Norwegian Immigration to America: Leif Ericson
Norwegian Immigration to America can said to have begun with the Viking explorer Leif Ericson, the son of Eric the Red. Leif Ericson, who was of Norwegian descent, is regarded by many as the first European to visit the North American continent, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus. Leif Ericson established a Viking colony in the land he called Vinland in 1002, on the northern tip of Newfoundland in modern-day Canada.
History of Norwegian Immigration to America: Religion
The Christianization of the Norwegian people replaced the early tribal structures and the Vikings. The first Christian religion of Norway was Roman Catholic. King Olaf II Haraldsson (995 – 1030), later known as St. Olaf, was King of Norway from 1015 to 1028. Saint Olaf is regarded as being responsible for the final conversion of Norway to Christianity, and is still seen as the patron saint of Norway. In 1517 Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation which resulted in the majority of Northern Europe coming under the influence of Protestantism.
History of Norwegian Immigration to America: The Major Waves of Norwegian Immigration
The history of Norwegian Immigration to America is recognized as starting in 1825 on the Norwegian sloop Restauration, although the first Norwegian settlers joined the Dutch in New Netherland. The major Norwegian immigration waves to America occurred in the 1800's:
Norwegian settlers joined Dutch colonists in New Netherland during the Colonial era
The first significant wave Norwegian Immigration to America started in 1825 by a group of Lutheran pietists and Quakers, to avoid religious persecution in Norway and gain religious freedom in America
The next wave of Norwegian immigration was much larger and sparked by economic factors and crop failure after the American Civil War (1861 to 1865) when 110,896 Norwegians entered the United States
The final, major wave of Norwegian immigration, was between 1880 – 1890 when a total of 256,068 Norwegians emigrated to the United States prompted by employment opportunities during the industrialization of America and cheaper faster travel by steam boat
History of Norwegian Immigration to America: The Reasons for Norwegian Immigration to America
Why did people want to leave Norway and why did they want to move to America? The Norwegian immigrants of the colonial period joined the Dutch seeking profit, opportunities for trade and a new life in America. Many of the later immigrants of the early 1800's sought religious freedom. However, the main reasons for the Norwegian Immigration to America in the mid 1800's were disasters such as crop failures, blights and poor harvests leading to poverty. The agricultural revolution caused unemployment and the financial need to seek a better life and employment due to the industrialization of America.
History of Norwegian Immigration to America in the 1600's: Colonial America - New Netherland
The During the Colonial era Norway were important diplomatic and trading allies of Holland. The Norwegians supplied the Dutch with the timber needed to build their ships. Due to these close alliances, a number of immigrants from Norway came across in Dutch ships and settled among the Dutch in New Netherland during the Colonial period. New Netherland covered areas of the Mid-Atlantic States, later known as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. This was the first small and sporadic wave of Norwegian Immigration to America.
History of Norwegian Immigration to America in the 1800's: The Sloopers
The history of Norwegian Immigration to America reached a significant point in 1825 when the Restauration ship sailed from Stavenger with over 50 Quakers and Haugean reformists on board who wanted to leave the religious prosecution of the Lutheran state church in Norway. The trip was well planned and Cleng Peerson, who would later be called the 'Pioneer of Norse Emigration to America', visited America in 1821 to prepare for their arrival. The group were led by Lars Larsen Geilane and made the hazardous 14 week journey to America on the Restauration, an undersized sailing sloop which earned the group the name of the 'Sloopers'. They landed in New York on October 9, 1825 and were lauded for their bravery that many Americans saw as reminiscent of the Mayflower pilgrims. The Norwegian migrants first settled in Kendall, New York and in 1834 Cleng Peerson founded a second Norwegian settlement in the Fox River Valley of Illinois, that was aptly called 'Norway, Illinois'.
History of Norwegian Immigration to America in the 1800's: The Potato Blight
During the 1800's potatoes were the most important crop in Norway. The potato blight, responsible for the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849), spread to Norway causing famine hunger and disease. It is estimated that 50,000 Norwegians died during this terrible time. Emigration to America was a means of escape but the passage was expensive. Some Norwegians obtained passage by signing contracts as indentured servants without pay up to 5 - 7 years in return for free passage. By the end of the 1860s there were more than 40,000 Norwegians in the United States.
History of Norwegian Immigration to America in the 1800's: Major Wave of Norwegian Immigration
After the American Civil War (1861 to 1865) yet another terrible famine hit the countries of Scandinavia and brought the first major wave of Norwegian immigrants in its wake. The devastating Famine of 1866 - 1868 hit all the Scandinavian countries leaving potatoes and vegetables rotting in the fields of Norway. Norwegian Immigration to America soared as 110,896 people were forced to leave Norway between 1866 and 1873. The Norwegian author Svein Nilsson (1826-1908) immigrated to America in 1867 and wrote a series of articles detailing Norwegian immigration and the first settlements in New York, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The wave of Norwegian immigration was only halted when the financial panic of 1873 hit the United States which led to the 6 year period in American history known as the Long Depression.
History of Norwegian Immigration to America in the 1800's: The Great Migration
The history of Norwegian Immigration to America reached new heights as the United States recovered from the Long Depression and the second major wave of Norwegian Immigration began. The process of industrialization had resulted in the jobs of many farmers and skilled craftsmen being taken over by machines. Many Norwegian families decided to join friends and family who were already established in the United States. Between 1880 – 1890 when a total of 256,068 Norwegians emigrated to the United States - more than one-ninth of the total population of Norway. The majority of Norwegian immigrants lived in the farming communities of the upper Midwest making their homes in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and North and South Dakota and settling in cities such as Brooklyn, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Seattle.
History of Norwegian Immigration to America in the 1800's: Ellis Island
As Norwegian Immigration to America in the 1880's reached its highest levels so did the numbers of immigrants to America. Between 1881 - 1890 a total of 5,246,613 immigrants flooded into the U.S. The US government was forced to restrict immigration and new immigration laws were passed to address the problem. The 1891 Immigration Act introduced the inspection and deportation of immigrants. In 1892 the Ellis Island immigration center (1892 - 1954) was opened. Preference was shown to the "Old Immigrants" of Northern Europe and few Norwegian immigrants were turned away.
History of Norwegian Immigration to America in the 1900's
Norwegian immigration to America dramatically declined in the 1900's. The Immigration Act of 1924 restricted the number of immigrants from a given country to 2% of the number of residents from that same country living in the US. 87% of permits went to immigrants from Britain, Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavia. The Norwegian immigration rate quickly slowed to a few thousand a year, a rate that has remained largely unchanged to the present day.
Norwegian Immigration to America
According to the 2011 United States Census, 4,557,539 Americans, claimed Norwegian ancestry. It is little wonder that Norwegian immigration to America has had such significant impact on the culture of Americans.
Norwegian Immigration to America Facts Sheet and Timeline for kids
Important facts about the history of Norwegian Immigration to America and US laws that effected the migrants from Sweden are contained in the following Facts Sheet and history timeline.
Norwegian Immigration to America Facts Sheet and Timeline for kids
|793: The Vikings from Scandinavia begin their raids|
|1002: Viking explorer Leif Ericson sailed to the North American continent and established a colony called Vinland|
|1015: The Christianization of the people by King Olaf II Haraldsson, later known as St. Olaf|
|1517: Protestant reformation in Norway, initiated by Martin Luther|
|1600's: Norwegian immigrants came across in Dutch ships and settled in New Netherland|
|1825: The 'Sloopers' voyage on the Restauration to the US and land in New York.|
|1834: Cleng Peerson founds the Norwegian settlement of 'Norway, Illinois'.|
|1845: A potato blight hit Norway leading to thousands of deaths through starvation|
|1866: The Famine of 1866 - 1868 prompted the first major wave of Norwegian immigrants|
|1867: Author Svein Nilsson immigrated to America and wrote about Norwegian immigrants|
|1873: The financial panic of 1873 hit the US lasting for 6 years|
|1880's: The Great Migration from Norway prompted by the swift industrialization|
|1886: The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York Harbor, the landmark for all immigrants from Norway|
|1891: The 1891 Immigration Act provided for the regulation of immigration and the inspection of immigrants. |
|1892: The Ellis Island immigration center was opened where immigrants from Europe, including Norway, were required to undertake to medical and legal examinations|
|1924: The Immigration Act of 1924 (Johnson-Reed Act) was passed restricting the number of immigrants to the US|
|Norwegian Immigration to America has declined from this time|
Norwegian Immigration to America Facts Sheet and Timeline
Push and Pull Factors of Norwegian Immigration to America for kids
For specific examples and a list of political, economic, environmental and social reasons and push and pull factors of Norwegian Immigration to America refer to:
Push and Pull Factors of Norwegian Immigration
Norwegian Immigration to America for kids
This article contains a brief overview of Norwegian Immigration to America from the first Immigrants through the 1800's and 1900's. Important historical events have been highlighted which had a significant impact on Norwegian Immigration to America. A brief description of the effect of the first immigrants from Norway. Our article on Norwegian Immigration to America also outlines subjects such as Sloopers, the Potato Blight and famine, the Great Migration and Ellis Island. A helpful educational resource for kids on the subject of Norwegian Immigration to America.
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