The Background of Swedish Emigration to the United States

The Background of Swedish Emigration to the United States: An Economic and Sociological Study in the Dynamics of Migration

JOHN S. LINDBERG
Copyright Date: 1930
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.cttttf88
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Background of Swedish Emigration to the United States
    Book Description:

    The Background of Swedish Emigration to the United States was first published in 1930. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. The author, for three years a fellow of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, examines the movement that, about the middle of the nineteenth century, swept over Sweden like an epidemic and carried away a large portion of her youth to America. Some of the more important chapters discuss the character of group emigration, the pattern of mass emigration, the background of agricultural emigration, the selection of emigrants, the industrial emigration, the professional emigration, the return of the emigrants, and the cessation of emigration.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3806-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xi)
  3. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  4. CHAPTER I THE BEGINNING OF SWEDISH EMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES, 1841-1860
    (pp. 1-23)

    The first stage.—About 1840 interest in America began to increase rapidly in Sweden. This interest was stimulated largely by the press, by literature, and by general discussions. Descriptions of travel in America became popular reading. At about the same time, or even earlier, a similar interest was manifested in England and on the Continent. In England a number of important travel descriptions were published, that of Dickens being probably the best known. In France the famous work of De Tocqueville on American democracy appeared and was received and studied with eager interest everywhere in Europe.¹ To these stimuli to...

  5. CHAPTER II THE CHARACTER OF GROUP EMIGRATION
    (pp. 24-45)

    Positive influences in emigration.—The preceding chapter was devoted, in part, to a study of the difficulties encountered by the first emigrants in journeying to, and in settling in, America. Since the difficulties during the first epoch of emigration were greater than those later on, the driving forces must have been correspondingly greater in order that movement might result.¹ If we are to gain a well-rounded conception of emigration, we must take due consideration of the positive influences, as well.

    It should be observed that a social movement cannot be understood merely through a study of the individuals composing it....

  6. CHAPTER III THE PATTERN OF MASS EMIGRATION
    (pp. 46-64)

    The first emigrants met and conquered obstacles and dangers wholly unknown to the majority of their successors, who came as part of a great organized mass movement. The decrease in the force of the frictional factors encountered by the movement has already been discussed. Another factor contributing to greater ease of emigration is the pattern effected through a continuous emigration. The significance of this pattern is twofold. First, the active communications with America serve to give the people a more vivid, tangible, and abundant knowledge of conditions there.² America is brought into the focus of the popular imagination and is...

  7. CHAPTER IV THE BACKGROUND OF THE AGRICULTURAL EMIGRATION
    (pp. 65-88)

    The composition of emigration.—Before continuing the study of emigration it is desirable to point out a circumstance self-evident in itself, but important in its effects. During the period that emigration has been in progress, a number of important changes of economic, social, and psychological nature have taken place in both America and Sweden. Conditions in the 1850’s do not correspond to those in the 1920’s. Different kinds of emigration are brought about by changing social conditions. Emigration does not flow from a single source to a single goal—it really comprises several partly independent movements. Consequently it is of...

  8. CHAPTER V AGRARIAN EXPANSION: ITS CAUSES AND MECHANISM
    (pp. 89-112)

    Dissolution of the restrictive land policy.—At first glance it seems strange that the expansion of agriculture in Sweden did not exhaust the available supply of new land at an earlier date, as in most European countries of ancient culture. In less than a hundred years, a nation with a culture rooted in antiquity, possessing an always independent peasant class, with an economic life based on agriculture, suddenly increased its cultivated area several times. This goes to show that the supply of land was but partially utilized in early times. Considering the actual development in most other countries, resulting from...

  9. CHAPTER VI EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL MIGRATIONS
    (pp. 113-128)

    Beginning of mass emigration in the 1860’s.—The serious situation that resulted when growth of population overtook the expansion of agriculture was further accentuated by a series of crop failures. Following the standards employed in Swedish statistics, where an average harvest is represented by 6, and an exceptionally good one by 9, the table below shows that poor harvests occurred in 1861, 1865, 1867, and 1868.

    The new classes in agriculture lived on a wage that left only a narrow margin between the standard of living and the minimum of existence; they were therefore unable to prepare against unexpected adversities,...

  10. CHAPTER VII THE AGRARIAN REVOLUTION
    (pp. 129-145)

    Decrease in agricultural population.—Although Swedish agriculture advanced with respect to production and cultivated area even after 1860, the number of people engaged in agricultural pursuits decreased. Whereas in 1850 this population numbered 2,714,000 persons, and in 1880, 3,078,000, it sank to 2,756,000 in 1900. Between 1860 and 1900 the cultivated area increased not less than a million hectares, from approximately two and one-half to three and one-half million hectares.¹ Therefore, neither the stagnation of the population nor, still less, the reduction of its absolute strength, can be attributed to lack of expansion of new land, even though the actual...

  11. CHAPTER VIII CUSTOMS CONCERNING INDEBTEDNESS AND INHERITANCE
    (pp. 146-164)

    The upheaval in agriculture prior to and during the period of emigration is concomitant with fundamental changes in folkways, ideas, and traditions. The introduction of new methods is possible only in a situation where an adequate supply of capital is available and the rigidity of the old conventions is replaced by more elastic standards. Once these changes are well begun, the causation is not simple, as it is a case of mutual interdependence.

    To treat this interesting development in detail is impossible here—in fact it would involve the rewriting of a significant period of Swedish history. In popular discussions,...

  12. CHAPTER IX INTERNATIONAL TRADE: TARIFFS AND MIGRATIONS
    (pp. 165-187)

    Relation between trade and migrations.—The decreasing capacity of agriculture to absorb a constantly increasing population—a central point in the previous discussion—makes the ability of industry to absorb labor at a progressive wage level the most important of the retarding factors of emigration. Accordingly, in order to understand the background of emigration, it is essential to study the factors that influence the absorption of labor in industry. Decisive among these are the trade policies pursued by different nations. In Sweden, as in most other countries, a principal aim of the trade policy has been to protect the wages...

  13. CHAPTER X THE SELECTION OF EMIGRANTS
    (pp. 188-201)

    In spite of the difference between venturing out upon the Atlantic in frail sailing ships and being safely transported in the steerage of a giant liner, emigrants as a class are often regarded with some of the admiration given to the Pilgrim Fathers. The very fact of emigration is believed to single a man out as superior to his fellowmen. As Mayo-Smith says:

    When emigration is brought about by the free action of man’s own mind, without extraneous aid or influences, it is naturally the men who have intelligence, some financial resources, energy, and ambition, that emigrate. It requires all...

  14. CHAPTER XI THE INDUSTRIAL EMIGRATION
    (pp. 202-224)

    Industrial emigration defined.—The termindustrial emigration, as here used, designates the movement of Swedish industrial labor to America. A part of the agrarian emigrants enter industry in America, although the great majority seek employment in agriculture. Likewise a part of the emigration from Swedish industry enters into agriculture; but that an increasing number enter industrial occupations in America is shown by the growing numbers of Swedish emigrants going to the industrial centers in the eastern part of the United States and to Chicago, Minneapolis, and St. Paul in the Middle West. Accordingly, this minority entering agriculture is omitted here,...

  15. CHAPTER XII THE PROFESSIONAL EMIGRATION
    (pp. 225-241)

    Professional emigration defined.—There remains still a third type of emigration to be considered, i.e., “professional emigration.” This term, as used here, does not imply that all the participants were in the literal sense professional men—physicians, lawyers, engineers, architects, teachers, ministers, or actors, but rather that they occupied a social and economic position corresponding to that represented by these categories. Here are included in the professional emigration also students and graduates of institutions of higher learning, and persons with “white-collar jobs,” who occupy a position intermediate between the industrial and professional emigrations, but whose social ambitions with respect to...

  16. CHAPTER XIII REMIGRATION, OR THE RETURN OF EMIGRANTS
    (pp. 242-255)

    Remigration: its character and volume.—Concurrently with emigration occurs a counter movement of persons who for one reason or another return to Sweden. A study of the scope and nature of this remigration illuminates indirectly the nature of emigration; accordingly a study which omits this phase of migration is incomplete.

    The official Swedish statistics on immigration extend back only to 1875, although the Emigration Report gives figures back to 1871. During the period from 1871 to 1925 the emigration to non-European countries, i.e., mainly to the United States, amounted to 1,021,000 persons, while during the same period the immigration to...

  17. CHAPTER XIV THE CESSATION OF EMIGRATION
    (pp. 256-264)

    America’s restrictive immigration policy.—During and after the World War the people of the United States grew apprehensive over what might happen if masses from war-torn and disorganized Europe were permitted to flood the American labor market. Serious concern was expressed over the possibility of maintaining the standard of living of the American working class if immigration remained unrestricted. But intermingled with the economic considerations were conceptions of wider bearing. Faith in the “melting pot” began to waver, and fears were expressed lest it be impossible to assimilate increasingly great numbers of heterogeneous and foreign elements into American life. Mingled...

  18. INDEX
    (pp. 265-272)