Seaports of the World
United States: Pennsylvania
From 1683, when the first large group of Germans came to New York and Philadelphia, until the mid-1800s, 200,000 German speaking emigrants settled in North America. Most of the immigrants were from south-western Germany and among this group are those referred to as "Pennsylvania Dutch" (Deitsch or Deutsch -- from Germany, not Holland) and the "Plain People," referring to Amish, Mennonites and the Brethren.
High years of German emigration included the years 1709, 1727, 1732, 1738, 1742-1744, 1749-1754, 1764, 1770-1773, 1785-1802 (especially 1792-1796). During the year 1717 there appears to have been at least four ships to Pennsylvania, one to New York, and one to Virginia carrying Germans.
In the first national US census of 1790 there were about 280,000 (7% of the population) people of German descent in the country and by the end of the 18th century, one-third of the population of Pennsylvania was German.
The Welsh also have had an impact upon Pennsylvania’s society and culture since the founding of the colony in 1681. Several waves of Welsh immigrants—gentry, farmers and, later, industrial workers—came to Pennsylvania and created several dense settlements in various sections of the Commonwealth. The Welsh were especially influential from 1682 to 1730 in shaping the political, economic and social development of the colony.
The Welsh are descendants of the ancient Britons. Their homeland, Wales (in Welsh, Cymru), is located in the southwestern part of the isle of Great Britain on a peninsula of around eight thousand square miles which thrusts westward from England into the Irish Sea.
Originally a separate kingdom, in 1536 England established a "parliamentary act of Union, and began to control Wales. Although Wales was one of the first western nations to be heavily industrialized, its population stayed relatively small. Thus, in comparison to the larger homelands of other American ethnic groups, like Germany, Italy, and Poland, which sent massive waves of immigrants to the United States, Wales could never be the source of so great a number.
Nonetheless, in Pennsylvania, particularly in the early colonial period, the Welsh were an important and influential ethnic group. From 1682 to 1700, the Welsh were the largest group immigrating to Pennsylvania. By 1700 they accounted for approximately one-third of the colony’s estimated population of twenty thousand. After 1700, Welsh immigration remained significant, yet slowly declined; it practically ceased after 1720, resuming in sizable numbers only in the early nineteenth century.
The mass immigration of Welsh to Pennsylvania before 1700 was due largely to the desire of Welsh Quakers for religious freedom and escape from persecution, and for the creation of a separate colony or “barony” in America. Thus, in part, these Welsh Quakers may have hoped to preserve the language and customs of their homeland. In 1681 several Welsh Quaker gentlemen met with William Penn in London and obtained a tract of forty thousand acres in Pennsylvania. A verbal agreement was reached, reportedly, which assured the Welsh that their settlement would be indivisible and would constitute a “barony” with the right of self-government.
The “Welsh Tract” covered the land north of Philadelphia and west of the Schuylkill River. From the Schuylkill it stretched northwestward along the southwest bank of the river, and westward and southwestward over southeastern Pennsylvania. Although the boundaries of the barony were laid out in 1682, they were not established officially until 1687. In general, its borders covered eleven and one-half townships in Delaware, Chester and Montgomery counties, including Radnor, Haverford, Upper and Lower Merion, West Whiteland, East Westland, Willistown, West and East Goshen, Tredyffrin, part of West Town, and all of East Town. Almost all of the early settlers on this tract were Welsh and the majority was Quakers. Many of the settlers were members of the Welsh gentry and their servants, and the others came from the yeoman class.
The Welsh Quaker exclusiveness of the barony and the hope of exercising separate civil authority on one undivided tract through Quaker meetings did not last long. By 1690 all separate privileges for the Welsh barony were lost within Pennsylvania. Also by that time, Welsh Baptists, Anglicans, and Presbyterians, as well as English and German settlers, had established homes on the Welsh Tract.
Beyond the Welsh barony, other Welsh communities were established. Of these, Gwynedd Township, in the present Montgomery County, was the most important early mass settlement. Welsh settlers began moving into Gwynedd, also known as North Wales, in 1698. By 1720 the settlement was almost complete, and by 1741 it was one of the most flourishing in the county. Other Welsh flowed into Bucks and Berks Counties. Small numbers of Welsh also settled in Lancaster County as early as 1700. By the mid-1700s Welsh settlers had moved in along the Susquehanna frontier.
After 1730 the Welsh gradually became a less significant portion of the colony’s populace as other groups, such as the Germans and Scotch-Irish, came into Pennsylvania. By the time of the Revolutionary War, or no later than 1790, there were approximately twelve thousand people of Welsh ancestry in Pennsylvania. By that time, however, the colony’s population had grown to about 250,000. Except for a few isolated communities, the Welsh had generally lost their national identity and had mixed with the English. The most important of the few groups that continued the commemoration of their ethnic origins was the Welsh Society of Philadelphia. Founded in 1729, the society was originally intended to assist poor immigrants from Wales.
A second wave of Welsh immigration, in the nineteenth century, was spurred by poor harvests in Wales during the 1790s. This flow of immigrants was later perpetuated by several other factors. The rural population of Wales increased by two-thirds between 1800 and 1850. Large estates were consolidated and rents were raised, displacing small farmers and their sons. Although the majority of these newly homeless probably migrated to the new industrial districts of Great Britain, such as Liverpool and London, a considerable number migrated to America. Later, during the nineteenth century, the industrial development of Pennsylvania, especially of the coal and iron industries, attracted Welsh industrial workers who were seeking the comparatively high wages available in the United States. Since industrialization had begun in Wales fifty years before it began in America, there was a supply of skilled Welsh industrial workers who were eager to pursue opportunities in the newly rising industries of Pennsylvania. The other important Welsh communities settled during this wave of Welsh immigration emerged in the areas of Pennsylvania which experienced intensive development of the coal, iron and steel industries. Welsh workers with industrial skills came to America generally in the following order during the nineteenth century: After 1815, iron puddlers and rollers; after 1830, coal miners; after 1840, slate quarrymen; and after 1890, tin-platers.
The Welsh language was the native tongue of most Welsh immigrants and of most of their American-born children until they entered public school. In some of the dense Welsh settlements of Pennsylvania, such as those in Carbondale and Scranton, the language was preserved by segments of the community. A Welsh-language press thrived in Pennsylvania for over a century, with such newspapers as the Wasg of Pittsburgh (1871–1890) and the Baner America of Scranton (1866–1877). For the most part, however, the Welsh language disappeared as the second generation grew up speaking English. A battle did occur within the Welsh churches between those who demanded services in Welsh and those who, because they believed their children would not follow a religion preached in a “foreign” language, preferred English-language services. By 1910 most churches had services in English and only rarely were they in Welsh.
The Welsh were especially fond of poetry and they generally admired poets who could compose in either the ancient form, called cynghanedd, or in relatively freer modern forms. Welsh poets were given bardic titles. Some places in Pennsylvania produced an extraordinary number of bards. Up to 1910 there were more than fifty bards in Scranton. Consequently, the Hyde Park section of that city became known as the “great Merthyr” and the “Welsh Athens” of America. The Welsh literary and singing festival or contest, called the Eisteddfod, was introduced into America at Carbondale, Pennsylvania, in 1850. The Eisteddfod supposedly began in the year 940 when a Welsh chieftain awarded a chair to a victorious bard. The Eisteddfod consisted of competition in poetry, essays, orations, recitations, prose translations, and the performance of vocal music by large choirs, trios, soloists and glee parties. Numerous Welsh civic organizations and churches conducted Eisteddfodau in America, most often between 1875 and 1915. Five three-hundred-voice choirs from the Pennsylvania coal regions attended the Eisteddfod at the Philadelphia bicentennial celebration in 1882 and competed for prizes of up to twelve hundred dollars. A choir from Scranton out-performed the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and secured the top prize of five thousand dollars.
October 21, 1843, Washington Globe
from the Philadelphia Ledger
The sloop-of-war Dale arrived yesterday from the west coast of South America, having on board the body of Com. Claxton. We have the following interesting letter from a gentleman who made the cruise with her:
GENTLEMEN: This ship has just arrived from a three years' cruise to the Pacific Ocean -- last from Valparaiso, from whence we took our departure on the 6th of August. In sixty days from that date, we were up with Bermuda, only about 70 hours' sail from home, in ordinary weather, since when we have encountered two gales from the N. W. and experienced a succession of calms, squalls, and adverse and baffling winds. The officers and crew are generally in good health, and have fortunately enjoyed an exemption from any prevalent disease during the entire three years. For the last eighteen or nineteen months, the Dale has been almost constantly at sea, cruising between Cape Horn and California. She has visited the ports of Valparaiso and Coquibo, in Chili; Callao, Arica, Islay, Lambayeque, Santa, Payta and Tumbez, in Peru; Guayaquil and Puna in the Equator; Panama and Taboga, in New Grenada; Mazatlan and Guaymas, in Mexico; Monterey, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and San Diego, in Upper California; and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; everywhere keeping a vigilant eye on America commerce and American interests, affording protection to the weak and asylums to the wanderer, and aid and assistance to the distressed of our countrymen who, by their misfortunes or their wayward propensities, may have been cast "adrift" on inhospitable shores. During the three years, we have traversed the ocean some sixty thousand miles.
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Stephen Girard, America's First Tycoon
(1750-1831) was born May 20, 1750 in Bordeaux, France. By the late 1700s, he was an Eastern Seaboard captain and shipbuilder. From ushistory.org: "Stephen Girard came to America by way of Philadelphia in 1776 through circumstance rather than by purpose. He had been to New York on earlier voyages, but it was not until his arrival in Philadelphia that Girard made America his permanent home. He went on to be the wealthiest citizen and, in several ways, he contributed much to the early growth of the new nation he adopted. His influence was evident in shipping, construction, banking, and even in politics, later into coal mining and railroads." Girard's first voyage as a captain came at the helm of a brigantine named Sally.
Philadelphia and Southern Mail Steamship Company
A series of voyages to New Orleans on vessels owned by Thomas Randall, who befriended the energetic Girard led to a highly profitable business association for both of them. Upon his return to Bordeaux in 1773, Girard was formally licensed as a captain in the French merchant marine by the French government. His reputation and skill as a sea captain obtained other potentially lucrative voyages for him, and he was soon carrying out sizable business deals that brought him extensive profits.
Business pursuits went on in methodical and practical fashion for Stephen Girard after the war ended. By 1781, he was a maritime entrepreneur of extraordinary dimensions. His expertise was widely recognized and his skills in business dealings seemed to flow quite naturally. But the success came from a practical and hard-working man. His prosperity came from an unstinting work ethic. All things pointed to a world full of promise and happiness.
Stephen Girard, who came to Philadelphia in 1777, had only one vessel in 1790, the little brigantine Kitty, of less than a hundred tons. His first large ship was the Good Friend which registered 247 tons and was built in Philadelphia in 1793. Most of the craft he owned prior to 1800 were small. The Voltaire of 305 tons, built in 1795, was the first to exceed 300 tons. In 2801 he had the Rousseau built. She was almost identical with the Voltaire in size and design. She outlasted all the other Girard ships, ending her days as a New Bedford whaler. One hot summer day in 1893 I sat on the stringpiece of a New Bedford wharf and watched the ship-breakers taking her to pieces. At noon one of them came up and sat down beside me to eat his lunch. He said that it was the slowest job of the kind he had ever tackled -- that her live oak timbers were as sound as the day the Philadelphia ship carpenters drift-bolted them together, more than 90 years before.
Altogether, Girard owned 14 ships. He was registered as sole owner of all but two, in which the masters owned small interests. His largest vessels were the North America of 288 tons, built in 1810 and the Superb of 537 tons, built in 1817. His best known captains were Ezra Bowen of Rehoboth, Rhode Island and Myles McLeven of Philadelphia.
Starting with the year of starvation from poor harvests in 1816/1817 in Germany, a new period of emigration began; during the 18th century 80% of the German emigrants came through the port of Pennsylvania, many of them moving on from there to Maryland and Virginia.
During the 1850s, nearly 37% of immigrants arriving in the U.S. came from Germany; many choose to remain in Philadelphia following earlier German settlers. While New England cities such as Boston did develop a German community, these German centers were not among the largest or most influential. This stood in sharp contrast to the Irish, the other large immigrant group of the mid 1800s. Six of the nine cities with the densest Irish populations were in New England.
By 1860, with the possible exception of the northern tier counties, population was scattered throughout the state. There was increased urbanization, although rural life remained strong and agriculture involved large numbers of people.
As a result of the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1780, the 3,737 African American slave population of 1790 dropped to 64 by 1840, and by 1850 all Pennsylvania African Americans were free unless they were fugitives from the South. The African American community had 6,500 free people in 1790, rising to 57,000 in 1860. Philadelphia was their population and cultural center.
Most of the state's major cities were built along important river routes. In the 1790s, the state made extensive studies for improving the navigation of all major streams, and canals began to supplement natural waterways.
Canals extending the use of the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers were chartered before 1815, and the Lehigh Canal was completed in 1838. The vast system named the State Works of Pennsylvania soon overshadowed privately constructed canals. The system linked the east and the west by 1834, but the expense nearly made the state financially insolvent. The benefits to the economic progress of distant regions, however, provided ample justification for the high cost. Although canals declined rapidly with the advent of the railroad, Pennsylvania's ports and waterways remained active. The steamboat originated with experiments by John Fitch of Philadelphia from 1787 to 1790, and Lancaster County native Robert Fulton established it as a practical medium of transportation on the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers.
In 1812, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry was 28 years old and the man who said "We have met the enemy and they are ours." When the U.S. declared war on Great Britain, Perry requested duty on the Great Lakes. Perry joined Commodore Isaac Chauncey's command on Lake Ontario; Chauncey decided Perry would be of better use in Erie, Pennsylvania, where a fleet was being constructed to take control of Lake Erie from the British. Perry and his men successfully completed six vessels by July 1813 and thus began the Battle of Lake Erie with Perry aboard the flagship Lawrence. The British bombarded the Lawrence, she was severely damaged and 80% of the crew killed or wounded, so Perry took command of the Niagara, sailed her into the British battle line and broadsided their ships. Within 15 minutes, the British ships, already damaged from fire from the Lawrence, surrendered. Perry was the first in history to defeat an entire British squadron and successfully bring back every ship to his base as a prize of war.
William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company of Philadelphia was founded in 1825 by William Cramp, and was the preeminent U.S. iron shipbuilder of the late 19th century. Notable ships include USS Indiana (BB-1), Battleship No. 1 of the United States Navy, launched 28 February 1893.
On a cold, drizzly morning in November 1894, 25,000 men, women, and children surged through the gates of Philadelphia’s Cramp shipyard to witness the launching of the largest liner yet built in the United States. She was the SS St. Louis, the 11,000 gross ton flagship of the American Line, owned by Philadelphia shipping tycoon Clement Griscom. Attending the launching were President Grover Cleveland, shipyard president Charles Cramp, and First Lady Frances Cleveland, who would be the ship’s godmother. The SS St. Louis (1894) and SS St. Paul (1895) were the first major ocean liners built in the United States after the collapse of the Collins Line in the 1850s.
After her successful launch on November 12, 1894 by First Lady Frances Cleveland, St. Louis spent another year in the fitting out basin, where hundreds of workers would turn the empty hull into a floating village. Giant floating cranes, including one named Alt as, could handle boilers and machinery weighing up to seventy tons. When complete, St. Louis could carry 1,200 passengers in three classes, most of who would be crammed into lower deck steerage berths. She would boast electric lights (only a few years earlier, steamships were lit by flickering oil lamps), flush toilets, and steam heating in her public rooms. Her luxurious first class interiors were designed by architect Frank Furness. The first class dining room was 55 feet wide and three decks high, capped barrel-vaulted stained glass skylight. At dinner, passengers could enjoy music from a full-sized pipe organ.
On 15 November 1899, the St. Paul, en route from New York to England with Guglielmo Marconi on board supervising the ship's new wireless telegraph equipment, became the first liner to report her imminent arrival by radio.
European settlers purchased Hog Island from the Lenape Indians in 1680. The settlers gradually developed the island by building log and earthwork dikes to minimize storm damage and convert the marshes into good grazing meadows.
On January 24, 1895, the Pocahontas County Sun reported that Hog Island was once bought for $8,000 by a New Yorker who expected to send the cedar lumber of the island to New York for use in shipbuilding but found the venture unprofitable because of the cost of transportation. After the turn of the century, the U.S. Government contract with Hog Island to build a shipyard at Hog Island; it became the largest shipyard in the world with 50 slipways. In all 122 Hog Islanders were built, mostly cargo ships, and a few troop transport ships. The shipbuilding continued until 1921, after which the facility was rapidly demolished.
This work highlights the contributions of regiments of the Pennsylvania Dutch and post-1820 immigrant Germans at the Battle of Gettysburg. On the first day, the 1st Corps, in which many of the Pennsylvania Dutch regiments served, and the half-German 11th Corps, which had five regiments of either variety in it, bought with their blood enough time for the federals to adequately prepare the high ground, which proved critical in the end for the Union victory. On the second day, they participated in beating back Confederate attacks that threatened to crack the Union defenses on Cemetery Hill and in other strategic locations.
Chester Daily Times, May 6, 1880
Chester, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
A NEW YACHT TO BUILD.—The Pioneer Iron works, of Marcus Hook, has just closed a contract to build for L. Taylor Dixon, Esq. of Philadelphia, an iron steam schooner yacht to be 117-1/2 feet long, 15 feet beam and 94 feet depth of hold. She will have double compound engines 16 by 24 inches, with a 24 inch strobe. It will be a flush deck yacht, with nothing on deck except the skylights to admit light and ventilation. She will accommodate the officers and crew and have state rooms for several persons. All the interior apartments will be finished in hard cherry wood. She will be built for pleasure, elegance and comfort, and is expected to make ten knots per hour. Mr. Dixon proposes to go south, and is having this boat built to sail in. She will be one of the prettiest yachts afloat when finished, which will be about August 1st. The Pioneer company can congratulate themselves on securing the contract. This gives them a very good start making two on their order book to begin with. The place will be ready to start in a few days now.
Municipal piers constructed in the late 1910s-20s were sophisticated industrial machines designed to speed the movement of cargo from one mode of transportation to another. Railroad tracks ran laterally through the long buildings which also served as warehouses. Cranes and flat loading bays allowed easy movement of cargo onto waiting boxcars and all piers were connected to the Philadelphia Belt Line Railroad which ran down Delaware Ave.
May 19, 1895, Los Angeles Herald
Los Angeles, California
At Durand-Ruel's gallery there is a most interesting exhibition now open. It illustrates the art of Miss Mary Cassatt, the American artist who so worthily represents her country in the new school which under the leadership of French enthusiasts is making its influence felt everywhere. Miss Cassatt took her first lessons in Philadelphia. Her last teacher was Edgar Degas in the 1870s in Paris. His influeuce has been permanent. she began to submit her work on a regular basis to the Paris Salon. The early paintings show Mary's strict adherence to Realism, and bear witness to her professed admiration for the painters Courbet and Manet. From the beginning, she preferred working with subject matter drawn from contemporary life, rather than painting mythological or historical scenes.
This quality of modernity, together with her directness of approach, caused Edgar Degas to stop in front of one of Mary Cassatt's canvases one day in 1874 and exclaim, "It's true. There is someone who feels as I do."
February 21, 1909, San Francisco Call
Mary Cassatt, celebrated woman painter that she is, scorns prizes. Her "Child's Caress" was the picture receiving the Harris prlze in New York. Mr. Durand-Ruel, who represents Miss Cassatt in America, said that the same picture had received other awards, and that other works of the artists' had been awarded prizes, but that Miss Cassatt invariably declined them.