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Søren Jaabæk, Americanizer in Norway: A Study In Cultural Interchange
    by Franklin D. Scott (Volume 17 Page 84)

Norway and the United States show extraordinary cultural parallels:
''Government of the people, by the people, and for the people'' was written by a Norwegian statesman eighteen years before Lincoln independently created the phrase.
Norway was one of the few countries of the world in the nineteenth century which, like the United States, practiced judicial review and governmental separation of powers.
The basic struggle with nature was similar, both in literature and in fact; in Knut Hamsun's Growth of the Soil of Norwegian Finnmark and in Ole Rølvaag's Giants in the Earth of South Dakota.
A rational but vigorous individualism characterizes The Man of Norway and The Man of America, and each feels peculiarly at home in the land of the other.

All this and more prompts one to ask: Is there some obscure affinity between the Norwegian and the American mind, or is the similarity of outlook and of political structure brought about by ascertainable cause?
The likeness is not one of size, between a nation of 4,000,000 and a nation of 150,000,000. Nor can it be in a total Norwegianization of America. Norwegians have indeed contributed much to American culture. Many hundreds of thousands of Norwegians have migrated to the United States, and there may be blended in the American people almost as much Norwegian blood as flows in Norway itself. But this [85] could hardly be enough to leaven the vast and diverse elements of our widespread population.
Why are the two countries so much alike in individual out look and social philosophy? Certain explanatory factors can be surmised. For instance, both Norway and the United States have drunk inspiring drafts from the wellsprings of English freedom, from Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. Both Norway and the United States have enjoyed a happy connection with the sources of European culture - many generations of contact without embroilment, tempered by a geographic aloofness that has long permitted their choosing what they wanted, leaving what they did not want. Both countries have displayed a certain psychology of detachment that may have had something to do with this similarity of ''national character'' that puzzles us.
We can point to other factors which more directly helped to build the cultural likeness between the two peoples: Both peoples have been nourished by a common heritage of ideas of justice and the dignity of the individual; both have cherished Christian ideals; both have read the same literature and their ears are attuned to the same music.
Yet this line of thought is treacherous indeed. Much of it applies with equal validity to the Germans, the Irish, the French. Furthermore, it implies that today's similarities also existed in earlier centuries. But Norway, at the opening of the nineteenth century, was far different from the Norway of today, and far different also from the America of either 1800 or 1951. The similarities of thought and culture are primarily a phenomenon of recent times.
If then we accept the unlikenesses of 1800 and the likenesses of the mid-twentieth century, it is clear that as we seek for the factors producing similarity we must seek them especially in developments of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries themselves.
In a broad way we all recognize and understand many of [86] the forces of cultural interchange. We know that a good story told to two traveling salesmen in New York may be in Holly wood in two hours and going the rounds of the Paris cafés in two days. A new gun or a new bomb cannot be kept for long from our most dangerous potential enemy, even by all the power of the Pentagon. A new architectural style or technique belongs to the world as soon as the building has been erected, though it be in Patagonia or in Greenland.
But what of the more intangible things - political ideologies, spiritual values, philosophies of life? For such things many carriers are needed, not just one. Marco Polo, for example, was a lone reporter of lands that were utterly strange. People listened to him with amusement, but disbelief. He made no real impact on the Europe of his day. New ideas cannot take root in soil that is completely cold: the warmth of mutual understanding is required for fertilization and growth.
In both Norway and the United States, in the nineteenth century, there was receptive soil, long prepared and enriched by common cultural foundations. Then came a steady flow of hundreds of thousands of settlers and hundreds of observers to carry ideas back and forth.
Exactly how culture-exchange processes work is usually difficult to see, still more difficult to prove. We know that Dickens wrote bitterly of America and we surmise that de Tocqueville's picture of democracy encouraged European political reformers. The books of travelers reported on popular customs and the glories of nature. Yet such things often only informed people's minds without fundamentally affecting their lives.
The mere existence of America and the American myth affected Europe profoundly, but for the most part indirectly and unconsciously. Only occasionally was the United States used for propaganda purposes, only rarely was the pattern of American society proclaimed as a design for the remodeling of the social structure of the Old World. Perhaps still less [87] often were succeeding developments actually in line with the doctrines preached.
It is therefore enlightening to find one of those unusual cases where deliberate use was made of America and where events indicated success. Søren Jaabæk used the United States as a lever to pry loose social reform in Norway, and much of what he urged was actually achieved. Hence an examination of the man, his milieu, his motives and his methods, becomes significant. In Søren Jaabæk and the Norway of the latter part of the nineteenth century we have an exceptionally clear example of the process of cultural interchange.

Søren Jaabæk (1814-1894) was a politician of the peasants, whose motto might have been ''Freedom - but for as cheap a price as possible.'' {1}
Like his elder colleague Ole Gabriel Ueland, he wanted reform, but he voted against reforms that cost money. He was so consistently negative that the name pronounced ''Yah-bæk'' became in nickname ''Nay-bæk'' - ''Nejbæk.'' In 1865, Jaabæk founded a local political organization called Bondevennene (The Farmers' Friends). It spread rapidly through the country, numbered 21,000 members by 1871, and became one of the first effective political parties in Norway. The organ of the group was Folketidende (The People's Times), which Jaabæk founded also in 1865, and which he edited and published for fifteen years. This biweekly (later weekly) newspaper attained the surprisingly large circulation of 20,000 and became both the textbook and the voice of the peasant, a forum for the exchange of ideas. The editor's ideas were already formulated, and he was advancing them in the Storting (Parliament) as well as in his paper, for he was a ''Stortingsman'' for forty-six years (1845-91).
Jaabæk lived in Mandal in southern Norway, but he was a national figure. He was a friend of the leading statesman [88] of the period, Johan Sverdrup. The aggressive and successful Venstre (Liberal) party came into being when Jaabæk and his Bondevennene joined forces with Sverdrup and his followers in 1884. Jaabæk was essentially a gadfly who provoked others to action; but he found it difficult to accept the compromises by which things get done.
The first issue of Folketidende announced Jaabæk's basic program: (1) lessening of government fees; (2) reduction of the national debt; (3) freedom for commerce and for labor; (4) freedom to help others in sickness and accident; and (5) greater freedom to help others in judicial processes. {2} In other words, what Jaabæk demanded was rigid economy by the government and a lightening of the tax burden; free trade; the removal of restrictions on the individual's choice of occupation; and release from the artificial regulations which gave special privileges to doctors and lawyers.
Both the Bondevennene organization and the announced political program were influenced strongly by the example of Denmark, where a similar movement had been started in 1846. The leader's basic philosophy was further developed by his study of British history and institutions. Yet neither Denmark nor Victorian England could serve as practical guide for a radical Norwegian farmer. Jaabæk hated monarchy-the concept itself and the expense of the institution. But he was no wild revolutionary. He was a prophet of freedom, a republican, and one who believed that ''that government is best which governs least.'' He came to see in the United States a country which put his ideals into practice. He never crossed the ocean, never saw his Utopia; he idealized from afar. Yet he was spiritually in tune with the America of his day, at least a generation out of step with his own country. This is what made him a significant, constructive figure.
He was interested in America not for its own sake, but [89] as a pattern for Norway and Norwegians. He thought always of what should be done in his own country to improve the lot of the common man. For this reason he proclaimed in almost every number of his paper that the United States had the best constitution, the best society, the best opportunity for the individual. Jaabæk wanted to remodel Norway and he stated frankly that he considered his writing about America to be a part of his politics.
One way in which Jaabæk might have attempted to force reform was by advocating emigration. This method of relief from difficulty he encouraged, yet deplored. He was interested in Norway, and Norway could not be helped by dispersing its people. He explained, however, that emigration was an inevitable result of unhealthy social conditions, and that it was increasing as people became better educated and were made conscious of the generally poor conditions at home, and the better possibilities in America. No one in Norway did more than Jaabæk to publicize these contrasts. He blasted laws and officials, and he printed quantities of diverse in formation on America. Out of one side of his mouth he denounced emigration, out of the other side he told his constituents that they had little hope of ''getting on top'' at home even with the utmost struggle and thrift, and that their only hope was to go across the sea. {3}
In an issue of 1867 Jaabæk said that it could no longer be denied that conditions in America were far more favorable for the clever and industrious worker. Even Christiania's ''Great Papers,'' which had fought the idea of emigration and attempted to check the ''America fever,'' now had to admit that conditions in the two countries could not be compared. {4} Jaabæk went on to say that the man who migrated was not [90] the professional man nor the very poor one; he was the hardy, able worker who in many cases had considerable savings. {5}
In 1871 Folketidende reported that in the previous year 387,000 immigrants had reached the United States, 26,000 of them from Norway and Sweden. In the seven-year period 1850-56 almost 60,000 had gone from Norway alone, thinly populated though it was. And the explanation followed the figures, ''This is nothing to wonder over, no matter how discouraging it is, because those few who are able to earn their bread, and who still own property, are forced to disregard their feelings, because their hard-earned property is often swallowed up by tax burdens and fast increasing charity do nations, so that they and their children soon must go on dole themselves.'' {6}
Unfair taxes and tolls caused constant complaints, but neither these nor overpopulation was the real cause of emigration. Throughout Norway more agricultural workers were needed. No, in Norway as in Germany the big cause of dissatisfaction, said Jaabæk, was lack of personal freedom. This was the outward push, while from across the Atlantic came the pull: ''The citizen's freedom in America is so great and the earth so remarkably fruitful, that the two together form a magnetic power which will draw many thoughtful Norwegians across the sea.'' Later a report came about a Sørdalen group who had gone to a city in the United States twenty times the size of Kristiansand. Work was always to be had, there was no class distinction, officials were elected every [91] third year and were not paid pensions. Pensions were given only to soldiers wounded in the war, and they worked the land if they could. Fruit orchards were wonderful, grapes and apples almost unbelievably large. {7}
Could Norwegian soldiers emigrate? Jaabæk said it would be cruel and ridiculous if they could not, in time of peace, but he had heard of war department agents searching ships for emigrating soldiers. He would not encourage violation of the law, even of some of the unjust laws of Norway. If he wanted to emigrate he would do it in a legal manner, by going to England like any traveler; who could then stop him from going on to America? {8}
It was but natural that Folketidende attracted a steadily increasing number of advertisements from companies interested in emigrants: Cunard, the National Line, the Northern Pacific Railroad. Allan Brothers and Company announced their service in a half-page advertisement, and objected to the misrepresentations of other lines. The Northern Pacific offered assistance to the settler in his choice of good and reasonably priced land. {9}
Occasionally the paper gave practical counsel to those who were going to America. In one early issue appeared the following paragraph: ''Emigrants are advised to travel by steamship to America. The journey to Kveback [Quebec] costs 42 specie-daler [a specie-daler was just slightly more than an American dollar]; to Nyyork [New York], 43 spd., to Chicago, 51 spd. Board is furnished on ship from Liverpool westward, and in Liverpool. The traveler must provide him self with a tin dish, a mug, knife, fork, spoon, and water can, also bed linen, which all cost in Liverpool 10 shillings, that is, 2½ spd. Passage from Liverpool to America is ten days.'' {10} [92]
The paper also attracted letters from settlers themselves, and printed a number of those ''America letters'' which spread the ''America fever'' among the crofters and farmers and workers of Norway. It passed on hints that girls as well as men might find something in the land of opportunity. Henrik Johnson was one who took Greeley's advice, ''Go west, young man.'' He went to Dakota. But he, with hundreds of others, had difficulty in finding a wife. Hence he sent in the advice, ''Go west, young woman.'' Jaabæk also reprinted the story of a band of five hundred robbers who went into the United States from Canada. When they could not win wives, even from the Indians, they set up a brewery and exchanged kegs of beer for squaws. {11}
Perhaps the paper's attitude toward emigration is best summed up in the last verse of a poem which Jaabæk said had been sent to him - a poetic message from a father to his departing son:

Journey therefore, and bread and freedom find,
Prepared for you by God's own saving hand,
It gladdens me while yet the tears run down
That thralldom's yoke will not press down on you. {12}

Jaabæk turned his own hand to a poetic treatment of the emigration theme; a free translation of the first stanza and a summary of the other three stanzas of his ''Emigration'' of 1866 may serve as a sample:

Out we go to foreign land
From home and field and mountain,
And seek out where best we can [93]
A land with better fortune.
Misfortune may meet us, or even death;
But then, where can man be free of them?
The son of fortune is not yet born
Whom death will not assail.

Avalanche, snowslide, or flood may annihilate us at home; the sea has its perils too, but if you reach that land in the West, there you may find it best. On the plains you will think of the mountains you left; always something is lacking; only heaven is perfect - pray you may get there. {13}

The tenor of the poem expressed well what appeared to be the deep inner attitude of the man, and perhaps of many others of the thousands who risked the perils of the sea and of the new land, who yearned for the old but valued the new still more.
Folketidende was obviously one of many influences that increased the flow of emigrants steadily and spectacularly during the 70's and 80's, and pointed the way to escape from hardship to prosperity, from discrimination to equality. The process helped in two ways to reduce the sharecropper population from 24 per cent to 3 per cent in less than a century: many of these cottagers or crofters (husmænd) left their stony plots and plowed new furrows in the sod of the western prairies; many who remained at home found their lot improved because their work was desperately needed by the landlords.
Migration, however, was but a last resort for the individual, and only an indirect force for social change. What were the more positive and direct means by which Jaabæk sought reform?
Jaabæk persistently attacked what he called slavery in Norway: heavy taxation of the poor, special privileges of officials, restrictions on suffrage, the unequal position of women, [94] meagerness of educational opportunity. He argued that the United States had found better solutions and that Norway should copy American ways.
Jaabæk himself coined a text for his point of view:

America is a home for the free man . . .
Kings, queens and emperors shiver
In fear of the Star-Spangled Banner.

In 1869 he published a letter from Minnesota describing a meeting where every man had as much to say as the next fellow. ''It is not like this in Norway, where a few men decide a question,'' said the writer. ''In America no one person can take all the power. When an official is elected, and proves inefficient, he will not be selected next term.'' In Norway the people were told theirs was the freest country on earth, ''but that is far from the truth.'' Then Jaabæk added an editorial note, ''We have heard that people in America are very aware of and interested in governmental matters; but there they have universal suffrage and direct elections; that's the reason.'' {14}
American methods of direct election were often praised. One America letter of 1868 was quoted: ''The election is over now. It takes place in a wonderful way over here. The people have the right to give the vote to whomever they want. We ourselves elect our officers [for the town] and we do not have to go through the government to get the election of the officers sanctioned. They stay for some few years, and then we can re-elect them if we want them in the jobs. This is better than in Norway.'' {15}
Another emigrant described the election law, ''Everybody who has passed his twenty-first year, is sane, has not broken the law or taken part in rebellion against the United States or the law, and has been here for one year and ten days, can vote.'' {16} [95]
Jaabæk loved to call attention to the fact that the recently freed Negroes of the United States had more privileges than many Norwegians. He noted that President Grant nominated Negroes to be justices of the peace and postmasters, and one to be envoy to Haiti. He reported the election of a Negro member to the Wisconsin senate, then added, ''Here in Norway we shrink from granting suffrage to so-called free workingmen.'' {17}
Universal suffrage was discussed repeatedly; it was called the outstanding right of the American people. By means of it officials were the servants of the people, not their masters, and the American people were taught from childhood to cherish their political rights. {18}
As early as 1868 Jaabæk advanced the revolutionary demand for universal manhood suffrage in Norway, limited only by payment of one dollar a year in taxes; in 1891 the demand found its place in the program of the Venstre (Liberal) party; in 1898 a universal suffrage law was passed by the Storting. {19}
Jaabæk had a practical approach to woman's rights in the matter of political and economic equality. He noted the granting of woman suffrage in Minnesota and he mentioned the steps taken in Michigan to give women some share in the choice of officeholders. He quoted approvingly a letter from a Norwegian American claiming that often families have lost everything they owned because the women had no control of family finances; but in America, said the writer, a man might acquire property without his wife's knowledge, but after acquiring it he could not dispose of it without her con sent and signature. Again Folketidende noted with interest that Illinois had just passed a law to permit women to ''be come what is called Notary Public.'' {20} [96]
Jaabæk did not become as much of a crusader for women's rights as Henrik Ibsen, but he watched the gathering strength of the movement, and quoted an occasional article from the United States, such as: ''Wake up, you American women! Don't sleep any more! Take to arms and demand the liberty to which you have full right! Claim suffrage! . . . Mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters, don't fail to appear at the capitol in Washington in December!'' {21} Progress was slow on both sides of the ocean, but Norway was one of the earliest countries in Europe to grant woman suffrage. This took place in 1913.
On officialdom Jaabæk had bitter things to say. In Wisconsin one did not need to know Greek and Latin to hold government office. In Washington the President picked cabinet members from the common people, and practically the same was true in England. But in Norway only the ''learned'' could be ministers, so the sarcastic question was posed, ''Are the Americans and the Englishmen then on a lower plane than we Norwegians? Should we be proud of this? Shall we laugh or cry?'' {22}
The pension system for Norwegian officials was one of Jaabæk's obsessions; he called the pensions ''mercy salaries,'' complained that ''Government officials who have made good salaries all their lives, and who have done nothing outstanding, are paid good pensions.'' But in America retiring officials were not paid off, pensions were given only ''to wounded soldiers and widows of the fallen. That is the difference between our and their methods.'' Jaabæk tried to promote a law that officials with private fortunes should receive no state pension. If Spain was a priest-ridden country, he cried, Norway was an official-ridden country. All the state officials of Wisconsin cost only 60,000 specie-daler, while in Norway the royal family alone cost the country 143,155 specie-daler. {23} [97]
Not only suffrage and savings concerned this vigorous reformer. The republican system itself was his ideal, and the United States his pattern.
Jaabæk's republicanism was not a ''must'' program, but the presentation of an ideal toward which Norway should strive; partial realization would be a good in itself. As a means of informing his clientele what this more perfect society was really like, Jaabæk serialized a long history of the United States, under the title ''The Great Republic'' (Den store republik), which began November 27, 1872. This popular account of American history was taken, like much of the other material on this country, from the Chicago Norwegian newspaper Skandinaven. An article on the origins of the re publican theory by Professor W. G. Sumner was quoted from the same paper. {24}
Jaabæk must have taken delight in quoting President U. S. Grant: ''It is my belief that the civilized world is approaching what may be called the 'republican stage.' This great republic and its people through its representatives have been chosen to be the guiding star of all other nations. Here in this country we have a smaller army and navy than any European nation. The injustice of denying the Negro full rights as a citizen will soon be made good by giving him a good education. . . . I believe that the Great Creator is pre paring the world for the time when it shall be one nation, speak one language, and there shall be no necessity for armies and navies.'' Jaabæk added, ''Only an American could talk like that!'' {25}
This speech by Grant paralleled precisely the political views of Jaabæk. The statement that America had a smaller army and navy than any European country strongly appealed to the Norwegian peasant politician, who time and again wrote in his newspaper about the evils of the military policy in his own country. [98]
Another article quoted President Andrew Johnson, ''who previously was a tailor, but now is more powerful than the mightiest kings and emperors, has made a speech where he said, 'Nobody should be ashamed of his job whether he is a tailor, a shoemaker or a blacksmith. Work should be elevated to a power.' That is the power I like. Let us elevate ourselves and we elevate our work!'' {26} Folketidende then commented, ''Listen, that is how he speaks, the highest official in America, or maybe in the world, kings and emperors included.''
Advocacy of the republican system naturally was accompanied by attacks on monarchy. This was radical indeed in a country which had for centuries been monarchical, and which had been united under the Swedish king only a half-century earlier. The outspokenness against monarchy could be so strong because it was in tune with the current nationalistic spirit, and because the Swedish officials, not least the king himself, were wisely tolerant.
An American editor, H. Niles, was quoted in Folketidende: ''It is believed here and there that I don't have the proper respect for the kings and nobility. All right, I'm an American, and as such I am an enemy of all such people. I regard royalty as a contemptible institution, especially the present royalty in Europe. This talk about a divine right to rule is nonsense and a betrayal of the human race. There are two things which every American should solemnly hate and religiously despise, hereditary governors and established priest hood, the twin agents of innumerable blasphemies and crime.'' {27}
Jaabæk's enthusiasm for the American government often concentrated on admiration for the President of the United States, whose democratic habit of life was compared with that of the monarchs of Europe. Probably of strong effect was a visit to Christiania by former President Grant. [99] Folketidende described Grant's arrival, telling that thousands of people had gathered at the docks to await the famous personage. People expected to see something out of the ordinary, and when they found that the two people who looked like a farmer couple were the former president and Mrs. Grant, they were much surprised. The report also editorialized: ''Upon the visit of the former president of the United States, under whose freedom, self-rule and equality so many sons and daughters of old Norway have found new homes, and have become respected and rich citizens, one automatically compares that government with our kingdom. Does it not seem strange that an entire people of 2 up to 30, 40 or 80 million citizens shall get the first and best prince that the king leaves after him, to be ruler and king?'' {28}
Anecdotes about the democratic and popular attitude of American officials were interesting reading matter as well as good propaganda in Folketidende. One of these told of the President and his children visiting Gettysburg. They had stopped in the middle of the road to look over the battlefield when a mail coach approached and the driver cried, ''Let me through!'' Told that it was the President of the United States he was addressing, he answered, ''I don't give a damn who it is, I'm carrying United States mail and if he does not move his coach, I'll smash it.'' But the President quietly remarked, ''He is taking good care of his duty, and therefore he shall be promoted.'' He was! ''In our country,'' the paper added, ''he would probably be 'promoted' to a jail." {29}
The principles and structure of the American legal system were cited as examples for Norway to follow. Norway's constitution of 1814 had been influenced somewhat by the constitution of the United States and those of the individual states, and Norwegian jurists and professors had read into [100] their constitution, in words and spirit paralleling John Mar shall, the right of judicial review. Jaabæk emphasized another facet - protection of the individual and his property. He told of the land laws of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Texas: ''In America it is literally true that the soil necessary for house and home shall remain an irrevocable property of the owner. In this country it is a mere phrase, an insult of the true, natural right, as it is practiced in America. . . . Too many high salaries for officials, compulsory military service, foreign loans and the destructive methods of collection by the Hypothekbank [mortgage bank], are sufficient to impoverish many people, but in my opinion, the worst thing is our plundering credit laws. . . . For fifty years lawyers and ministers have ruled in the Storting, and what have we gained? 'Equality and poverty!''
He continued: ''We must inject old, but for us new principles in our legislation. We must strive to copy the legal principles of 'the New World,' that is, America's sound laws, which are based on the idea that when a man or a woman has a home, it can never completely be taken away from him. Something must be left so he or she, with children, will not be thrown out on the road or put in the street. . . . The Americans' Homestead Act prohibits that people be thrown into the street.'' {30}
Again and again Jaabæk reminded his readers of such laws as those in Dakota, which made certain property free from taxation or lawsuits, and of judicial common sense, which withheld punishment from a man for the theft of a mere loaf of bread. He was interested in American attempts to reform the bankruptcy laws, and remarked that ''The greatest danger with the bankruptcy law is that it apparently protects the honest creditor against the dishonest debtor. In reality the law does not offer the least amount of protection. {31}
Succeeding decades saw considerable modification of [101] Norwegian law protecting individual ownership, controlling the mortgage banks, and giving positive government financial aid to small farmers.
Jaabæk's religious ideas ran parallel to his politics, but religion got him into more trouble. Freedom was his keynote for both religion and politics, and Jaabæk thought the church should be separated from the state. The United States was of course his great example for a free church, independent of the government. ''The American people have a deep respect for divine teaching. Many of their authors believe that the power of faith that rules the mind comes primarily from, or is caused by, the lack of state influence on what the people shall believe. Indeed this free development must be a boon. If the state had become mixed up in religion, this would undoubtedly have led to many dangers.'' {32}
In another article it was said that nothing was so hated among the present-day generation (in the United States) as any suggestion of interfering with political freedom by making the state subservient to the church. As an argument for a free church the paper mentioned the number of ministers. In America, with 46,000,000 people, there were 43,874 ministers, or 1,048 persons for every minister. This showed that where there was no state church, there were more ministers, for the freedom was greater. {33}
Søren Jaabæk was not an atheist and his fight was directed not against religion or the Christian faith, but against the church organization. He uttered many bitter remarks about the clergy, and was in turn legally accused by a Norwegian minister of profaning the clergy. Jaabæk won the case; how ever, it was appealed to the supreme court, and there Jaabæk lost. The defeat and the fine which he had to pay made Jaabæk more widely known and more popular in the radical circles in Christiania.
Jaabæk accused the ministers of being reactionary, [102] narrow-minded, and a brake on the cultural and social emancipation of the rural population in Norway. The New World was put up as a better example. Characteristic was a short item in Folketidende: ''In contrast to the empty prayers heard from the Old World's pulpits, the Swedish Aftonbladet prints the prayer uttered by Bishop Simpson at the opening of the World's Fair at Philadelphia. He thanks God for national progress and welfare, discoveries, inventions, public schools, science, the freedom to worship God, the independence of the church from the state.'' {34}
In summing up the benefits of religious freedom in the United States, one article said that the laws were expressed in various ways in the several states, but they all meant the same, thus:
No person within the state can be forced to attend any church, nor to contribute to the building of one or to the support of any minister.
All persons are protected equally by the law regardless of religious connections.
No person because of religious conviction shall suffer any harm to person or property. {35}
American education was profoundly interesting to the man who had himself been a schoolmaster, who regarded his newspaper as a project in adult education, and who was convinced that thorough education must pave the way for democracy. In Norway, he asserted, only the rich had a chance at education, while in America opportunity was open to all. He wrote about the common schools of the United States, the state-supported normal schools, and the universities, which were given public land, the sale of which brought funds for operation. This sounded both economical and democratic, and appealed to Jaabæk's money-saving sense. {36} In [103] education as in religious freedom Jaabæk's persistent agitation undoubtedly contributed to the sweeping reforms which came in Norway in the next decades.
So was it also in his apotheosis of honest labor and his condemnation of laziness, whether among the poor or the rich. In America everyone worked. Even the generals retired after the Civil War went back to earning their living: Burnside took a position with a railroad, Sigel became an editor, Schurz a correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, Ferrero a dancing master. Such things amazed class conscious, class-organized Europe, but were natural in a land where work was honorable and expected. {37}
Jaabæk opposed compulsory military training in Norway. He attacked it because of its expense, its futility, and its effect on young men. He said that just as no one forced a man to become an executioner, so he should not force another to be a soldier. He told of a certain landowner who had several sons. The oldest was of strong physique and was taken for military service. The hard riding and strenuous life ruined his health, and when the time came for the second son to go, both father and son thought, ''American freedom must, after all, be better than Norwegian restriction and possible punishment'' - and the son went to free America. Norway with her tiny population had an army of 20,000; the United States with 40,000,000 had also an army of just 20,000. ''Where lies the folly?'' Obviously Norway was in a deplorable condition [104] when its strongest young men were trying to escape; and those who went to America said repeatedly that compulsory military service was what impelled them to leave home. They were required in Norway to offer their lives for their country, but they were not given the rights of citizens. {38}
Taxes were an abomination to Jaabæk, and on this score America made a strong appeal. The penny-pinching politician realized that the easy taxation in the United States was due largely to the youth of the country and its rich resources, but it made good argument anyway, both for emigration and for financial caution at home. Folketidende printed, for example, a letter from a Wisconsin settler: The people in Norway should be freed from their excessive taxation. They had a too blind faith in the professional politicians. Didn't the Norwegian farmers see that taxes were increasing every year? Could they think the government would ever relieve them of their burden? Did they not see the thousands who left the country for America and escaped the poverty and shameful limitations on the vote, the political and religious suppression? Few who reached America regretted their move; millions of the oppressed of Europe were growing up in America to become the world's happiest and freest nation. ''Dear countrymen, America is just the land that can be used as a pattern if one wants a government that can make the Norwegian people prosper on their own soil.'' Those who have good sense will follow the lead of the man ''Nejbæk,'' and improvement will come automatically. {39}
But not everything was pure gold in America, even to Jaabæk. The columns of Folketidende were full of a great variety of items about neutral and negative matters as well. In Cincinnati in one year there were 365 divorces - one for each day. The University of Kansas had a twenty-two-year-old woman professor of Greek and Latin. New Orleans and [105] Memphis suffered from yellow fever. Four million pigs were slaughtered in Chicago in three months - at five feet of length for each they would extend from New York to San Francisco with several hundred miles of swine left over. The women held a big meeting and petitioned for the right to vote. Lincoln's assassination was described in great detail, and much was made of both Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin. A sailor reported that when a Norwegian had been in America two years he had learned to be a scoundrel, but Jaabæk noted that he was referring only to life in the great cities. {40}
The crusader was sure enough of himself and his cause that he could poke a bit of fun at his ideal, too. He quoted from an American: ''America has more and longer rivers than any country in the world. They are muddier, deeper, flow faster, rise faster, and cause more destruction. She has more lakes, and they are deeper, larger, and clearer than those of any other country. The locomotives are larger, run faster, and kill more people than in any other country. The steam ships are loaded heavier, are longer and wider, blow up their boilers oftener, and send their passengers higher in the air; the captains curse better than those of other nationalties. The American men are taller and heavier and can fight better and longer. The ladies are richer, more beautiful, better dressed, use more money, break more hearts, wear longer rings and shorter skirts. They can dance longer and better than the ladies of any other land. The children yell louder, grow faster, and become twenty years old more quickly in a few months than the other children of any other land on earth. It is a marvelous land!'' {41}
Jaabæk wrote a number of political tracts in addition to his articles in Folketidende, and he also wrote poetry. In the [106] preface to a book of poems published in 1883, Sang og hvile (Song and Rest), he expressed strongly his republican sympathies, ''It is my firm belief that the future belongs only to the republicans, and I therefore open with a song to the future in the hope that the cultural development of the twentieth century will bring to republicans, by legal and proper means, a general victory throughout the civilized world.'' {42}
In almost every department of political thought and structure the United States seemed to fit Jaabæk's ideal. Originally he fought for the introduction of the jury system in Norway, and voted for sending investigators to the United States to study its working (1846). Later Norway did adopt a modified jury system, but Jaabæk's economy-mindedness overbalanced his political theory on this point, and for a long time he held out against the jury proposals. {43}
Jaabæk was a democrat with a thirst for freedom. Knowledge would free the mind; hard work would dignify the individual and win him economic independence. Every man and every woman was equal before God and must be made equal before the law and in society. But the laws would have to be changed, the officials would have to be curbed, taxes would have to be reduced. America proved that such things could be done; the United States must be taken as a model for Nor way to follow in planned social regeneration. It was at home that the fight had to be made, but if individuals preferred to seek their own salvation across the Atlantic, let them go; their success, their letters, and their visits home would help eventually to remake Norway itself.
This was how Søren Jaabæk viewed the scene in the 1860's and 1870's. Through his party, his pamphlets, his paper, he campaigned vigorously for his principles. And Norway [107] gradually became one of the best educated and most intelligently run democracies of our world. This achievement was produced by many factors, including the basic intelligence and sound cultural pattern of the Norwegian people and the leadership of able statesmen such as Johan Sverdrup and Christian Michelsen. America was but one example, Jaabæk was but one prophet, but the combination of these two acted as a powerful influence on events. Using America as his ideal, Jaabæk became a potent voice crying out against injustice, oppression, and ignorance. While Norway helped to create America, America helped to recreate Norway.

Notes

<1> Wilhelm Keilhau, Det norske folks liv og historie, 10:45 (Oslo, 1985).
<2> Foldetidende (Mandal, Norway), July 5, 1865.
<3> See, for example, Folketidende, November 28, 1866.
<4> By ''Great Papers'' Jaabæk doubtless meant Morgenbladet, founded in 1819; Aftenposten, founded in 1860; and Christiania intelligentssedler, which had originated as Norske intelligenz-seddeler in 1763. Dagbladet began its career in 1868. Other papers prominent at the time were Morgenposten (1860), Aftenbladet (1848), and Den norske rigstidende (1815).
<5> Folketidende, February 20, 1867. Four years later Jaabæk quoted an article in one of the ''Great Papers,'' Morgenposten, which spoke in derogatory fashion of the United States. It said that the land of freedom had become the land of lawlessness, and that conditions for workers were deplorable. Jaabæk reacted vehemently: the United States, he said, was not, like Norway, a land of freedom in name only, it was one also in reality; America was large and rich enough to feed millions; freedom and equality were there for the lowly as well as for the highest in the land. ''There is the best form of government founded on the eternal truth that all men are created equal, and entitled to equal rights''; of course a man had to work, but in America all work was honorable. Folketidende, March 20, 1871.
<6> Folketidende, January 18, 1871.
<7> Folketidende, August 8, 1866, December 4, 1872.
<8> Folketidende, March 22, 1871.
<9> See for example Folketidende, May 1, 1872, December 10, 1873.
<10> Folketidende, February 28, 1866.
<11> Folketidende, September 1, October 27, 1875.
<12> Folketidende, February 23, 1870. Ingrid Gaustad Semmingsen has written widely on the Norwegian migration overseas, and has described the social ferment in Norway in the nineteenth century. As she points out, the existence of America and resultant social changes everywhere created new opportunities for the young man in Norway - he no longer had to hire out or become a husmand; he could take to the sea, go to town, or if he had enough money, go to America; ''Grunn laget for utvandringen,'' in Nordmanns forbundet, 29:207-209 (July, 1936). For a thorough treatment of this subject, see Theodore C. Blegen, Norwegian Migration to America 1825-1860 (Northfield, 1931) and Norwegian Migration to America: The American Transition (Northfield, 1940); and Ingrid G. Semmingsen, Veien mot vest; utvandringen fra Norge til Amerika 1825-1865 (Oslo, 1941).
<13> The poem was published originally in Folketidende, November 28, 1866, re printed in Jaabæk's Sang og hvile (Mandal, Norway, 1883), and is given in both Norwegian and English in Theodore C. Blegen and Martin B. Ruud, ed., Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads, 278-281 (Minneapolis, 1936).
<14> Folketidende, July 29, 1868, July 14, 1869.
<15> Folketidende, February 3, 1869.
<16> Folketidende, February 16, 1870.
<17> Folketidende, May 19, 1869, April 2, 1873.
<18> Folketidende, November 23, 1870.
<19> Keilhau, Det norske folks liv, 10:40; Olaf Gjerløw, Norges politiske historie. 2:97, 212 (Oslo, 1934).
<20> Folketidende, May 25, 1870, April 23, 1873, July 14, October 13, 1875.
<21> Folketidende, April 7, 1869; see also the issue of January 5, 1876.
<22> Folketidende, September 2, 1868, April 14, 1869.
<23> Folketidende, August 26, 1868, July 14, 1869, January 11, 1871.
<24> Folketidende, September 15, 1875.
<25> Folketidende, April 2, 1873.
<26> Folketidende, September 30, 1868.
<27> August 20, 1873.
<28> Folketidende, August 7, 1878. Jaabæk was simply saying, ''Isn't hereditary monarchy foolish, whether for the two million of Norway or the thirty, forty, or eighty million of any country?''
<29> Folkelidende, October 30, 1878.
<30> Folkelidende, August 26, 1868.
<31> Folkelidende, November 3, 1869, September 11,1878, July 30, 1879.
<32> Folkelidende, November 19, 1873.
<33> Folkelidende, June 30, 1875, June 18, 1879.
<34> June 19, 1876.
<35> Folketidende, August 16, 1876.
<36> Folketidende, January 15, 1873, April 28, 1875; see also the issue of July 27, 1870 for comparison of the uneducated with a blind man.
<37> Folketidende, February 14, 1866. Many Civil War generals came from civilian occupations, and it was not at all unnatural for them to return to them. Of the examples mentioned perhaps only Burnside was not quite what Jaabæk implied. Ambrose Everett Burnside was an active and important general through most of the war; he became governor of Rhode Island (1866-68) and then United States Senator from 1875 until his death in 1881; his railroad work was not on the section or in the cab, but as an executive. Carl Schurz served as brigadier general and major general of volunteers from 1862 to 1865, then became a newspaper correspondent. Franz Sigel became brigadier general in 1861; after the war he edited the Baltimore Wecker and later two New York periodicals, and held various public posts. Edward Ferrero, who was born in Granada, Spain, became brigadier general in 1863, and after the war managed several large ballrooms, including one in Tammany Hall.
<38> Folketidende, February 6, 1867, July 2, 1873, July 31, 1878.
<39> Folketidende, March 31, 1869.
<40> August 5, 1868, October 4, 1871, November 20, 1872, March 4, October 28, 1874, June 12, December 11, 1878.
<41> Folketidende, July 8, 1874.
<42> Quoted in a footnote in Blegen, American Transition, 463. Jaabæk's activities in party and Storting affairs are mentioned repeatedly in Jens Arup Seip, Et regime foran undergangen (Oslo, 1945). See especially pages 140-143 and 184-188. Halvdan Koht deals at many points with Jaabæk in his Johan Sverdrup (Christiania, 1918, 1922, 1925).
<43> See Arne Bergsgård, Ole Gabriel Ueland og bondepolitikken, 2:44 (Oslo, 1932).

 

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