The First German Immigrants

The first immigrants from Germany went to America because of the German ‘Thirty Years War’. This war broke out 1618 due to religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants.

Between 60 thousand and one hundred thousand German speaking immigrants are estimated to have fled their home lands to set out for America during that colonial era. The first and earliest German settlement was one that was named Germantown, located in Pennsylvania.

The history of Germantown started in October 1683, when thirteen German-speaking families came to Pennsylvania on their ship named Concord.

The families originated from the Krefeld region in the German state of Rhineland. Francis Daniel Pastorius was the leader of these early German immigrants who were predominantly Mennonites, and he had obtained a piece of land from Pennsylvania’s founder, William Penn.

The first Germantown settlers were craftsmen and farmers. Initially, they survived in the settlements by selling their crafted tools and farm produce on the streets and markets in Philadelphia, and it wasn’t long before they established a linen-weaving and production business at their location. By 1870, the Germantown population had already increased to over 3,000.

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German Contributions to America

The contributions and achievements of German-Americans have through the centuries had a deep and lasting effect on how the United States has become the country that it is today. German immigrants, known for their hard work, thrift, practical skills, interest in the arts, crafts, and enjoyment of the good life, have definitely left their mark on American life and culture. Here we will highlight a few of the many German-Americans that played a prominent role in creating the United States as we know it today.

Many German immigrants contributed to transmitting and winning the freedoms that Americans are enjoying today. In 1735, the first key victory to gain freedom of the American press happened when John Peter Zenger, a journalist and printer with German-American roots, was granted the right by a jury to criticize the colonial government, and a Philadelphia-based German newspaper published the American Declaration of Independence first.

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German Influences – Food

German Food in America

American food is heavily influenced by the Germans, though this influence is largely hidden because it has been around for such a long time. The most reliable accounts state that around 25 percent of the American population is in some way of German descent. In earlier days, German restaurants and their food guaranteed a top notch culinary standard across most major American cities. Nowadays, German restaurants are pretty hard to come by, even in cities that have strong German ties and traditions such as Milwaukee, Cincinnati, or St. Louis.  and Milwaukee. Nevertheless, both the hamburger and the

Anyway, both the frankfurter and the hamburger and many other cured meat and sausage varieties, egg noodles, and numerous other so-called “typical American dishes have “their roots in the German cuisine. Strong German influences are even found in the proud barbecue cooking styles of many central Texas areas that house some major German influence pockets.

Some very popular American dishes, such as sauerbraten (the famous sweet and sour roast) retain their German names, just like sauerkraut, knackwurst (the sausage often referred to as knockwurst), leberwurst (that was slightly altered into liverwurst), and the always highly popular bratwurst. Americans are using the original German names comfortably, regardless whether they are of German descent or not.

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German Influence in America

By the mid-18th century, a steady stream of German immigrants came to America and they took a central place in everyday American life. German immigrants were accounting for more than 30% of the entire population of the new American colonies, only outnumbered by the English. In practically every colony, German was a widely spoken language.

In the 19th century, the flow of German immigrants was booming, after wars in both America and Europe had slowed down the stream of new immigrants for a couple of decades, a period that started in the mid-1770’s, but around the mid-1830’s the German immigration flow had increased again dramatically.

By the time they were established in the new country and in their new home, the German settlers started to wrote to their friends and families in Europe and told them about all opportunities that were available in America.

Because the Germans had become such a predominant immigrant group during the 19th century, it is no surprise that they had such a strong influence over all sorts of development in America and determined the culture in their new home land considerably.

There are quite a few German contributions to American life that are easy to indicate: for example bear brewing facilities across the U.S., sauerkraut, or the tuba. Yet German influences on life in America run much deeper, they have influenced many of the traditions, the institutions, and also many daily habits that Quite a few Americans today consider to be American.

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