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Story: Going home


The Emigration from Sweden

To leave Sweden and depart to America was a big decision. Imaging to leave your home country and never see it again and maybe also never see your family again. Every person has his own story why he left all behind and emigrated.

1.3 million emigrated

Between year 1821-1930 approx 1,3 million Swedes emigrated. Most of them left for the US but some also went to Australia, New Zealand, South America and Canada.

Approx 200.000 emigrants went back to Sweden but over 1 million stayed for good. It is said that there are more Swedish descendant in the US than there are Swedes in Sweden. In Census in the US year 1990, approx 4,7 million americans pointed that they had a Swedish stock. In the US at this time there were approx 249 million inhabitants.

Picture: Farewell moment at "Packhuskajen" in Goteborg harbour year 1850, a picture from the newspaper.
Farewell moment at Packhuskajen in Goteborg harbour, 1850

Different reasons for emigration

All didn´t leave Sweden for the same reason. Presumably everyone who came as an emigrant to the US had their own reason for leaving his homecountry.
Some of the reasons were:

- Year of famine during late year 1800
- fast population increase
- change over within the agriculture
- religion
- compulsory military service
- poverty

Tempting America

Why many people went to the US had of course also some reasons. Many were those who left for the US and then sent home letters from "over-there" and included pictures of the family in nice clothes etc. Swedish people were tempted with emigration propaganda, access to arable land and also temptation with work.

If the people had had the opportunity to play at the casino in the promised land, they probably would have told this to their relatives. Several of the people who came to the United States from Europe brought along various games such as gambling and other skill games. Gambling in the United States more or less ended at the end of the 19th century after it was played on riverboats around the country. It was several religious organizations who struggled to end the game.

The Gold Rush of 1848-1855 turned San Francisco into the American gambling center. After World War II Las Vegas grow up to be the place to be if you wanted to be in the gamling industry.

The first settlers/emigrants year 1683 - New Sweden

If you ignore the Vikings, our first Swedish emigrants were those who started the colony "New Sweden" in the US year 1638. The colony was settled at the Delaware river south of present Philadelphia, on the eastcoast of the US. North of "New Sweden" was the Dutch "New Amsterdam" ( present New York) and south the English "Virginia".

The year was August 1637 when the two ships "Kalmare Nyckel" and "Fågel Grip" left Goteborg harbour to set out for America. In March year 1638 both ships anchored at the Delaware river.

Kalmar Nyckel

Photo: the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation / kalmarnyckel.org

Emigranter går ombord The first big emigration wave started year 1868

You can say that the emigration have passed in waves. The first big emigration wave started after the civil war in America. Approx 120.000 persons left Sweden for the US between 1868-1873. Sweden had three times between year 1866-1868 suffered very bad harvest.
xPhoto: goteborgs-emigranten.com  

Source: Goteborgs-Emigranten / goteborgs-emigranten.com
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