The Danish were a powerful people who were descended from Gothic tribes in Europe. They are described as Norse, North Germanic or Scandinavian people. Other Scandinavian countries include Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. The Vikings formed part of the Danish ancestry, the prolific seafaring warriors from the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
History of Danish Immigration to America: Religion
The Christianization of the Danish people replaced the early tribal structures and the Vikings. The first Christian religion of Norway was Roman Catholic. King Harold I (c. 935 - 986), also known as Harald Bluetooth, was King of Denmark from c. 958 – c. 986 and is regarded as being responsible for the conversion of Denmark to Christianity. The martyr King Canute IV (1042 - 1086) was canonized in 1101 as the patron saint of Denmark. In 1517 Martin Luther initiated the Protestant Reformation which resulted in the majority of Northern Europe, including Denmark, coming under the influence of Protestantism.
History of Danish Immigration to America: The Major Waves of Danish Immigration
The history of Danish Immigration to America started when the first Danish settlers joined the Dutch in the New Netherland colony. The major Danish immigration waves to America occurred in the 1800's:
Danish settlers joined Dutch colonists in New Netherland and some escaped religious persecution during the Colonial era
The first significant wave of Danish Immigration to America was led by Mormons who settled in Utah and those fleeing the hunger of the Potato Famine
The next wave of Danish immigration after the American Civil War was much larger and sparked by economic factors of more crop failure and famine and political persecution. Over over 30,000 Danes emigrate to the US
The final, major wave of Danish immigration, was between 1880 – 1890 prompted by employment opportunities during the industrialization of America and cheaper faster travel by steam boat
History of Danish Immigration to America: The Reasons for Danish Immigration to America
Why did people want to leave Denmark and why did they want to move to America? The Danish immigrants of the colonial period joined the Dutch seeking profit, opportunities for trade and a new life in America. Many of the later Danish immigrants of the early 1800's sought religious freedom. However, the main reasons for the Danish 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. Also refer to Examples of PUSH and PULL Factors of Danish Immigration.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1600's: Nova Dania (New Denmark)
Like many other European countries, explorers from Denmark were searching for a Northwest passage to India but instead reached the continent of North America. The famous Danish explorer Jens Munk (1579 – 1628), leading an expedition of 64 men and two ships, reached Hudson Bay in 1619. He returned to Denmark telling of his discovery and made plans for a return voyage to establish a Danish colony in America called Nova Dania (New Denmark). Jens Munk became sick and was unable to undertake the journey. The Danish colony of Nova Dania (New Denmark) was never established and the only way for Danish immigrants to reach America was to sail on Dutch ships.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1600's: Colonial America and New Netherland
Danish Immigration to America began in the Colonial era between 1630-1674 when a number of Danes joined Dutch colonists in the New Netherland colony that had been established by Holland. There were very strong diplomatic and trading links between Denmark and Holland during the 1600's. The Danes supplied the Dutch with the timber they needed to build their ships. The vast forests of Denmark furnished the Dutch with timber for shipbuilding and Danes joined the Dutch fleet in large numbers. Danish merchants frequently visited Holland and both countries enjoyed a prosperous relationship. Due to their close alliance, a number of immigrants from Denmark took the opportunity to travel to America in Dutch ships and settled in New Netherland. The New Netherland colony covered areas of the Mid-Atlantic States, later known as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware. Thus began the first small and sporadic wave of Danish Immigration to America - 50% of the 1,000 people living in New Netherland were Danes.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1600's: Jonas Bronck and the Bronx
A notable colonist who joined the first wave of Danish Immigration to America was a man called Jonas Jonasson Bronck. Jonas Bronck was the well educated son of a Lutheran pastor who became a wealthy merchant and an experienced seaman with strong connections with the Dutch. Inspired by the opportunities of the New World he hired his friend, and fellow Dane, Jochem Pietersen Kuyter to captain his ship called "De Brandt van Troyen" (Fire of Troy) to take immigrants and supplies, including cattle, to America. Kuyter and Bronck were in the service of the West India Company. Jonas Bronck's intention was to establish a plantation on land leased from the Dutch West India Company under the Patroon System. The Patroon system, a Charter of Privileges and Exemptions, offered a generous grant of land to any member of the Dutch West India Company who could bring and settle fifty people in New Netherland. Those who took the grant of land, like Jonas Bronck were given the position of patroon, or lord, of the land. Jonas Bronck together with a group of 90 immigrants departed from the Dutch port of Hoorn on the Zuiderzee and arrived in in the harbor of New Amsterdam in America in June 1639. Jonas Bronck called his grant of 680 acres Bronck's farm. Over time the area was referred to as Bronck's Land or Broncksland, commonly known as Broncks. The name was mis-spelt as the Bronx.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1700's: Vitus Jonassen Bering
The history of Danish Immigration to America would be incomplete without mention of another famous Danish explorer - Vitus Bering (1681–1741). Vitus Bering was a skilled navigator who explored the northern Pacific Ocean for the Russians and discovered the Bering Strait and was the first European to arrive in Alaska in 1741.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1600 and 1700's: Religious Persecution
The history of Danish Immigration to America continued as a small number of Danes joined their families who had settled in America. However the largest group of immigrants belonged to radical wings of the Protestant Reformation called the Mennonites (Anabaptists) and the Moravians led by Christian Werner (1696 - 1783). These were small, pious sects who, together with Baptists, opposed the growing laxity of the Lutheran state church. They left Denmark to escape religious persecution and start a new life in America. Roman Catholicism was banned during the Protestant Reformation and remained illegal in the country for over three centuries until it was re-established after the Danish Constitution of 1849 granted religious freedom in Denmark. All of these religious sects continued the Danish Immigration to America and their numbers totaled over 20,000 by the end of the 1700's.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1700's: The American War of Independence
The small levels of Danish Immigration to America was halted in 1775 when the American War of Independence (1775 - 1783) erupted. The majority of Danish-Americans supported the revolutionaries. Hans Christian Febiger (1749 - 1796) was an American Revolutionary War general and confidante of General George Washington, known by the nickname of "Old Denmark".
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1800's: The Potato Blight and the Revolutions of 1848
During the 1800's potatoes were one of the most important crops in Denmark. The potato blight, responsible for the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849), spread to Denmark causing famine, hunger and disease. Danish Immigration to America increased due to the famine and following the European Revolutions of 1848 as peasants remonstrated against the terrible conditions. A significant, lasting reform of the Revolutions of 1848 was the end of absolute monarchy in Denmark.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1800's: The Mormons
The first significant wave of Danish immigrants consisted mainly of Mormons who emigrated to the United States in the 1850's. Many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints settled in the "Promised Land" of Utah, which had been under Mexican control until 1848. Although the Danish Constitution of 1849 granted religious freedom in Denmark some of the Scandinavian clergy questioned whether Latter-day Saints could be considered Christians and many were denied legal religious freedom. A total of 27,000 Mormons emigrated from Scandinavia.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1800's: The North Slesvigers
Another source of Danish emigration was due to political persecution in the North Schleswig area of Jutland that covered the border area between Germany and Denmark. Denmark had been forced to surrender Schleswig to Prussia in 1864. The new regime banned the use of Danish language in schools and conscripted of young Danish men into the German military. Between 1864 and 1920, when North Schleswig was returned to Denmark following Germany's defeat in World War I, it is estimated that 50,000 North Slesvigers immigrated to the United States to escape political persecution.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1800's: Major Wave of Danish Immigration
After the American Civil War (1861 to 1865) yet another terrible famine hit the countries of Scandinavia and brought the second wave of Danish immigrants in its wake. The devastating Famine of 1866 - 1868 hit all the Scandinavian countries leaving potatoes and vegetables rotting in the fields of Denmark and led to the death of 150,000 Scandinavians. Danish Immigration to America increased as over 30,000 people were forced to leave Denmark between 1866 and 1873. The wave of Danish immigration was only halted when the financial panic of 1873 hit the United States which led to the six year period in American history known as the Long Depression.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1800's: The Great Migration
The history of Danish Immigration to America reached new heights as the United States recovered from the Long Depression and the second major wave of Danish Immigration began. The process of industrialization had resulted in the jobs of many farmers and skilled craftsmen being taken over by machines. Many Danish families decided to join friends and family who were already established in the United States and take advantage of obtaining land under the Homestead Act. The peak year for Danish immigration was 1882, when 11,618 Danes entered America. The majority of Danish immigrants lived in the farming communities of the upper Midwest making their homes in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Kansas and settling in cities such as New York, Minneapolis and St. Paul and San Francisco.
History of Danish Immigration to America in the 1900's
From 1820 to 1990, more than 375,000 Danish immigrants came to the United States, the vast majority arriving between 1860 and 1930. Danish Immigration to America dramatically declined in the 1900's as the farming frontier in the US closed and political and economic reforms were made in Denmark.
Danish Immigration to America
According to the 2011 United States Census, 1,420,962 Americans, claimed Danish ancestry. It is little wonder that Danish Immigration to America has had such significant impact on the culture of Americans.
Danish Immigration to America Facts Sheet and History Timeline for kids
Important facts about the history of Danish Immigration to America and US laws that effected the migrants from Sweden are contained in the following history timeline.
Danish Immigration to America Fact Sheet and Timeline for kids
Fact 1: 793: The Vikings from Scandinavia begin their raids
Fact 2: 958: The Christianization of the Danish people by King Harold I, also known as Harald Bluetooth
Fact 3: 1101: The martyr King Canute IV was canonized as the patron saint of Denmark.
Fact 4: 1517: Protestant reformation in Norway, initiated by Martin Luther
Fact 5: 1619: Jens Munk reached Hudson Bay but his future plans to establish Nova Dania (New Denmark) failed.
Fact 6: 1600's: Danish immigrants came across in Dutch ships and settled in New Netherland
Fact 7: 1639: Jonas Bronck is granted land in New Netherland which becomes known as the Bronx
Fact 8: 1741: Vitus Bering explored the northern Pacific Ocean and discovered the Bering Strait
Fact 9: 1775: The American War of Independence began
Fact 10: 1845: Crop failures and the potato blight led to hunger and poverty and a massive increase in immigration
Fact 11: 1848: Danish revolutionaries emigrated to avoid political persecution
Fact 12: 1849: The Danish Constitution granted religious freedom in Denmark
Fact 13: 1850's: Danish Mormons settle in Utah
Fact 14: 1864: Denmark forced to surrender Schleswig to Prussia and inhabitants suffer political persecution
Fact 15: 1866: The Famine of 1866 - 1868 hit all the Scandinavian countries
Fact 16: 1873: The financial panic of 1873 hit the US lasting for 6 years
Fact 17: 1880's: The Great Migration from Denmark prompted by the swift industrialization of America
Danish Immigration to America has declined from this time