Mr. Campbell to Mr. Seward.

No. 54.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit by the same mail that will convey this despatch a manuscript on Norwegian emigration, prepared by Thomas Bennett, a citizen of Christiania, from reliable sources. * * * * *

I have the honor to be, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

[Page 712]

The Norwegian emigration to America.*

It is now about 30 years since the first Norwegian emigrants forsook their mountains to wander to the far west.

This emigration of a few hundred at that time attracted particularly great attention. People wondered what social evils had forced so many of their countrymen to leave free and happy Norway. They sympathized deeply with the unfortunate emigrants who blindly gave up the comforts of their home to meet a dark and uncertain fature in a foreign country. Much anxiety was felt for the disastrous, economical results, which would be felt in the fatherland, already so thinly populated, in case this emigration fever should continue to rage.

Since that time a great change has taken place. The desire of emigrating has spread more and more; instead of hundreds, thousands of Norwegians now leave their shores annually, but it no longer excites much attention; there is no longer uneasiness as to the fate of the emigrants, or as to the results of emigration. This emigration, however, is a matter which desires attention, and it is, therefore, the purpose in the following pages to inquire more closely into the cause of its development during the 30 years which have elapsed since its commencement, hoping that the result will not be without interest.

The total number of emigrants from Norway to America during the last 30 years amounts to more than 70,000 persons.

The following table shows the annual emigration:

1826 to 1835 some hundreds 1852 4,030
1836 200 1853 6,050
1837 200 1854 5,950
1838 100 1855 1,600
1839 400
1840 300 1851 to 1855 20,270
1856 3,280
1836 to 1840 1,200 1857 6,560
1841 400 1858 2,640
1842 700 1859 1,780
1843 1,600 1860 1,875
1844 1,200
1845 1,100 1855 to 1860 16,135
1861 8,850
1841 to 1845 5,000 1862 5,100
1846 1,300 1863 1,100
1847 1,600 1864 3,700
1848 1,400
1849 4,000 1861 to 1864 18,750
1850 3,700
Total 73,355
1846 to 1850 12,000
1851 2,640

Emigration on a large scale first began in 1843, before which period it was confined to Ryfylke, Thelemarken and Nuenedal; but from 1843 the whole of Buskerud amt, together with North and South Bergenhuus amts, began to take part in the general emigration; afterwards people began to emigrate from Nedences and Robyggelazets amts. In 1848 they first went off in numbers from Christians amt, and also, though to a less extent, from Lyster and Mandals amt. Since that time the desire to emigrate has gradually reached Hedemarkens amt, (1850,) Akershuus, (1853,) North and South Throndhjems amts, (1857,) and finally in 1861 and 1862, Nordland and Finmarken. Hitherto Smaalehnenes, Grevskaberne, (the counties,) and Romsdalen, have not assisted to swell in any important degree this stream of emigration which otherwise has taken place over the whole country.

E migration, has not increased so much in intensity as in extent. While it has spread to districts where it was formerly unknown, it has decreased in some counties or remained stationary, and in others varied considerably from year to year. On the whole it has been [Page 713] decidedly irregular, so to speak in fits and starts, so that it is very difficult to point out with any degree of certainty the mode of development.

In the years 1843-‘48 the desire to emigrate appears to have been on the decrease, for although emigration began to take place in a larger number of districts, the total number of emigrants in 1844-‘48 was, one year with another, somewhat less than in 1843. It was supposed at that time that emigration would either cease altogether, or at all events decrease to a Very great extent. The bad harvests of 1847 and 1848 caused the number of emigrants suddenly to mount up to double of what it had been previously, and although the following years were favorable for the country generally, the stream of emigration continued to swell until 1855, in which year only 1,600 persons left their homes, against 6,000 in each of the previous years. In 1856, too, there were fewer emigrants than in several of the preceding years; the bad corn harvest caused larger, numbers to emigrate than before. From l858-‘60 emigration again decreased to an extent which gave rise to the idea that it was about to be confined within very narrow limits. But the extremely unfavorable harvest of 1860 caused it again to increase, so that the number went up in 1861 to very nearly 9,000, and in 1862 to over 5,000. The war in the United States was of course the reason why so few emigrated in 1863, but in 1864 it seems to have lost its deterring influence, inasmuch as in that year 3,700 persons left their homes for America.

According to the above statements Norwegian emigration may be classed under four divisions.

Number of emigrants.

Years. Total. Annually. Greatest number. Least number.
1836-’42 2,360 329 700 100
1843-’48 8,200 1,367 1,600 1,100
1849-’54 26,370 4,395 6,050 2,640
1855-’64 36,485 3,649 8,850 1,100

The years 1836-‘42 were the periods in which emigration was first developed. In 1843-‘48 it had taken a fixed character; during the next period it rose suddenly to a considerable height, and sank again in the ensuing years. Its tendency to decrease was greater than the above average would seem to imply; for emigration during the last ten years has assumed a very decided feature, and, not taking into consideration the effects of very bad harvests in two of the years, the average number for the other eight was nearly 2,300.

It is for several reasons interesting to compare the Norwegian emigration with that from the rest of Europe. The following statement of the total emigration to the United States is taken from Broinwell’s “History of Emigration,” and Legoyt’s “Emigration Europeenne.” The arrivals at the different seaports of the United States were:

1810-’20 on the average annually 11,400
1820-‘30 on the average annually 20,397
1830-’40 on the average annually 77,850
1840-’46 on the average annually 102,000
1847-’50 on the average annually 271,000
1851-’54 on the average annually 417,000
1855 on the average annually 230,476
1856 on the average annually 186,033
1857 on the average annually 216,234
1858 on the average annually 111,352
1859 on the average annually 111,623

We remark here a great similarity. The emigration from Norway and the rest of Europe increased steadily during the years 1830-46, and afterwards rapidly up to 1854, from which year we observe a decrease. The only difference is the great increase in emigration from the rest of Europe having commenced as early as 1847. The excitement reached this distant part of Europe a year or two later. The emigration from the rest of Europe culminated in 1853 and 1854, during which year larger numbers emigrated from Norway than ever before. The Swedish emigration likewise, though of less importance, has developed itself in a similar manner. It commenced in 1845, rose in 1854 to nearly 4,000, but has since then decreased to about 700 a year.

If we compare the number of emigrants with the total population we shall find that Norway belongs to those countries in which emigration assumes the largest proportion. According to a statement in the above-mentioned work of Legoyt Great Britain and Ireland, South Germany, some of the smaller German states, and Switzerland are the only countries where[Page 714]emigration has been more extensive. Duval, in his “Histoire de l’Emigration,” page 174, gives the following average:

From Ireland 140,000, or 1 out of 44
From Kurhessen 9,300, or 1 out of 79
From Mecklenberg 7,500, or 1 out of 85
From Great Britain and Ireland 244,000, or 1 out of 113
From Baden 16,239, or 1 out of 101
From Hesse Darmstadt 4,700, or 1 out of 181
From Wurtemberg 8,340, or 1 out of 214
From Bavaria 17,912, or 1 out of 253
From Switzerland 8,000, or 1 out of 300
From Brunswick 884, or 1 out of 304
From Portugal 8,000, or 1 out of 437
From Oldenburg 619, or 1 out of 453
From Norway 3,270, or 1 out of 455
From Germany altogether 120,000, or 1 out of 533

We have shown the order in which the different amts took part in the general emigration. The numbers which each has furnished will be seen by the following table:*

Amts. Number of emigrants. Population on Dec. 31, 1855.
1836-’45. 1846-’55. 1856-’64. Total.
Smaalehnenes 20 55 260 335 84,416
Akershuus 10 600 490 1,100 96,055
Christiania city 970 130 1,100 31,715
Hedemarken 1,610 1,440 3,050 101,394
Christians 10 6,510 6,030 12,550 115,149
Buskerud 1,110 3,920 4,120 9,150 90,343
Jarlsberg and Laurvig 20 280 110 410 73,223
Bradsberg 2,800 5,700 4,550 13,050
Nedenaesand and Robyggelazet 2,480 750 3,230 59,112
Lister and Mandal 770 520 1,290 67,370
Stavanger 950 2,600 3,230 6,780 91,539
Southern Bergenhuus 750 2,700 4,870 8,320 104,763
Bergencity 170 160 330 24,512
Northern Bergenhuus 530 3,600 6,130 10,260 81,496
Romsdal 45 20 65
Southern Throndhjem 90 400 490 96,318
Northern Throndhjem 150 730 880 73,571.00
Nordland 185 185 77,587
Finmarken 40 740 780 54,655.00
The whole kingdom 6,200 32,290 34,865 73,355 1,499,047
[Page 715]

The population of the country in 1855 may, with regard to emigration in the period from 1836-‘64, be considered as the average; for even if it be not exact, we must remember that of the emigrants who left Norway from 1836-‘55, by far the greatest number were from 1849-55, so that emigration for the most part lies nearer the year 1855 than one would imagine at the first glance.

For every 1,000 of the average population there emigrated from the years 1836-64—

From Bradsbergs amt. 171 From Finmarken 14
From Nedre Bergenhuus 126 From Bergen city 13
From Christians amt 109 From Northern Bergenhuus amt 12
From Buskerud 102 From Akershuus 11
From Southern Bergenhuus 79 From Jarlsberg and Laurvig 6
From Stavanger 74 From Southern Throndhjems amt 5
From Nedeoaes and Robyggelazet 55 From Smaalehnenes 4
From Christiania city 35 From Nordland 2
From Hedemarken 30 From Romsdal 1
From Lister and Mandal 19 From the whole kingdom 49

From the above statement, it appears that emigration has been most extensive in the amts where lofty mountain tracts are most numerous. If we regard more closely the different amts, we shall find the same difference between the mountain districts and the more open country

The reports in our possession show that in Christians amt the district Valders has contributed the largest numbers to emigration. In Buskeruds amt emigration had its commencement in Numedal, and has since been most extensive in Hallingdal. In the district of Buskerud the greatest number have gone from the mountain tract Sigdal, in Bradsbergs amt from Upper Thelemarken, and in Stavanger amt from Ryfylke.

It may be observed that the northern boundary line for emigration in the province of Bergen is formed by the vast mountain chain which runs between the district of Sogne and those of South and North Fjords. The extensive emigration from North Bergenhuus amt has been almost wholly from the district of Sogne.

Together with the above statement of the extent of emigration from the different parts of the kingdom, we will furnish a little information concerning the routes the emigrants have generally chosen.

The first emigrants left Stavanger, direct for New York, in 1836; later on, when emigration became more extensive, large numbers went by way of Havre, Hamburg, Bremen, and a few of the other ports from which the great stream of European emigration flowed. In 1843 no less than 843 Norwegian emigrants went by way of Havre. Of 320 persons who left for America in 1846, provided with passports at the Drammen police office, 290 went by way of Havre, and 30 by way of Hamburg. In the following year 88 persons were furnished with passports from the same town. These went by way of Altona. In 1848 passports were given to 99, who went by way of Gottenborg. The following table of the Norwegian emigrants who arrived at Havre in 1846 is based on the consular lists:

From Drammen 293
From Langesund 204
From Kragerö 100
From Skien 103
From Christiansand 106
From Grmrstad 83
Total 889

The Norwegian emigration by way of Havre ceased, we believe, in 1851, in which year the last vessel arrived with 60 passengers, from Brevig.

Of late years indirect emigration has not been extensive, and has been chiefly by way of Liverpool, from which port 300 Norwegian emigrants are stated to have sailed for Quebec from 1852-‘54, occasionally by way of Gottenborg, and also by way of Copenhagen. (Mormons.)

The direct emigration from Norway was formerly to New York alone, but is now almost entirely to Quebec. The reason of the change was the repeal of the English navigation act in 1849. Since that time Norwegian vessels have been largely engaged in the freight trade from the British possessions in North America to Europe. The greatest number of Norwegian ships go to America in ballast, but not a few take emigrants.

The following table of the number of Norwegians who have arrived at Quebec and New [Page 716] York is taken from copies of despatches relative to emigration to the North American colonies, as also from reports from the commissioners of emigration of New York:

Norwegian emigrants arrived from Norwegian ports.

Year. At Quebec. At New York.
1847 882
1848 1207
1849 3300
1850 241 3,150
1851 227 2112
1852 2,212 1,889
1853 5,080 377
1854 5,601 81
1855 1,267 203
1856 2,806 438
1857 6,123 62
1858 2,389 3
1859 1,715 36
1860 1,781 53
1861 8,406 93
Total 37,848 13,886

If the statements here given be compared with the previous ones of the total number of emigrants for each year, it will be found that the number from Quebec and New York is somewhat lower, viz: 51,734 against 55,955. The following are the reasons:

The American reports on Norwegian emigration to New York are very inexact, which cannot be wondered at when we take into consideration how small the number of Norwegians is compared with the hundreds of thousands from all other nations which annually arrive at that city. An instance or two will show this inaccuracy. In 1847 there arrived, according to the American statement, 882 Norwegian emigrants only; but in the Norwegian quinquennial report, 1,360, exclusive of a number of persons who emigrated from 1846-‘50, without the year being given. In 1853 the Norwegian emigration to New York, according to the same report, amounted to 377; but, by adding together the special tables of the Norwegian consul for every vessel that arrived at New York, we find that there came from Bergen 886, from Stavanger 85, and from Christiania 182, passengers. As regards the statements from Quebec, they seem pretty accurate, but the figures here given have reference to emigrants landed at Quebec, which, on account of the mortality during the passage, represent somewhat less than the number of emigrants who sailed from Norway.

Finally, the indirect emigration must not be forgotten.

With reference to the above, the whole of the Norwegian emigration from 1836-‘64 has proceeded in the following manner:

Year. Direct— Total
By way of Canada To New York. Chiefly to New York.
1836-‘50 240 11,960(?) 6,000(?) 18,200
1851-‘53 7,510 4,550 660 12,720
1854-‘64 40,310 520 1,605 42,435
Together 48,060 17,030 8,265 73,355
[Page 717]

With regard to this table there is only to be remarked, that under the title “Direct by way of Canada,” are included one or two emigrant vessels which sailed to Montreal, as also the direct passage in the last few years to Chicago, by the ship Sleipner, from Bergen.

For the years 1851-64 we have also statements of the number of emigrants who have sailed from the different Norwegian ports. For these statements we are mostly indebted to the before-mentioned work entitled Copies of Despatches relative to Emigration, &c, in which one correction only has been here made—for the year 1858, an emigrant vessel having been included as sailing from Drammen instead of Christiania.

There emigrated by direct route to America—

By way of— 1851-‘55. 1856-‘60. 1861-‘64. Total.
Christiania 5,920 2,530 3,510 11,960
Drammen 2,390 1,850 2,330 6,570
Holmestrand 790 790
Tõnsberg, Sandõfjorde, and Laurvig 70 540 20 630
Skjen Fjord (chiefly Porsgrund) 1,580 1,630 3,320 6,530
Kragerõ 2,290 120 80 2,490
Towns in Nedenaes, also in Lister and Mandals amt 1,010 40 940 1,990
Stavanger 1,530 2,240 1,200 1,200
Bergen 3,840 5,370 6,130 15,340
Throndhjem 660 420 1,080
Lofoden and Tromsoe 540 (?) 540
Together direct 19,420 14,980 18,490 52,890
Indirect, especially by way of Christiania 850 1,155 260 (?) 2,265
Total 20,270 16,135 18,750 55,155

Bergen, Christiania, Drammen, Porsgrund, and Stavanger, are then the ports from which the greatest number of emigrants embark. Of late Bergen especially has taken the lead in this respect, 1,500 emigrants having, on the average, sailed yearly from that town. The greatest number of emigrants who, in any one year, have sailed from a Norwegian port was 2,450, who embarked in 1857 from Bergen. Then comes the same town again in 1861, with 2,200, and then Christiania in 1853 with 2,100 emigrants.

The choice of the ports in the different parts of the kingdom for embarcation by the emigrants is determined by the geographical position of the same. It is worthy of observation, however, that some of the emigrants from Valders, and from a small part of Hedermarken and Hadeland, have gone by way of Drammen and Holmestrand. A few Numedal people have emigrated from the Skien Fjord; from Hardanger, some have embarked from Stavanger; while some from Throndhjem and Tromsoe provinces have sailed from Bergen.

The ports selected for the great European emigration are principally the following, according to Legoyt’s “L’Emigration Europeenne:”

Average number of emigrants. Greatest number in a single year.
Liverpool, 1854-‘60 124,600 *215,268
London 19,400 33,901
Plymouth 8,500 16,417
Southampton 6,300 12,725
Glasgow 5,500 10,089
Havrede Grace, 1857-‘60 17,500 29,700
Antwerp, 1854-‘60 9,200 *25,843
Bremen 38,500 76,875
Hamburg direct 22,600 32,210
Hamburg direct by way of England 5,300 18,519

Liverpool is consequently the most important seaport for the European emigration. The great mass of Irish emigrants embark almost exclusively from that city; and likewise no small numbers from Germany, from which country some go by way of Havre.

[Page 718]

A voyage across the Atlantic is a long and tedious affair. With the exception of a few who go by steamer from Liverpool, the great mass of Norwegian emigrants make the passage in sailing vessels, built originally for the timber trade, but fitted up for the occasion as passenger vessels. It generally takes 48 days from Norway to Quebec, the time varying, however, with different ships, and in different years. In 1853 the Norwegian emigrant vessels made the passage on the average in 55 1/2 days; from 1857-‘62, respectively, in 41, 50 1/2, 47, 39, 50 1/2, and 50 days. A steamer would go the same distance in 15 days; this being the average time required by the steamers which have of late years sailed from Hamburg to New York.

The length of the passage has a great effect on the health of the passengers. The rate of mortality on board emigrant vessels, on account of the unfavorable sanitary condition, is far higher than on land, and increases progressively with the length of the voyage.

Of still greater importance in this respect is the observance of certain sanitary measures, which to emigrant ships are of vital consequence, so large a number of people being there confined in too small a space. The disastrous results which have arisen from the over crowding of emigrant ships have attracted the attention of the government, and laws have been passed to reform this abuse, even in countries where they do. not care to meddle. with private undertakings. Norway too has at last its law of emigration, which passed in 1862, the matter having been discussed in the Storthing (Congress) as early as 1845. During the years when emigration was uncontrolled many lives were lost; the rate of mortality amongst Norwegian emigrants having been considerably higher than on board other emigrant vessels. The following comparison of the rate of mortality amongst the emigrants sailing from Liverpool and those sailing from Norway is partly taken from the above-mentioned work of Legoyt, and partly, as regards Norway, from “Copies of Despatches relative to Emigration, “&c., &c.

There died on the passage to America—

Year. From Liverpool. From Norway.
Per cent. Per cent.
1854 0.74 0.66
1855 0.33 0.7
1856 0.22 ?
1857 0.36 1.54
1858 0.19 0.19
1859 0.12 0.28
1860 ? 1.06
1861 ? 2.1
1862 ? 4.01

The table shows on the one hand, as regards the English emigration, the steady improvement in health in consequence of a judicious control, while almost the reverse has been the case on board the Norwegian emigrant vessels. As regards the higher rate of mortality amongst the Norwegian emigrants, it must be taken into consideration that the passage from Norway is longer than from Liverpool; not so much so, however, as to account satisfactorily for the difference. Besides, it must not be forgotten that the Norwegian emigrants belong to a much more healthy race than the poverty-stricken Irish who embark from Liverpool. In the reports from Quebec it has been emphatically stated that the rate of mortality amongst the emigrants from Norway has been higher than amongst those from any other country; although the Germans have an equally long way to go. As an instance, (according to the debates in the Storthing of 1862) may be adduced, that of 11,313 emigrants who sailed to Quebec in 1861 from other countries than Norway, there died only 57, while of 8,855 Norwegians and Swedes there were no less than 186 deaths.

We have tables for the rate of mortality of 42,689 Norwegian emigrants who sailed from Norway to Quebec during the years 1852-‘55 and 1857-‘62; of these there died on the passage and in quarantine 655, or 1 53/100 per cent. As these deaths occur in the space of 1/7 of a year, this is equivalent to an annual rate of mortality of 10 7/10 per cent., or, in other words, the rate of mortality amongst the emigrants has been more than six times as great as amongst the population at home.

For more than a half of the 42,689 emigrants we have reports as to how this mortality affected grown-up people and children. Of 23;988 persons who embarked from Norway in the years 1852-57 and 1859-‘61, there were 1,339 infants under twelve; at this age there died 125, or a little more than 9 per cent. Of children between 1 and 14 there were 7,115, of which number there died 161, or about 2 1/4 per cent. Of 15,507 grown-up persons there died 61, or 0.4 per cent. It will be seen from this that the high rate of mortality is principally accounted for by the large number of deaths among infants. Under an average rate of [Page 719] mortality on land of 1,365 infants under 12 months of age, there would have died in seven weeks not more than 25-30, but in the emigrant vessels the deaths were increased by 100.

Overcrowding has evidently been the cause of this high rate of mortality among the Norwegian emigrants, as will be seen by a close examination of the years during which it was highest. This was the case in 1862, when it reached the enormous height of 4 per cent.; in 1861, 2 1/10 per cent.; and in 1857, 1 54/100 per cent. The emigration in these years was, respectively, 5,100, 8,850, and 6,560 individuals, or many times more extensive than in the preceding years. When emigration increases so suddenly it is not to be wondered at that there is less ship accommodation than in other years. As regards the year 1861, it becomes painfully evident that the overcrowding of the ships has had too much to do with increasing the rate of mortality. There were eight Norwegian vessels that brought a greater number of passengers than the Canadian government permits. Of the 3,140 emigrants who embarked in these vessels, 103 died, or 3 3/10 per cent.; of the remainder of the emigrants, 5,710, only 83 died, or 1 4/10 per cent. The high rate of mortality in 1861 and 1862 can, perhaps, be accounted for in another manner. Experience has shown that the rate of mortality is much greater among the poorer class of emigrants, and especially if they have had to suffer much previous to leaving their native land. Legoyt gives a distressing instance of this from the Irish emigration after the famine of 1846. Of 89,738 emigrants who left British ports in 1847 for Canada, 5,293 died on the passage, and a few days after landing 10,037 more. Of the surviving 74,408, there were 30,265 who, for a longer or shorter period, required medical assistance. Such misery and distress is happily without a parallel in the Norwegian emigration; but it is by no means improbable that the destitution in the mountain districts, after 1860, and in certain districts—Thelemarken, for instance—after 1861, was one of the causes of the high rate of mortality among the emigrants in 1861 and 1862.

Typhus is the disease which commits the greatest ravages on board emigrant vessels. One can imagine the misery which results when this fearful epidemic breaks out in a passenger vessel, where often 200 300, and sometimes even 400 persons are obliged to live together for weeks. Neither has the Norwegian emigration been free from terrible instances of this kind. In 1843 typhus proved fatal in 30 cases on board an emigrant vessel; in 1861 the disease carried away “35 in one ship, 28 in another, and 21 in a third. The year 1862 can show parallel instances, the average rate of mortality being higher than in 1861.

It is, however, to be hoped that now, since the law of 1862 to control passenger traffic has been passed, such cases will be prevented for the future. The experience of other countries shows how much judicious management can do in this respect. In the years 1854-56 no less than 666,136 officers, privates, women, and children were taken in transports to the Crimea, without à single death occurring on the passage.

A full account of emigration must include information concerning the social position of the emigrants, and should also specify their sex, age, and pecuniary resources. Each of these data helps to explain the character of the emigration, its causes, and effects.

As regards their age and sex, the following information is contained in “Copies of Despatches,” &c, for 26,474 Norwegian emigrants, who left their country in 1853, and from 1857-‘61:

Males. Females Together.
Adults above 15 years old 9,453 7,842 17,295
Children between 1 and 14 years old 3,981 3,744 7,725
Infants under 1 year 1,454
Total 26,474

This table tallies with the following extracted from the passport journal of Drammen for 1837-‘56, and from several registries of names of the emigrants who embarked from Drammen in the years 1857-‘62, for access to which latter, thanks are due to private gentlemen.

[Page 720]

Of 7,831 emigrants there were—

Males. Females. Together.
Under 1 year old 124 160 284
Between 1 and 4 years old 496 447 943
Together under 4 years old 620 607 1,227
Between 5 and 9 years old 476 518 994
Between 10 and 14 years old 358 308 666
Between 15 and 19 years old 391 273 664
Between 20 and 24 years old 568 396 964
Between 25 and 29 years old 443 389 832
Between 30 and 34 years old 397 320 717
Between 35 and 39 years old 304 264 568
Between 40 and 49 years old 318 252 570
Between 50 and 59 years old 166 171 337
Between 60 and 69 years old 123 103 226
Between 70 and 79 years old 29 32 61
Above 80 years old 3 2 5
Total 4,196 3,635 7,831

So that for every 1,000 emigrants there were—

Males. Females. Together
Adults above 15 years old 349 282 631
Children 186 183 369
Total 535 465 1,000

We thus find every age represented in the emigration from infancy to old age. The eldest of the 7,831 emigrants whose ages are given was a woman in her 86th year. What a voyage for a person so near the brink of the grave Í

If the emigrants be compared with the population to which they belonged, we get the following facts: The number of males who emigrate is greater than that of females. Of the population of Norway in 1855, there were 510 females to 490 males, but the emigrants have been respectively 465 to 535. The excess of males is shown especially in the ages of 15 to 50, at which periods of life there were 127 men for every 100 women, though at home the number of women at these ages is slightly in excess of that of the men. The periods of life which furnish the greatest number for emigration are 30 and 40, both for males and females. Amongst 100 emigrants there are rather more children than amongst 100 of the home population; this excess increases up to a certain time, but afterwards decreases until the number of children is the same as amongst an equal number of the home population,

Compared with the general European emigration, the Norwegian is characterized by the excess of males being less than is the case with emigrants from most other countries. Austria, Bavaria, and Belgium are the only exceptions, but the emigrants from the last-named country do not go so much to America as to the neighboring states, so that the comparison can hardly be made.

Among Norwegian emigrants there are more children than among emigrants from other countries. Thus, for instance, among the emigrants from Great Britain and Ireland there was only 19 per cent, of children under 12 years of age, and from Norway no less than 32 per cent. These two circumstances would seem to show that the Norwegians emigrate more in families; but among emigrants from other countries there is a great proportion of single men. Several reports of the emigration from Drammen in the years 1857-62 seem to give support to this opinion, for of 3,284 emigrants there were only 249 single persons whereas 1,321 belonged to families consisting of from two to five members, and 1,714 belonged to families consisting of from six up to 13 members.

With regard to the emigrants’ social position and pecuniary circumstances but little is known. By far the greater number were peasants. Of the 36,000 who emigrated from 1851 to 1860, there were only 1,400 to 1,500 from the towns Most of those from the country [Page 721] districts were day, laborers or belonged to the smallest class of farmers, yet there were not a few landed proprietors. In the quinquennial report from North Bergenhuus amt for 1846 to 1850,”we read that “only those families who, judged by the pecuniary standard of these four districts, might be called well off, were in possession of the necessary means to pay their passage and establish themselves in a small way in their adopted country.” In the next report from the same amt, poverty and distress are given as the principal causes of emigration, and so much is certain, that the great mass of emigrants belonged to the poorer classes of the population, though not a few among them were, comparatively speaking, in comfortable circumstances. It not unfrequently happens that emigrants borrow money from their fellow passengers in order to get over, giving an acknowledgment for it, with a promise to liquidate the debt by their labor. In the first period of emigration, there was often great poverty among the emigrants. It was reported from Havre, in 1843, that many emigrants, on their arrival at that port, were not in possession of the necessary means to go any further. Of 841 emigrants 28 had to be sent home at the expense of the Norwegian government, and 200 received assistance from their compatriots to the extent of 5,000 francs. The “Amtmand,” chief magistrate of the “amt,” puts the amount of capital taken with them by the emigrants, exclusive of the passage money, at spd. 50 for each person. The passage money, which was spd. 20 for grown-up persons and spd. 10 for children, when the trade to Quebec was first opened, has, of late years, gone down to spd. 13 for grown-up people and spd. 7 for children above one year of age, or on the average spd. 10 for each per son, the passengers taking with them their own provisions. As a low calculation, emigration would thus have drained the country of 5,000,000 spd. The worth of the labor taken from the country is, however, of far greater consequence. The emigrants have generally been sturdy, well-grown people, some newspapers calling them even “ the flower of the pop-ulation.” In America the Norwegians are considered the best, most industrious., and most steady of all emigrants. In one sense the emigrants may be truly termed the “flower of the population,” for most of them were from the innermost mountain districts, where the Norwegian national character has been least subjected to extraneous influence. Nothing Danish has penetrated so far; they were true sons of the old Norwegian race, who left Nor way to seek another fatherland.


Emigration is a phenomenon by no means peculiar to a particular people or confined to a particular age. In every nation and at all times it has appeared in a greater or less degree. From the spot where the cradle of the human race was laid, it has gradually spread itself over the whole earth. A mighty stream flowed toward the east, and populated the inner and eastern part of Asia. They were the descendants of Shem. The children of Ham went towards the southwest and populated Africa. The third principal stream has gradually spread itself over the western part of Asia, and over Europe and America.

The universality of emigration plainly shows that it does not arise from accidental circumstances. The causes are deeply rooted in the conditions of man’s existence. The chief motive to emigration is the general desire of improving our lot. The imperfection which is necessarily inseparable from everything human, in conjunction with man’s innate desire to rule over creation, urges him continually to new undertakings. He cannot remain stationary, but must be ever in a state of development.

But numerous impediments are constantly in the way of this development. The soil he cultivates is often sterile; his own powers are finite; he is often to struggle with disease, with inclement seasons, with enemies of his own race who throw the greatest difficulties in his way. In all these respects, however, there reigns the widest difference in the various parts of the world, and in the different classes of society; and when men know, or believe they know, of a country where the conditions of existence are more favorable, it is quite as natural for them to wander thither as for water to seek its own level.

But, on the other hand, it must not be overlooked that there is much which tends to prevent us leaving our native land—love of country, of friends and relations, attachment to what we are accustomed, and the pecuniary difficulties which often hinder us in changing our mode of life. All these are difficulties in the way of emigration, and, although not able to stop it entirely, they yet decrease its extent considerably.

What has been here remarked has reference to emigration generally. On a closer inspection we shall find a great difference in different ages and with different nations.

In ancient times and far on in the middle ages emigration took the form of a general exodus; whole races and people left their homes for other countries, which they generally put themselves in possession of by force of arms. At such times the emigration of single individuals was a rare event.

In modern times, however, |the last-mentioned kind of emigration alone takes place, whereas the emigration of a people en masse has for ages been unknown.

The cause of this difference is evident. The emigration of a whole people can alone take place amongst nomads; as soon as agriculture and civilization have made their way amongst a people, it becomes more and more attached to the soil it cultivates. With regard to the members of one community emigrating to another, this was accompanied in ancient times with great difficulties. The different nations regarded one another as enemies, and [Page 722] this inimical feeling with some of the most enlightened people of antiquity—the Grecians and Romans for instance—found expression in hard and rigorous laws for foreigners living within the boundaries of the state. Another principal hindrance to emigration, as far as individuals are concerned, consisted in the strong ties which among barbaric nations bound the members of one tribe to each other. The fatherland of nomads is the tribe to which they belong, not the country they inhabit; amongst other races they would always feel themselves strangers.

The Phoenicans, Carthagenians, Greeks, and Romans, colonized several countries, but this kind of emigration in ancient times was on the whole but insignificant. Neither was it of much greater importance in the middle ages. From the date of the discovery of America, emigration began to develop itself, but it did not begin to increase to any considerable extent until the present century. What have been the causes of this?

The most important have probably been the social relations of America itself. The first colonists who arrived at the United States had many difficulties to struggle with before they could get a firm footing in that wild uncultivated country. These were scarcely vanquished before the American war of independence broke out. It was only after peace had been concluded, and the young republic rapidly grew rich, that it was able to attract the surplus population of Europe. This power of attraction has since increased in direct proportion to the rising prosperity of the country, which continually called for more labor to develop the splendid resources of the country. On the other hand the decrease of emigration, since 1854, shows the influence bad times in America exercises on this attractive power. In 1854 the “Know-Nothing” party tried to check emigration, by their cry of “America for Americans!” The year after emigration decreased from 460,000 to 230,000. Similar results will probably be shown as arising from the late civil war.

Another great cause Will be found in the unparalleled development of all means of communication in the present century. The numerous difficulties which were connected with a voyage, across the Atlantic made emigration seem an adventuresome and hazardous undertaking, deterring many. At the present time, both Europe and America being covered with a net of railways, since the introduction of steam vessels and numerous improvements in sailing ships, the difficulty and the expense of such a voyage are greatly lessened.

If we glance at the state of Europe we shall find many reasons for the great increase of emigration in the present century.

At the close of the last century and the commencement of the present one this continent was the theatre of fearful revolutions and wars. These struggles craved the attention and energy of the people. There was no desire to emigrate; neither could any labor be spared for other countries; there was more than enough to do at home.

Immediately on the conclusion of the peace the increase of emigration was rapid.

In the years 1825-‘30 a new impulse was given to it by the application of steam power in cotton and other factories, by which a large number of workmen were temporarily thrown out of work. In 1846 and 1847, nearly the whole of Europe suffered from bad harvests, the potato disease depriving large masses of people of the means of subsistence. Just at this time emigration found a new channel in the rich gold mines which were discovered in California and Australia.

These are the principal general causes of the great increase of emigration in the present century, and especially in the last decennaries. We will add a few remarks on the special causes which have influenced the extent of emigration from different countries.

Of the three principal races of which the population of Europe consists the Slavonic has contributed little or nothing to emigration; the tracts of country inhabited by it areso thinly populated in proportion to their natural resources that they rather offer a field for immigration.

Nor do the Roman races take a great part in emigration; it is the Germanic race alone that year after year sends forth its swarms to the west and south. What can be the reason of this difference?

A French author, Duval, calls attention to the fact that the Latin races personify the idea of fatherland in the country itself, while family ties with them are of less importance in that respect. With the whole of the Germanic race, including the English, Germans, and Scandinavians, the love of family is on the other hand strongest. Outside the circle of his family the German feels himself a stranger; united to his family he can feel himself at home in a foreign land. To this capability of carrying their country with them to a foreign land may be attributed the great emigration of the Germanic races, in ancient times and in our days; it makes them the first colonists in the world.

As regards the non-Germanic race, the Irish, strong ties of family have not contributed a little to remove the hindrances to emigration.

Besides the above-mentioned general causes, we will briefly mention a few local ones:

As far as Ireland is concerned, emigration has been specially caused by the potatoe disease, in connection with over-population, agrarian laws, and political and religious discontent.

In England, by discontent among the dissenters, crises in the commercial and industrial world, in conjunction with the efforts both on the part of the state and of private individuals to promote and facilitate emigration.

In Germany, by numerous restrictive laws, for instance, in contracting marriages, the [Page 723] existence of guilds/unfavorable condition of the agricultural classes, bad harvests, and political discontent.

The above review of the general causes of European emigration throws in many respects light on the. causes of emigration from Norway.

Norway is but a member of the great body politic of Europe, and has as such been influenced by the circumstances which have affected the other European nations. It is, therefore, unnecessary to dwell on the development of the general causes, but only to state the specific ones for Norway.

The whole course of emigration shows plainly that the principal causes are pecuniary. It took its commencement at a time remarkable for bad seasons; and we see subsequently that every bad season plays a part in the emigration of the succeeding year.

The pecuniary state of Norway is too, in many respects, unfavorable. The geographical position and nature of the country necessitates the population to live much scattered, which throws great difficulties in the way of material progress by preventing the division of labor. The cost of carriage must necessarily be very great in such a thinly populated country as Norway. The inhabitants live at too great a distance from one another, and are too few in numbers to develop the division of labor in the same degree as in other countries. This will explain the great part which the mountain districts take in emigration. The same cause is at work, in the continual change of abode within the boundaries of Norway. Before emigration to America commenced the peasants from the mountain districts emigrated to the more thickly populated plains, and this movement has not yet ceased; whilst, therefore, the total population of the country has been greatly on the increase, the population of the mountain districts has been almost stationary.

The same phenomenon makes its appearance in other countries; the Swiss leave their Alps; the Highlanders their mountains; the Basques the Pyrenes; while in the middle ages people isolated themselves in the heart of mountains to avoid the storms which swept the plains. The present tendency is gregarious.

The scattered population is not the only difficulty to be surmounted. The soil is often sterile, and the extent of land capable of being cultivated very limited. The severity of the climate puts the Norwegian agriculturist to great expenses, from which other countries are spared, and destroys in some years a great portion of his crops. In this respect, also, the most unfavorably situated are the mountain districts.

To these natural difficulties artificial are joined. There are still a great many restraints on industry and trade. The right of every man to choose his own way of getting his livelihood is by no means general in Norway. Erroneous views of political economy in past centuries have bequeathed the country a multiplicity of restrictions on industry and trade, from which it has as yet become but partially liberated. Commerce is trammeled with numerous restrictive laws; guilds still exist. It may be mentioned, therefore, here, that an emigrant farmer in a letter home, which can be shown to have given the first impulse to emigration from Hardanger, in the province of Bergen, mentions among other advantages of America, “that every man may get his living in whatever way he pleases.” It must, however, be stated that the last cause has not latterly had much influence on emigration.

A circumstance which, among the agricultural classes, seems to have given a great stimulus to emigration, is the Norwegian law of primogeniture. This, in conjunction with the high price of landed property—a necessary result of the limited extent of cultivated land— increases the difficulty, with the mass of the population, of satisfying the desire of becoming freeholders, the cherished wish of every Norwegian peasant.

It is, therefore, not to be wondered at that America should exercise such a strong power of attraction on the inhabitants of this country. In the new world plenty of rich and fruitful land is to be bought for a comparatively low price; the means of communication are easy, and all kinds of industry and trade perfectly free.

In the first period of emigration there was still another circumstance which no doubt contributed not a little to swell the tide of emigration. The number of able-bodied workmen increased very rapidly about the years 1836 and 1845. The census shows that in 1835 there were 82,809 men between 20 and 30 years of age. In 1845 the number had increased to no less than 116,295, an increase of about 40 per cent., (occasioned by a proportionate number of births in the years 1815 and 1825, when compared with the war times from 1806 to 1814.) Such a considerable increase could not but occasion great competition and partial want of work, a state of things which necessarily gave a strong impulse to emigration.

In conjunction with the above-mentioned pecuniary causes we may remark that the decrease of travelling expenses arising from the trade of Norway with Canada has, to a certain extent, been the cause of the increase in emigration since 1850. Norwegian emigration has not been influenced by pecuniary circumstances alone. It cannot be doubted but that many, on account of family reasons alone, have gone over to America. Those members of a family who have emigrated do all in their power to persuade their relations at home to follow them, and, if necessary, send money for then: passage. A large number of the emigrants consists of those who are drawn in by the stream. How loose the determination to emigrate often is has lately been seen by an instance from the province of Throndhjem. An emigrant agent had-persuaded a great many people to insert their names on his list; but what was the result? The “lensmand” of the parish assembled the parishioners and gave them to understand that [Page 724] America was not exactly the promised land they imagined. The consequence was that one and all altered their minds.

As in several other countries, religion has influenced emigration, and religious intolerance probably gave the first impulse to it. In his report on emigration from Stavanger amt, in the years 1836 and 1837, the “amtmand” states that in all probability emigration from that district was brought about by letters written by persons who had emigrated from Stavanger 12 to 14 years before, some of whom were known to be Quakers. If we take into consideration the persecution which this sect had to endure from government—for instance, compulsory baptism of infants, confirmation, and the exhumation of bodies buried according to the ritual of the Quakers, in order to rebury them according to the ritual of the established church—it will not be unreasonable to imagine that this intolerance was the cause of the emigration of these Quakers in the years 1823-‘25. The fact that emigration had its commencement in Stavanger amt would seem to strengthen this supposition, for that amt was the only one in which there were any Quakers. The emigration of these few Quakers seems to have been the example which so many of the inhabitants of the country have followed.

At a later date, too, religion has not been without its influence on emigration; such, for instance, has been the case with the emigration from the province of Tromsoe of late years, the emigrants consisting chiefly of dissenters from Maalselven and Bardodalen. In connection of this may be noticed the Mormon emigration.

As one of the causes of emigration deserves to be mentioned the deep-rooted dissatisfaction with and suspicion of government officials felt by the peasantry. This suspicion has its origin in the conduct of many unprincipled officials, who, especially under the Danish regime, and no doubt since, illegally screwed money out of the peasantry. How deeply rooted it was is best shown by its existence at the present day in many districts.

A letter from a Norwegian who emigrated in.1831 gives a clue to the opinions of the peasantry on. this subject. We take the liberty of quoting some passages:

* * * “When meetings are held here (in America) to elect a representative of the people, the voice of the poor man has as much weight as that of the rich; here they make no difference between a peasant and a magistrate; liberty is as much for one as another if they conduct themselves properly. People can travel about the country as much as they please without passports; every one can follow the trade or profession he is best suited for, but vice is quickly and summarily punished. There is no duty to pay here on goods manufactured in the country, and conveyed to the towns by land or water. Neither is the registration of deaths necessary; the survivor has a right to do as he pleases with the effects of the deceased after having paid off the debts; nobody comes here to seize them like a beast of prey, that would live by the labor of others and inherit their property. No ! here everybody must work for his bread, no matter whether he be ignorant or learned.” **

These are indeed serious complaints against this country, but apart from all exaggeration it must be admitted that several of them were by no means unfounded. It is, at all events, evident that the unenlightened peasant, always suspicious of government officials, would join in this censure of Norwegian institutions. The time when such things might have been advanced with some show of truth is, however, long since gone by. Taken altogether there is, probably, no nation whose political and social position ranks higher than that of Norway.

Nor can it be said that the industrial laws force people to emigrate. To be sure the pecuniary resources of America are beyond all comparison, greater than those of Norway, and this has been the reason why so many have preferred the former country; but the gradual development of trade and industry, the increase of population, show plainly enough that in this country, too, there is plenty to do for those who can and will work. Notwithstanding natural obstacles the resources of Norway can still be greatly developed, and by a proper use of them double and treble the present number of inhabitants might be supported. The degree of social well-being to which a country can rise depends altogether upon the people themselves.


The effect of emigration is chiefly seen in the decrease of the population. In several countries, Ireland, for instance, this has been the case; in others the result has been a less increase in the population than would otherwise have been the case.

As regards Norway, it has not been followed by either of these results, the population having increased more rapidly since emigration commenced than ever before. It amounts at the close of the following years to—

1814 885,000 1845 1,328,000
1825 1,051,000 1850 1,400,000
1835 1,195,000 1855 1,490,000
1840 1,245,000 1863 1,645,000
[Page 725]

In the years of 1814-‘40 there was no emigration worth speaking of. The total increase during that period was 360,000, or 13,800 per annum.

From 1841-‘63 the population has increased with 400,000, averaging 17,400 per annum. Calculated at a percentage on the average population, this yearly increase for 1814-40 gives 1 3-10 per cent., and for 1841-63, 1 2-10 per cent., consequently a trifle less. It must, however, be remarked that the years 1814-‘25 ought not to be included in the comparison, the rapid increase of the population of Norway during that period having been caused by the cessation of the great European war. The average increase for the years 1826-40 was 1 1-10 per cent., consequently rather less than at a later date, when emigration commenced.

If we inspect more closely the period in which emigration has taken place, we shall find that the increase in the population was greatest at the very time when emigration was at its height. By comparing the years 1841-‘50 with 1851-‘63, the following difference will be seen:

1841-‘50. 1851-‘63.
The annual increase of the population was 15,500 18,000
Or a percentage of 117 124
The annual emigration was 17,000 4,000
Or a percentage of 013 026

Notwithstanding, therefore, emigration during the last 13 years has become twice as great, the increase of population has likewise been greater than in the period from 1841-‘50, which has been principally caused by a decrease in the number of deaths in conjunction with an increase in the number of births.

On the other hand, the influence of emigration on the population is plainly shown in the several years, and in the different parts of the kingdom.

Its effect during some years has been greater owing to the fact that the causes of increase of emigration have generally a bad effect on the rate of mortality. This has especially been the case during the two years which followed the bad harvest of 1860. The average number of births for the years 1856-‘60 was 51,562, of deaths 26,058; consequently an excess in the number of births of 25,503. The number of emigrants was 3,200, making the increase of population 22,300.

The population for these two years is as follows:

1861. 1862.
Number of births 49,524 52,160
Number of deaths 31,471 32,494
Majority of births 18,053 19,666
Emigration 8,850 5,100
Increase of population 9,203 14,566

In those two years the increase of population averaged about one half of what it had been during the previous years. In 1857 the increase was also less than usual, (17,621,) principally on account of the large number of emigrants. The same was the case in 1853; whereas the excess of births in 1864 was so great that the increase for that year, notwithstanding the large number of emigrants, was greater than ever before. In 1859 the increase, on account of the small number of emigrants and low rate of mortality, went up to 26,000. It will be seen from this that emigration causes the increase of population to vary considerably.

In the districts where emigration has been most extensive the population has generally increased at a slower rate than in other parts of the kingdom. This is, however, not without an exception; and it deserves likewise to be noticed that the population of a district has never decreased on account of emigration. The effect has been greatest in Bradsberg amt, Northern Bergenhuus, and Buskerud.

The increase of population in the first-named amt, from 1815-‘35, was rather more than 17 per cent, for each decennium; from 1835-‘45 it was only 7 1/2 per cent., and from 1845-‘55 only 5 per cent. The increase in Upper Thelemarken in the two last named decennia has been only 4 1/2 and 2 per cent.

In Northern Bergenhuus amt the increase from 1825-‘35 was 11 per cent.; from 1835-‘45 10 per cent. In the decennium following the commencement of emigration it was only 4 1/2 per cent.; in Sogne not more than 2 1/3 per cent,

The increase of population in Buskerud amt during each of the decennia in 1825-‘35 and 1835-‘45 was but a little above 9 per cent., and from 1845-‘55 the increase wont down to 7 1/2 per cent., and in Hallingdal to 5 per cent.

[Page 726]

In Christians amt, on the other hand, emigration does not seem to have caused any perceptible decrease in the population, for it was greater after the commencement of emigration in 1848 than in the preceding decennia, (12 per cent, against 8 per cent.) This does not, however, refer to the whole amt. In Valders the increase in 1846-‘55 did not rise to 4 per cent.

Stavanger is quite an exception. Notwithstanding a proportionally extensive emigration, the population of this amt has increased more than in any other, Finmark alone excepted. The increase in 1835-‘45 was 15 1/2 per cent., and in 1845-‘55 it was 17 per cent. The emigration from this amt was counterbalanced by an equally extensive immigration, chiefly from Lister and Mandal.

One of the results of emigration is to alter the numerical proportion of the sexes, and the different ages, the emigrants being chiefly males and grown-up people.

In those countries to which the emigrants resort the male sex is still often in excess of the female. In the colony of Victoria, South Australia, there are not more than 60 females for every 100 males. Among the white population of the United States the males numbered 10,000,000 and the females 9,500,000.

In most of the European countries before the commencement of emigration the female sex was considerably in excess of the male, which excess has latterly become still greater. In 1821 the number of females was 102.97 for every 100 males, and has since gradually risen to 105.64 in 1861. The same phenomenon is observable in Germany, principally in Wurtemberg, where the proportion during six years (1849 to 1855) rose from 105.54 to 108.40.

In Norway the results of the census show a gradual decrease in the excess of females up to 1845, but an increase in the decennium from 1846 to 1855. For every 100 males there were in 1801,109 females; in 1825,106; in 1835,104.1; in 1845, 103.7; but in 1855, 104.1.

With regard to the proportion between the different ages the result of emigration should tend to decrease the number of inhabitants between the ages of twenty and forty. In this case, however, it will be more difficult to show the influence emigration has had, the rate of mortality being the chief cause of the increase or decrease of the population within the different ages. The influence of emigration in this respect may, however, be arrived at pretty closely.

In 1825, the number of males between the ages of ten and twenty was 87,648; ten years later (1835) the census would show what decrease there had been in the number of the population at the above-mentioned ages. In 1835, the number of males between the ages of twenty and thirty was 82,809; the decrease has consequently been 4,839, or 5.8 per cent. In the same way we find that the 123,823 males in 1835, who were between the ages of ten and twenty, had decreased to 116,295, or 6 1/2 per cent.; for the years 1846 to 1855, the decrease was not less than 11.1 per cent.

If we investigate the proportion for the ages of twenty to thirty, we get at the following result:

In the decennium 1826 to 1835, the decrease was 10 1/2 per cent.; in the decennium 1836 to 1845, the decrease was 8.7 per cent.; in the decennium 1846 to 1855, the decrease was 16 per cent. For both these ages there is a far greater decrease in the decennium from 1846 to 1855 than in any of the preceding decennia, which can only have been caused by the extensive emigration which took place in 1846 to 18551 for the rate of mortality during these years was much more favorable than formerly, and had there been no emigration the decrease must necessarily have been less.

As regards the female sex, we should probably arrive at similar results if we were in possession of reliable reports for the ages in question; but owing to peculiarity with the fair sex, the statements of the number of females between the ages of twenty and thirty can never be relied on.

We have above shown that the yearly increase of the population has not been lessened by emigration. It is quite another question how far the increase would have been still greater had the emigrants remained at home. At the first glance the matter seems easy enough; if the 73,000 had not emigrated the population of Norway at the present time would have been greater than it is by that number, and if one chose to calculate very closely something should be added for the increase in this number. Norway would thus have lost about 80,000 of its population. This calculation is, however, not correct; for the increase of population is not determined by an excess of births, or by the proportion between emigration and immigration. The increase or decrease of the population depends principally on their pecuniary position; if a land advance in social well-being the population is sure to increase, notwithstanding emigration; if, on the other hand, the pecuniary resources of a country remain stationary or diminish, the population, exceptions not included, will also remain stationary or decrease, even should there be no emigration; the unfavorable pecuniary position will always tend to increase the number of deaths and lessen the number of marriages and births.

The question of the influence of emigration on the population is dependent on another question: its influence on the pecuniary development of the country.

It is not, however, easy to ascertain to what extent the results of emigration have been favorable or pernicious; this would necessitate a more careful investigation. It would seem that emigration is generally advantageous to the community at large. How [Page 727] much has not England gained through it! What numbers find employment in the commerce between America and the mother country !

Norway has likewise been greatly benefited by emigration, far more than might be expected from its contributions thereto. Its commerce, for instance, has been greatly increased by the trade between Europe and Canada, and the rest of North America. The indirect benefit which Norway has, from everything tending to increase the wealth of England, (and consequently from emigration,) is still greater; for the latter country is the best market for the produce of Norway, and finds employment for its ships. It seems digressing from the point to mention these advantages here, but, it appears that in this case a number of nations have each contributed their part to a useful enterprise, and the contributions of Norway have been far less than its gain. Is it then right to ask whether Norway might * not have had the gain without making the contribution? Even if we do not take into consideration all the advantages resulting to Norway from the use of America, it is still doubtful whether emigration has really had any pernicious effect upon the country. The loss to Norway consists chiefly in the labor of which it is deprived, (employed, however, more advantageously in America.) There is no doubt a plenty of uncultivated land in Norway, but the fact is there is not sufficient capital, and the supply of labor will always be found proportioned thereto. If there be a scarcity of capital in a country, it cannot support a large staff of laborers, even if there exist extensive tracts of uncultivated land. Under such circumstances it is more advantageous to have a small staff of laborers in proportion to the capital, for wages will then be high and nothing tends so much to increase capital among the the masses than high wages. Wages can be too high, but generally they have rather a tendency to sink below the proper level than to rise above it. As regards Norway wages can scarcely be said to be too high; they were at their highest during the years 1853 and 1854, but no pernicious results followed; on the other hand those years were golden ones for Norway. If wages in Norway be not too high, it is clear that emigration cannot have been disadvantageous, for it has not injuriously diminished the staff of laborers.

Emigration has deprived the country of a certain amount of capital, and so far had an injurious effect, but this loss of capital is too insignificant, in proportion to the resources of the country, to deserve any special attention.

In some districts the result of emigration has been a decline in the price of land, several farmers having sold their land in order to emigrate to America; but low prices of land are not counted among the evils of which agriculturists complain now.

On the whole it seems we must come to the conclusion that emigration has not had any very injurious results, although it may have been felt severely in some parts of the country.

  1. The sources from which this information has been principally taken are:

    1. The quinquennial report of the economical state of the kingdom, giving tables of the number of emigrants from each “amt,” (county,) and generally for every year.

    2. Copies of despatches relative to emigration to the North American colonies, (printed in the English parliamentary papers.) These documents contain, amongst other information, statements of the number of emigrants who sailed from each Norwegian port.

    3. Statements from Swedish and Norwegian consuls in Quebec and New York.

    4. Sundry information which has from time to time appeared in Norwegian newspapers.

    In the working of the following statistical data it has been tried as far as possible by comparing one statement with another, to arrive at the truth, relying, however, principally on the information contained in No. 2. As regards the statements in the quinquennial reports the figures will generally be found to be too low. The results arrived at in this manner are, perhaps, not quite accurate, but probably are not far out of the mark.

  2. By comparing these figures with those in the quinquennial reports 1846-‘50 and 1851-55, it will be seen that the sums total for the whole kingdom agree. This is, however, not the case with the different districts. The most important deviations are as follows:

    1. According to this statement the number of emigrants from the city of Christiania from 1846-55 should have been 970, but according to the quinquennial reports it is 4,288; but in these reports all the emigrants are included who left Christiania, provided with passports, most of whom, however, were country people.

    2. From Buskerud amt the statements are, respectively, 3,900 and 4,337; the difference in this case arises likewise from the fact that the emigrants from Ringerige and Hallingdal districts have been counted twice, the greatest number of whom had provided themselves with passports at Drammen, but who have, of course, been included, notwithstanding, in the different Lensmoend’s reports.

    3. The “Amtmcend’s” reports of emigration are altogether too low, which, however, has been emphatically Stated in several of them. This difference it has been endeavored to correct by companson, with the more reliable statements of the number of emigrants who sailed from the different ports of the kingdom.

    The following is an instance showing the way at which the result is arrived at. During the five years from 1851-55, there emigrated from Bergen more than 3,840 persons. In the quinquennial report the total number of emigrants from Bergen, Throndhjem, and Tromsoe provinces is 2,995, of whom 30 are known to have sailed from Christiania. The number in this quinquennial report must consequently be increased by 880, or 29 1/2 per cent.; the emigrants from southern Bergenhuus amt must therefore have been 889 instead of 669.

    No doubt this mode of calculation has its objections; but it is the only one which can be adopted in order to arrive at anything like a good result, and when applied to large numbers will be generally found corect.

  3. In 1854.
  4. In 1857.
  5. In 1854.
  6. The writer of letter is Gjert Gregorinssen Howland; the letter, which is dated 22d April, 1835, shows among other things that eight Norwegian families were then living on the same spot.