HANDBOOK FOR IMMIGRANTS

AND

SHORT PRESENTATION OF THE ADVANTAGES

WHICH

CHARITON COUNTY

IN THE STATE OF MISSOURI

OFFERS TO IMMIGRANTS

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COMPOSED AND PUBLISHED

BY

LOUIS BENECKE

PRESIDENT OF THE CHARITON COUNTRY SOCIETY FOR IMMIGRATION

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ST. LOUIS, MO. 
PRESS: NIEDNER, MENNING & CO., NO. 211 MARKET STREET
1873












HANDBOOK FOR IMMIGRANTS
The purpose of the present little pamphlet is to encourage immigration. Written at the behest and underwritten by the Immigration Society of Chariton County, it is intended in the first place to argue for and to stress the manifold advantages which this county affords the german emigrant, especially to those less well off, and, in this way, to increase immigration and population growth in the county with industrious, forward-striving families. In this sense, it is meant for three classes [of persons]; First, for such inhabitants of the State of Missouri, who no longer tolerate their present place of residence and who are looking about for a new homeland in the states having as few of the disadvantages of the old one as possible [and] offering, on the other hand, many benefits that they miss in their present one. Second, it is intended [to encourage] such inhabitants of the United States who [are] unhappy with the choice of the state in which they have settled down to turn their eyes toward the young, promising West in expectation of improving their circumstances there. Third, however, and in the main, it is written for those on the other side of the ocean, who, tired of Old Europe, with all its oppressive circumstances and conditions that embitter a man's life, have directed their eyes toward the land of free thought, of free speech, of free presses, and of free work, [that he may] apply himself to his trade here as a free citizen, and exchange an existence hammered by worries about food and so many things else for one proportionately easier, pleasanter and less worrisome. I am well aware that this little book actually exceeds its scope, for books and pamphlets are, indeed, to be had en masse that describe in general terms the advantages which a new world offers to the inhabitant of the old; and the distinguished "Handbook" by Father Munch, concerning Missouri in particular, is widely circulated and known to advantage. Nevertheless, the present text will also have its uses and perhaps move this or that one to exchange the hard yoke that imposes heavy taxes and lower salaries on the less well-to-do class for an independent job for life and better employment opportunities. A truth cannot be spoken too often; indeed, let no one believe that repeating [it] too often forfeits anything of its effectiveness. Thus, I take hope that this text, having been sent out into the world in order to repeat to whomever of those in whose hands it should fall, the old truth that the United States are the promised land for the industrious, causes this truth to pass before the eyes of many a doubting person and lead to its careful consideration; and will also stimulate many another who, until now, never ever thought seriously about emigrating, to mull this point over. -2- When one thinks about how many a poor man in Germany, be he a small land owner, tradesman, hired hand or something else, struggles from early morning to late evening and, even so, earns too little of eating to the full and much of starvation; when one sees how, generation upon generation struggles in the same occupation and that the grandchild finds himself in the same pecuniary standpoint in which his great grandfather found himself; when one sees how the small landlord cultivates his stoney and infertile ground year in year out, without getting even now one step forward or being able even now to acquire the most modest homestead for his children; when one sees how the tireless hand worker tries hard for years to continue his unequal battle against machines, while, instead of getting ahead, he often falls ever more and more into debt and, looking at his useless competition with capitalism, flounders in apathy and is forced to work as a journeyman-so one can only wonder that emigration, even though considerably intensified in the last years, has not already increased tenfold. What in the world still holds the man without means back in the Old World, who, despite all his industriousness, cannot achieve an easy situation, who realizes the improbability if not the impossibility of improving his circumstances? Is it the great love of the homeland, of the city, in which he endured the troubles of his apprenticeship and the worries of managing his affairs independently? Is it from devotion to the clod of land with which he has struggled for years on end to win something more than a bare life's sustenance? That can hardly be. Either it is ignorance of the fact that, with one bold step, he can give his whole life a more favorable turn, or lack of courage to take this step. One tends over there to mistrust all reports that originate here and to attribute dishonest motives to them. And this mistrust is, in fact, to some degree justified. Unscrupulous speculators certainly have taken advantage often of the credulity of the inexperienced and caught them in their net by means of false presentations and exaggerated accounts. However, when such accounts come from authorities as Friedrich Munch, the pioneer of German immigration to Missouri, then it would be absurd to doubt their veracity. I advise everyone who has not yet read his handbook about Missouri to do so, so long as he harbors the plan to emigrate, and, before taking this step, he first learns about the advantages that a new homeland in the West afford him over those of the old. The above-named book, which can be had at no cost, will inform him on all points and on every topic that it is necessary for an immigrant to know. -3- That Missouri is the one state in the Union that brings together all of the benefits for the German immigrant that are otherwise to be found only scattered about in the Union is beyond doubt. In climatic, political and social respects, [Missouri] recommends itself to the less well-to-do above all other states. Such a one, [who] declares his wish to become a United States citizen before the court, receives the political rights of a native born and [is] eligible, in a year's time, to vote in all state, county and city elections. There are still hundreds of thousands of acres of valuable public land in Missouri, a certain number of which can be procured as one's own property at extremely low cost under the provisions of the so-called Homestead Acts. Every father of a family and anyone [else] who has reached the age of twenty-one and is a citizen of the United States or has made his declaration to become one, according to the requirements of the naturalization laws of the United States, is entitled to claim ownership of one quarter-section (160 acres) of land, once he has paid the low legal fees, approximately twenty dollars in all. Missouri, and especially those of its counties that lie along the Missouri River, suffered much in earlier years from the degrading institution of slavery. Slavery was forced upon the state by a dishonorable and perfidious Secretary of War, for which reason that, compared with other states of similar age [but] with fewer natural resources, [Missouri] remained for forty years a wilderness that was developed only to the most negligible degree by emigrants from the old slave states-an ignorant, lazy, degenerate, slavery-loving class of men. The rich slave owners, as they were accustomed to do everywhere, acquired the fertile stretches of land along the river and left the less fertile land that lay further removed from the river to their ignorant supporters and abettors [who were] hostile to all innovation and improvement. So it came that emigration to Missouri did not occur to the degree that this state deserved. Conditions have now changed. Slavery is dead and Missouri is freed thereby of its most troublesome enemy. Since the abolition of slavery, Chariton County, too, has improved significantly and is now open to the intelligent and industrious immigrant. The suspension of the slave economy also dealt a death blow to the obsession (so dangerous to any country) to own thousands of acres of land [that are] left uncultivated. Slave owners thought it necessary to own expansive tracts of land in order to keep their ever-increasing number of slaves constantly at work and to have new land for cultivation in reserve in case their old land became exhausted and depleted through their notoriously bad soil management. -4- The war made an end of this evil. Whereas it [was] made difficult earlier to buy tracts of land of less than 2 to 300 acres; indeed, whereas one even sought intentionally to inhibit immigration thereby, so that no one wanted to sell land to newcomers at any price, the immigrant now can acquire land in whatever parcels he may wish. There are Germans in the county who harvest on forty acres (of superior land, to be sure) as much as the slave owner [was able to do] before the war and, in some cases, even now on ten times that acreage. The advantage of freelance work and efficient management is that great over the over- exploitive acreage system and the carelessness of earlier slave labor. A merely somewhat-diligent landlord with only a few hundred thaler in capital can become wealthy in Chariton County in a very few years. Thousands of acres of the most fertile land can be had for $10 to $40 per acre, according to however far the land lies from the railroad or the city. Chariton County, situated in the northern part of the state, has approximately the [same] climate as central Germany and is to be recommended by preference, therefore, to the German emigrant. It enjoys the happy mean between the northern latitudes, which limit the diversity of products, and the heat of the south which saps one's energy and produces and sustains the tendency towards sluggishness. The attempt has been made many times in recent years to draw German immigrants to the southern states. Pamphlets richly filled with en­ ticing and imagination-captivating statistics have been sent out into the world by the thousands. It is true that the South surpasses the North in luxuriant vegetation. But the immigrant cannot make use of this profusion. Apart from the unwholesomeness of an almost tropical climate, there is a ruling and authoritative class in the South of either the old rebel aristocracy or of the dumb, narrow­minded Negroes, elevated by the recent administration, and what a German, especially the impoverished among them, can expect from these is well enough known as to require no further discussion. Even if Chariton Country is not now (entirely) free of these elements, it is so, on the other hand, [that] its German population is so influential in political and social relationships [to have] earned such respect through its resolute restraint during the Civil War, that the newly-arrived can look down with composure on its prejudices.
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