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Kristofer Janson Beginning Ministry
    by Nina Draxten (Volume 23: Page 126)

Late in the fall of 1880, some five months after Kristofer Janson had returned to Norway from his lecture tour in America, he and his wife, Drude, went to Italy on a vacation. The trip was the fulfillment of a promise he had made the year before, should the American venture be profitable ó as indeed it was. Their seven children were left in the care of a farm woman who had long been attached to the family. Some of their relatives, particularly Dina Krog, Drudeís sister, disapproved of this arrangement. She felt the Jansons were somewhat negligent parents not to leave an "educated" person in charge. {1}

In Rome, the Jansonsí final destination, they found lodgings on Via Purificatione. Two Norwegian artists, Eilif Petersen and Kristian Ross, and their families joined them as neighbors. All became part of the sophisticated Scandinavian colony then in Rome, of which Ibsen was clearly the Olympian figure, but which also included such persons as Magdalena Thorsen and Camilla Collett ó the latter, according to Janson, an ardent feminist virtually to the point of fanaticism. {2} [127]

Attractive, still young, the Jansons seem to have been an engaging couple, alike in their zest for the new but otherwise highly individual in tastes ó Drude, paradoxically, being somewhat the more radical and certainly the more practical of the two. Family legend has it that Prude was much admired in Rome, and this is not hard to believe, for so urbane a man as the Danish scholar and critic, Georg Brandes, who had met her a few months before in Christiania, told how attracted he had been to her, finding her highly original and very charming. {3}

For the Christmas festivities held by the Scandinavian group in Rome, Kristofer wrote a poem which won praise from Ibsen. Janson, in his autobiography, has told of taking long walks around Rome, of reading his short play, Et kvindesjæbne (A Womanís Fate) before an admiring audience. He was then working on his novel, Vore besteforældre (Our Grandparents), which gives an old manís account of events in Norwegian history from 1790 to 1815. On one occasion the Jansons borrowed costumes of the period of the story from Kristian Ross and invited their friends to a party. Drudeís dress is not described, but Janson wore knee breeches, shoes with silver buckles, and a three-cornered hat, and, thus attired, read from his manuscript. During this period Ross painted Drudeís portrait, a large canvas showing the three-quarter-length figure of a poised young matron whose slender form and unlined face belied the fact that she had borne seven children in some nine years. When the newspaper Dagbladet arrived from Christiania carrying Bjørnsonís accounts of his stay in America, Janson discussed them with Ibsen, who had caustic things to say about Bjørnson, then his foremost rival as a Norwegian litterateur. At some time during this Italian holiday ó the date cannot be pinpointed ó Janson himself received a letter from Bjørnson, saying that a plan was afloat [128] to bring Janson to America as a minister, and this prospect, as he revealed later, filled him with great excitement. {4}

Abruptly the Jansonsí luck turned. Drude became ill, and, before she had recovered, word came from Norway that their son Sigmund was not expected to live. Kristofer rushed homeward, arriving in Lillehammer the day after the child had died. From such details as we have of the event, it was a lonely time for him. The older children, shocked by their first experience with bereavement, longed for their mother, and a younger one, Arne, was unable to realize what had happened. Janson had to face, besides his grief, the recriminations of Dina Krog, who made it clear that she hoped the event had taught the parents a lesson. The late Dr. Eiliv Janson has reported that Janson conducted the childís funeral himself. {5}

Early in May, 1881, Drude returned home. By that time Janson had received a proposal from Professor Rasmus B. Anderson of the University of Wisconsin that he return to America to organize a liberal religious movement among the Scandinavians. Janson was at first inclined to refuse, dreading the prospect of another long separation from his family, and Drude advised him at least to sleep on the matter. {6}

Andersonís letter has not survived, but in his autobiography he gave this account: He wrote Janson immediately after meeting two prominent Unitarian clergymen, Jenkin Lloyd Jones and Henry Martyn Simmons, in Madison. He had promised Bjørnson that he would do something to establish Janson in America, but had no idea how to proceed. This chance encounter with the ministers, whom he knew well, gave him an opening. If the Unitarians were interested in missionary [129] work among the Norwegians in this country, he had the ideal man for them, and he described Jansonís career as a writer and speaker, and his theological training at the university in Christiania. Jones and Simmons were at once interested; they were going to Boston for a church conference, where they would present the matter before the American Unitarian Association. Anderson then suggested that Janson be guaranteed an annual salary of $1,000 for the first three years. They agreed, promising to write Anderson from Boston. Encouraged by all this, Anderson at once wrote Janson, saying that if the matter turned out as he expected, he would send a one-word cable, "Come!" Sometime afterward Anderson received confirmation of his proposal, whereupon ó to quote the professor ó "I cabled the word Ďcomeí to him and he immediately packed his grip and came." {7}

No one can doubt that Anderson was responsible for bringing Janson to America as a minister, but he has gilded his story a bit. Things did not move so fast. If (as Janson said) he received the professorís proposal early in May, he must have mulled the matter over through a great many nights, for he did not reply until the middle of July. Then he did not mention the Unitarians, apparently considering the ministersí show of interest a flimsy prospect on which to risk his future. Much of Jansonís letter was given to an analysis of his own situation. He was forty years old and had six children to support. His wife was not robust and needed household help. Janson, knowing full well the privations some Lutheran ministers and their wives had to endure in America, could not tolerate Drudeís giving up a comfortable life in Norway for one of hardship in America. Unless he were assured an income of at least $1,500, he would not consider the matter.

Yet, as he ruefully explained, his prospects in Norway did not seem good. He felt isolated, for those who shared his religious views differed from him politically, and vice versa. Nor did he foresee much of a future as a writer. Public interest [130] in tales of rural life had waned in favor of the social novel and drama, a field Janson felt had been pre-empted by Ibsen, Bjørnson, and Alexander Kjelland. Furthermore, the landsmaal issue had been resolved, for that language was even taught in the schools: Janson was no longer needed as its champion.

But more than anything else he wanted to go into religious work; were he able to get congregations, he would give all his energy to the development of their spiritual life. Anderson had suggested that he establish churches in several localities, dividing his time among them. Janson agreed to this, but vetoed Andersonís recommendation to include Chicago. He was set on living in Minneapolis, and traveling between the two cities would be too wearying. Besidesóand here he asked Anderson to respect his confidence ó Janson had not much liked the Scandinavians in Chicago, and though he might lecture there from time to time, he did not relish closer contact with them.

Janson then instructed Anderson how to go about organizing congregations. He drew up a proposed program, sending three copies, which he called circulars. Each was to go to an energetic but discreet man in one of three cities: Minneapolis, Fort Dodge, Iowa, and a third that Anderson might pick ópossibly Madison. In each town, the man selected was to call a meeting at which Jansonís program would be discussed, and those willing to support a congregation based on the principles given were to sign their names and pledge an annual sum, to be continued for at least three years. All of this, Janson cautioned, must be kept out of the newspapers, for if orthodox ministers got wind of it, they might frighten away people who would otherwise support the movement. After the circulars had made their rounds, Anderson was to forward them to Janson with whatever explanation was necessary. Toward the end of the letter Janson asked if it was legal in America for a man who had not been ordained to function as a minister, reminding Anderson that he had not been; nor could he go [131] through the rite in Norway, for ordination there required taking an oath to uphold the Augsburg Confession. {8}

Had Anderson tried to put this plan into operation, he might well have been thrown back on his heels, for it is hard to publicize a manís activities and be quiet about them at the same time. But he faced no such dilemma. By the time he received Jansonís letter he seems to have been sufficiently confident of his own plans to disregard the circulars. Instead of a single-word cable, he wrote Janson, and while this letter too is lost, its contents can be surmised from the response it drew. Anderson seems to have made it clear that the time for ambivalence was over. Prospects for support from the American Unitarians were good, but they were not going to commit themselves until they had met Janson. He must come to America in the fall, accepting the risks, or the matter would be dropped. While negotiations were going on, he could be lecturing, with Anderson again acting as his manager. A friend of Andersonís in Madison, John A. Johnson, had offered to keep Janson at his home until he was permanently located, and to donate a sum of money to him, a suggestion that was apparently tantamount to saying he would support Janson for a time if the worst came to the worst. {9}

On September 8 Janson cabled that he would come. In a letter of the same date, Professor Anderson wrote Skandinaven in Chicago, announcing that Janson would return to America in the fall for another lecture tour. {10}

In Norway Janson agonized over the sudden turn of events. On September 9, the day after he had sent his cable, he wrote the professor, revealing his anxiety over the future and his humiliation at coming under such circumstances. "Your letter gave me a great shock! All my plans have been ruined. Had you realized what you were doing, taking me away from my [132] home, my wife and children, giving me a long voyage across the ocean, forcing me to come ó uncalled ó to struggle with an uncertain future, you would have thought twice about it. However, now I have cast my lot, and I must try. I have set my lifeís hope on a future there with you. If I fail, woe is me!" {11}

Janson went on to say that he expected to arrive before the middle of October. He gratefully accepted Johnsonís offer of hospitality but not the money, which he would accept only in extremity and then strictly as a loan. He was, nevertheless, concerned about finances; he had to earn enough to support his family in Norway and to lay aside money to bring them over and establish a home. For a lecture he needed a minimum guarantee of twenty-five dollars, and fifty dollars in the larger cities. He hoped to stay out of controversy, adding resignedly that he supposed that was unlikely, at least so far as the Norwegian Synod was concerned. He added in a postscript that Bjørnson disapproved of his decision to go and could not understand why Anderson had done nothing with the circulars. "I would stay in Norway until a congregation was knocking at my door," he quoted Bjørnson as saying. {12}

Anderson apparently felt no qualms. Shortly after his ultimatum went to Janson, he wrote Bjørnson that he was working on the Janson matter and had good prospects for getting him a yearly salary of $2,000. Just what encouragement he had received thus far is not known, but it is clear that the American Unitarians were talking about Janson and were indeed eager to see him. On September 27 Aubertine Woodward, who had translated Jansonís Den bergtekne (The Spellbound Fiddler) two years before, wrote Anderson from Boston that the Reverend James de Normandie, editor of the Unitarian Review and Religious Magazine, wanted to get all particulars from her on Janson, about whose coming he had heard from the wife of a Unitarian clergyman. On October 11, in the postscript of [133] another letter to Anderson, she wrote: "I have seen Mr. De Normandie. He is delighted about Kristofer Janson, and says he must by all means come to Boston where he will himself introduce him to the Unitarian Board and he has not the slightest doubt of getting a salary appointed for him. He also says that the columns of the Unitarian Review are open whenever we want to use them. . . . Mr. De Normandie is very influential, and passes much time in Boston." {13}

Meanwhile many readers of Skandinaven, unaware of any prospective ministry for Janson, read Andersonís announcement of another lecture tour glumly. Bjørnsonís tour had taken place the year after Jansonís; both men had proved to be apostates from the Lutheran Church and both had been highly critical of Norwegian immigrant life. Even the Reverend Erik L. Petersen, who a year and a half before had applauded Jansonís outspoken final lecture, "The So-called ĎPure Teachings," now thought that enough was enough. "Let as many cablegrams come as will," he advised readers of Skandinaven. "Twice you have been taken in; donít let it happen a third time," he said, citing the proverb that a fool and his gold are soon parted. "Neither Kristofer Janson nor Rasmus B. Anderson is a poor man," he continued, "and you would be foolish if you filled Jansonís purse with thousands to use in enjoying himself later in Paris or Rome while you slave in the summer heat and winter cold. If you love God, you wonít put out a cent for those who scorn God and His Holy Word, and whose living is made by driving Christianity out of the believerís heart." {14}

Janson apparently arrived in New York rather early in October. His initial activities are not known; possibly he stopped there to visit Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen, something he had speculated on in his letter to Anderson of September 9. He [134] may, under a directive from Anderson, have gone to Boston to meet directors of the American Unitarian Association. It seems likely, not only because the way had been cleared for such a meeting but also because missionaries were paid by the association from Boston, even though those working in the Middle West were directed by the Western Unitarian Conference. By October 24, 1881, Janson was in Madison, still awaiting definite word from the Unitarians. On that day he wrote a twenty-page letter to Jenkin Lloyd Jones, secretary of the Western Conference. Probably he had not yet met Jones, for he was, in effect, introducing himself. Quite likely the first letter Janson ever wrote in English, it reveals his early difficulties with idiom and syntax, but also indicates that the shift in language did not hamper him from presenting himself in an appealing way:

"You must excuse me, that I dare to trouble you with a so very long letter, as this seems to be; but when you have read it through, you will find reason in it, I hope. To you perhaps have been told, my friend in Madison, Prof. Anderson, had written to me a while ago a letter, asking me to emigrate to America for the purpose of working for a more liberal spirit among my countrymen here, especially concerning their religious views, and make them good American citizens. I felt a desire to do it, because it seems me a necessary and blessed work too ó but I had a large family, I was well off in my home, and I did not dare to do it without any assistance. Then Mr. Anderson told me about his meeting with you and your readiness to accept his proposals. I was quite surprised, for such a thing could not happen in any other country than America, I suppose, where public confidence has become an educating power. Relying upon this magnanimous and noble offer, I have left my home and am willing to try the hard task. I hope that you, dear Sir, may be able to get Mr. Anderson's proposals realized, and that your confidence in me will not be misplaced. I hope, that the spiritual capital, which my countrymen, when once awakened, will bring to their new fatherland, will reward [135] the generosity of your society toward me and the Scandinavians. I promise you as an honest man to put in all my vigour and energy in this work."

Janson went on to a description of the dissension among the Norwegian Lutherans in America ó the five rival synods, and the Norwegian Synodís affiliation with the German Missouri Synod, the schism then threatening it over the predestination issue, and its actions in the past: its defense of slavery, its opposition to the common school, its rigid fundamentalism, and (the allegation Janson had made before) its policy of keeping its parishioners cut off from American society. With some stylistic changes, this discussion was later printed in Unity, the publication of the Western Unitarian Conference, and then was widely disseminated when an excerpt from it appeared in the Independent, an interdenominational magazine devoted to news of the various Protestant churches.

Janson next assessed his chances of success as a missionary:

"I thought it my duty, dear Sir, to tell you the very truth about the distressing condition of my fatherlands church here in America. You may see that my task will not be easy, and that I may not hope to organize free societies in a hurry. I am sure, that all the Lutheran congregations will agree in my persecution. I have already got a little taste of it by several mean articles in the Norwegian newspapers here. In one of them they recite the words of St. Paul as a salutation to me: Ďif any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received (from the Norwegian synod?) let him be anathema.í

"But I will also find my defenders.

"Besides the members of the mentioned congregations you will find many thousands of Norwegian people outside the church, floating and drifting for all winds, spread over all the country. Among them I will probably find the first stones for my church. But I am not sure, how far I will succeed among them. A large part of them have thrown the christianity over board and do not care for any Christian membership; another [136] part are business men, who are afraid to loose [sic] their customers if they declare themselves to be members of a free church. For it is not so among the Norsemen as among the Americains [sic], that nobody in affairs asks, whether a man is Methodist or Episcopalian or not ó no ó they make business with their own fellows and look at the others with a shy look as something strange and horrible.

"Without your assistance I will be compelled to lay my religious work a side and earn my living by lecturing about esthetical, historical, and social subjects. With your assistance I will put my other lectures in the background and employ all my power in a labor for a free church, and shall be able to stay here for a number of years at least. In that case I intend to go back to the old country next May, arrange my affairs there and take my family over with me. The summer months spent at home I will use for collecting a hymn book, which will be necessary, because the largest number of the common hymns in the Norwegian church are so inwoven with old creeds and singular Lutheran dogmas, that these will be of no use to me.

"Finally, I may beg your pardon, dear Sir, that I have engaged your attention for so long time. You may also excuse my bad language, but I am a beginner and must still compose my letters by means of the dictionary. In a year or two I hope I will improve so much in English, that I may be able to preach my sermon in that language. That will be necessary, if I shall think upon conquering the growing up people. If any of this information should have interest for your society, I will leave them entirely at yours disposal." {15}

This prospect of support made it mandatory for Janson to become known to the American public. Apparently Anderson had this in mind. He had recently published a translation of Bjørnsonís Arne, and arranged to have Janson review it. The article, composed in English by the reviewer himself, [137] appeared in the November, 1881, Dial, and was entitled, "A Norse Prose Idyl"; the fact that Janson spoke well of the translatorís work does not seem strange under the circumstances. As soon as the magazine came out, Janson sent a copy to Jones.

In the last week in October Janson received favorable word from the American Unitarians, and the news that his ordination would take place in Chicago during the following month. On November 1 Janson wrote Jones, asking if Sunday, the thirteenth, would be convenient ó not, it appears, because he had a preference for that date but because he was considering giving a free lecture in Chicago while he was there and needed to make preliminary arrangements. Four days later he gave an address, "Yore forfædre" (Our Ancestors) in the assembly hall of the University of Wisconsin. It was of course delivered in Norwegian, but received a lengthy and very favorable review in the Wisconsin State Journal (Madison) which, in translation, appeared in Skandinaven. {16}

On November 21, 1881, the directors of the American Unitarian Association formally accepted Jansonís application into its ministry and voted him $1,000 for the first six months of his work. On Friday evening, November 25, he was ordained in the Third Unitarian Church in Chicago. Besides Jones, three other Unitarian clergymen, Brooke Herford, E. L. Garvin, and George C. Miln, took part in the ceremony. After the ordination, Janson, apologizing for his English, spoke of the event as one of the high lights of his life, likening it to the day he became a university student, the day his first book came out, the date of his marriage, and that of the birth of his first child. {17}

The event had extensive coverage in Unitarian journals. In the Christian Register, the official organ of the American Unitarian Association, the article was entitled "A New Prophet in Israel." In Unity, Jenkin Lloyd Jones quoted Bjørnson that [138] no better protest against the dogmas of the orthodox church could be found than in Kristofer Jansonís liberal religion, "sustained by the purest personal character and most charming intellect." Jones, extending the good wishes of the Western Conference to its new missionary, made use of Norse mythology:

"May his be Thorís hammer to smite wrong, and Balderís smile to woo the right." {18}

Meanwhile Aubertine Woodward had been waiting until after the ordination to write about Janson. In the Unitarian Review and Religious Magazine, under her pseudonym, Auber Forestier, she described the ordination, gave a biographical account of Janson, and spoke of Professor Anderson as the man who had paved the way for Janson by his truthfulness about the Norwegian Synod and his "brave, single-handed fight on the common school question." The work of the two men would harmonize, she declared, concluding her article with a eulogy of Janson.

"And now this man, so rich in endowments, in experience, in honors, a true liberal in religion and politics, his poetic nature and loving heart overflowing with a Christ-like yearning to aid and lift up his people, leaves his home with a self-sacrifice that we can perhaps scarcely estimate, and comes among us on a noble and exalted mission. His genial presence, his deep earnestness, his strong personal influence, cannot fail to help his cause and attract many about him. May his endeavors be crowned with the grandest success!" {19}

On the Sunday following the ordination, Janson gave his free lecture, "The Norwegian Synod," in Chicago. Skandinaven, in an objective account, reported that every seat was taken, on both the main floor and in the balcony, and crowds took standing room in the back of the hall. Otherwise, the Norwegian press of the city took a dour view of this as well as the proceedings of the Friday evening before. "He chose a rich theme for one who claims to be the apostle of brotherly love. [139] Janson is a hypocrite," Den Nye Tid lashed out angrily. Norden concluded its remarks with the statement, "We hope Jansonís mission will have no future among our countrymen." Verdens Gang was more temperate. Jansonís significance, as both poet and theologian, had been greatly exaggerated by his admirers, the editor maintained. Nevertheless, his coming meant a struggle which should stimulate the spiritual life of the Norwegians, something they greatly needed. A man had a right to ally himself wherever he chose, the editor continued, even if it meant breaking with the old. In Norway many in the higher classes were certainly not Lutheran, were actually closer to Unitarianism, and it was better for church and society that they be openly so. The editor felt, however, that Jansonís Sunday lecture did not leave a good impression, because of its bitterness and the circumstances under which the material had been gathered ó the latter a reference to Jansonís lecture tour of 1879ó80. {20}

In La Crosse, Wisconsin, Fædrelandet og Emigranten prefaced its account of the ordination by saying that Unitarians accepted only one God and denied the divinity of Christ and the verbal inspiration of the Bible. In England, the editor continued, they were considered freethinkers. In America they tried to gloss themselves over as Christians, but were really freethinkers, nothing else. The same issue of the paper carried another column-long article entitled "Unitariernes sekt," a history of Unitarianism beginning with Servetus and concluding with the statement that in America there were no more than 17,960 members. {21}

On December 2 Anderson wrote exultantly to Bjørnson:

"I must report the news on Janson. He received the salary from the Unitarian Association that I predicted at the outset. Beginning yesterday (December 1) he has $2,000 as a missionary to the Norwegians in the Northwest. . . . Slightly [140] over a week ago he was ordained in Chicago, and soon afterward he gave a fine address in the old Turner Hall before a packed house. Theme: the Norwegian Synod, and it took! Yesterday he went to Minneapolis. There will be a life-and-death battle, but Janson, with the backing of the Unitarian Association, can laugh at the neck-breaking exertions of the opposition. He will bring life and the Norwegians will develop into independent thinkers. I hope Janson himself will become a more independent man, for he still holds on to a great many dogmas. However, by this he builds a bridge for many others. I shall keep you informed; you can depend on that." {22}


At this time Minneapolis was entering a decade of great expansion; its population was to increase fourfold, from 86,887 to 164,738. The great influx of Norwegian immigrants had already begun; their number was to grow with every passing year, increasing from 2,500 in 1880 to 12,624 in 1890. {23} Nor do these figures tell the full story: for one thing, the census of the time did not include the native-born children of immigrants, and for another, there were, every year, newcomers streaming into the city who used it as a stopping place before moving on to find homes elsewhere.

Minneapolis covered some thirty-three square miles, extending seven and a half miles from north to south and slightly over six miles from east to west. To Janson ó as he was to write a year later ó it was a place of dramatic contrasts; one hardly knew from one moment to the next whether he was in a pioneer settlement or in a city. On the outskirts of town were log cabins separated by wide gaps of unsold lots where, weather permitting, cattle roamed. Toward the center of town were impressive mansions. Pictures show them to be many-gabled structures that probably held twenty or more rooms. With no fewer than three chimneys, some houses rose to three and a [141] half stories; characteristically they had a profusion of projecting dormer windows and were elaborately hung with balconies and porches. Some were built next to the humble cottages of earlier settlers, who were often able to make a pretty profit as land values went up. Downtown an electric tower had been erected which flooded the area with white light; otherwise the streets were lighted with gas. Only the principal streets were paved; the others, frozen and rutted in winter, were so deep in mire in spring that the mud went over the galoshes of anyone who had to cross. Everywhere were signs of hectic activity: small cottages were moved from one location to another; streets were torn up as water and sewer pipes were laid. {24}

Janson was to characterize Minneapolis as a city "coming into being," saying that contrasts were also to be found in its cultural life. The Academy of Music, then the leading theater, one night might present a minstrel show where spectators were convulsed at the antics of blackface singers; the next evening Hamlet was on the boards; and on the third, the offering might be Jesse James (which Janson disparaged as a "so-called drama"). {25}

As one might expect, immigrant life was humble, although it in no way approached the squalor found in the tenements of New York and Chicago. Even so, most newcomers got along on the narrowest financial margins and accounts of suicide in Norwegian weeklies of the time point the trail of those who could not make it. Immigrant life was to become increasingly hard with the years. The nation as a whole had known a labor shortage in 1870, but this situation was to be reversed in the period 1881ó1900, when immigration, technological changes, and other factors were to swell the number of unemployed to a million. {26} In other words, the contrasts Janson observed in his early days in Minneapolis were to be radically sharpened, with [142] great wealth in the hands of a very few and at the other end of the continuum an impoverished laboring class. Within a few years this disparity was so to arouse Janson that the "oppression" of the Norwegian Synod became a secondary concern.

Although it may be assumed that there were Norwegians living in all sections of the city when Janson arrived, places of their heaviest concentration may be identified. The largest colony ó and the area where Janson first directed his efforts ó lay along both sides of Washington Avenue, roughly bounded on the north by Eleventh Avenue South, moving toward Cedar Avenue and the Riverside area. Washington Avenue from Eleventh to Fifteenth was lined on both sides with establishments kept by Scandinavians ó grocery, dry goods, shoe repair, furniture, and hardware shops ó and saloons. Some buildings towered to three stories, but most seem to have been single-story, gable-fronted stores. To the west of Washington Avenue, on the corner of Second Street and Twelfth Avenue, was Beardís Block, a three-story building commonly known as Noahís Ark, which contained some sixty apartments renting from eight to thirteen dollars a month. In windows throughout the area were such signs as "Scandinavian Boarding Day or Week" and "Scandinavian Midwife." A few blocks off Riverside Avenue was Augsburg Seminary, the theological school of the Norwegian-Danish Conference, the second largest of the five Norwegian Lutheran synods. This academy had been in the city since 1872, and the church established by the Conference ó Trinity ó also in this area, was the oldest Norwegian congregation in Minneapolis. There were four other Norwegian churches: Two were Lutheran, Our Saviorís and St. Paulís ó of the Norwegian and Hauge synods, respectively ó while the other two were Methodist and Baptist. {27}

A second colony, in north Minneapolis, extended north from Plymouth Avenue to what is now West Broadway, and from Second Street North westward toward Emerson. This group, drawn largely from the Trondheim province in Norway, seems [143] to have been generally interspersed with other nationalities, for the area as a whole was not dominated by Scandinavians. Years before, these Norwegians had made some efforts to form organizations: In the early seventies a number of families banded together to set up a primary school but abandoned it after a few years. In 1874 the Conference established St. Olaf congregation, but this too had petered out by 1877, and in 1881 the Norwegians in north Minneapolis had no church. (Later, for several years, Janson valiantly held weekly meetings on Plymouth Avenue in an effort to establish a congregation but finally gave up and turned his attention to St. Paul.) In northeast Minneapolis was another colony about which little is known except that it was sufficiently large to maintain a church, Immanuel, established by the Norwegian Synod in 1874. {28}

Such, in brief, was the city and such its concentrations of Norwegians when Janson arrived on December 3, 1881, to try his luck. While all the Norwegians certainly were not pleased at the prospect, the event caused virtually no surprise. Months before, in the spring of 1881, a rumor had circulated that Janson was to organize a liberal congregation in the city. The report reached Norway, where it was laid to rest by Janson himself in Dagbladet ó a denial which was printed sometime after he had opened his correspondence with Anderson. Although the statement was reprinted in Budstikken in Minneapolis (which traced the rumor to the efforts of a Pastor R. Egeland to organize a "free" congregation), many people who had heard the report seem not to have read the denial, for after Jansonís ordination, correspondents to the paper frequently spoke of it as something they had been hearing about for a long time. {29}

In announcing Jansonís arrival, Luth Jaeger, editor of Budstikken, said he was sure the majority of his readers would join in wishing Janson a hearty welcome. Janson had come, not to destroy the synod, but to work for religious toleration and [144] spiritual freedom. Now prospects were better than ever for the Norwegian people to be emancipated from blind dogmatism, Jaeger said, adding, "All free-minded Norsemen who, like us, long for this, will wish Janson the best of luck." {30}

In many ways Janson was fortunate in his choice of Minneapolis. He had prominent friends there, among them Dr. Karl Bendeke, Andreas Ueland, and Dr. Jacob Schumann. Besides Luth Jaeger, the publishers of Budstikken, Gudmund Johnson and John Gjedde, were friendly to him and from the beginning the columns of the paper were open to him. He was welcomed by the minister of Unity Church in St. Paul, the Reverend W. C. Gannett, a man with impressive Unitarian credentials, for he was the son of the famed Boston preacher, Ezra Stiles Gannett, and the namesake of the great William Channing, who had, indeed, christened him. Then Janson was to have the guidance of a Unitarian colleague near at hand ó the Reverend Henry Martyn Simmons, who, the month before ó in November, 1881 ó began what was to be a long ministry in Minneapolis when the already organized Liberal League became the First Unitarian Society. The two men liked each other from their first meeting. {31}

The time when Janson arrived ó even though it was wholly adventitious ó was also in his favor. The two major Norwegian Lutheran organizations ó the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church, popularly known as the Norwegian Synod, and the Conference of the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, generally referred to as the Conference ó paid little attention to him, absorbed as they were in internal problems. In the Norwegian Synod a controversy had erupted (as Janson had mentioned in his letter to Jones) over the issue of predestination, led by a group that came to be known as the anti-Missourians. In the Conference, efforts to raise an endowment fund of $50,000 for Augsburg Seminary [145] had been received coolly by some congregations and was sparking some newspaper debate. It has been said by those who knew Janson, among them his protégé and successor, Dr. Amandus Norman, that Janson was denounced from pulpits; if this was the case, these attacks were not reported in the papers. What Janson had to endure was harassment from laymen ó some of it so crude that it aroused public sympathy for him.

Six days after Janson arrived, on Friday, December 9, he lectured about the Norwegian Synod before an audience of 249 people, a fraction of the number who had heard the same address in Chicago; but those in Minneapolis paid twenty-five cents admission. Shortly afterward he was invited to give the speech in St. Paul. Thus far, however, he was only warming up. What he regarded as the opening salvo of his mission was a mass meeting he called for the following Sunday. For this he hired the largest auditorium in Minneapolis, Harrison Hall, on Washington and Nicollet avenues. According to Simmons, who attended as an observer, the crowd was so huge that people thronged the aisles. Janson has told, with sardonic humor, incidents that immediately followed the meeting. At the end of the address he announced that he would remain for a time in a small adjoining room, available to anyone who wished to talk with him. First to take advantage of this offer was an old woman carrying a copy of the Lutheran catechism. Brandishing the book, she demanded whether he was going to uphold its teachings. On hearing that he would not, she warned him that she would call down a curse on his work. Another person was an elderly man, his eyes glistening with tears, who clasped Jansonís hand warmly. But then ó as Janson has described it ó the man suddenly came to his senses, and, realizing that the devil had been tempting him, hurried away. {32}

These instances, however, were mere bagatelles, and did not depress Janson in the slightest. That night he wrote Professor [146] Anderson ó in English ó his salutation revealing his exultant mood:

"My dear, sweet, young, old boy Rasmus!

"I have just delivered my program ó a splendid meeting, the large hall crowded. I think 1500 persons were there! When I protested the tyranny of the ministers and abolished the eternal hell there was perfect joy and applause: only two whistles were heard, but I do not know if they whistled in American or on [sic] Norwegian. I suppose the latter. It seems as if my program has made a deep impression. My friends told me that many people, walking out, declared they would join my congregation. Next Sunday I will commence my regular services, in the beginning at the same hall 3 oíclock in the afternoon. My first theme will be: ĎGod is Love!í After my lecture several persons walked in to me ó and clasped my hands with sparkling eyes; the largest number of them Swedes. In Sweden, you see, those thoughts are not quite unknown, there has Nils Ignell and V. Rydberg worked and I think I here in Amerika will gather the fruits of their work in Sweden."

He mentioned two prominent persons as likely members of his church: Miss Nanny Mattson, Luth Jaegerís fiancée and the daughter of Colonel Hans Mattson, and Alfred Søderstrom, editor of Svenska Folkets Tidning (Minneapolis). He had other reasons for being encouraged. Even before his mass meeting he had been approached by N. T. Sjøberg and a group of the latterís friends about forming a congregation. These men, Janson explained to Anderson, had withdrawn or been expelled from Lutheran churches because they had joined fraternal organizations with life-insurance programs. They showed Janson the constitution they had drawn up. He was momentarily dismayed: "It was just the same as every Lutheran church ó the name ought to be a Norwegian Lutheran congregation and they would oblige the minister on symbolium, Nicanum, Athanasianum." Janson told them he could not accept it and, after explaining his reasons, asked if he had frightened them away. They answered that he had not, and [147] after that they had sold tickets for him and performed other services. He also received a letter from a group in rural Brown County, and in return sent them what he called a "friendly and prudent letter," saying he would soon deliver a lecture in nearby Madelia, and when he was in the area he would preach for them and hold a conference to discuss their offer. He had been busy with other things too: working out a constitution which he planned to present to Sjøberg and the group in Minneapolis and later take with him to Brown County, preparing the announcement of his program for publication in Budstikken and Skandinaven, compiling a small hymn collection to be used at his services, and sending out a list of the titles of lectures he was prepared to give, for advertisements to be run in Budstikken, Skandinaven, and Fædrelandet og Emigranten. "I answer letters, make acquaintances, write sermons ó so you will see I have my hands full," he wrote Anderson, adding cheerfully, "But I have good hopes of success, old fellow, and I see it will only depend on my personal influence, so I have to be as amiable and vigorous as possible. I have suffered from backache these last days, and that is not very pleasant, but I must be thankful that my head is clear and that I can work." {33}

The following day he sent off a lengthy report to Jenkin Lloyd Jones, of much the same content as the one to Anderson. This letter, although more restrained in tone, was also buoyantly optimistic. Balderís smile, he remarked, referring to the secretaryís comment in Unity, was likely to be more useful than Thorís thunderbolts. Still feeling the need to interpret the Norwegians to Jones, he added a few comments on a letter from the people in Brown County:

"The man [Johannes Mo] who writes it, writes in the name of a lot of Norwegian peasants [farmers] who have separated [148] themselves from the Synod because they were always quarreling there. They ask me to come and be their minister, and they send me their constitution ó the same as the former ĎNicanus Athanasium, the confession of Augsburg, etc.[í] They do not know any other thing, poor fellows, and they will try to do it as well as possible. I returned a very friendly letter, thanked them for their confidence in me but told them I preferred to be a Christian for [rather than] a Lutheran." Janson had asked them if it was not time for the different Christian churches to unite rather than separate. {34}

"Kristofer Jansonís Program," which was published in Budstikken on Wednesday, December 13, informed those who had not attended his mass meeting how Janson interpreted his role as a clergyman. It had long been his wish, he said, to engage in religious work, but his convictions were such that he could not serve within the state church in Norway. As for otherwise serving the liberal cause there, Norway was already well supplied with active leaders; his efforts could be put to better use among the Norwegians in America. Since most of them came from the working class and had little education, it was hard for them to develop a leader from their own ranks. Janson wanted to become their spokesman, helping them in their adjustment to American life. Lutheran pastors, he said, were tyrants rather than helpers. They had changed the Bible into a procuratorís lawbook and embalmed Christianity into a mummy with their literally interpreted scriptural passages. This tyranny, Janson declared, he would oppose with full vigor.

Outside of that he wanted no controversy. He had no intention of going into congregations seeking converts, for he respected all faiths; he was instead making an appeal to Scandinavians who could not accept the dogmas of the orthodox church but were unwilling to renounce Christianity. The liberal church he planned to organize would be founded on "love to God the Father, and to our Saviour, Jesus Christ." Listing [149] his major principles, Janson said he followed St. Paul in regarding Jesus as "the one mediator between God and man." He did not accept the divinity of Jesus, saying the crucifixion of a god amounted to an absurdity. Nor did he consider the Bible to be verbally inspired: the Old Testament he regarded as the history of the Jewish people and the New Testament as the earliest account of the lives of Jesus and the apostles, but both were the work of men who bore the prejudices of their own milieu. He did not accept the doctrine of the Trinity; he did not believe in an everlasting hell ó although he was convinced that all wrongdoing was punished by mental and physical suffering, in accordance with natural law.

For his church services, Janson would use some of the practices of the church in Norway. Unless parents wanted it otherwise, he would baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In celebrating the Lordís Supper, he would follow some of the conventional usages of the church at home.

Some parts of this statement seemed paradoxical; and Janson was shortly to be called to account. Yet, in terms of his rationale, it was entirely consistent. There was one God; Jesus was indeed the son of God, but not because of any mystical circumstances attendant on his birth, rather in the sense that all human beings are the children of God. Nor was he the Saviour for having served as a sacrificial lamb who redeemed mankind, but because he had, by his teaching and example, shown the way to God. Christians were to be identified by their way of life, not by a mere profession of faith. To Janson, what one believed was an intimate, personal matter, governed by inner conviction. An earnest Christian, looking to Jesus for guidance, never presumed that his particular belief of the moment constituted a monopoly on truth; instead he strove for new insights so that his religion, never a static body of doctrine, was always growing and developing.

Since belief was a matter of the individual conscience, no one who joined Jansonís movement was under any compulsion to agree with him on what he had outlined as the major [150] tenets of his faith. He was to meet shortly with those who could not, and this fact he accepted with equanimity. He also recognized that people were emotionally attached to many Norwegian church customs, associated as they were with memories of home. He saw no reason for dispensing with these when they could be reinterpreted by deleting the mystical elements. Thus Janson accepted the use of baptism, the Eucharist, confirmation, and other established practices.

All in all ó as an outsider might view it ó the orthodoxy Janson rejected and the "free" Christianity he espoused differed most fundamentally in that the latter lacked the punitive features of the former (a Jehovah punishing the sins of the fathers upon their children unto the third and fourth generation, a hell awaiting those who would not accept prescribed articles of faith) and in the breadth it gave religion; according to Jansonís definition, one could find Christians in all places and ages ó even among the ancients who had lived before the time of Christ ó and Janson frequently did find them. Yet even his denial of the divinity of Christ becomes academic, for one is hard put to find greater reverence for Jesus than that in Jansonís sermons and poems. In the course of time some Lutherans came to concede as much; for instance, Pastor Lars Heiberg, who, after the publication of Jansonís Jesus sangene (Songs of Jesus) sent the author a warm letter of appreciation. {35}

In the week following the appearance of Jansonís program in Budstikken, it was reviewed in Folkebladet, a weekly also published in Minneapolis. The paper was owned and edited by Sven Oftedal and Georg Sverdrup, professors at Augsburg Seminary, the theological school of the Conference, which had its headquarters in Minneapolis. Although the professors used Folkebladet to expound their views on issues related to the seminary and the Conference, it was essentially a secular paper, written in a highly readable style. Of the two editors, Oftedal was to emerge as Jansonís most implacable critic, and [151] until 1887 he was to be nipping at Jansonís heels much of the time. The differences between him and Janson ó so Oftedal declared ó were not to be interpreted as en lærestrid (a theological debate), for the professor could not be drawn into any such discussion with a person who denied the divinity of Jesus.

From all accounts, Sven Oftedal was highly gifted ó a scholar, an eloquent speaker, and a beautiful singer; during the eighties and nineties he came to play a leading part in the cultural life of the city. He was, however, not one to shrink from controversy and, once involved, he used little restraint in verbally pummeling an opponent. Long before Janson appeared on the scene, Oftedal had become well known for his broadsides. In 1874 ó shortly after he arrived in America ó he had published a scathing attack on the Norwegian Synod that, even in those days of bitter exchanges, made something of a high-water mark. {36} Later, angered by the prospect of Bjørnsonís lecture tour, he belittled the poet as a "clown," an epithet critics then and later found singularly inept.

After Jansonís ordination, Folkebladet contained allusions to Janson that seemed to be in Oftedalís idiom. Janson was mentioned as "a petite edition of Bjørnson" and as "one of Bjørnsonís living proof sheets"; in the latter case, there was an added comment that all such persons might better be removed to Alaska, where the wilderness would appreciate their new form of civilization. Yet, all this was missing from the treatment of Janson in the December 22, 1881, issue of Folkebladet. For one thing, a dispatch written by a correspondent in Madison for a paper in Norway, highly complimentary to Janson, was reprinted without comment. Then ó without any recourse to name calling ó Jansonís program was reviewed. As none of the articles were signed, the author cannot be identified with certainty. But the piece suggests a hand other than Oftedalís ó that of Georg Sverdrup, an introspective man, somewhat austere in bearing, who today has the [152] reputation of having been an unusually able dialectician. The review was not an exercise in dialectics, however, but more of a satire in which the writer generously conceded Jansonís talents and then thrust the dagger where he was vulnerable.

The writer in Folkebladet reported Jansonís statement about coming to serve as a leader for the Scandinavian people in America, adding with quiet irony "since they have none other than Lutheran ministers." Citing Jansonís five major points as well as his resolve to retain practices from the church of Norway, the reviewer noted that although Janson denied the Trinity, he would baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and while he did not accept the divinity of Christ, he would celebrate the Eucharist using the words, "This is my body" and "This is my blood." Janson would be both pastor and teacher; he would preach and deliver lectures. "Such is the program," said the writer, adding resignedly, "and so it must be, coming from a Unitarian." He assessed these principles as outworn rationalism, something long since discarded by Europeans but propounded in America by the Unitarians. This teaching could only be regarded as freethinking. Serious as the threat was, one could take comfort by recalling events in Norwegian history: It was just such rationalism that had precipitated the great religious awakening led by the lay preacher, Hans Nielsen Hauge. {37} One must remember this precedent while grieving over Jansonís defection:

"It is disheartening to see a Norwegian poet become a minister in order to propound such a teaching, one regarded in the Lutheran countries of Europe as stable fodder and a crop of potatoes. It is discouraging to see a man who has fought for freedom now work for the teachings once preached in Norway by men who put Hauge in prison and sought to quell the workings of the spirit by physical force. It is disappointing to see a talented man from the Norwegian church openly declare views which the Christian church has never acknowledged. [153]

"There is no reason, however, for Norwegians in America, who have worked to establish free congregations to safeguard the teachings of their childhood, to nourish anxious or bitter thoughts over Pastor Janson and his mission. The same thing has often happened in the history of the church, that heretical and rationalistic views have been preached and people have had to protect themselves by regarding them critically. That is especially true in this country, which has so many sects. Congregations must choose between the new teachings and the proven truth." {38}

Janson seems to have been somewhat puzzled about how to answer. He had no wish to quarrel with the Conference. The Norwegian Synod had been his prime target, and on several occasions, he had praised the Conference, both for its confederation of independent congregations as against the centrally administered synod and for its use of lay preachers.

In his reply, Janson began by thanking the editor of Folkebladet for the generally courteous tone of the article, saying, "In these days of bitter strife, that is something one rarely encounters in an opponent, especially here in America." If the writer chose to adopt an attitude of levity and superiority toward his program, Janson must accept that interpretation. The same might be said about the comments on his similarity to the clergymen who had persecuted Hauge, although Janson added parenthetically that he was well versed on these men and on Hauge too, having recently dealt with them in a still unfinished book ó a reference to Vore besteforældre. He could not acknowledge these ministers as his kindred, nor did he feel, especially at Christmas, any inclination to preach on potatoes. "All such imprecations," he said, "strike me as making use of old, but, unfortunately, not outworn tactics, designed to create mistrust in peopleís eyes. And I must admit I am surprised that you express yourself thus, for recently in my lecture on the Norwegian Synod I spoke of my admiration of [154] the Conferenceís use of lay preachers. Do you call that persecuting Hauge?"

Janson complained that his program had been reported in terms of contradictions, and that such practices as the use of the Eucharist were not part of original Christianity but had been introduced by the early church fathers in the year 381. He conceded, however, that it was natural that he and the Conference should look upon such matters differently; each must choose according to his taste. He thanked the editor for reprinting the favorable dispatch by the correspondent from Madison. And he agreed that future debate between him and the Conference was unnecessary, adding, "I should value it very much if you would accept me as a neighbor with whom you could be on personally friendly terms, and that both our congregations might work side by side without either casting aspersions on the other."

This overture was rebuffed. Jansonís letter was printed in the January 5, 1882, issue of Folkebladet and followed by editorial comment couched in coldly civil terms:

"Folkebladet has printed the above communication from Pastor Janson because it clearly reveals his rationalism as much as anything we could have written. Christianity is not, for us, something one chooses according to his taste, and it cannot be for any Christian. There can be no talk of working side by side with a man or an organization that denies the divinity of Jesus, which Christians have acknowledged through the ages, not just since 381, but from the days of the apostles. If Janson is familiar with the events of Haugeís time, he knows that the ministers who opposed him had a spiritual lack, intricately bound up with their heretical views and their denial of the divinity of Christ. Mankind, therefore, is prepared to fear the fruits that come from the same root in church work." {39}

The exchange took several weeks. In the meantime Janson proceeded with his original plan to hold services every [155] Sunday. Thus, one week after his mass meeting, he preached in Harrison Hall in Minneapolis at three in the afternoon before an audience of twelve hundred. In the interval between the two events, he heard from Jenkin Lloyd Jones. We do not have Jonesís letter, but Jansonís reply indicates that the secretary had some misgivings about Jansonís hiring the largest hall in the city to attract great crowds, most of whom attended out of curiosity. He seems to have felt too that any further pillorying of the Norwegian Synod was unproductive, that Janson could be better employed emphasizing the constructive aspects of his mission.

"Thank you for your kind advice," Janson began in his reply of Monday, December 19. "I will try to get so sagacious as possible and behave as a Ďbusiness maní in all regards. Though I do not like serpents at all, I will nevertheless be Ďas wise as the serpent and harmless as a dove." Yet, though he was willing to be counseled, he wanted Jones to know that he had been prudent in his management and by no means neglectful of the real purpose of his mission. As long as people continued to come, he had to have a place large enough to accommodate them. Daytime rental of Harrison Hall was ten dollars, but there had been no difficulty meeting expenses. Rent for the mass meeting had been paid from proceeds of his lecture on the Norwegian Synod; for the two following Sundays, friends had offered to assume the burden; and thereafter he planned to take up a collection to cover costs. He went on to say that at least Norwegians knew he was in the city. "I have been reported, that the Norwegians do not speak about other things now, whether they meet one another on the street, in the shops or in the saloons. The worst thing is I have abolished the eternal hell; they cannot dispense with their pet child. I have been very careful in my utterances, trying not to frighten them away." Then, as if to reassure Jones, he summarized his sermon of the day before:

"Yesterday I spoke of ĎGod is love.í I took my starting point from the beautiful story of Elias when he stares for the Lord [156] in the sturm [sic] and the earthquake and the consuming fire ó but the Lord was not there. And then came a mild breeze, and the prophet covered his head for the Lord was near him. With short pencil strokes I painted to them the development of the Jewish opinions of their Jehova[h], first as a Sun-God, then as a War-God and the God of their nationality til [sic] the idea reached its highest top in Jesus Christ who taught Ďthe father in heaven.í That was one of the reasons, I said, why there is such a confusion in my countrymenís reading in the Bible and in their religious opinions, that they do not make any difference between the Jewish God and the Christian God. I showed them, how that is to disgrace God to tell that he sends famine and pestilence and war, etc. as special punishments upon us, how such an opinion is reminiscent from olden times, when they stared for God in the sturm, in the earthquake, and in the consuming fire. I showed them, how all suffering here on earth are brought by the humanity over the humanity, but the blessings, which sprout from the sufferings are his, our fatherís, and advised them to trust upon him as the boundless mercy and charity."

Several staunch synod men had been in the audience, yet Janson was told that on their way out they had remarked that they could see nothing harmful in what he had said. "May I not then have been sagacious, Brother Jones?" he asked, a bit slyly. He said he expected to hold his next service on Christmas Day, and on the following day preach in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Enclosing four photographs of himself, he asked that Jones keep one and distribute the others to the rest of the clergymen who had taken part in his ordination. {40}

On the same day that Janson wrote this letter, Anderson sent one off to Bjørnson. Still relishing the fact that he had been "right all along," he reported that Janson was assured of a salary of $2,000 a year from the American Unitarian Association. On this point, however, Anderson was overstating the case. True enough, the salary was to become a reality and the [157] professorís statement may only reflect his confidence in Jan-sonís ultimate success. Janson had no such assurance: he was going through a trial period of six months, for which he was to be paid $1,000, and although, as it turned out, subsequent support was to be forthcoming, the understanding was that the American Unitarian Association would continue this only until Jansonís congregations became large enough to bear their own burdens. Yet Anderson was in no mood for qualification. Janson was doing wonderfully, he reported, better than all expectations. He would get congregations in Minneapolis, Madelia, and Fort Dodge. "The struggle with the synod will be a life-and-death one, but he is on top. Attacks on him have already started in a thousand ways, and there is the same irresponsibility and bitterness in the attacks as those on you last year." {41}

A newspaper article that Anderson seems to have found especially "irresponsible" had appeared in Fædrelandet og Emigranten on December 6, characterizing the Unitarians as a small sect of about 17,960 people. Anderson, in a letter to Budstikken published December 20, 1881, declared the estimate to be patently false. Acknowledging that he had not the exact figures, he said he would judge the number to be nearer 300,000, and, more than that, they included the most gifted and distinguished citizens of the United States. To illustrate, he listed an impressive array of presidents, poets and novelists, historians, clergymen, teachers, and philanthropists, concluding with a suggestion that he found men of distinction and Unitarians to be virtually identical:

"To the Norwegian people in America I have only this to say: Watch out for the talented, worthy, popular, great poet and speaker, Kristofer Janson. If you allow yourselves to be led astray by him, you may find yourselves, on the other side of the grave, with the men and women I have named in this article, and among them you will also find Milton, Locke, [158] Maeaulay, and James Martineau from England. A dangerous society, is it not?" {42}

At Christmas Janson received gifts from the Andersons and Miss Woodward; he was the dinner guest of Dr. and Mrs. Karl Bendeke. At his service on Christmas Day (which in 1881 fell on a Sunday) an incident occurred that incensed his friends. As Budstikken described it, three persons attended who obviously did not belong there. One was a Swede, the other two, Norwegians ó one of the latter so staunch a synod man that he did not send his children to the public school. During the sermon he and his Swedish friend kept up a lively conversation in spite of repeated remonstrances from Janson. At one point they walked out but returned shortly, continuing to make comments. Finally when another person went out as if to summon the police, the men became frightened and left. Such conduct was inexcusable, Jaeger declared, warning that if such an incident was repeated, he would publish the names of the offenders. {43}

On January 2, 1882, a month after Janson had arrived in the city, he organized the Free Christian Church of Minneapolis. (Four years later, after it had erected its own building, it became known as Nazareth Church.) As congregation records are not available, the exact number of charter members is not known, but in February Janson wrote Anderson that he had thirty-four, some of them men with families. {44} The immediate result was that on the following Sunday, January 8, the time of the services was shifted from afternoon to the conventional morning hour. Attendance dropped from the great numbers he had been drawing at afternoon meetings, but it was still much larger than the actual membership count would indicate, ranging throughout the winter and early spring from two to four hundred people ó the fluctuation, according to Janson, depending on the weather." {45} [159]

Certainly some who attended Jansonís church services, not only in the early days of his ministry but later, too, were there to see the man. This is mentioned not only in memoirs but also in the immigrant fiction of the period; one of the first things a Norwegian newcomer did on arriving in the city was go to hear Janson. Yet the sermons were memorable in themselves ó rich in imagery, with illustrations drawn from all places and all times. Sometimes they had evocative titles ("When Will the Day Come?" "How Wonderful to Be a Human Being!") Luth Jaeger found one, "Our Leading Stars," magnificent and published it in Budstikken. {46}

Many testified to the comfort they derived from Jansonís sermons. Those cited here occurred after the period of Jansonís trial ministry, but are typical. In 1935 U. H. Lindelie wrote in Decorah Posten about his early life. During a brief stay in Minneapolis before he went to take up a homestead, he heard Janson preach a sermon, "Jacobís Struggle with God," in which he enlarged on the injured Jacobís refusal to give up until he had received the blessing. Almost fifty years after hearing the sermon, Lindelie said it was still fresh in his memory and that many times in his life as a farmer, combating the forces of nature, he had been tempted to quit, but he had remembered the theme of the sermon ó not to surrender until he had received the blessing. In 1890 Oscar Gundersen, the self-taught immigrant writer and scholar of Chicago, wrote a perceptive article on Janson. He had only faint praise for him as a writer; he found his theology anachronistic; and in his judgment Janson had no real understanding of the physical sciences nor, for that matter, of history. Yet when Janson rose to speak, all this was forgotten. Instead, one sensed his kindliness and deep sincerity; the listener became morally uplifted and, close to tears, found his thoughts drifting to the Son of Man, who had urged men to love one another. {47} [160]

Early in January, 1882, Janson was the victim of a trick which aroused considerable resentment in the Norwegian community. One morning a man invited him to take part in a program given by a young peopleís literary society. The group, according to the caller, had been organized by the Norwegian Synod pastor, the Reverend Ole P. Vangsness, but it was open to anyone who cared to join. As Janson explained later, he was pleased to hear of the organization; he thought it fine to have a society in which Norwegian young people, regardless of church affiliation, could meet. Ordinarily, on the evening in question, Janson attended a literary group organized by Henry M. Simmons, but he said he would gladly forego that. The caller asked what subject Janson would choose to speak on, saying that programs were to be printed. When Janson said he needed time to make a choice, the two agreed that "Reading by Kristofer Janson" would serve. On leaving, the visitor said he would give this information immediately to Dr. Prydz, chairman of the program committee.

When Janson entered the hail on the evening of the meeting, one of the first persons he met was Pastor Vangsness, who greeted him courteously, but, as Janson later recalled, seemed somewhat surprised to see him. No printed programs were in evidence; instead Dr. Prydz announced each number. As the evening wore on, and one selection followed another, Janson began to feel apprehensive. Finding an opportunity to speak to the chairman, he asked when he could expect to be called upon. Jocosely Dr. Prydz answered him, "Your turn will come next Sunday!" Stung, Janson found his way back to his seat; someone helped him with his coat, and he left the hall. Recounting all this in Budstikken, Janson concluded the tale of his humiliation somewhat bitterly, "I hope none of the righteous men and women who remained contracted a disease as a result of having so dangerous a person in their presence for a few hours." {48}

Exactly who was responsible for the trick seems never to [161] have been ascertained. Dr. Prydz later stated that he did not know that Janson had been invited, adding that he considered his refusal to allow him to speak justified "on Christian grounds." The matter enlivened the columns of Budstikken for several weeks. One correspondent, signing himself "En Bondegut" (A Farm Lad) found Dr. Prydzís excuse a lame one. It was impossible, he declared, for the committee to be unaware that Janson had been invited. Yet even had that been the case, Dr. Prydz knew that Janson had been in the hall for several hours before he made his inquiry, and then, the writer declared angrily, the doctorís rude retort had been made on "synod grounds" rather than "Christian." Somewhat later, Peter J. Hilden wrote from Montevideo, commending "En Bondegut" for his letter and implying that it was high time for the Norwegian farmers to forget their subservience to the "better classes" and act independently. "Better conditions are in store for Norwegian Americans," he prophesied. "We have Kristofer Janson, who has studied us well. . . . I give you this advice: Donít be afraid to hear Janson or others." To this he added a bristling statement: "I am the son of a husmand. Some may think I have no right to express an opinion, but I certainly have." {49}

The greatest impact of the incident was felt by the literary society itself. A strong faction insisted that an apology be sent Janson. When, after several meetings given over to stormy debate, one was not forthcoming, the group withdrew to form a rival society which they called "Fram" (Forward) An active organization from the first, it frequently invited Janson to take part in its programs. {50}

Humiliating as Janson had found the incident, he was soon to have a gratifying experience of a different sort. On January 10, 1882, negotiations came to a head with the already organized congregation in rural Brown County. Janson became the minister of what was thereafter to be known as the Nora Free [162] Christian Church. What perhaps makes the history of this congregation unique is that up to the moment when the parishioners met the man who was to be their preacher, their sole intent was to continue as Lutherans. {51}

This group had been part of the Lake Hanska Lutheran Church. In the summer of 1881, months before Janson arrived in this country, they broke away, saying that they could no longer tolerate the bitter dissension that characterized congregational meetings. Presumably several issues were at stake, but one of them centered about who should be permitted burial in the church cemetery. In August the seceding members met in a local schoolhouse and organized an independent congregation. Shortly afterward they drew up a constitution and elected officers, with Johannes Mo as president. From time to time in the months that followed, they invited a Lutheran minister from another synod to preach (the Lake Hanska Church had belonged to the Norwegian Synod), but were always refused. At one time they considered writing the university in Christiania for a theological candidate, but gave that up for financial reasons. In December they read of Jansonís ordination. Many of them had heard Janson lecture in near-by Madelia less than two years before, when he gave an address on peasant reform in Norway that so captivated the audience that at the end they gave three rounds of cheers for Kristofer Janson and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. In December, 1881, the Brown County group, somewhat uncertain what to make of Jansonís Unitarianism, had instructed Mo to write him, sending their constitution. {52} In return, Janson sent them a cordial but guardedly worded letter.

When Janson faced the congregation on that January day, the time for reticence was over. "I told them openly and honorably where I stood, making it clear I was opposed to the [163] kind of preaching to which they had been accustomed." Watching his auditors as he spoke, Janson noticed from time to time that men would nudge and eye one another, nod and smile. When he had finished, some of them declared that on many issues they had long felt much as he did, but had never dared say so openly. They found it easy to relinquish dogmas of the Trinity, the verbal inspiration of the Bible, and the existence of hell, but some found it impossible to give up their faith in the divinity of Christ. These Janson comforted by saying that they not only should but must continue to believe it if it seemed to them to be the truth. Before the meeting ended Janson was asked to revise the written constitution; this and other practical matters were completed shortly. In February Janson wrote Anderson that he had forty voting members and twenty-five children under eighteen. The "peasants," however, as he still called those living in farming areas, were poor and could not pay their minister much. Several non-members in the neighborhood pledged support, but even then he could expect no more than $140 to $150 a year. {53}

In the months that followed, the congregation was bitterly assailed, but stood its ground, with Johannes Mo acting as chief spokesman. Much of the opposition apparently came from the immediate neighborhood of the church. Thus, shortly after Nora Church was organized, when Budstikken announced that Janson had preached and lectured in Madelia and Waseca and started a congregation in the former, M. Olsen wrote to reprove the editor, denying that such a church had been established. Unitarianism, he said, was a bloody pillow under the sleeping head. Then, wrathfully mixing his metaphors, he added, "I hope this dangerous teaching will not throw dust in the eyes of our countrymen. Budstikken would do well not to champion a movement aimed at destroying Christianity." Luth Jaeger, unrepentant, admitted that he had erred about the location of the congregation: "It was one in [164] the vicinity of Madelia which had the honor of calling Janson as its minister." {54}

In January, 1882, Evangelisk Lutherske Kirketidende, official organ of the Norwegian Synod, reprinted a section of an article by Janson, his account of the shortcomings of the synod that had originally appeared in Unity. Accompanying the excerpt was an editorial statement that no comment was necessary, the implication being that the charges were preposterous. Yet, at the same time similar criticism of the synod was being aired in the Critic, when Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen, long a foe of the Norwegian Synod, published an article on Janson. After sketching his career as a writer, a pioneer in the landsmaal movement, and a teacher in the Norwegian folk school, Boyesen said that Janson was merely transferring his work to a new field ó the Middle West ó where the Norwegians needed enlightenment:

"They are sorely in need of the liberalizing influence of just such a man as Mr. Janson, having been too long shut off from intellectual contact with the Nineteenth Century by their Ďevangelicalí Norse Lutheran Synod. It speaks very poorly in fact for the culture and intellectual status of the Norwegians that they have allowed themselves to be ruled so long by a corporation which would find its proper place in a museum of antiquarian remains. It is the soul-paralyzing tyranny of this body of clergymen that Janson is endeavoring to break, apparently with encouraging success." {55}

Janson was succeeding far beyond his expectations. He had lectured in St. Paul and Lake Park in Minnesota and La Crosse, Wisconsin. Subscription lists for the support of his work were circulating in Eau Claire and La Crosse, besides several in Minneapolis, and he had recently received $112 from Dodge City, Iowa. All of this he mentioned in a letter to Anderson. If his letters to the professor frequently mentioned money, it must be remembered that at the time he was wholly [165] self-supporting, having as yet received no payment from the American Unitarian Association. Through Anderson, lists also circulated in Madison. {56}

Grateful though Janson was for the professorís help, he came to realize that at times Andersonís patronage was a mixed blessing. Long before Janson arrived in the United States, Anderson had become involved in a bitter feud with Halle Steensland, a businessman in Madison, over the latterís candidacy for secretary of state in Wisconsin. After a series of acrimonious exchanges in the newspapers, Steensland sued Anderson for libel. Anderson had called upon his friends for support. John A. Johnson in Madison and Bjørnson in Norway both wrote articles, and Janson, after his arrival in America, wrote an account for a newspaper in Norway. Since Steensland was known to be a strong supporter of the Norwegian Synod, Anderson represented himself as the liberal champion engaged in a desperate struggle against orthodox tyranny, publicly appealing to those who sympathized with him to send ten-cent contributions for his defense. While many did so, cooler heads among the liberals (Luth Jaeger, for instance) disapproved of Anderson for having started the feud in the first place. Steensland, for his part, bitterly resented the interference of Bjørnson and Janson; shortly after the latterís ordination, he reproved him sharply in Norden, concluding bluntly, "Mind your own business, Reverend Sir, and let those who have not bothered you live in peace." {57}

After the turn of the year, the dispute having become increasingly bitter, Steensland turned more of his attention to Janson. On February 9 Janson wrote plaintively to Anderson:

"And what to say about that story with Halle Steensland! I very seldom felt myself so like a wet rooster as on that occasion. I had myself drawn my formidable sword defending you and now quil bruit pour une omelette. That was the little mouse, the mountain brought forth after all woes and throes [166] in the newspapers and the ten cent subscription and the boasting of your lawyers. The result of all is, that he now threatens me with libel suit too! He has written several letters to me and promised that my expressions in the article to ĎVerdens Gangí shall cause me trouble." {58}

Fortunately, by the time Janson wrote this letter the matter had already been settled out of court when Anderson made a public apology in Skandinaven on February 24, 1882. And Janson, worried though he might have been, had not let the matter interfere with his work. Shortly after the organization of his Minneapolis congregation, he announced that he would give a series of weekly readings from literature. Because of difficulties in finding an evening when Harrison Hall was available, these did not begin until January 23, when Janson read the first part of his Fante Anne (Gipsy Anne) before an audience said to be as large as the hall would hold. {59}

These readings were to be a part of Jansonís program during all the years he remained in America, and the legend of their excellence still lingers. The late Mrs. Marie Stoep of Minneapolis declared she had never known anything to be so interesting, adding, "We could hardly wait from week to week." Miss Borghild Lee of Seattle reported that her mother, who had been an immigrant in Minneapolis in the eighties, said that on Mondays her work began at four in the morning, but even so she could not forego hearing Jansonís reading the evening before. {60}

Sometimes it was the readings alone that drew people to Janson. A farmer living on the northern outskirts of the city, disgusted with the controversies taking place among the Norwegian Lutherans, steadfastly refused to go near Janson, whom he regarded as "another troublemaker." Finally, in the winter of 1888, to entertain a visiting relative, he attended [167] one of the readings and his hostility vanished. "Father came home a different man," his son reported. "He said he had never heard anything like it, and after that he couldnít get enough of Kristofer Janson." In 1892 the Reverend Axel Lundeberg, a graduate of the University of Uppsala in Sweden and a Unitarian colleague of Jansonís, wrote in the North: "As a reciter Janson is masterly. Indeed, it may truthfully be said that in that field he can fully cope with Americaís most prominent readers, and he surpasses everything which ordinarily is offered here in the West." {61}

The reviews that appeared in Budstikken glowed with the same enthusiasm. Through the years Janson offered not only the plays of Ibsen, Bjørnson, and other Norwegian writers, but the works of De Maupassant, Zola, and even Shakespeare. Obviously these could not be read coldly from the text to an untutored audience. From the brief comments Janson has made to Anderson, we glimpse something of his procedure. First he sketched in the background, pointing up the lines of essential conflict, and then throughout the reading he made whatever interpolations were necessary to bring the material within the experience of his audience.

Throughout February Jansonís work went on with encouraging success. Unity, commenting on the growth of the two new Unitarian churches in Minneapolis, observed that St. Paul had better watch lest Minneapolis eclipse it and become the cathedral city of Unitarian Minnesota. Professor Anderson, beguiled because Janson was not getting more opposition from the orthodox, wrote exultantly to Bjørnson:

"Whatís so amusing is that the synod is in the midst of a great struggle within its own ranks on the predestination issue, a fight that is driving people out of the synod and will eventually divide them a thousand ways. They are so absorbed in this internal quarrel that they have wholly forgotten Janson, who takes one province after the other from them. In the [168] Conference things are not better. They are fighting over something they call the issue of professorsí salaries and go at one another like mad dogs." {62}

Yet, if Janson was escaping attack from official quarters, Nora congregation was feeling the wrath of laymen and clergy alike. Late in March, Johannes Mo wrote to Budstikken, recounting the history of the church and pleading that Norwegians in America live and let live. From the time the group had left Lake Hanska Church they had been barraged with slander and abuse on every side, even from pulpits. They had been called mockers of God, a rotten congregation, freethinkers. Attacks had appeared in Nordvesten in St. Paul, in Norden and Skandinaven in Chicago. A letter in the last-named paper, bearing the signature of a neighbor in Brown County, had berated Mo and Ole Serumgaard for being leaders of a congregation served by Janson, who was undermining Christianity. No one, Mo went on, need speak for Janson, who was fully able to defend himself. Instead of destroying, however, he devoted himself to raising the downtrodden and righting what was wrong and false. In his last sermon, Janson, knowing the calumny people had endured, had urged them to be patient, not to repay evil with evil. Mo, for his part, was not ashamed of his function in the congregation, but was proud of the confidence others had placed in him.

The writer of the letter to Skandinaven had said that the group left the Lake Hanska Church because of a dispute over the graveyard. Mo, insisting that this was only one issue, explained that Nora Church was going to have its own burial ground, and in it anyone, regardless of creed, might bury his dead. Even Norwegian Synod ministers who had denied that privilege to those who had left their congregations might find a final resting place there. Expressing doubt that the neighbor was actually the author of the Skandinaven letter but had allowed his signature to be affixed to one composed by another, Mo spoke of his regret that an old friendship should be severed [169] in such a manner, and ended by appealing for better relations: "You better-thinking men of Lake Hanska, Linden, Madelia, and Butternut Valley congregations ó Norwegians, near and far ó leave fanaticism and hate and live together in peace and charity." {63}

In March Janson was making plans to wind up his affairs in Minneapolis temporarily so that he could go back to Norway and get his family. Early in the month he received a letter from Jenkin Lloyd Jones asking him to take part in the Western Conference convention, to be held in Cleveland early in May. Somewhat bewildered by American practices, Janson replied:

"What do you mean by Ďdevotional exercisesí? Do you mean only a short prayer, or a prayer and a short sermon? or what? What I wish to do at the meeting is to read a paper about the Scandinavians and the Scandinavian movement. Will that be permitted instead of any platform speech? You must think upon, that I am a foreigner and can not move in the English language like a fish in water. Please answer these questions, and I shall then decide what to do at the meeting. I should like rather to be a listener than a speaker on that occasion." {64}

Jonesís reply did not wholly satisfy him. When Janson wrote again on March 20, he was still concerned with what kind of topics might be of interest to the convention and asked Jonesís opinion on "Do We Christians Always Treat Our Adversaries Fairly?" as a subject. He had questions about how long it took to get to Cleveland from Chicago and where the other ministers were staying, saying he would very much like to have company. Yet, more than that, he was wondering when he was going to be paid, being badly pressed for money. He had sent off his report to the American Unitarian Association sometime before, channeling it through Jones, whom he knew to be a busy man. As he visualized Jonesís desk, need took precedence over delicacy: [170] "And what shall I think of the Unit. Assoc. in Boston? I have not received a single cent yet, and now we have the 20th of March. What makes me impatient is, that I have not been able to send a cent for the support of my family in Norway, and my wife has been obliged to borrow money. Now she will start for the western part of the country with the children in the last part of April for the purpose of taking farewell with her old father, and she needs money for that journey. And it takes three weeks before a letter reaches her from here. You are sure you have forwarded the report, brother Jones, so that it has not been hidden among your many papers? Excuse my question." {65}

Sometime before his departure from Minneapolis in the spring, Janson received what came to be known as the "salt pork letter." The anonymous sender had mailed it from Lanesboro, Minnesota, addressing it to "Rev. Kristofer Janson," and enclosing a piece of meat. Punning on the abbreviation for "reverend" (in Norwegian rev is the word for fox), the writer said that Janson had acquired his rightful title. He was sending the morsel in the hope that it would satisfy the fox who had come to devour the cock on the church steeple, and failing in that, was trying to undermine the church with its claws.

Janson forwarded the letter to friends in Lanesboro. On April 18 a statement appeared in Budstikken saying that the friends had only contempt for the sender and hoped that Janson would not think such boorishness characteristic of the Norwegians in that locality. They promised to try to find the culprit, but it was not until the middle of May, when Janson was on his way to Norway, that they openly accused someone. Using ruses, they had written to several persons they regarded as suspect, and compared the handwriting of the replies with that of the anonymous letter. The man they charged was a teacher and a choir member of a Lutheran congregation in the vicinity. Luth Jaeger also examined the letters and found [171] the writing similar, but, characteristically, he offered the accused an opportunity to defend himself in Budstikken, and shortly afterward, he did. The man denied any knowledge of the "salt pork letter," but much of his communication was given over to a denunciation of the investigators, saying that they had brought no honor upon themselves by using such a "Jesuitical trick." He was forced to face trial, and although Budstikken did not give the final outcome of the case, Janson has stated that the man was forced to leave the community. {66}

Before Janson left, he was assured that his report had, indeed, reached Boston. The Christian Register, reporting the monthly meeting of the American Unitarian Association, spoke of the full and striking account received from "a new laborer in a new field, Rev. Kristofer Janson, our missionary to the Scandinavians in the States of the Northwest," who had already gathered five or six little congregations. Since there were only two formally organized churches, the others may have been places where Jansonís subscription lists circulated and where he hoped to establish permanent organizations. {67}

En route to Cleveland Janson had stopped off in Madison, where he preached in the Unitarian church, something Anderson regarded as noteworthy, as it indicated Jansonís increased confidence in his use of English. He picked up an American flag to be presented as Professor Andersonís gift to Bjørnson when the latter commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of his Synnøve Solbakken the following summer. {68}

Whatever fears Janson may have had about appearing before the convention seem to have been groundless. The Christian Register, reporting how he conducted the devotional service, said his opening prelude had been "like a bit of Norse poetry, made especially winning by the foreign accent and gentle speech." Janson had told a legend about a [172] contest among birds to choose as their king the one that could fly the highest. The eagle was expected to win, but just before it took wing, the smallest bird perched on its back and was borne up higher than the eagle, to become king. Godís love was like the flight of the eagle, Janson said, adding that he would like to be like the little bird, looking down upon the world in the light of Godís love. Unity reported that Janson had delivered two papers, one on tolerance (presumably a development of his idea on treating adversaries fairly), and another on the Scandinavians in America. Both, the editor said, were worthy of the author of The Spellbound Fiddler, and remarked that Jansonís accented speech added to the attractiveness of his address. "Under any circumstances we should have admired the fine thought and nice diction but with the speakerís gracious smile and quaint pronunciation added thereto they become altogether fascinating." Even the handwritten minutes of what seems to have been a business meeting mention Janson. The secretaries recorded that when the Reverend Grendall Reynolds, secretary of the American Unitarian Association, spoke, he emphasized the work being done among the Scandinavians by Kristofer Janson. {69}

Clearly, Janson had stimulated considerable interest in his work. His paper, "The Scandinavians in America," was published in the Christian Register in three installments, beginning June 22, 1882. The first two, written in a lucid, interesting style, were largely background material for the third, which discussed Jansonís activities since his arrival in Minneapolis the preceding December. Thus the first part dealt with the poverty that induced most emigrants to leave their homeland, the localities where they had mainly congregated, and their efforts to improve their standard of living. The Scandinavians in America had two enemies, Janson declared, the bottle and the priest. Often the hardships of their life in Norway (those of fishermen, for example) had led them to alcohol. [173]

In America the practice of standing treat in saloons encouraged drunkenness. The priests gave their people no outside interests, but held the fear of hell over them. They were not cruel men, but they felt they must put aside human considerations when acting in an official capacity. The immigrants came to this country with great reverence for the Bible and a deep respect for the clergymanís learning. "It will be years before the yoke is broken," Janson prophesied. "The opposition already has its martyrs and I my predecessors." In other words, it was dangerous to contend with the Norwegian Synod.

The second installment of the paper dealt with the division of the Norwegian Lutherans into five synods, the church strife, and the restrictions imposed on parishioners by the Norwegian Synod ó matters Janson had discussed in Unity in December, 1881. Underlying the third part, Jansonís activities, lies a philosophy which today is often spoken of as the Protestant ethic: the assumption that hard work and a careful husbandry of oneís resources inevitably bring success. In colorful, specific detail Janson recounted his experiences, beginning with his first lecture and going on to tell how he used the proceeds to hire the largest hall in Minneapolis for his mass meeting. With wry humor he described both the old woman who brandished the catechism and the old man who belatedly realized that the devil was tempting him, and then told of those who had welcomed him and had formed the nucleus of his congregation. He mentioned the number of listeners he had preached to every Sunday, adding that he attracted more men than women. Yet he was confident that he would win the women too, for in his congregations they had the same rights as men. He spoke of his evening readings from literature, where, although no admission was charged, a collection was taken. From this and from the contributions at his Sunday services, he had covered his expenses.

He gave a poignant account of his Brown County congregation. Because the farmers were saddled with heavy mortgages and their crops had been ravaged by grasshoppers, they [174] could pay their minister only seventy dollars a year, but friends of the church had pledged an equal amount. The parishioners had difficulty finding a suitable meeting place. When they met in a small schoolhouse, the crowd overflowed and windows had to be kept open so those standing outside could hear. Sometimes they met in a grove, but that would not be pleasant in winter. They had bought an acre of ground on which they hoped to build a chapel. "But where to get the money?" They would need $1,500 to $2,000.

Janson spoke of his great attachment to this congregation; he had found many highly intelligent people among them. They knew nothing of Unitarianism, but wanted a gospel of love, comfort, and peace. Like the Minneapolis congregation, that of Brown County was known as a "free Christian church." Admitting frankly that he avoided the name "Unitarian," Janson said he did so partly because he did not like sect names, and partly out of discretion, adding, "I must be wise like the serpent." He closed with a direct appeal:

"I see a great and blessed work before me. I cannot fully enough thank the Unitarian Association for its valuable assistance, without which I had been unable to do what I have done. I feel assured the society will not withdraw its assistance until my young congregations can stand on their own feet."

Articles such as this made Janson something of a heroic figure to the American Unitarians and won for him such endearing epithets that were to appear in the Christian Register and Unity as "the brave singer from the North" and "our courageous poet-preacher." As for Janson, he was indeed grateful for the support he had received: His five months in the Middle West had caused him to find his vocation, a work more challenging and closer to his heart than either the landsmaal movement or the folk school. At least, that is what he seems to have implied in a farewell sent to Bjørnson when he was returning to America with his family: "I am now at the beginning of the real work of my manhood." {70}


<1> Kristofer Janson, Hvad jeg har oplevet, 190 (Christiania, 1913); Dina Krog to Karoline Bjørnson, an undated letter, Bjørnson Papers, University Library, Oslo. Rasmus B. Anderson said that Janson "returned to Norway with fully $3,000 net proceeds"; Life Story of Rasmus B. Anderson, 299 (Madison, 1915).

<2> Janson, Hvad jeg har opl ev et, 192, 196.

<3> Mrs. Dina Behr Kolderup to the writer, March 6, 1959; Brandes, Levned, 2:360 (Copenhagen, 1907).

<4> Janson to Rasmus B. Anderson, July 18, 1881. Letters from Janson to Anderson here cited are in the Anderson Papers, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, Et kvindesjæbne was published in Bergen, Norway, in 1875, Vore besteforældre in Copenhagen in 1882 The portrait of Drude Janson is in the possession of Mrs. Betty Lou Nelson of Seattle, Washington, a great-granddaughter.

<5> Janson approached his home, Arne, then about seven, ran out to meet his father, his face beaming, and shouted, "Sigmund is dead!" Interview with Mrs. Elinor Janson Hudson, daughter of Arne Janson, July, 1965; Dr. Eiliv Janson to the writer, July 4, 1959.

<6> Janson, Hvad jeg har oplevet, 198.

<7> Anderson, Life Story, 300.

<8> Janson to Anderson, July 18, 1881.

<9> Janson to Anderson, July 18, 1881. Johnson was a pioneer industrialist, founder of the Gisholt Machine Company. A biography of him by Agnes Larson is to be published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association.

<10> Skandinaven (Chicago), September 13, 1881. The letter was reprinted in Folkebladet (Minneapolis), September 22, 1881.

<11> Janson to Anderson, September 9, 1881. Excerpts from Norwegian sources here quoted have been translated by the present writer.

<12> Janson to Anderson, September 9, 1881.

<13> Anderson to Bjørnson, August 27, 1881; letters to Bjørnson here cited are in the Bjørnson Papers; microfilm copies of Andersonís letters in this collection are in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Aubertine Woodwardís letters are in the Anderson Papers. The Spellbound Fiddler had appeared in Chicago in 1880.

<14> Skandinaven, October 11, 1881.

<15> Letters to Jones are in the Jones Papers, Library of Meadville Theological School of Lombard College, Chicago. Italics in the section quoted are Jansonís.

<16> Skandinaven, November 15, 1881.

<17> Christian Register (Boston), November 24, December 1, 1881.

<18> Unity (Chicago), December 1, 1881.

<19> Unitarian Review and Religious Magazine (Boston), January, 1882.

<20> Skandinaven, November 29, 1881. The other newspapers mentioned were quoted in Budstikken (Minneapolis) , December 6, 1881.

<21> Fædrelandet og Emigranten (La Crosse) , December 6, 1881.

<22> Anderson to Bjørnson, December 2, 1881. Italics are Andersonís.

<23> Carl G. O. Hansen, My Minneapolis, 52 (Minneapolis, 1956).

<24> Tribune Hand Book of Minneapolis 44, 115 (Minneapolis, 1884); Janson, "Fra Amerika," in Nyt tidsskrift, 2:22 (Christiania, 1883).

<25> Janson, in Nyt tidsskrift, 2:22.

<26> Charles Howard Hopkins, The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism 1865ó1915, 79 (New Haven, 1940).

<27> Hansen, My Minneapolis, 23, 51ó54.

<28> Hansen, My Minneapolis, 23.

<29> Jansonís denial was reprinted in Budstikken, August 30, 1881.

<30> Budstikken, December 6, 1881.

<31> Janson to Anderson, December 11, 1881; Simmons to Jones, December 12, 1881, Jones Papers.

<32> Simmons to Jones, December 12, 1881; Janson, Hvad jeg har oplevet, 205; Janson, "The Scandinavians in America," in Christian Register, June 22, 1882.

<33> Janson to Anderson, December 11, 1881. Italics in the letter are Jansonís. The Lutheran Church (and other orthodox Christian religions) accepted both the Nicene and the Athanasian symbols or creeds. Janson is here explaining that he was presented with a constitution suitable for a Lutheran church, not a liberal congregation.

<34> Janson to Jones, December 12, 1881.

<35> Saamanden (Minneapolis) , November, 1893.

<36> See E. Clifford Nelson and Eugene L. Fevold, The Lutheran Church among Norwegian-Americans, 1:224 (Minneapolis, 1960); S. Sondresen, "De norske kirkesamfund i Amerika," in Norsk-amerikanerne, 53 (Bergen, 1938).

<37> Hans Nielsen Hauge (1771ó1824), a lay preacher, brought about a religious revival in Norway despite persecution from state authorities.

<38> Folkebladet, December 22, 1881.

<39> Folkebladet, January 5, 1882.

<40> Janson to Jones, December 19, 1881.

<41> Anderson to Bjørnson, December 19, 1881.

<42> Budstikken, December 20, 1881.

<43> Budstikken, December 27, 1881.

<44> Janson to Anderson, February 9, 1882.

<45> Janson, in Christian Register, June 22, 1882.

<46> The sermon is included in Jansonís Lys og frihed, 70ó78 (Minneapolis, 1892).

<47> U. H. Lindelie, "Nogle erindringer og betragtninger," in Decorah-Posten, May 31, 1935; Oscar Gundersen, "Kristofer Janson," in Minneapolis Tidende, August 17, 1890.

<48> Budstikken, January 10, 1882.

<49> Budstikken, February 21, April 4, 1882. A husmand is a tenant farmer.

<50> Hansen, My Minneapolis, 58.

<51> Ole Jorgensen, "Speech at the Laying of the Cornerstone of Nora Church Parsonage, June 24, 1906," in Nora fri-kristne menighed, 21 (Hanska, Minnesota, 1906), a twenty-fifth anniversary pamphlet. "Nora" is a symbolic term for Norwegian.

<52> ĎBudstikken, April 11, 1882.

<53> Janson, Hvad jeg har oplevet, 207; Janson to Anderson, February 9, 1882.

<54> Budstikken, January 31, 1882.

<55> Evangelisk luthersk kirketidende, January 13, 1882; Critic (New York), January 14, 1882.

<56> Janson to Anderson, February 9, 1882.

<57> Norden (Chicago) ,November 20, 1881.

<58> Janson to Anderson, February 9, 1882. On the Steensland-Anderson dispute, see Lloyd Hustvedt, Rasmus B. Anderson: Pioneer Scholar, 171 (Northfield, 1966). A loose translation of the French words would be, "What a noise over one omelet!"

<59> Budstikken, February 7, 1882.

<60> Interviews with Mrs. Stoep and Miss Lee, spring and summer, 1960.

<61> Axel Lundeberg, "Kristofer Janson and His Work," in North (Minneapolis), May 11, 1892.

<62> Unity, February 16, 1882; Anderson to Bjørnson, February 17, 1882.

<63> Budstikken, April 11, 1882.

<64> Janson to Jones, March 12, 1882. Italics are Jansonís.

<65> Janson to Jones, March 20, 1882.

<66> Janson, Hvad jeg har oplevet, 251.

<67> Christian Register, April 13, 1882.

<68> Anderson to Bjørnson, April 18, 1882.

<69> Christian Register, May 11, 1882; Unity, May 16, 1882; Western Unitarian Conference, Minutes of the Twenty-eighth Annual Meeting, May 4, 1882, filed in Abraham Lincoln Center, Chicago.

<70> Janson to Bjørnson, August 13, 1882.

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