Library of Congress
The German immigrant story is a long one—a
story of early beginnings, continual growth, and steadily spreading
influence. Germans were among the first Europeans to make their
homes in the New World, and are among the United States' most
recent arrivals. They were aboard the first boats that came ashore
at Jamestown, and they built the rockets that took men to the
moon. In the years in between, they moved into nearly every corner
of the U.S., tried their hand at nearly every trade and pursuit,
and helped shape the fundamental institutions of American life.
Though they endured their share of hardship,
they escaped much of the tragedy and harsh treatment that plagued
many immigrant groups. Today, more than 40 million Americans claim
German ancestry—more than any other group except the British.
What factors might have contributed to the Germans'
unique immigration experience?