The Swedish Emigration to America
During the period of 1821 until 1930 about 1,3 million Swedes emigrated; some to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South America but the overwhelming majority to the States. Nearly a sixth, in total over 200 000, did return to Sweden, but more than 1 million left their country for good. Among the factors that pushed people from Sweden: down-sizing of farm labourers (better tools, redistribution of land) the rapid population growth ("the vaccine, the peace, the potatoes") the years of bad crops during the second half of the 19th century discontent with society (military conscript duty, religious intolerance) Among the factors creating a pull to America: the supply of fertile land and of work opportunities the immigration propaganda the emigrants’ letters home to Sweden The first Swedish immigrants to North America were the colonists of New Sweden (Nya Sverige). The colony was established at the Delaware River in 1638, only 18 years after the first emigrants (“the Pilgrim Fathers”) from England had arrived on the Mayflower to New England. In total there were some 700 - 800 Swedes and Finns in the colony, which however eventually became Dutch and later British. During the next two centuries only the occasional Swede went to America, mostly merchants.
Only during the first half of the 19th century did some emigration start, often through different, not seldom religious groups led by strong personalities. For the period of 1820 – 1850 it has been established that about 5 000 people emigrated from Sweden and the following decade some 15 000 people. The first major wave of emigration started right after the Civil War and ran
until 1873. In the years 1866 – 1869 Sweden had three years of bad crops and it is estimated that some 120 000 left the country during this period. 1879 – 1893 is regarded as the top years of the emigration and during these 15 years a total of 485 000 Swedes emigrated. For five years more than 40 000 people emigrated every year................