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Norwegian MigrationTo America{1}
    By Einar Haugen (Volume I8: Page 1)

In Oleana, thatÕs the place IÕd like to be,
And not in Norway drag the chains of slavery! 
                  OleÑOle-ÑOle oh! Oleana!
                  OleÑOleÑOle oh! Oleana!
                  			 Ditmar Mejdell (1853), in a satirical ballad.

Throughout the better part of a century many thousands of Norwegians were deeply stirred by the call of American opportunity. Their response to the alluring future that beckoned from this side of the sea was thought by more sober observers to bear the marks of madness. It was commonly said that they suffered from "America fever," a highly contagious disease which spread with epidemic speed from man to man, from valley to valley, until it had enveloped all Norway and deeply changed the destinies of her people. In 1843 Henrik Wergeland, one of her great poets, wrote that "it is the most virulent disease of our times, a national bleeding to death, a true madness, since those whom it possesses will listen neither to their own nor othersÕ reason; they scorn all examples, they toss aside the present in favor of a still more threatening, uncertain, darkling future, and [2] let themselves be driven into a maelstrom of unknown sufferings." The pioneers of Norwegian emigration permitted themselves to differ with this and many other judgments in similar vein. Little by little they beat a path through the prejudices and difficulties that surrounded emigration, with the result that Norway became one of the countries which contributed most liberally of its brain and brawn to the building of AmericaÕs new Northwest.

I. INCITEMENTS TO EMIGRATION

Many penetrating studies have been made of the causes and backgrounds of this movement. But the entire complex of causes which historians have analyzed was compressed by the emigrants themselves into a single idea: the hope of social betterment. This hope could mean different things to different men: into it were woven strands of religious dissent, escape from personal problems, adventurousness, a dream of political freedom. But economic advantage counted for most. To the first Norwegian emigrants this was synonymous with the ownership of land, the only basis of social prestige which they thoroughly understood. As the tide of emigration swelled and the character of Norwegian society changed, America also came to mean gold. But in either case the decision to emigrate was not exclusively based on a cold calculation of economic advantage. It was a break with tradition, a gamble with the future, a cutting of social ties which one might almost term a revolutionary act. Those who were well adjusted and only stood to lose in social prestige naturally did not emigrate. Those, on the other hand, who were too ignorant or sluggish to have their imaginations fired by the hope of America also stayed at home. Economic considerations alone might easily have driven 95 per cent of the Norwegian people to emigrate; instead we find that NorwayÕs population actually tripled during the period of emigration. [3]

No major social catastrophe, such as famine, persecution, revolution, or war was responsible for touching off the movement of emigration. It began, as one early writer put it, "prosaically and unconsidered, like the great changes in the earthÕs surface." Shortly after the Napoleonic Wars, which brought Norwegian independence in their train, intimations came to Norway that other peoples were finding an increasingly attractive haven in America. The Irish had begun swarming to America from 1816 on, driven by famine, over population, and misrule. Close on their heels came the Germans, eager to escape from the Metternich reaction and to pioneer on the rich farm lands of the Mississippi Valley. It is known that German writings on America helped to spread the dream of emigration in Norway. But the immediate impulse came to Norway from England, which had been sending a steady stream of new settlers to America. The first migration from Norway began in Stavanger, in that corner of the country which faces England; its leader was a man who had been converted to Quakerism in England.

These stimuli found their response in Norway earlier than in the rest of Scandinavia. In part this was due to NorwayÕs position as an Atlantic nation, which eased the problem of transportation. In the days of sailing vessels most emigrants were carried in Norwegian ships. But it was also a direct consequence of growing dissatisfactions which we shall have to consider more closely.

The Norway of the first emigrants was a far less democratic and progressive nation than it has since become. It was, in fact, a rural, secluded, preindustrial country. In 1825 nine out of ten Norwegians lived in the countryside, making their livelihood from dairying, farming, lumbering, or fishing. Most of the farms were self-contained economic units, which since time immemorial had had to do the entire job of feeding, clothing, and housing their inhabitants. The whims of nature were more significant to these people than [4] international market conditions. The rural folk were a proud, freeholding peasantry, literate and Lutheran, but without much share in the government of their country. Their horizon was restricted, but they were gradually awakening to their potential political strength.

The administration of the country was almost wholly in the hands of the official class Ñ a well-educated, conscientious caste of public servants. They prided themselves on their democracy, for they were not a titled nobility, and they had given their country the most liberal constitution in Europe. But there was nevertheless a canyon of social difference between them and the rural population they administered. Their culture was urban and European, and their speech avoided the local "vulgarisms" of the common people. The contrast was sharply pictured by an emigrant who had chafed under the restrictions imposed on his own advancement: "I grew up in a place where I had the opportunity of seeing the young sons of the pastor, the judge, the captain, and the storekeeper being educated by a private tutor, and it was undoubtedly the sight of these well-dressed, carefree, lighthearted lads, who had nothing to do but play and gather knowledge, which first caused the painful question to force its way into my heart like sharp steel: ÔWhat have I done, and what have they done, that there should be so great a difference between us?Õ And when they sneered at my torn clothes and laughed and pointed at me and cried, ÔMy, look at him!Õ as I plodded along, bent under some heavy burden with my nose towards the ground, then I wept and swore and boiled."

Around 1830 a rural opposition reared its head in the national parliament, challenging the established privileges of the officials. The countryfolk also got a religious hero in Hans Nilsen Hauge, a lay preacher whose religious dissent had brought him persecution and a long prison confinement. Equalitarian ideas were seeping into Norway and [5] weakening the position of the upper class; the humility which the peasant was supposed to show was no longer being offered with the same willingness as before. In 1837 the country-folk were granted local self-government, the first great for ward step in their political education.

A crucial stimulus to change was the startling jump in population after 1815. Vaccination, improved sanitary conditions, the potato, and other factors reduced infant mortality to such an extent that between 1815 and 1865 the Norwegian population doubled in numbers. But the country was ill prepared to support over 835,000 new inhabitants. The number of farm owners increased only 27 per cent during this period, and the country lacked capital for large-scale industrial development. Meanwhile the number of landless agricultural laborers tripled. Statistics show that in 1845 there was an abnormally high proportion of young people of working age, 20Ñ30. A vast reservoir of manpower was being created, potentially dissatisfied persons who were attached to Norway by no ties of land ownership, security of employment, or social influence. To them the liberal constitution of 1814 had somehow failed to bring the social and economic elysium which its creators had envisaged.

At the middle of the century the tide began to turn. A series of general European stimuli helped to set Norwegian society in motion. With the revolutions of 1848, the repeal of the British Navigation Acts in 1849, and the Crimean War in 1854 began a phenomenal expansion of shipping and a rapid industrialization of Norwegian society. Within the decade after 1845 Norway got such modern institutions as railroads, telegraph lines, general mail service, public agricultural schools, textile mills, commercial banks, and insurance companies. She also got her first labor movement and the stirrings of a liberal political party. The farmers ceased producing everything for themselves and began sending their products to market. They were no longer little kings in [6] their domain, but were becoming slaves of the business cycle. Education and the new mobility led to increased demands on life, to difficulties of financial adjustment, and a regrouping of population. Money grew in importance; debts and taxes began accumulating; prosperity was followed by depression. The land was full of new problems, both for the landless laborer who was no longer wanted, and for the small farmer whose soil lacked the productivity which the new age demanded.

The note of restlessness is clearly to be heard in the writings of Norwegian authors from the 50Õs and 60Õs. It finds vigorous expression in the novels of Bjørnson, which were widely read by Norwegian countrypeople both at home and after their emigration. The hero of his story Arne (1859) expressed his dissatisfaction in a poem which became the theme song of many an emigrant:

Out would I, outÑoh, so far, far, far
Over the highest mountains.
Wherever I turn, my path they bar.

Bjørnson wanted his readers to stay in Norway, and he taught his hero to find himself a niche in the homeland. But another poet was less complacent: Aasmund Vinje was him self a cotterÕs son and knew the grinding effect of poverty. He not only thought of emigrating himself, but seriously recommended it to others. "As long as people are ignorant," he wrote, "they sit at home and grow on the same spot like grass and trees. But when they get to learn something and think about things, they pull up stakes and look for a better home. They donÕt always find it, but they have to try. That is why emigration is a sign of enlightenment and intelligence. . . . As I began to learn, I felt a mighty urge to leave my valley, go to America or anywhere, just so I didnÕt have to stay at home where I found nothing to do. If I had not learned anything, I might have hired out to the parson, or gotten me a wife and a measly patch of a farm. I donÕt [7] deny that this might have been just as good for me. But it was impossible. Thought had cast its fiery spark into me."

Horizons were opening up for the Norwegian people. The country lad of 1820 had accepted as a matter of course the cultural and economic traditions of his community. He had spoken the speech of his parish, and observed its ways from birth to death. But by 1870 he was being endowed with more freedom and less security. Even if he wished to stay on the farm, he might not be able to do so. Very often he did not want to, for he was stirred by the promise of brighter lights: he might go to school, learn a handicraft, or work in an office; he might live in town, or go to sea; with luck he might even rise to prominence in the affairs of his country; or he might gamble with America for a share in her fabled surplus. Emigration became one of the many expressions of the peaceful social revolution that transformed Norwegian society in the nineteenth century.

It seems clear, then, that Norwegians did not emigrate primarily because they were oppressed, or persecuted, or poverty-stricken. It is true that many of them were under privileged; but so had their ancestors been and had humbly accepted it as the will of God. Economic and social conditions in Norway were actually better than in most European countries; and it was not the poor alone who emigrated. But the men of the nineteenth century were like Adam and Eve after they had tasted the apple of knowledge: they suddenly discovered that they were hungry. The apple they ate was the news of America which came to them through their newly founded newspapers, their improved school systems, their previously migrated relatives, the letters and books about America. They emigrated because they had learned to be dissatisfied, and because a changing world had provided them with a hope of escape from their dissatisfaction.

Neither did they emigrate because they were sons of the [8] seafaring vikings of old. The earliest emigrants were men who chafed under an economy which offered them and their sons little hope of social betterment. From their meager holdings they looked over to the untouched land on the American frontier. In this new society the rewards would not all be won by such capriciously distributed qualifications as wealth, birth, or genius. Comfort and distinction might be gained by the more democratically widespread qualities of a strong arm, a determined will, and a strict husbandry. These hardheaded sons of the soil could for the first time allow themselves the luxury of being dissatisfied with what fate had allotted them. Their turn had come to join the movement to America which one authority has called "mass proletarian emigration."

II. A CENTURY OF MIGRATION

The Mayflower of the Norwegians bore the resounding name of the "Restauration," but she was no impressive vessel: less than forty tons, a mere fifty-four feet long. When she docked in New York harbor on October 9, 1825, she was loaded to the gunwales with a cargo of iron, seven sailors, forty-five religious dissenters, and a newborn babe. She made good copy for a New York reporter, who found her "a novel sight." "The appearance of such a party of strangers," he wrote, ". . . from so distant a country . . . in a vessel of a size apparently ill calculated for a voyage across the Atlantic . . . argues a good deal of boldness . . . as well as an adventurous spirit in the passengers." His piece was reprinted in so many papers that a week later he came back with more information: they were bound for the state of New York, where an agent had been sent to buy land. "They belong to a religion called the Saints, corresponding in many points to the principles of the Friends. . . . We understand . . . that they will shortly be succeeded by a much larger body of emigrants." [9]

It took eleven years before this promise was fulfilled. Norwegians were not in a hurry to believe the tales of America. It was not until results were clearly available from this first group experiment that they were ready to venture across in any numbers. The pathfinder of the Stavanger settlers of 1825 had been Cleng Peerson, the mercurial, irrepressible, vagabond-like Daniel Boone of Norwegian migration. When they decided that New York was not to their liking, he sought out rich, unoccupied soil for them in north central Illinois. He caught up with the American frontier as it was about to round the southern tip of Lake Michigan, and made this frontier the Promised Land of Norwegians for sixty years to come. Six of the Stavanger families moved to Illinois in 1834 and became the advance guard of hundreds of thousands.

Within the year these settlers were writing letters to their friends and kin in Norway, letters which were copied and circulated by the hundreds. In 1835 one of their number visited Norway; when he came back in 1836, he brought with him close to two hundred farmers from his immediate neighborhood. After this year there was no cessation. One can trace on a map of Norway the spread of "America fever" from district to district, as news of the experiences of the settlers spread outward from Stavanger in ever-widening circles. What had been but a remote rumor now became credible fact, when men of the farmersÕ own class, their own neighbors and friends whom they trusted, told them by letter and word of mouth of the new possibilities. In this way one can trace the strands of human influence which reached from the first emigrants down to the mass migration of later years.

Statistically regarded, the course of Norwegian migration has not been a smooth one. It presents the familiar picture of a series of camelÕs humps, with the largest in the middle. The movement may be compared to a pageant in five acts, [10] where the intermissions were created by two wars and two depressions. The general picture will appear from the accompanying chart, and will find confirmation in the figures of Table 1. It corresponds well with the general curve of European migration to the United States, and it shows a close dependence on American business cycles.

Act I, down to the Civil War, was the period of beginnings, with many fumbling settlements which had to be abandoned, until trial and error had established the main course of migration and located the old Norwegian settlements of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, which became mother settlements to the rest. The settlers were drawn largely from the southwest and central mountain regions of Norway; they were family men, who had ventured into the great unknown in a period when migration was attended by extraordinary perils on sea and land. In 1850, Wisconsin was the home of two thirds of the Norwegian settlers; ten years later her share had fallen to one half, although the number had doubled. In this period was built the first Norwegian church (1844) and was published the first Norwegian newspaper (1847); the first Norwegian member of a state legislature was elected (1849); and the first Norwegian volunteer regiment in an American war, the Fifteenth Wisconsin, was organized (1861).

Act II was opened by the Homestead Act of 1862, which made free land available to every sincere

settler. Now the Norwegians were really ready to come. Well-established settlements of their own people assured them of bases from which they could investigate the unknown lands on the frontier. The early corners had grown prosperous enough to send tickets home. English steamship lines and American frontier states sought to entice as many immigrants as possible. American railroads were pushing lines in all directions over the prairie. Norwegian society had been set in motion [11]

by the industrial transformation which began in the fifties so that large portions of her farming population went scurrying either to the cities or to America. WisconsinÕs Norwegians were again doubled, but Minnesota was now close behind, and the first thrusts into Dakota had begun. The church was so greatly strengthened that it established a series of higher schools. The first really enduring newspapers were founded and grew apace on the crest of this great second wave of Norwegian immigration. The Panic of 1873, [12] however, brought the second act to a close and frightened many would-be emigrants out of their resolve.

Act III began around 1879, when confidence in America was once more restored, and for the next fourteen years, in spite of good times and the extension of political democracy in Norway, America drew off every year two thirds of Nor wayÕs population increase, or more than at any other period. Settlement flowed relentlessly westward; from southern Minnesota and northern Iowa the settlers jumped right into the Red River Valley, making western Minnesota and the Dakotas their very own land. All parts of Norway were now giving up their share, city and country alike in unprecedented numbers; but the American frontier was petering out, and soon the immigrants were no longer seeking it with the same glad abandon. Urban colonies began to spring up in such Midwestern centers as Chicago and Minneapolis, and land had lost much of its lure in comparison with city wages. These later immigrants were children of a new age in Norway, an exciting era of industrial expansion, democratic agitation, and broadening education. For the first time the Norwegian-American world saw also a true cultural flowering in its midst: novels of immigrant life, the beginnings of historical study, English translations of famous Norwegian writers.

Again a depression intervened to slow the stream of immigration; but in 1899 the fourth great wave set in. Act IV was a part of that prewar urban exodus which also brought to America huge numbers from southern and eastern Europe. There was now only one frontier left, the mountain regions of the Northwest and the plains of western Canada. For the first time the mountaineers of Norway sought the mountains of America; Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and especially Washington received some thousands of land seekers each. But the pickings were thin, and the mass of the immigrants over flowed into the cities. Brooklyn on the east coast and Seattle [13] on the west rose into prominence as cities with large Norwegian populations. These immigrants were, more than ever, unmarried persons, ambitious to make money and in many cases determined to go back home when they had made their pile. Their roots were less deep, more urban, than those of an earlier vintage; they had less of the high seriousness of the early pioneers. These years brought with them the most flourishing period in Norwegian-American culture, a period of great undertakings in literature and journalism, which reached its culmination in the centennial celebration of Norwegian independence in 1914, on the eve of the First World War.

Act V was the last, hardly more than a postwar aftermath. American immigration restrictions reflected a new fear that more immigration would mean a lowering of living standards. The immigrants of this period consisted more of women and older people; it was a family migration, bringing families together which had been separated, or making families which had been planned before emigration. In Norwegian-American life there was a marked retreat from the flourishing state of prewar days. Americanization hysteria induced by the war acted to hasten the natural urge of the American born to abandon their special traditions. The restriction of immigration was the handwriting on the wall, which is strongly reflected in the literature and historical writing that fills this last period. Institutions like the church rapidly turned to English, while foreign-language newspapers gradually lost strength. A century of bilingual living was about to be written off, but not before witnessing the greatest united effort of Norwegians in America, the Norse-American Centennial of 1925 in St. Paul.

A glance at the figures in Table 1 will reveal the magnitude of this century-long migration. Between 1836 and 1930 the authorities of Norway counted 852,142 emigrants. Through a period of ninety-five years an average of 9,033 [14]

Norwegians sailed across the sea every year. These did not all go to the United States; they scattered over the entire globe, some 3,000 to Australia, 40,000 to Canada, a handful everywhere. But the overwhelming bulk of them did enter the United States, at least 810,000 by 1930. Since less than 10 per cent of these returned to Norway, this means that Norway has contributed a good three-quarter million to the American melting pot.

When this is compared with the contribution of other European nations it does not bulk too large. Even at its height, in the 80Õs, the Norwegian stream was no more than 3.1 per cent of the total European migration. But no country except Ireland had a higher rate of emigration: in the 80Õs eleven out of every thousand Norwegians were leaving [15] annually, compared to sixteen Irishmen, six Englishmen, six Swedes, and four Germans. An even more startling way of regarding it is to note that through a century of huge population growth, Norway lost one third of her natural increase, or altogether a number nearly equal to her total population in 1800.

III. THE NORWEGIAN COMMUNITY IN AMERICA

Norwegian migration has left its clear impress on the composition of the American people, especially in the Middle West. As late as 1940 there were still 658,220 Americans who declared Norwegian as the language of their childhood home. The number of first-generation Norwegians in the United States reached a high point of 403,858 in 1910 and declined to 262,088 by 1940. The number of their American-born children reached a high point of 752,236 in 1930 and declined to 662,600 in 1950. We can only guess at the number of their childrenÕs children. But we can hardly be far wrong in estimating the Norwegian stock at close to two and a half million, or more than twice the entire population of Norway at the time when emigration began.

Behind these statistics we glimpse a myriad of men and women with the most varying personal characteristics. Nothing that one could say about any one of them would be true of all. For one thing, they are not nearly so blonde or blue-eyed as common belief makes them. Most of them did, however, bring into American life an overwhelming sturdiness and intensity of purpose. This was an indispensable asset to immigrants who were at once assigned the heaviest labor and the hardest tasks. In the earlier days of immigration, seven out of eight were from the countryside; three out of five were men; the bulk of them were unmarried and in their best working years. They came from agriculture and sailing, later from industry as well. They were not the poorest of their people and they were not without schooling. Most of them were orthodox Lutherans, but inclined to their own [16] opinions on interpretation. A taste for hard liquor among some was offset by strongly Puritanic traditions among many.

They took hold of the wind-swept prairie of Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Dakota with little more than their bare hands. Their first shelter was the lowly sod hut or the ramshackle log cabin, and their nearest neighbors were the timber wolf and the Indian. They cleared their claims with simple tools and they hauled their grain to market behind a pair of oxen. Cholera and the ague attacked them along with a host of other plagues of primitive life. In winter many of them had to leave their families to earn cash for next yearÕs seed corn in logging camps, canal construction, railroad gangs. Fear, hunger, loneliness were part of their regular diet, thousands of miles away from their own kin and the fond, familiar places of childhood. They grew out of these conditions into more comfortable days; one might almost say they grew up with the country. As for the later immigrants who chose the city, they had fewer hardships, but a no more enthusiastic welcome, for there was no free soil for them. They found their work where they could get it, and they won their place by patience, strength, and thrift.

American statistics show that half of them are still living on the soil or in towns of less than 2,500; that in the cities they are most frequently found as skilled laborers; that they have developed a respectable number of professional and educated men; that they stand high in home ownership, in naturalization, in freedom from poverty and crime. On the American seaboard, east and west, they have contributed to the advancement of sailing and fishing. In their agricultural progress they have been thrifty; their willingness to shift from a failing wheat crop to dairying, tobacco raising, and other newer forms of agriculture suggests alertness and enterprise. Their well-kept, prosperous-looking farms dot the prairies of the Middle West. Grasshoppers, hail, and prairie [17]

fire could not drive them from the soil. Even the years of the dust bowl have come and gone, only to leave the Norwegians still the leading foreign element in North and South Dakota. [18]

Fortunately the Norwegian immigrants also numbered in their midst individuals who possessed gifts beyond the dream of the valuable, but less exciting personalities which constitute the general run. A steady procession of highly and partially educated men, of cranks and geniuses, of fiddlers and storytellers, of saints and sinners have enlivened the scene of the Norwegian-American world. Many remarkable comedies and some pitiful tragedies have been enacted among these immigrants. Norwegian-American society has not been one to treat budding genius tenderly or cater to the more delicate aspects of culture. Those who had the toughness to survive frequently reached fame. Among these one feels impelled to mention one of AmericaÕs most original economic thinkers, Thorstein Veblen, who first learned to look with suspicion on the "conspicuous waste" of American society as a lad on his Norwegian-American fatherÕs farm. Another was Andrew Furuseth, who as president of the SeamenÕs Union fought for livable conditions for American seamen.

It would be pointless to go on and enumerate "famous Norwegians" in America, as is so often done in apologias for foreign groups. It is a matter of course that among all these citizens of normal and solid accomplishment there have been many with outstanding talents and a few who nourished the spark of genius. There are today admirals, senators, governors, congressmen, scholars, actors, inventors, manufacturers, judges, indeed every species of distinction among those of Norwegian stock. What these men have done they have usually done as Americans. But the fact that they have done it has been a source of pride to the immigrants, because it somehow made them feel as if they thereby belonged in a more real sense to America. Lutheran Norwegians were pleased that Notre Dame, a Catholic school, won football games Ñ because the coach was Knute Rockne; they enjoyed pseudo-Norwegian films because Sonja Henie skated in them; they listened to difficult German operas because Kirsten [19] Flagstad sang them; and they repeated with undiluted pride that if MinnesotaÕs late Senator Knute Nelson had only been born in America, "he might have been president."

IV. IMMIGRANT INSTITUTIONS

This sense of national pride has been strongly nourished by the accomplishments of the institutions which have grown out of Norwegian group life in America. Many Norwegians were readily dispersed into American life, with comparatively rapid effacement of their native personality. But most of them found it neither easy nor appealing to plunge headlong from one culture into another. Even when the immigrantÕs outward life was regulated to conform exactly with that of his American neighbor, he could not at once find full satisfaction for his cultural and spiritual needs. He could not toss his old self, the memories of home and school and friends, overboard when he walked down the gangplank.

So he sought the company of his fellow countrymen, where his own personality could unfold and the accents of speech were familiar and beloved. Americans have often complained at the clannishness of foreign groups, overlooking, in the words of H. H. Boyesen, that "the immigrant, of whatever nationality, has no choice but to be clannish, unless he chooses to associate with those who look down upon him." The Norwegians chose to live near one another and to create churches, newspapers, and societies which might minister to their own special needs. These they patronized to whatever extent they felt a craving for a common bond with one another and with their Norwegian past. Statistics point to a heightened incidence of insanity among immigrants, and the immigrant social order served the purpose of sheltering the immigrantÕs personality while it was being transferred from the old soil to the new.

The first and most persistent of the immigrantÕs institutions was the Lutheran Church. America invited [20] experimentation in religious matters, and many of the earliest settlers succumbed to the "lures" of non-Lutheran churches. Within ten years of the founding of the first settlement in Illinois, however, there were three Lutheran preachers on the scene, ready to organize Norwegian Lutheranism on a free-church basis among their "misguided and perverted countrymen." Here the Norwegian pioneer found a natural center for his social and religious cravings. In the words of one writer: "It was the only general meeting place for the whole settlement. . . . If one did not come to worship God, one might come for other purposes, such as trading horses, assigning road work, hiring thrashers, or hearing the latest news." The church provided an outlet for much of the social energy of the immigrants. It gave full play to a certain streak of contentiousness which is part of the individualism of the Norwegian. Again and again the Norwegian world was rocked by violent religious controversy, bringing into the open an opposition between low and high church which in Norway had dwelt comfortably within the folds of the state church. It is very likely that much of this could have been avoided had not a group of the most conservative Norwegian church leaders fallen under the influence of the German Missouri Synod and taught views which were distasteful to the mass of the Norwegian laity. In any case the energy with which the battle was fought bore testimony to the earnestness of religious interests among the immigrants, and their unwillingness to accept dictation from above. Its effectiveness in arousing churchly loyalty is shown by the fact that the more numerous Swedes have only 396,999 members in their leading Lutheran church body, while the Norwegians have 661,855 in theirs. Hospitals, orphanages, old peopleÕs homes, and a host of other charitable enterprises are churchly by-products which testify to the piety of the laymen and the enterprise of their leaders.

One of the chief tasks that faced the church was the [21] training of competent pastors and laymen in the local congregations. The first successful solution was the establishment of Luther College, now at Decorah, Iowa, in 1861. This school was wholly in the spirit of the Norwegian Latin school, and provided a severely classical and linguistic training. It was followed by other schools, notably St. Olaf College, at North field, Minnesota, which was coeducational and less severely classical; it dates from 1875 and has grown to be the out standing Norwegian-American church college, with national fame for its a capella choir under F. Melius Christiansen, and for its great author of pioneer novels, O. E. Rølvaag. These colleges and the many others established by Norwegian church leaders have gradually fallen into the pattern of the American liberal arts college, retaining only as much of the religious and national tinge as their constituents require. Courses in Norwegian established in American state universities are evidence that some members of the group also took an interest in these institutions.

There have been secular societies aplenty, though most of them seem destined to less permanence than the church. Many a local community has had its musical fare enriched by the Norwegian tradition of male chorus singing, which was transplanted to America in 1869. All America has reason to be grateful for the pioneer work done in the 80Õs by Norwegian ski clubs and ski manufacturers in introducing and nurturing the sport until America was ready to adopt it as her own. Perhaps the chief secular organization today is the Sons of Norway, a fraternal organization closely modeled on similar American brotherhoods. In general, the Norwegians have quickly learned the American habit of "joining"; in the years since 1900 and particularly in the cities these organizations have provided the chief cohesive force among emigrants from Norway. Their programs and performances have not always been impressive; but they have provided shelter and training for Americans in the making. [22]

The same has been true of the immigrant press. Several hundred newspapers have ministered to the Norwegians with more devotion than financial reward. In general the press has made it possible for a secular intelligentsia to exist among the immigrants. Men with some academic training were thus frequently able to devote themselves to writing; many of them were gifted with poetic and literary talent. Today only two newspapers of general distribution survive the falling by the wayside that has struck the press in recent years. One is Decorah-posten, of Decorah, Iowa, which makes its strongest appeal to the old immigration of the Middle West; the other is Nordisk tidende of Brooklyn, an organ of the newest immigration.

Many efforts have been made to depict the peculiar quality of the bilingual world in which the immigrants and many of their children have lived. Gifted and observant storytellers have tackled the job of portraying that inner conflict of personalities which is part of the immigrantÕs special problem. They have emphasized again and again the note of yearning for the lost homeland, which mingles with a quite different note of self-assertion. There is a pride of accomplishment which sustains the immigrant through all difficulties and provides a corrective to his nostalgia. The classic example of literary treatment is O. E. RølvaagÕs Giants in the Earth, which raised the conflicts of pioneering out of the moment into a perspective of the eternal. Historians have also assessed the problem, delving into the story of immigration and pioneering in a determined search for underlying trends and causes. The compilation of data began in the 60Õs, while the first pioneers were still alive, and has never ceased. Since the organization in 1925 of a vigorous historical society, the Norwegian-American Historical Association, a period of genuinely fruitful historical research has been inaugurated. It is safe to say that more is known today about the history of the Norwegian group than any other immigrant nationality in the United States.

Note

<11> This essay comprises the second chapter of Professor Einar HaugenÕs recently published two-volume work on The Norwegian Language in America: A Study in Bilingual Behavior (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1958). The book is sponsored by the American Institute of the University of Oslo in co-operation with the department of American civilization in the graduate school of arts and sciences of the University of Pennsylvania, and permission to reprint chapter 2 has been given the Norwegian-American Historical Association by the University of Pennsylvania Press. In reprinting, it has been deemed advisable to omit the original footnotes and one map as well as a final paragraph which forms a connecting link with later chapters. The essay is included in the present series because it is a comprehensive survey in brief compass of Norwegian emigration, done with genuine insight and broad knowledge of the entire field. It may be taken as a fair sample of the high quality of the notable monograph from which it is drawn Ñ a scholarly and definitive study that integrates linguistic findings with social and cultural history. In its totality Dr. HaugenÕs book is one of the greatest of contributions to Norwegian-American history. T.C.B.

 

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