October 9 – A Norwegian-American Passage

Posted October 9, 2018

People from all over the world have come to the United States - and not just to visit, but to settle down and make the country a medley of different religions, languages, customs, and cuisines.

Today is the anniversary of the first organized emigration from Norway to the U.S. On this date in 1825, after a three-month-long journey, the sloop called Restauration arrived in New York City.

It wasn't a super welcoming situation. Apparently, the relatively young United States government had laws about how many people could travel on various sizes of ships - and the Restauration had too many people for her size. So the captain was arrested, the ship was confiscated, and somebody (the captain? the owner of the ship? - I'm not sure!) received a hefty fine. 

About a month later, President John Quincy Adams pardoned the captain, released the ship, and rescinded the fine. Still, the Norwegian people who'd come to the U.S. were saddled with the nickname "the Sloopers."

These days there are about three million Americans who claim Norwegian as their only or primary ancestry, and another 1.5 million people who proudly claim some Norwegian ancestors. 

That's a very small number compared to more than 34 million Irish Americans, 15 million Italian Americans, and 10 million Polish Americans.

The Norwegians who came to America came for the normal reasons: seeking religious freedom, in some cases, and fleeing from agricultural disasters and poverty, in more cases. For the most part, Norwegian Americans settled in the upper part of the Midwest. 

On my recent travels in Michigan, I stumbled upon a small town named Norway. When I was talking to people in Michigan tourist spots, some of the workers said, "I'm from Norway," and they didn't mean Norway-in-Europe, they mean that small town.

Also on this date:

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