schiller wrote many dramas, but is best known for his drama

"William Tell."

"Rcmanticism is a particular German movement born of the

German-dreamer" (Handschin, 1937). It plays more on feelings

than on reason. The romanticist did not follow his ideas

through to the logical conclusion. It was a reaction against

Rationalism and Classicism. Works from this period include:

Schlegel's "Lucinde," Tieck's "Puss and Boots," and Hoffmann's

"The Golden Teapot."

Realism was a result of natural sciences and industrializa-

tion coming to Germany causing the country to come out of her

dream world. Life in reactionary Germany had become very

hard, the people became pessimists; writers chose hard, bitter

plots. Titles like "Woe to Him that Lives", "Between Heaven and

Earth", and "How I Came by a Wife" reveal the mood of this period.

Art and Architecture

Germany between 1600 and 1800 was in a cultural

slump. It did, however, borrow from the rest of Europe in

its art and architecture. The styles that evolved during this

time were the Renaissance style from Italy (1500-1600); the

Baroque again from Italy (1600-1750); the Rococo, a continua-

tion of Baroque (1750-1790); and Classicism, draw from

Greek and Roman ideas (1790-1830). Of these styles, probably

only Rococo reached its peak in Germany. The Germans liked

the light and airy style. Many excellent examples still

remain in Germany today--Einsiedeln Abbey Church, Rohr

Abbey Church, and Vlerzehnheiligen Pilgrimage Church.


Music is the German art. The lurer, Europe's oldest

musical instrument, was a German invention. It is very

likely that European music originated with the Germans

(Handschin, 1937). Bach, Handel, vonGluck, Haydn, Mozart,

Beethoven, Maria vonWeber, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann,

Wagner, Offenbach, Bruckner, and Brahams were all Germans.

Germany's music and its influence on America is illustrated

in another student's research report, so it will not be

discussed here.

Chapter 4


Although we have seen that the Germans had no colony

of their own, they did settle within the Englich colonies.

At the outbreak of the Revolution, Pennsylvania alone had

a population of 100,000 Germans and there were many thousands

more in Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas. Even though

a small percentage of the total Population, the German

settlers left a lasting mark on America.

Today, two hundred years later, one may still see

much of this influence and its results. The Germans now

have spread from coast to coast, taking with them their

characteristics and culture. In most areas they have

mixed to become a integral part of the American citzenry,

however, there are still many small rockets of Germans that

stay closely tied to their old cultural ways.

From their original location in Pennsylvania the Germans

moved westward in search of fertile farm land. Across

Pnnsylvania they moved into Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois,

and later on into Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. Even today

many of these midwestern states have large local populations

of German defendants. Each area offers a glimpse of old

Germany, German ways, and German influence on American culture.

Perhar~ the easiest way to become aware of his influence

is to visit those areas that have been directly influenced by

the Germans. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is a wonderful

nlace to visit for a week where one may experience the

atmosphere and attitude of an "old German," American

community. The visitor may be surprised that this area has

changed very little in the last three centuries. The area

was settled by Yeronites, German Baptist Brethren and other

smaller religious sects. Today these people still mominate,

the area, many living on the same farms that their forefathers

first settled circa. 1700. As one travels the area they

become aware of the simrrlicity of the people. The homes

are very much like those of old Germany, except that stone

has been substituted for the fachwerk because of the over

abundance of limestone in the fields and upon the mountain

sides. The farmsteads are nest and well cared for. Large

barns with their artistic hex signs provide shelter for the-

many cattle and also provide storage for hay, other grain, and

farm machinery.

As one drives along the narrow winding road he may

notice that the more conservative groups drive horse drawn

wagons, are dressed in broad brimmed hats or bonnets and

wear the black and white "plain clothes" much like the dress

of medieval Eurone. Possibly the most amazing finding of the

traveler is that many of thepe large farms are still culti-

vated by horse drawn equipment. IMany of the farmhouses are

without electricity or gas Ps the religious beliefs frown upon

worldly goods and luxury.

In the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania it is interesting?

to visit the farmer's market where the farmers sell their

produce and handicrafts. Here one may find anything imaginable

in the line of farm products. Also there are numerous

objects of fine craftmanship--simple furniture, household

fixtures and utensils, leather crafts, and textiles abound.

One may also visit the horse barns where the weekly sale

is held. Here one may view the sturdy work horses and watch

the men care for them and ready them to be sold,

A view of Lancaster County, however, can hardly be

called tyrical when looking for German influence in America.

As the Germans travelled westward their religion become more

liberal and their groups mixed more with other nationalities.

Reli-ion, even today, remains the unifying factor in German

communities. All across the Vidwest there are groups of

Menonites and German Baptist Brethren (now known as "Church of

the Brethren" or simply "The Brethren"). In these communities

the family is still a strong institution where ties remain

strong. Community pride is very high and each person is

willing to heln his neighbor when the need arises. In their

communities the Germans are oftentimes the leading craftsmen.

They take a great rride in their work and are well known for

their excellence,

Fuch of Germany's influence in America has been lost or

set aside without much thought as to its orgin. Our education

system of the "free" or "common school", and its three level

structure was introduced by German settlers in Ohio. Even

our university system draws on many German concepts adapted

after the Reformation. German craftsmen developed the

Lancas'er rifle which greatly influenced the outcome of the


American Revolution and the Conestoga wagon made our vast

western territories accessible for settlement.

Most everyone has experienced the joy of partaking of

a hearty German real. Their breads and rich desserts have

become well known in many parts of the country. However,

it is seldom realized that the Germans were the first to

introduce the vast variety of vegetable dishes in the daily

meals. A tradition that almost all American homes today


German art, architecture and Music has been quite

inflIencial in the United States. Although most of the German

immigrants were of the peasant class and lacked much

knowled-e of the high art forms of the day, thay did bring

with them their folk art, architecture and music, German folk

architecture may be traced across America from Pensylvania

westward in the homes and churches of German settlers.

It is very evident that the great German musicians

have greatly influenced American music to the point that

America is now the leadirg country in musical development

and rrogress. There was, however, another level of musical

influence that came to American from Germany. That was the

folk music of the German peasantry--today known as the polka.

This popular style of music and dance is well known and liked

across the northern Midwest and most of the country.

Chapter 5


It seems almost impossible to completely identify

all of the German influences on American culture. Over the

years there has been such a mixing of cultures in America

that few strictly German influence remain, However, this

is not to say that the German influence no longer exists or

that that influence was not great. The cultural background

that early Germans brought with them when they immigrated

has truely effected and touched, in some way, every American.

The specific influences mentioned in this research are

only a small portion of the total impact of German colonization

in America, These examples were used because they allow the

reader to appreciate the more visable contribution of the

Germans. With this background.it is hoped that the reader

will bepin to be able to identify less pronounced cultural

influences not only of the Germans but of all nationalities.


Box, E.B. German Culture Fast and Present, New York:
McBride, Nast, and Comrany, 1915.

Bruford, W.H. Germany in the Eighteenth Century: The Social
Background of the Literary Revival. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1935.

Diesel, E.

Germany and the Germans. New York: Macmillian,

Glassie, H. Pattern in the Material Folk Culture of the
Eastern United States. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1968.

Gowans, A. Images of American Living. New York: Harper and
Row, 1976.

Handschin, C.H. Introduction to German Civilization.
New York: Prentice-Hall, Incorporated, 1937.

Hansen, T.L. "Germany Colonization Before 1860," Smith
College Studies in History, volume IX, July, 1924.

Henderson, E.F. A Short History of Germany, Volume I.
New York: The MacMillan Company, 1917.

Jordan, R.F.

Simon, W.H. Germany:
House, 1966.

A Concise History of Western Architecture.
Harcourt, Brace, and World Incorporated, 1969.

A Brief History. New York: Random

Wright, L.B. The Cultural Life of the American Colonies.
1607-1763. New York: Harper and Row, 1957.


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