Tagged: Scandinavia

Documents: Scandinavian America

A Chronology of Some Facts About Scandinavian Presence in America


Leif Erikson Statue at Minnesota State Capitol

986-1003 Two Norwegians, Biarni Herjolfsson and Leif Erikson, reach America, on separate voyages, the former from Iceland and the latter from Greenland. Colonization of “Vinland” fails, but research indicates that the Viking explorers may have penetrated the Americas as far west as Minnesota (see entry 1898). (For less well known facts, see my essay Ingeborg, A Viking Girl on the Blue Lagoon here)

1013 Snoiri, son of Gudrid (wife of the Icelander Thorfinn Karlsefni), is the first white child born in North America.

1630 Scandinavian settlers come with Dutch settlers, in the bay of New Amsterdam.

1638 Fort Christina, first Swedish colony (New Sweden/Nya Sverige).

1638 The first log cabin in America is erected by Swedes.

1639 Jonas Bronck, a Scandinavian immigrant of disputed origin (Faroe Islands, or Denmark, or Sweden), married with a Dutch woman and settled in New Netherland, is the first to colonize the area that now bears his name, the Bronx in NYC, as does the Bronx river (Bronck’s river).

1655 After a battle, New Sweden becomes part of New Netherland. Later, in 1664, the Dutch New Amsterdam is conquered by an English fleet.

1681 William Penn buys the land for his colony of Pennsylvania from Swedish settlers.

1705 Thormodus Torfæus, royal historian of the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway, writes Historia Vinlandiæ Antiquæ (History of Ancient Vinland)

1749 Peter Kalm, of the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, is told by French explorer La Vérendrye about a stone discovered by the latter in what is today North Dakota. The stone was engraved with signs which some Jesuits found similar to the Tatarian script copied in one book of their library in Quebec. According to Hjalmar R. Holand, it could be a runic stone, as Tatarian script looks similar to Scandinavian runes. Its whereabouts in France are unknown. (H.R. Holand, Norse Discoveries & Explorations in America 982-1362, 1940) “The Minnesota Historical Society has offered a $1000 reward for the stone’s rediscovery.” (Wkdp: Vérendrye stone)

1769 Foundation in Philadelphia of a Society of Scandinavians, as a socio-cultural organization.

1776 John Morton, of Delaware, descendant of Swedish settlers, casts the deciding vote in favor of the Declaration of Independence.

1781-82 John Hanson, descendant of the earliest Swedish settlers, serves as the first ‘President of the U.S. in Congress Assembled’, before George Washington is elected President of a new U.S. government. Thus, he was chief executive of the nation during its first year.

1801-05 First Barbary War, in which the US and Sweden together fought against the Barbary States of North Africa to stop piracy in the Mediterranean Sea. (There was a Second Barbary War, also known as the US-Algerian War, in 1815.)

1817 The Swedenborgian Church of North America (General Convention of the Church of the New Jerusalem) is established in Philadelphia.

1826-1910 Norway gave to America a larger proportion of her people than any other nation, except Ireland, during the great Atlantic migrations.

1837 Danish historian Carl Christian Rafn publishes Antiquitates americanæ, sive Scriptores septentrionales rerum antecolombianarum in America, opera et studio (American Antiquities, or the writings of Nordic authors on precolombian matters in America: Their works and an examination of them), a collection of early sources on precolombian Nordic travels and settlements.

1840 Swedish Immigration Law of 1768 restricting the right of emigration is repealed by the Parliament as an answer to the problem of pauperism.

1844 Danes create the first Scandinavian society in America.

1846 Eric Janson, leader of the Swedish pietistic sect known as the Jansonites, builds Bishop Hill Colony in Illinois, a communal society that was to last until 1870.

1847 The first Scandinavian newspaper in the US, Skandinavia, is published in New York City.

1848 Creation of the first Bygdelag or “District League,” Norwegian-American organization with social and cultural purposes.

1848 Danish pioneer Peter Lassen leads a party through the Sierra Nevada to northern California, blazing a new route past the mountain that now bears his name: Lassen Peak.

1850 Beginning of Danish Mormons’ emigration to Utah. (Danes are the major European component of the Mormons. See William Muller’s Homeward to Zion: The Mormon Migration from Scandinavia)

1850 Swedenborgians found a denominational liberal arts college, Urbana College in Urbana, Ohio, which became Urbana University in 1985.

1851 First Scandinavian political organization: the Swedish-American Republican Club of Illinois.

1854 Scandinavians, as a group, begin to transfer their political allegiance from the Democratic to the Republican Party. The process is complete by 1860.

1856 Scandinavians largely oppose the American (Know-Nothing) Party in favor of immigration restriction and longer residence requirements for citizenship. (See entry 1886(i) for a shift in opinion)

1862 Foundation of Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, by Swedish immigrants. (Since 1965 the annual Nobel Conference takes place at Gustavus.)

1864-1867 The Great Famine in Sweden leads to an exodus to America.

1872 Jon Olafsson leads a party for the exploration of Alaska as a settlement site for Icelanders. The resulting bill is not passed. Icelanders create a ‘New Iceland’ colony near Lake Winnipeg, on land granted by the government of Canada; the colony is named Gimli after the paradise of Norse legends.

1874 Foundation of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, by Norwegian-American immigrants.

1877 Foundation of the Norwegian-American Historical Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Decorah is nicknamed the “Norwegian capital” of the state.

1880 French historian Eugène Beauvois publishes La Norambègue : découverte d’une quatrième colonie précolombienne dans le Nouveau Monde (Norumbega: Discovery of a fourth precolombian [Viking] colony in the New World), in which among other things he derives the Gougou myth of Souriquois Micmac Indians described by Champlain from the Scandinavian troll-woman or ogress Gýgr (or Gýgur).

1883 The first prima donna of the New York Metropolitan Opera is a Swedish woman: Christina Nilsson.

1884 The Co-operative Commonwealth in Its Outlines: An Exposition of Modern Socialism, a milestone of Socialist thinking in America, by Danish-born Laurence Gronlund.

1884 Foundation of Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, by Danish immigrants (1884-2010).

1886 Many Scandinavians join nativist associations in opposition to the emigration of new people from Southern and Eastern Europe.

1886 Due to agrarian distress in the Midwest, thousands of Scandinavians leave the Republican Party and join the Farmers’ Alliance, which will later become part of the Populist Party.

1888 Norwegian-American newspaper Normanden is started; headed by writer H. A. Foss, it expresses the Populist sympathies of the Scandinavian farmers (1888-1993). (More on H. A. Foss below: Prohibitions-Mystik)

1890 Jacob A. Riis, the best-known Danish-American, publishes How the Other Half Lives, an influential appeal to social conscience. (He later published, among other things, his memoirs under the title The Making of an American, 1901.)

1890 Scandinavians in the Midwest are instrumental in getting Farmers’ Alliance’s candidates elected to the House of Representatives.

1890 Publication of Svensk-amerikanska poeter i ord och bild (Swedish-American Poets in Words and Pictures; an anthology) by Ernst Skarstedt, Svenska folkets tidnings förlag, Minneapolis, Minn. (For my French translations of a few of these poems, and a poem in the original text by Herman Stockenström, see here.) (Swedish-American historian Emory Lindquist, president of Bethany College and of Wichita State University, wrote Skarstedt’s biography, An immigrant’s American odyssey: A biography of Ernst Skarstedt [1970].)

1891 In reply to a questionnaire sent to governors of states by the Immigration Restriction League, 12 state governments express a desire for immigrants of Scandinavian background (for these are perceived as “hard working, god fearing, and non-radical”).

1894 “Give me Swedes, snuff and whiskey, and I’ll build a railroad through hell.” (James J. Hill, of the Great Northern Railroad)

1894 The John Ericsson Republican League of Illinois is founded. “Its mission was to exert a Scandinavian-American influence on American politics and advance Scandinavian-Americans for political office. … (The league was named after) Captain John Ericsson, Swedish-American engineer and inventor best known for his creation of the Union ironclad warship U.S.S. Monitor, which defeated the Confederate ironclad warship U.S.S. Merrimac in a naval battle on March 9, 1862. This battle was instrumental in securing a Union victory in the Civil War. ” (augustana.edu)

1894 Many Scandinavian-Americans join the American Protective Association, a nativist anti-catholic organization.

1894 Numerous victories of the Populist party, especially in Scandinavian populated states: North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin.

1895 Creation of the Sons of Norway, the largest Norwegian secular organization in America.

1897 In Yukon Charley Anderson becomes ‘Lucky Swede’: “A Swede named Charley Anderson had been at work on Miller Creek the year of the strike, and arrived in Dawson with a few hundred dollars. Two miners, who had staked No. 29 Eldorado, decided that he was the proper man upon whom to “unload.” He was too canny to approach sober, so at a considerable expense they got him drunk. Even then it was hard work, but they kept him befuddled for several days, and finally, inveigled him into buying No. 29 for $750. When Anderson sobered up, he wept at his folly, and pleaded to have his money back. But the men who had duped him were hard-hearted. They laughed at him, and kicked themselves for not having tapped him for a couple of hundred more. Nothing remained for Anderson but to work the worthless ground. This he did, and out of it he took over three-quarters of a million of dollars.” (Jack London, The Gold Hunters of the North, in Revolution and Other Essays)

1898 Finding of the Kensington Stone, a slab of Runic inscriptions, dated 1362, in Minnesota.

1899 Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class.

1900 Minneapolis is the Scandinavian capital of America, the center of Swedish and Norwegian papers, churches and seminaries.

1902 Chicago-based Ottilie Liljencrantz writes her first Viking romance, The Thrall of Leif the Lucky, based on the journeys of Leif Erikson to Greenland and America.

1903 Norwegian-born newspaperman and writer, friend of Ole Rolvaag’s, Waldemar Ager becomes editor of Eau Claire, Wisconsin newspaper Reform (a position he kept till his death in 1941). Among other things, Ager was a prominent supporter of Prohibition. His books include On the way to the Melting Pot (1917).

1907 The Swedish-American Art Association is founded in Chicago. Founding members include painters Arvid Nyholm, Henry Reuterdahl, Gerda Ahlm, and first president was sculptor Carl Johann Nilsson.

1909 Swedish-born painter Carl Oscar Borg is a founding member of the California Art Club (CAC).

1910 Even as late as 1910, Scandinavian immigrants are less inclined to settle in cities than other immigrant arrivals.

1911 The Danish-American Colony Company, established in 1910, founds Solvang in California, today known as the Danish Capital of America. The city hosts the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum.

1914-1915 Icelander-American Vilhjalmur Stefansson became a world-famous explorer of the Arctic; he showed how, by using local resources, explorers could spend years north of the Arctic circle.

1915 Scandinavian-Americans form the backbone of the Farmers Nonpartisan League. (On the Populists and the League, see next section.)

1917 US purchases the Danish West Indies (Virgin Islands), where live 3,200 Danes, who acquire American citizenship in 1927.

1917 Norwegian-American Henry Oyen writes novel Gaston Olaf, made into a film the same year by director Francis Ford as The Avenging Trail with actor Harold Lockwood.

1918 Norwegian-born senator for Minnesota and former governor of the State Knute Nelson is member of the Overman Committee, which concludes in June 1919 that Communism in Russia is “a reign of terror unparalleled in the history of modern civilization.”

1919 Andrew Volstead, a Norwegian-American Congressman from Minnesota, writes the Prohibition Law. (See Prohibitions-Mystik below)

1921 The Swedish-Lutheran Church in America resolves to conduct all services in English (at that time 85% of preaching was still in Swedish).

1921 At the Second International Conference on Eugenics (New York), Dr Jon Alfred Mjøen from Norway introduces the resolution creating the committee which ultimately organized the American Eugenics Society. Mjøen was editor of journal Den Nordiske Race (The Nordic Race).

1922 Howard Hanson, born in Nebraska to Swedish immigrant parents, composes his Nordic Symphony (No. 1).

1923 The Hobo: The Sociology of the Homeless Man by Nels Anderson (Chicago School of Sociology).

1924 Chikabohéme: 13. Noveller (The Boheme of Chicago: 13 Short Stories) by Ossian Elgström (Stockholm).

1924 Swedish-born physicist Carl Wickland publishes Thirty Years Among the Dead, a Swedenborgian account of his psychotherapies based on spiritualism en vogue at the time.

1925 Ole Edvart Rølvaag’s Giants in the Earth (Verdens Grøde).

1925 It is estimated that by 1925 the Swedish immigrant farmers had cleared or farmed over 12,000,000 acres of land in the US.

1926 Foundation of the American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1926 Swedish film director Victor Sjöström, working in Hollywood from 1924 to 1937, makes The Scarlet Letter, from Hawthorne’s novel, with Lilian Gish and Swedish actor Lars Hanson.

1927 Charles Lindbergh, a son of Swedish immigrants, makes his famous pioneer flight, New York-Paris non-stop.

1929 The Leif Erikson Memorial Association is organized to promote the establishment of a Leif Erikson Day.

1929 Lake Shore Park in Duluth, Minnesota, is renamed Leif Erikson Park and the Norwegian-made replica of Leif’s ship is placed on display in the park (the ship had sailed from Norway in 1927).

1931 Swedish operatic tenor of international repute Gustav Harald Lindau, aka Aroldo Lindi, settles in America (San Carlo Opera company, Chicago).

1931 Swedish-American illustrator Haddon Sundblom designs his famous Coca Cola Santa Claus (based on his own earlier versions, starting in the 1920s); drawing Santa with a red suit for the first time, ‘’he is credited as having created the modern image of Santa Claus’’ (Wkpd).

1932 Einar Lund’s novel Solveig Murphy (the title says it all).

1935 Norwegian-born Torkild Rieber becomes Texaco’s chairman. He was forced to resign in 1940 over a scandal about oil supply to Germany’s Third Reich.

1936 Swedish-born Gustaf Tenggren is appointed artistic director of Disney Studios (his contributions include Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Bambi and Pinocchio).

1936 Painter Christian von Schneidau, born to Swedish immigrants and famous for his portraits, founds the Scandinavian-American Art Society of the West, in California.

1936 Take All To Nebraska, Danish-American novelist Sophus Keith Winther’s first part of his Grimsen Trilogy, about Danish immigrants who never attain freedom from landlord or mortgage-holder.

1936 Former representative for Minnesota Ernest Lundeen, of Swedish ancestry, is elected Senator from Minnesota as Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party (FL) candidate, a position he held until his accidental death in 1940. He is said to have been sympathetic to Germany’s Third Reich, of which his collaboration with author George Sylvester Viereck would be evidence.

1937 Journalist Ferdinand Lundberg publishes his America’s 60 Families about American plutocracy.

1938 Full Recovery or Stagnation by Harvard professor Alvin Hansen, the ‘American Keynes’: he introduced Keynesian economics in the states and “played a role in the formation of the Social Security System in 1935 and the Full Employment Act of 1946 that established the Council of Economic Advisors” (Nielsen & Petersen).

1939 Norwegian-born Jacob Thorkelson, a Republican, is elected U.S. Congressman for Montana’s first congressional district, a position he held until 1941. He was dubbed “the mouthpiece of the Nazi movement in Congress.” Among other texts, he published A Norwegian angle (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940).

1939 Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman starts her ten-years American career. She has been called the ‘ideal of American womanhood’ (Pendergast, 2000). She ranks 4th greatest female star on the American Film Institute’s list (just before Greta Garbo, another Swede, 5th, and Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jean Mortenson, of Norwegian ancestry through her father, 6th).

1940 The Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn (NY), sometimes called a suburb of Oslo, in 1940 has the largest concentration of Norwegians outside Norway (almost 55,000 persons). (See Andreas Nilsen Rygg, Norwegians in New York 1825-1925, 1941)

1940 Mount Eisen, in the Sierra Nevada in California, is named after Swedish-born polymath Gustav Eisen (1847-1940), honorary member of the California Academy of Sciences.

1941 The carving of Mount Rushmore National Memorial is officially ended. It was achieved by sculptor Gutzon Borglum, born in Idaho to Danish Mormon polygamist parents, and his son Lincoln.

1942 In his book on the Newport Tower (Newport, Rhode Island), historian Philip Ainsworth Means concludes that it is of pre-Colombian, presumably Scandinavian origin. (P.A. Means, Newport Tower, 1942) The same is quoted by Hjalmar R. Holand in the latter’s 1940 book (see 1749 and 1960) thus: “Coming thus from a scholar who has made such a thorough study of the inscription [of the Kensington Stone, which, according to Means, is genuine] the following tentative statement, from a new book on a related subject which will soon be issued by Mr. Means [which must be Means’s book on the Newport tower] is of great interestA manuscript of the fourteenth century in Paris makes it look very probable that Vinland was then a secret colony of the King of Norway.’

1942 Danish immigrant William Knudsen, president of General Motors, is appointed by President F.D. Roosevelt to mobilize American industry for war production in WWII. “Míster Knudsen, director eminente de la General Motors y asociado principal de la Opel en Alemania, fue designado Director General de la Defensa: en los Estados Unidos, no en Alemania” (Juan José Arévalo, Fábula del tiburón y las sardinas)

1943 The Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act of 1943, or Magnuson Act, named after U.S. Representative Warren Magnuson, adopted son of second-generation Scandinavian immigrants, is passed. It repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, allowing for an annual quota of 105 Chinese immigrants, at the same time maintaining the ban against the ownership of property and businesses by ethnic Chinese.

1944 The library building completed in 1942 at St. Olaf College is named Rolvaag Memorial Library after Ole E. Rolvaag (see 1925).

1944 Swedish-born Thorsten Sellin, a pioneer of scientific criminology, helps draft the US Uniform Criminal Statistics Act. Among his writings, The Protective Code: A Swedish Proposal (1957).

1947 Finn Ronne, a Norwegian-American, definitely establishes that Antarctica is one continent.

1948 The Kensington Stone is placed in the Smithsonian Institution.

1951 Danish-born illustrator Paul Detlefsen publishes his first calendar, The Good Old Days. ‘’His art was lithographed into calendars, reproductions, playing cards, jigsaw puzzles, mats for tables, and even four-foot wide wall murals. … In 1969, UPI (United Press International) estimated that 80% of all Americans had seen his work.’’ (Wkpd)

1953 Earl Warren, son of Norwegian immigrant Matt Varren from Stavanger and his wife Crystal from Sweden, is appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

1960 Norwegians Helge and Anne Stinne Ingstad find remains of a Viking village at L’Anse aux Meadows on the island of Newfoundland, Canada. That the Norsemen limited their colonization to Newfoundland is unlikely. (For compelling arguments that Newfoundland is the inhospitable “Helluland” of the Vinland sagas, which therefore is not the inhospitable Baffin island as generally assumed, and that the foresty “Markland” is Nova Scotia and “Vinland” is further south, see Hjalmar R. Holand, Norse Discoveries & Explorations in America 982-1362, 1940. In light of these facts, the Norsemen established a settlement on the most inhospitable part of America according to their very lore; therefore it is to be presumed that they attempted to settle on more hospitable tracts too.) Besides the conflation of L’Anse aux Meadows with Vinland is unfounded as the latter’s name comes from vines, which according to the saga the Vikings found in abundance, and: “The northern limit of grapes along the Atlantic seaboard is 47°. [L’Anse aux Meadows lies above 51°!] The vine is scarce along the coast of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine and New Hampshire. It is only when we reach the shores of Massachusetts that we find it growing abundantly.” (H.R. Holand, op.cit., p. 45)

1965 The Logic of Collective Action by economist Mancur Olson, of a Norwegian migrant family, talking of ‘the power of small, cohesive, and well-organized groups’ tends to correct James Madison’s views on the innocuity of minority factions.

1970 Swedish film director Bo Widerberg’s film Joe Hill, about Swedish-American song writer and labor activist (IWW, Industrial Workers of the World) Joseph Hillström (1879-1915) (the film makes use of the song Joe Hill, which Joan Baez had sung at Woodstock festival in 1969).

1971 “The NASA Psychic”: Swedish-born engineer Olof Jonsson performs a long-distance telepathy experiment during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. Four psychics on earth were chosen to receive telepathic signals from astronaut Edgar Mitchell in space.

1972 William Rehnquist, whose paternal grandparents immigrated from Sweden, becomes Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He became the Court’s Chief Justice in 1986, a position he held until his death in 2005.

1975 Painter Arnold Friberg, born to a Swedish father and a Norwegian mother, exhibits his painting The Prayer at Valley Forge (depicting George Washington). A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Friberg also painted scenes from the Book of Mormon in neoclassical style.

1976 Kierkegaard scholars Howard and Edna Hong donate their research collection to St. Olaf College–founding moment of the Hong Kierkegaard Library.

1984 Den lange plovfure (The long plough furrow), published in Denmark, by Danish-American writer Enok Mortensen “is the last novel by an immigrant who participated in the major wave of Danish immigration” (Nielsen & Petersen).

1984 Walter Mondale, whose surname comes from Mundal, a valley and town in the Fjærland region of Norway, is the Democratic Party’s nominee against incumbent President Donald Reagan. One wag joked about his ‘Norwegian charisma,’ and this racist stereotyping is still quoted by scholars and journalists as a witty oxymoron.

1988 Reaganomics by Finnish-American economic advisor of President Reagan, William A. Niskanen. Niskanen chaired the Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank, from 1985 to 2008.

1992 Danish-born painter Olaf Wieghorst (†1988) is inducted in the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

1994 Opening of the Danish Immigrant Museum in Danish Village (enclave of Danish ethnicity) Elk Horn, Iowa. In 2013 the museum was renamed Museum of Danish America. It has a Genealogy Center.

1995 There is also a Danish Heritage Museum in Danevang, Texas. Danevang was proclaimed Danish Capital of Texas by the state legislature in 1995.


On the Populists and the Nonpartisan League, Upton Sinclair, the famous writer and a Socialist, wrote the following appreciative remarks in his book The Brass Check: A Study of American Journalism (1919) – remarks that illustrate the writer’s indictment of ‘American Journalism.’

Also there were the Populists. The little boy had never seen a Populist, he had never been given an opportunity to read a Populist platform, but he knew all about the Populists from the funny editorials of Charles A. Dana. The Populists were long-haired and wild-eyed animals whose habitat was the corn-fields of Kansas. The boy knew the names of a lot of them, or rather the nick-names which Dana gave them; he had a whole portrait-gallery of them in his mind. Once upon a time the ‘Sun’ gave some statistics from Kansas, suggesting that the Populists were going insane; so the little boy took his pen in hand and wrote a letter to the editor of the ‘Sun,’ gravely rebunking him. He had never expected to read in the columns of the ‘Sun’ a suggestion that the Populists might go insane. And the ‘Sun’ published this feeble product of its own ‘smartness.’ …

The Nonpartisan League is an issue, not only in Minnesota and North Dakota, but all over the country where the interests are in terror of a farmers’ revolt. And so the whole power of the kept press is enlisted to malign it. The League is doing business through the Scandinavian-American Bank of Fargo, and the enemies of the League raid this institution, with the help of subservient public officials, and throw it into the hands of a receiver. From one end of the country to the other goes the story of crooked banking by the farmers’ party, and is featured by the capitalist press. The ‘New York Times’ has several detailed dispatches, also solemn editorials. A week or two later the Supreme Court of the State denounces the proceedings as a conspiracy, declares the bank sound, and orders its return to the owners. The ‘Times’ gives this–not one line! Or take the ‘Kansas City Star,’ a most completely respectable organ, which features the smash-up of a bank, and reports the restoration in a tiny item, giving the name of the bank, but not mentioning it as the League bank–understanding perfectly well that ninety-nine out of a hundred readers will not make the connection, and will not know that the League has been vindicated! …

Or take the Nonpartisan League of North Dakota. All through the war the newspapers strove to make this appear a disloyal organization. The League held a convention at St. paul, at which hundreds of speeches were made; and the Associated Press found it possible to make one of the speakers, La Follette, appear disloyal by misquoting him. So it featured La Follette and reported the other speakers hardly at all. …

Fortunately there are parts of America in which the people have kept at least a part of their economic independence, and have gone ahead to solve the problem of the ‘kept’ press in true American fashion–that is, by organizing and starting honest newspapers for themselves. The editor of the ‘Non-partisan Leader,’ Oliver S. Morris, has kindly written for me an account of the experiences of the Nonpartisan League, which I summarizes as follows:

The League commenced organization work early in 1915 in North Dakota. By the summer of the next year it had forty thousand members, yet no newspaper in the state had given, even as news, a fair account of the League’s purposes. Every daily paper in the state was filled with ‘gross misinformation and absurd lies.’ So the League started a little weekly. With this single weekly, against the entire  daily press of the state, it swept the primaries in June, 1916.

Then the League decided to have a daily paper. The ‘Courier-News’ of Fargo had been for sale, but the owners would not sell to the League. The League went ahead to start a new paper, actually buying machinery and taking subscriptions; then the ‘Courier-News’ decided to sell, and its circulation under League ownership now exceeds the total population of Fargo.

The League at present has weekly papers in seven states, with a total circulation of two hundred thousand, and another weekly, the ‘Non-partisan Leader,’ published in St. Paul, with a circulation of two hundred and fifty thousand. It is starting co-operative country weekly papers, supervising their editorial policy and furnishing them news and editorial service; over one hundred of these weekly papers are already going. There is another League daily in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and one at Tampa, Idaho. Finally, the League is going ahead on its biggest venture, the establishment of a daily in Minneapolis. This paper is to be capitalized at a million dollars, and the stock is being sold to farmer and labor organizations throughout the state. Says Mr. Morris : ‘Many professional and business men, disgusted with the controlled press, have purchased stock, and are warm boosters for the League publications.’

As I am going to talk about Prohibition (Volstead Act) in the next section, let me add that Upton Sinclair also wrote a novel in defense of Prohibition, The Wet Parade (1931) (quoted at length in the Comments section below).



The noble experiment’ (Herbert Hoover)

The Prohibition Law of 1919 was written by Norwegian-American Congressman Andrew Volstead (Rep.). The Law is known as the Volstead Act. This is perhaps not fortuitous. The only other Western nations in modern times that passed prohibition laws were Scandinavian. In Iceland, Prohibition was adopted in 1909 and lasted up to the 1970s for some beverages like beer. Prohibition in Norway lasted from 1919 to 1926, in Finland from 1919 to 1932, and in U.S. from 1920 to 1933.

I take the opportunity to salute the memory of Eliot Ness (himself a Norwegian-American!) who fought a rather lonely struggle against corruption and the mob. The brilliant homage paid to him and his men by film director Brian De Palma (Untouchables, 1987) is all the more striking since De Palma is of Italian-American background and the mobsters in his film are Italian-Americans, true lazzaroni, the kind of folks whom the Scandinavians active in nativist associations (see entry 1886i) had rather barred from entering America.

H.A. Foss, Den amerikanske saloon

Foss (1851-1929) was a Norwegian immigrant who settled in the Dakotas, where he edited the Normanden. He wrote several books dealing with life on the Great Plains and the social and political problems of his days. His novel Den amerikanske saloon (1889), dealing with the temperance movement, may have had some influence as North Dakota entered statehood in 1889 as a ‘dry state.’

In his 1892 novel Hvide slaver (White Slaves), written with the aim of furthering the Populist cause in the election of that year, Foss describes the economic enslavement gradually imposed on the agricultural West by eastern capitalists.

Den Amerikanske Saloon is Foss’s only work that was translated in English, under the title Tobias: A Story of the Northwest, in 1899. ‘Very rare title, not listed in OCLC or the Library of Congress’ (according to the American librarian who sold me the original copy I own).

The following excerpts (in the original Norwegian of his days) present two opposite views on the policy, as expressed by characters of the novel. These characters express their views from the religious standpoint.

Totalafhold saasom ‘Fritaenkeri’ (Teetotaling as Free-Thinking):

“Jeg ved vel, De har gjennemgaaet meget, men ikke maa De lade slige Griller faa Overhand med Dem. – De, som har været en saa fostandig og gudfrygtig Kvinde, burde huske, at Gud, som lagde Sodoma og Gomorrha øde ved sin Kraftens Haand, han kan ogsaa, om han finder det tjenligt for os, læegge hele Sletten øde, eller omstyrte hvereneste Saloon saa fort, som vi kan blinke med Øiet. Men vi skrøbelige Mennesker! – hvad kan vi i vor Afmagt gjøre mer end at bede og haabe og vente? – Nei, lad ikke Djævlen indbilde os, at vi har Kræfter til at omskabe eller rengjøre Verden.” (sid.170)

“Vi lever i en Vantroens Tid. Vranglærere og Fritænkere dukker op hist og her, og de har ogsaa bragt sit Værk saavidt, at de har rykket to Familier ud af vor kjære Menighed, og det ligger nær at tænke, de ogsaa har rykket dem bort fra Gud. De driver sit Spil under Paaskud af Reform, søger at lære Folket, at de ved egen Kraft kan bli’ lykkelige for Tid og Evighed, bare de vil skrive under paa deres Love og Regler. De vil sætte verdslige Reformer i Stedet for Religionen, Egenretfærdighed i Stedet for Bofærdighed, og de søger at forvrænge Guds hellige Ord og tildels bruge det til Støtte for sin Sag. Medens Bibelen lærer, at Jesus gjorde Vand til Vin, og at Paulus endog udtrykkelig sagde til Timotheus, at lidt Vin vilde gjøre godt for hans Mave, saa siger disse moderne, selvkloge, fantastiske Reformatorer, at Bibelen lærer os at fornegte os al berusende Drik – denne Guds Gave – totalt! – Vildfarelserne er saa store, at man ligesom kan føle paa dem, og jeg tror, det er enhver Kristens Pligt at raabe et Varsko mod dem.” (sid. 180-181)

Tredieparti-Prohibitionister (Third-Party Prohibitionists):

“Temperance mener maadeholdent Brug af alle gode Ting i Verden og totalt Afhold fra alle de onde. Siden Drukkenskaben er en Last, taaler ikke Gud nogen Del af den eller noget Maadehold med den, men venter, at vi skal bede ham om Hjælp til at afstaa fra Lasten og handle, som vi heder. Han har aldrig fat Grændse for Synden eller sagt, vi kan synde saa og saa meget, men straffer den midste Synd som den største. Vi blir aldrig fuldkomne paa Jorden; men, hvis vi med Forsæt tillader og understøtter Laster og Synder og ikke modarbeider dem med de Midler, Gud har ladet os faa raade over, da vil han heller ikke kjendes ved os eller forlade os efter Døden, selv om vi tror, vi har syndet maadeligt. Derfor er det vor Pligt at afholde os fra Nydelsen af Rusdrik, saa vi ikke fordærver Sjæl og Legeme eller forfører Nogen ved vort Exempel, og, da vi har saa store Rettigheder her i dette vort herlige Fædreland, at vi egentlig er dem, som styrer of raader, saa er det os, som kan bestemme, hvorvidt Saloonerne og Fristelserne skal faa existere. Med disse Rettigheder kommer Ansvaret – ja, et stort Ansvar, fordi 200,000 Salooner staar aabne her i Landet idag til at modtage og demoralisere vore unge Søner og Døtre. Det er vor Stemmeseddel, som kan lukke disse Salooner, næst Guds Hjælp, fordi de har Lovens Beskyttelse. Derfor gjælder det for hver stemmeberettiget Borger at kaste sin Stemme mod Saloonen, saa han ikke maa bære Synd eller Skyld i, at 60,000 Sjæle hvert Aar gaar i en fortidlig Grav – fortabt for Tid og Evighed – for Trafikens Skyld. Denne lille Kommune – dette County raader ikke over hele Landet, vet vi; men vi er ansvarlige for vor egen Kreds od udgjør en Sten i Muren af Samfundsbygninger. Sten for Sten maa renses, afslibes of lægges ind igjen sund og solid, om Bygningen skal staa ved Lag. Det er saaledes med Glæde, jeg nedbeder Guds Velsignelse over Eders noble og nødvendige Fortagende, haabende, ret Mange vil slutte sig op til og oparbeide Stemningen, saa I til næste Høst maa kunne staa mandstærke ved Valgurnen of sige: Saloonen maa gaa.” (sid. 250-252)

More on Prohibition in Comments (below).


Hans Jaeger’s Fra Kristiania-Bohêmen

Hans Jaeger’s book Fra Kristiania-Bohêmen was seized by the authorities immediatly after its release in 1886 and a new edition was not allowed in Norway before 1950. Jaeger was condemned by a court of law and sacked from his position as stenographer at the Norwegian Parliament (Storting), the same institution that had awarded a life-long annual grant to Ibsen in 1866 (until, I guess, the latter’s death in 1906). Jaeger spent many years exiled in France, where he authored the Anarkiets Bibel (Bible of Anarchy), published in 1906 in Copenhagen.

While his novel was banned in Norway, Norwegian-Americans could read it lawfully in U.S., where it was published in Minneapolis in 1894 by Waldemar Kriedt, who also published the then widely-read books of proletarian Norwegian-American writer Lars Stenholt.

Chicago Anarkisterne (The Chicago Anarchists), 1888, by Lars A. Stenholt


Johannes Hoving and American Swedendom

Among Swedish-American personalities who devoted time and energy to promote a specific Swedish-American culture among Swedish immigrants in the New World was Dr Johannes Hoving.

Hoving called his autobiography I svenskhetens tjänst. Ur mitt livs dagbok, 1944-1953 (At the Service of Swedendom: Excerpts from my Diaries). Promotion of ‘Swedendom’ among emigrants was the goal of his life, being a leading member in many Scandinavian-American societies of the East Coast.

Other books by Hoving include: Erfarenheter och upplevelser under de senaste tio åren i New York, 1924; & Den svenska kolonisationen i Amerika, 1940

(As I have dealt with Prohibition above, I shall add here that Hoving was opposed to it, and that he names the issue as one of the major reasons he voted in 1933 for F.D. Roosevelt, whose platform included the repeal of the Law. Hoving, a physician, stressed that lobbying was exerted by the sugar and soft drink industry in favor of protracting the ban on spirituals, and that the effects on health of their own products should be put in the balance. Indeed, since then the consumption of sodas has become a major health issue.)

He is the father of Walter Hoving, chairman of Tiffany & Company from 1955 to 1980.

The following are excerpts from his memoirs, to serve as documents on the Swedish-American presence in America.

Svenskarna i Amerika

Johannes Hoving, I Svenskhetens Tjänst II, Skandinaviska Släkt Studie Samfundet 1944, bl. 15-16

Den 2 november [1918] höll jag ett tal på Svenska Ingeniörsföreningen [i New York] om svenskhetens bevarande av följande lydelse:

“Det svåraste problemet vi svenskar ha att lösa i Amerika är bibehållandet av det svenska språket. Lättheten att inhämta andra språk länder i detta fall oss till nackdel, ty genom umgänge med andra folkslag tillägna vi oss lätt deras seder och bruk och deras tungamål. Detta sker ändå lättare med barn, som i skolan höra landets språk och därför snart börja tala endast skolans språk, d. v. s. engelska, om vi ej äro på vår vakt.

Om vi slappna i våra hem och börja svara våra barn på engelska, då de fråga oss på detta språk, så är svenska inom kort förlorad för dem. Om vi däremot ej giva tapt, utan ihärdigt redan från början tvinga barnen att, liksom förr, tilltala oss på svenska och svara dem på svenska, så tappa de ej bort sig, utan kunna fås att jämsides lära sig båda språken och detta naturligtvis till deras egen fördel. Ibland är det t. o. m. lämpligt att giva dem någon belöning för varje dag, då de endast tala svenska till oss. Varje far och mor, som försökt detta vet huru lätt det går och att det endast gäller att vara på sin vakt under några månader – under de första månaderna av barnens skolgång. Senare går det av sig självt. Och då barnen bliva äldre, äro de oss tacksamma för sin större kunskap, då de ha tillfälle att läsa våra stora författare, skalder och vetenskapsmän på originalspråket.

Genom att hålla sig till svenskan som umgängesspråk med barnen, få föräldrarna dessutom alltid ett visst övertag över dem, ty barnen få först senare, om de vinnlägga sig därom, lika stora eller större kunskaper i svenskan, än föräldrarna ha. Om vi däremot tala engelska med dem, få de oftast ett visst övertag över oss och känna sig överlägsna, om vi t. ex. ej tala den korrekta amerikanska engelska, som de få lära sig i skolan. Och därmed kan första steget oförmärkt vara taget i orätt riktning och barnen inbilla sig att föräldrarna även i andra avseenden ej äro så framstående som lärarna i skolan! Genom falsk slutledning kunna de sedan få den förvrängda tron att Sverige och allt svenskt står efter Amerika och allt amerikanskt också i andra hänseenden! Det är beundransvärt att svenskarna i Amerika kunnat bibehålla sin svenskhet så väl som de gjort utan den minsta hjälp hemifrån. Detta gäller kanske i något mindre grad finlands-svenskarna, som är segare i sin språkkamp i Amerika, liksom hemma i Finland.

Ännu under slutet av förra århundradet voro kyrkorna det svenska språkets fastaste stod, men detta förhållande har under de senaste decennierna märkbart förändrade till det sämre. I minst 50 % av de forna svenska kyrkorna predikas nu på engelska och söndagsskoleundervisningen är endast engelsk med ytterst få undantag. Däremot har Vasaordens stora utbredning räddat det svenska språket för stora lager av vårt svenska folk. Ty i alla dess 400 loger talas där endast svenska och, då medlemmarnas barn bli fullvuxna, följa de ofta föräldrarna till logemötena och veta, att där finns en stor organisation, som man kan lita på och där det talas fars och mors vackra språk.

Allt som kan göras för att stärka denna stora svenska organisation, måste göras, ty den är svenskhetens fastaste borg i Amerika. Medan i andra organisationer, som stått direkt eller indirekt under amerikanskt överherrskap, alla andra språk än engelska blevo förbjudna under världskriget – detta påbud utfärdades naturligtvis för att komma åt tyskarna – så bibehöll Vasaorden sin ritual ren och oförfalskad och kommer att så göra i framtiden. Alla som tillhöra Vasaorden känna till detta. Många, som ej tillhöra densamma, ha uraklåtit att sluta sig till densamma på grund av likgiltighet eller med svenskens inneboende oppositionslusta som grund. Han vill helt enkelt ej binda sig, utan önskar att vara fri och oberoende, gud bevara! Om han visste hur mycket mera fri och oberoende han bleve genom att sluta sig till Vasaorden, gjorde han det genast. Och särskilt bör den, som haft lyckan att genom uppfrostan vinna lärdom, sluta sig till Vasaorden, ty han har ett stort ansvar sig pålagt och begår en stor uraktlåtenhetssynd, om han ej försöker vad på honom ankommer att göra sin lärdom fruktbringande för sina medmänniskor, synnerligast inom den nationalitet han tillhör. På detta sätt kan denna nationalitet höjas och vinna i den fredliga kampen med andra nationaliteter till det helas framgång och upplyftelse och till hans egen tillfredsställelse.“

Svenskhetens bevarande

Johannes Hoving, I Svenskhetens Tjänst II, Skandinaviska Släkt Studie Samfundet 1944, bl. 157-159

(Den 23 juli 1922, Worcester, Mass.)

Man har i ledande amerikanska kretsar börjat inse att något måste göras för att hålla samman alla de olika raselementen, som bilda den amerikanska nationen. Man har låtit alltför många underlåtenhetssynder mot dem komma sig till last, delvis av okunnighet eller tanklöshet, delvis av andra orsaker. Man försöker minska eller helt och hållet borttaga de skrankor, som skilja dem åt. Huru detta skall göras, håller man på att försöka finna ut.

Rasfrågan står på dagordningen och är icke lätt att lösa. På densamma byggde man upp den s. k. fred, som slöts i Versailles och annorstädes. Man drog upp nya gränser mellan länderna för att förena samma raselement i Europa med varandra till ett rike. Att den segrande diplomatin därvidlag begick en massa fel, med eller mot sin vilja och avsikt, förhindrar ej att avsikten var den angivna. Man har skäl att frukta den gula rasen och dess framtida övertag på grund av dess överlägsenhet i antal, och man har här i Staterna klart för sig att frågan om den svarta rasen måste lösas på ett eller annat sätt i tid, för att ej framdeles bringa ofärd för nationen.

Den svenska rasens betydelse i världen har blivit föremål för ingående studier där hemma. Man har grundat det första rasbiologiska institut i världen i Uppsala, och fått en av samtidens främsta rasbiologer till chef för detsamma. Det gäller att ingående studera villkoren för den svenska rasens bibehållande ren och oblandad och medlen att förhindra densammas degeneration. Ty denna ras är enligt nutidens främsta rasbiologers och arkeologers forskningar den starkaste bland alla raser och den, som givit världen des största män på andens och framåtskridandets områden, icke allenast i dess urhem Sverige, utan även bland de folk, som sedan årtusenden haft svenskt blandblod. Han anser att de blonda och blåögda överallt i världen härstamma från denna kraftiga ras.

Den finlandsvenska skalden Bertil Gripenberg har i en härtig dikt givit uttryck åt raskänslans styrka, och jag tror att ett citat ur diktan ej vore ur vägen:

Ja, blott en höstgult löv, som virvlar för vinande vinden
är jag – och dock ett löv av den tusenåriga linden,
linden, som sträcker sin rot djupt ner i dunkel och natt,
ner i en jord, som gömmer en helig och hemlig skatt.

Fäder i tallösa led, I stolta skyhöga stammar,
världshav, vars vågor gå med våldsamt dånande kammar,
väldiga träd med rötter, som ingen i världen mätt,
hav med omätligt djup, vars botten ingen har sett.

Sen, jag är dock av er, fastän snart själv skall försvinna,
låten för er ock min snart brunna gnista förbrinna!
Stolthet och lycka det är att vara av ädel stamm,
härligt att driva som skum på de egna vågornas kam.

Er är min vilja och varje tanke föddes i eder
långt före mig i förgätna och hänsvunna tider och leder,

er är den makt, som mig styr över skummande, skymmande hav,
er är den mannagärning, som ödet i livet mig gav. /

Kort är min tid, blott en ensam droppe i världshavet är jag,
redan förvissnad, förgängelsens höstliga guldskrud här jag.
Livet är evigt och mäktigt och grymt och isande kallt,
intet är jag, men min ras och min rot och min stam är allt!

Den som kan skriva så om sin ras, den kan ej visas bort som en paria eller främling av egna stamförvanter!

Vad svenskarna i Amerika beträffar, så voro de lämnade åt sitt öde redan från allra första början. De svenska kolonisterna från 1600-talet voro ju helt uppgivna ganska snart och hade senare, då kolonin gick förlorad, ingen gemenskap med moderlandet. Och dock var rasen så stark, att den givit upphov åt ett släkte, som är uppblandat med de gamla amerikanska familjerna i Pennsylvanien, och vi finna att ett stort antal av dessa trakters främsta släkter med stolthet pekar på sin svenska börd.

De under det senaste århundradet hitkomna immigranterna ha varit här lämnade vind för våg. Men trots detta ha de i stort sett bibehållit sig rasrena i flera trakter av vårt land. De ordnade sig i samhällen, dels av religiös, dels av social art, och samhällskänslan har varit så stark, att ytterst sällan någon svensk fallit det allmänna till last, utan ha landsmän i allmänhet tagit hand om honom, när så behövts. Utom stora kyrkliga samfund grundlades hjälpföreningar, och den som intresserar oss mest är grundandet av Vasaorden, som ju ägde rum för 26 år sedan. Huru detta skedde veta vi alla. Varför Vasaorden fått den spridning den har i dag över hela den amerikanska kontinenten, förstå vi, som tillhöra densamma, men för utomstående kan det vara gott att veta att Vasaordens mål att bibehålla svenskt språk, svenska seder och bruk utgjort ordens verkliga, inneboende styrka samt att medlemmarna sträva att i alla sina åtgöranden handla i sanning och enighet med Vasaordens bästa för ögonen.

Vi böra aldrig glömma att svenska språket är vår härligaste arvedel och att det tillhör alla lika mycket, fattiga och rika, lärda och olärda, svenskar hemma och svenskar utom Sverige. Det är det stora gemensamma, som inga hav och inga gränser splittra eller förinta, om vi blott själva vårda och taga vara på detsamma. Att vi dessutom skola lära oss att tala en god engelska faller av sig självt. Men detta kan göras endast genom att läsa goda böcker och genom självstudium, och alltid finnes där någon ledig stund på dagen, då detta kan ske, om vi blott besluta oss för det.

Vi böra också förändra vår uppfattning om vår egen ras, så att vi ej anse oss stå närmare t. ex. amerikanare av annan ras, än till våra egna stamförvanter. Men denna liknöjdhet och tanklöshet är tyvärr en svensk skötesynd, som dock börjat på att ändras till det bättre där hemma. En organisation, som klarar begreppen om dessa förhållanden, är « Riksföreningen för svenskhetens bevarande i utlandet ». Denna förening har redan uträttat storverk genom att understöda bildningssträvanden i svenskhetens intresse i skilda delar av Europa. Den har skänkt ett bibliotek på 20.000 band till den för 3 år sedan nystiftade Åbo Akademi och har understött och instiftat professuren i svenska språket i de gamla svenska universiteten i Reval i Estland och i Greifswald i Tyskland. Den strävar naturligtvis icke att få dessa länder eller dess befolkning tillbaka till Sverige. För ingen del! Men den strävar att bibehålla svenskhetskänslan hos svenska ättlingar, som leva och bo i dessa trakter, och att utbreda kännedomen om den svenska kulturens praktblommor bland de folk, som med dessa komma i beröring, så att utlänningarna ej av okunnighet må se svenskarna över axeln, som ofta är fallet.

Vi böra här i Amerika tillse, att vid den framtida amerikanska kulturutvecklingen hänsyn tages till vad våra immigranter fört med sig till detta land. Och genom att själva stå i intim kontakt med dem där hemma, med det nya, som där kommer fram på olika områden, bli vi mera i stånd att inverka på utvecklingen här till detta lands egen fördel, liksom till vår.

Nu kunde man ju säga att det är lönlöst för oss att med vårt ringa antal och vår brist på medel försöka inverka på detta stora lands utveckling. Men så illa är det ej ställt. Kriget har öppnat ögonen på många amerikanare, som förut ej intresserat sig för europeiska förhållanden och problem. Många har börjat förstå att detta land dock icke uteslutande är anglo-sachsiskt, utan att här lever en befolkning, som består av olika raser och nationaliteter och som fört med sig en gammal kultur, från vilken Amerika kan med fördel taga upp en del och införliva den med sin egen.

Tiden är mogen för samarbete på alla områden. Genom samarbete kan åstadkommas saker och ting, som man ej på egen hand är stark nog att utföra. Tiden är också mogen för ett samarbete med våra landsmän där hemma i rent Vasasyfte, och jag tror att nästa års utställning i Göteborg, då utlandssvenskarna i stora skaror komma att infinna sig vid utställningen, kommer att bli särskilt lämplig för ett dylikt samarbetes påbörjande. Det gäller endast att börja på rätt sätt, och en Vasaordensloge i Sverige, uppbyggd enligt samma principer, som vi bekänna oss till, skulle verka ofantligt gott för all framtid. Jag tror också att tidpunkten är väl vald för ett dylikt närmande mellan de övriga svenska organisationerna i Amerika och oss. Vasaorden är den största bland dem alla, men alla äro de av samma slag, med samma mål och med samma medel att uppnå målet. Dessutom äro alla dessa organisationers medlemmar av samma ras, ättlingar av samma stam, ha samma karaktäregenskaper och samma historiska bakgrund att bygga på. Då ett intimare samarbete kommit till stånd mellan oss alla av samma ras, så äga vi mera styrka till goda och ädla handlingars utförande till inbördes bistånd och hjälp, än vi nu äga. Då skall den orden, som lånat sitt namn och sin strålande glans från det i hävderna så lysande Vasanamnet, utvecklas och fullkomnas och till slut nå ett mål, större och ärofullare än det redan uppnådda. Då skall i sanning solen ständigt lysa över Vasamedlemmar världen runt!

Some Swedish-Americans

J. Hoving, I svenskhetens tjänst IV, 1948, bl. 192

Såsom uppfinare kunna svenskarna räknas bland Amerikas främsta och det vore omjöligt att uppräkna ens de främsta bland dem. Den första skyskrapararkitekten var svensken Andrew Lanquist i Chicago. Han kallades också „de amerikanska skyskrapornas anfader“. Victor Bendix är känd i hela Amerika för sina bil- och flygmaskinsfabriker, George Jeppson i Worcester för sin tillverkning av slipskivor, Berkander för sina miljonartiklar i celloloid [celluloid], Ernst Alexanderson som expert och uppfinnare på radioteknikens och televisionens område, och chefen för världens största bussbolag, som omspinner hela den amerikanska kontinenten med ett nät av busslinjer, är Erik Wickman, verkställande direktören för och initiativtagaren till „Greyhoundbolaget“. På alla mekaniska avdelningar i alla fabriker av betydenhet finna vi svenskar som chefer och föreståndare, och det har sagts i Amerika, att om de skulle avgå på samma gång, skulle det amerikanska maskineriet avstanna. Deras patenter kunna räknas i tiotusental.

Jamestown: Svenskarnas stad

Johannes Hoving, I svenskhetens tjänst III, sid. 84-86.

Några dagar senare [augusti 1931] skrev jag om svenskarnas stad i Amerika, Jamestown, följande uppsats, som inflöt i N.D.A. [Nya Dagligt Allehanda] och senare i tidningen Skandia i Jamestown:

Svenskarnas stad i New York stat – Jamestown och dess borgmästare

Längst västerut i staten New York, tolv timmars järnvägsresa från den stora Metropolen New York, ligger en jämförelsevis liten stad nära Erie sjöns mäktiga, men idylliska vatten, och omgiven av skogar och berg. Denna stad är Jamestown, som fick sina första bebyggare i mitten av förra århundradet, och genom en märkvärdig ödets skickelse anlände dit också den ena laddningen smålänningar och andra svenskar efter den andra. I dag har staden ett invånareantal av 46 000 och av dem äro något flera än hälften svenskar. Där ha de byggt upp vackra kyrkor – den största svensk-amerikanska kyrkan i Amerika finnes här – skolhus, föreningshus, såsom Nordic Temple, banker, klubbar – Norden Club är den förnämsta i samhället, barnhem, hotell m.m. I Jamestown finnas stora möbelfabriker, där ärligen utställningar hållas, till vilka uppköpare från hela landet komma för att göra sina uppköp, ty Jamestowns fabriker åtnjuta stort och berättigat anseende.

En direkt följd av det svenska inslaget har blivit att denna stad styrs av svenskarna och det göra de på ett sådant sätt, att Jamestown betraktas som en mönsterstad för hela världen, åtminstone för Amerika. Där existerar inga mutskandaler, där äger staden sin vattenledning, för vilken utgifterna betalas genom en låg vattenskatt. Där äger staden numera också sitt elektricitetsverk och förser alla sina inbyggare med elektricitet till ett pris, som är mindre än i någon annan stad i hela landet. Endast 3 ½ cent per kilowatt, medan endast några mil därifrån alla andra städer få betala minst det dubbla. Under de förflutna åren, minst 20, som detta elektricitetsverk varit i bruk, ha staden Jamestowns invånare blivit besparade en utgift av minst 5 miljoner dollar – en ingen liten summa, i sanning!

Stadens skattebetalare ha också mycket mindre utskylder än någon annan stads invånare, ty alla stadens affärer skötas fullkomligt ärligt, utan mutor, och mycket små utgifter har staden att betala tjänstemännen, som sköta det hela. Man måste rent av förvåna sig över att detta kan gå för sig i ett land, där det eljes slösas med allmänna medel och där alla allmänna verk, såsom gasverk, elektricitetsverk, vattenledningar, kommunikationsmedel, renhållningsväsendet etc. alltid ligga i händerna på privata företag, då dessa utskylder eljes bleve alldeles för kostsamma för städerna själva att sköta om. Där finner man också orsaken till att alla järnvägslinjer, telefon-, telegraf- och spårvagnslinjer etc. äro privata företag i Amerika.

Det enda ämbetsverk, som Förenta staternas själv sköter, är postverket, vars generaldirektör är medlem av presidentens kabinett. Detta ämbetsverk går med stor förlust – omkring 15 till 20 miljoner dollar per år – ett säkerligen enastående förhållande, då ju alla andra länder postverkets nettovinst ingår som en säker inkomstkälla i staternas budgeter. Och trots att posten är regeringens ämbetsverk tog det tid innan postverket fick av kongressen rätt att befordra paket – denna politisk strid, som den allmänna opinionen lyckades tvinga senatens in expressbolagens styrelser sittande medlemmar till eftergifter och överlämna paketförsändelserna till postverket.

Men – för att återgå till den av svenskar skötta staden Jamestown – så tror jag att det numera är blott en mening om att den främstaorsaken till att den staden skötts på ett så enastående förträffligt vis är en enda mans förtjänst, nämligen den i Jamestown födde, men till börden småländske borgmästaren Samuel A. Carlsons. Denne man har blivit omvald till denna syssla minst tio gånger – han har alltså suttit i borgmästarestolen i 20 år – detta var 1931 – och har blivit återvald med undantag av en gång, då han för fyra år sedan besegrades av en annan svensk, som delvis på rent okynne uppsattes som hans motkandidat. Det slog emellertid ej väl ut och vid nästa val blev Carlsons majoritet ändå större än förrut.

“Mayor Sam Carlson” har ägnat hela sitt liv alltsedan sin ungdom, då han var medlem av stadens styrelse, närmast motsvarande stadsfullmäktige i Sverige, åt skötseln av stadens affärer. Han har framkommit med det ena utmärkta förslaget efter det andra för att minska utgifterna för de skattebetalande invånarna, men på samma gång lämna dem allt, som är behövligt för livets nödtorft så billigt som möjligt. Staden har i dagarna avslutat ett köp av ett elektricitetsverk, värt 1 miljon dollar, för endast 750 000 dollar, vilken summa betalas dels med ett för detta ändamål sammansparat kapital på 300 000 dollar, medan resten betalas en cent i ökade skatter för hela affären. De stora tidningarna i hela Amerika hålla just på att ventilera denna affär samt en del andra förslag till stadsstyrelsens förbättrande, som borgmästare Carlson just har gjort. Då hans ställning inom borgmästarekåren i staten New York är mycket framstående – han är hedersordförande för detta av samtliga borgmästare i staten bestående borgmästarerådet – så väger hans ord synnerligen mycket, och folket ser upp till denne Jamestowns borgmästare, som innehaft sin syssla längre än någon annan borgmästare i Amerika någonsin haft.

Bland nya administrativa förslag, som i dagarna gjorts av borgmästare Carlson, äro följande mycket intressanta: han föreslår att medlemmarna i stadens styrelse skola väljas på valdagen så, att alla som fått minst 20 % av samtliga röster skola anses valda. På det sättet bli alla minoritetspartier också representerade i stadens styrelse och någon bitterhet väljarna emellan skulle då ej behöva förekomma. En av de tre, som varje väljare vill ha i styrelsen, förser han med ett särskilt märke å valsedeln, och den som sålunda får det högsta röstetalet, blir förklarad vald till borgmästare. Det förefaller som om en hel del sunt förnuft vore till finnandes vid ett på detta sätt företaget val, medan de nu existerande valsätten giva även ringa majoriteter absolut bestämmanderätt över samtliga val. Borgmästare Carlson vill också införa en i endast några städer hittills känd syssla, nämligen en s.k. stadens verkställande direktör (manager), som jämte en till hans disposition ställd nämnd äger att taga hand om stadens samtliga behov, men på samma gång på ett effektivt sätt kontrolleras av stadsstyrelsen och borgmästaren. Mycken tidsbesparing kan på detta vis göras i en stads utgifter, alldeles på samma sätt, som vilket affärsföretag som helst, även de större och största ha en chef, som verkställer styrelsens beslut och är ansvarsskyldig inför styrelsen och aktieägarna – i detta fall väljarekåren.

Det vore att gå alltför långt, om jag skulle ändå mera i detalj ingå på de planer, enligt vilka staden Jamestown skötes eller kommer att skötas av sin borgmästare, men jag kan dock inte underlåta att ytterligare framhålla en hygienisk förordning, som borgmästaren lyckats införa – en förordning, som i början ansågs vara mycket betungande för stadens samtliga husmödrar, men vilka ej mera godvilligt ville återgå till det gamla systemet, om något skulle sättas i fråga av liknande art. Denna förordning utfärdades nämligen för ett tiotal år sedan och består däri, att allt avfall, som samlades i köken i staden, måste paketeras in i papper och snöras om ordentligt, innan de läggas ned i avfallstunnorna för att från dem bortföras utom staden och där förbrännas. En allmän renlighet i hela staden, i alla dess kök och avfallstunnor blev naturligtvis följden av denna i sanning sanitära åtgärd, och flugor finnas numera knappast i den staden!

Vi svenskar kunna vara stolta över denna svenskättling och över hela denna av vårt eget folk styrda stad. Även om där i Amerika finnas flera andra av svenskar styrda städer och samhällen: Rockford i Illinois, Worcester i Massachussets och några till i Minnesota och andra stater, så är där ingen, som kan jämföras med Jamestown i New York i detaljerad och framstående stadsstyrelse.











Ingeborg, A Viking Girl on the Blue Lagoon

Please support my film project Ingeborg, A Viking Girl on the Blue Lagoon, based on the research conducted by Dr Jacques de Mahieu, director of the Institute of Human Sciences in Buenos Aires (Instituto de Ciencia del Hombre de Buenos Aires).

According to Jacques de Mahieu (1915-1990), the Vikings went as far as the Pacific Islands. As a matter of fact, after they had helped develop a few civilizations in South America (or while they were doing so), they took their drakkars again and sailed to the Pacific. There they left traces of their presence too, in solar myths associated with white gods similar to those of the precolombian peoples, in the fair skin of the aristocracy among the islanders, and in the red hat worn by tribal chiefs, like in Peru, in memory of the red or fair hair of the Vikings. Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl confirmed such data, yet considered white migrations to Pacific islands to be even more ancient. (As explained below, Mahieu himseld was aware of earlier migrations to America.)

My aim with this film is to shed light on these events by depicting the life of Vikings in the Pacific (hence the Blue Lagoon of the title). Viewers will be told the story of a young Viking girl, called Ingeborg, on the far-away islands. Let us follow her steps on the blue lagoon’s sand.


Ô Ingeborg, let me sing my song for you…


Remember that Greenland under the Vikings was a full-fledged colony replete with men, women and children. Vikings took their women with them when they had a purpose of colonization, as the Goths had already done before them. Of course, when it was raids that were organized, for looting, they did not take women with them in such occasions.

When, after a few reconnoitering travels from Greenland and/or Vinland (their colony on the North-American continents), navigating along the coastline, they decided that those lands on the South would provide good settlements, they brought women with them.

The story of Quetzacoatl, the blond-bearded ‘god’ of the Aztecs, tells us something about it. Quetzacoatl was a Viking whose real name was, according to De Mahieu, Ullman*. During one of his trips further to the South, some Vikings, led by the ‘god’ Tezcatlipoca, rebelled against him. With loyal followers, he then left the rebels and the country altogether.

Whether it is these men or others from the same people who later travelled from America to the Pacific islands, I assume they took their women with them, and thus a little girl called Ingeborg might well have treaded with her soft, tender feet the warm sand of the atolls, her long sunny hair shaded by the palms of the blue lagoon, as early as 12-13th A.D.

* Ulmén : (arauc. ghulmen) m. Chile Entre los indios araucanos, hombre rico, que por serlo es respetado e influyente. (Definition of ulmén from a Spanish-American dictionary: “Among Araucan Indians, a wealthy man, as such respected and influential.”) I don’t know if Jacques de Mahieu knew this term, which looks almost identical with the name Ullman he says was the name of the historical Viking behind Quetzacoatl. According to Aztec myths, Quetzacoatl possessed great wordly riches. Given the likeness, here we could have the same linguistic phenomenon as reflected in such Spanish expressions as ser un Cortés (to be a Cortes) or ser un Don Juan (to be a Don Juan); that would be, proper, “to be an Ullman,” whether that Ullman is the one from Mexico or another Viking explorer and settler.


When the Conquistador Francisco de Orellana made his expedition on the Amazon river, he once met with the Amazons, women from an all-woman tribe. The missionary priest of the expedition, Gaspar de Carvajal, who chronicled the events, described these women as tall and white-skinned. The Indians that the Spaniards made prisoners told them these women were living on their own and that they used to get spouses from other tribes, formerly from another White tribe, now disappeared, and currently with Indians. Orellana then named the river after these women.

It should be noted that stories about women living on their own and/or training in fighting are few in history besides this chronicle. Herodotes mentions a similar tribe among the Scythians (those whom Herodotes called Scythians were later called Goths, whereas the Huns were later called Scythians, which can be confusing; if we follow classical traditions about Scythians, i.e. ancient authors such as Jornandes, Herodotes’s Scythians are the same as Goths). Likewise, Icelandic sagas deal with a few characters of so-called Virgins of the Shield, or Shieldmaidens (Skjaldmær), female warriors.

The Indians told the Spaniards that the Amazons lived in stone houses, unlike any other Indian tribe in the region. The other White people of Amazonia (those Whites who used to be in contact with the Amazons but disappeared before the period of the Conquest) were also fairly developped, with roads and stone buildings, according to the Indians**.

In academia it has long been thought, in spite of pervasive local legends about “lost cities,” that no such developped culture was possible in the region, especially since the soils would not be fertile. Two lines of arguments have undermined this position. 1/ Along the river, the soil is extremely fertile; it is called terra preta (black soil) in Portuguese and is the most fertile in the world. It results from human intervention, that is, manure. 2/ Recently, American archaeologist Dr Michael Heckenberger found remnants of stone buildings in the area of terra preta, which would confirm the oral tradition about Amazons living in stone houses. From the records, no Indian tribe known today in the region has ever developped such a culture.

** Iara, senhora das águas: “Iara ou Uiara (do tupi ‘y-îara ‘senhora das águas’) ou Mãe-d’água, segundo o folclore brasileiro, é uma sereia. Não se sabe se ela é morena, loira ou ruiva, mas tem olhos verdes e costuma banhar-se nos rios, cantando uma melodia irresistível. Os homens que a vêem não conseguem resistir a seus desejos e pulam nas águas e ela então os leva para o fundo; quase nunca voltam vivos e depois os comem. Os que voltam ficam loucos e apenas uma benzedeira ou algum ritual realizado por um pajé consegue curá-los. Os índios têm tanto medo da Iara que procuram evitar os lagos ao entardecer. Iara antes de ser sereia era uma índia guerreira, a melhor de sua tribo.” (Wikipedia; my emphasis twice) This description of Amazonian Tupi goddess Iara as a green-eyed (i.e. depigmented-eyed) mermaid who previously was member of a female-warrior tribe tallies with Orellana’s white Amazons.

Furthermore, the identification of Amazon women with goddess Iara is ascertained by the legend about the talismans known as muiraquita: “O Muiraquitã era um amuleto sagrado e mágico que as Icamiabas [my emphasis] presenteavam os homens que anualmente vinham fecunda-las. Dizem que possuem propriedades terapêuticas e grande fortuna trás a todo aquele que possuir um desses singulares amuletos. Quanto ao significado esotérico de Muiraquitã, devemos decompor seu nome em vocábulos, para compreender sua simbologia feminina: Mura = mar, água, Yara – senhora, deusa, Kitã = flor. Podemos então interpretá-lo como ‘A deusa que floriu das águas’.” Icamiabas is a native name for the Amazons; they are believed to be the ones who distributed among the tribes of the region those magic talismans which name is said to mean ‘the goddess that came out of the waters,” which is precisely what is said above about Iara the green-eyed warrior goddess.




Jacques de Mahieu’s research on precolombian America went further into the past than the Vikings’ time. He writes that the American civilization of the Olmecs is a creation of white immigrants, who became the ruling class over the population of Indios. The cultural achievements and the rests of the white population of the Olmec and early Tiahuanacu culture were the base for the early Maya culture.

Later the Vikings founded a new realm at Tiahuanacu, that became the centre of civilization in America with about 100,000-150,000 inhabitants. Later they founded the Inca empire. Here the state was based on a caste-system divided between the ‘sons of the sun’ (white kings and nobles) and the aboriginal Indio population.

In Peru, the Spaniards reported several times meeting whites, especially in the upper caste of the Incas, where women were described as blonde and fair-skinned, reminding them of ‘Castillan beauties.’ For some reason historians tend to dismiss these accounts by the Conquistadores as deceptive.

The Inquisition in America destroyed almost all documents from precolombian civilizations. Jacques de Mahieu, and several others, also said that Templars sailed to America when their order was destroyed in Europe. The Templars were an order of noblemen originally founded by Norman knights. They seem to have practiced a Gnostic form of Christianity. It is said that Cathars joined their ranks after the Crusade that annihilated their community as such.

Templars’ ranks being filled with Norman gentry, descendants of King Rollo and the Vikings, these men, according to De Mahieu, knew about America, as their relatives from across the Atlantic had made several trips between the two continents, informing Norman rulers of America’s existence and leaving them navigation maps. De Mahieu wrote about maps that he had found in the town of Rouen, Normandy. With the help of such maps, Templars would have been able to sail to America in order to escape persecution from the Church.

When the Spaniards came, and with them the Inquisition, the Church would destroy all traces of Templar presence in America. The Gnostic teachings that the Church attempted to erase by smothering Cathars and Templars, in the same way the Church pursued them in the Visigothic kingdom of Septimania (Languedoc), burning practically all extant texts in Gothic language, were caught in its tentacles as far as precolombian America!


I have in my library an abridged version, in French translation, of the General History of the Things of New Spain (Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España, 1569) by Fray Bernardino de Sahagun, Spanish missionary in Mexico, knowledgeable in nahual and all things Indian. His book was written before the prohibition by Emperor Felipe II, in 1577, imposed on all research about American Indians’ customs.

In a chapter called “Evangelization before the Conquista,” Sahagun describes various items hinting at a knowledge of the Catholic faith by Indians. He opines and writes that the Indians had been converted to the Christian faith in a remote past but, as they were no more Christians at the time of the Conquista, they must have forgotten most of what had been carried to them by some long-dead missionaries.

Among traces of white prehispanic presence in America, Sahagun names the following. Although there were no plants or cereals, such as wheat, nor animals, such as cows, of European origin in America (a fact with which Jacques de Mahieu disagrees: according to the latter, Canis ingae, for instance, a species of dog that was living as domestic animal by some Indian peoples at the time of the Conquista, was brought there by the Vikings), there existed similar cultural elements, such as:

1/ Paintings found in Oaxaca depicting something that is very much alike the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ;

2/ Devotion practices like oral confession and water baptism;

3/ The missionaries met in different places (Campuche, Potochan) Indians who knew several stories from the Scriptures pretty well.

These were, according to Sahagun, remnants of remote Christian evangelization in America. On the other hand, some customs and myths that he describes remind one of Scandinavian lore. Vide, for instance, the following descriptions (my translation):

“All the brave and soldiers who die on the battlefield are transported to the palace of the Sun. In the morning, at sunrise, they take on their armors and march toward the Sun with clamors and loud noise. Then they march before Him while simulating battles for their pleasure.” Which looks like the Walhalla of Scandinavian warriors (but perhaps all warriors around the world have similarly rowdy afterlife abodes).

& “(At the end of times or rather at the end of the present cycle) The sun will not rise and from the outer space will come down the monstrous, horrifying Tzitzimes to devour men and women.” Which reminds one of the Ragnarok (and its monstrous dragon Nidhogg).

Finally, Sahagun describes what we already said above, that Quetzacoatl, leader of the Toltecs of Tula (Thule?), was opposed by some of his men, here described as necromancers, chief among whom was Tezcatlipoca, god of putrefaction, and that he left his people, yet saying he would come back. Whence came the fact that first the Spaniards were welcome by the Aztecs as returning gods.


Vikigen Quetzacoatl (The Viking Quetzacoatl), watercolor by Ossian Elgström, 1931
(serving as cover illustration for a 1991 collection of ethnographic studies)

This work shows that the idea of Vikings having played an influential role in precolombian America was already in circulation at an early date.


Tezcatlipoca the Necromancer


With regard to the Pacific islands, the following early anthropological observations about local populations by famous explorers Bougainvillier and Cook may corroborate Mahieu and Heyerdahl’s writings, if the formers’ reports did not trigger the latter’s research in that particular direction to begin with:

Le peuple de Taiti est composé de deux races d’hommes très différentes … [Pour les uns] Rien ne distingue leurs traits de ceux des Européens; et s’ils étaient vêtus, s’ils vivaient moins à l’air et au grand soleil, ils seraient aussi blancs que nous. … La seconde race est d’une taille médiocre, a les cheveux crépus et durs comme du crin et ses traits diffèrent peu de ceux des mulâtres.” (Voyage autour du monde) My translation: “Taiti’s people is composed of two very different races. … [As to the first] Nothing in their traits differs from those of Europeans, and had their custom been to wear clothes rather than to live outdoors under the sun, they would be as white as we are. … The second race is of shorter size, their hair is frizzy and stiff as horsehair, and their traits hardly different from those of mulattos.”

As to Captain Cook, here is how he describes chief Waheatua (I translate from the French version I have in my library): “He had a pretty fair complexion and his hair was smooth and light brown, reddish at the tip.” (Il avait un teint assez blanc, et les cheveux lisses d’un brun léger, rougeâtres à la pointe.)


Albert Brenet, Arrivée de Bougainville à Tahiti


The research of Jacques de Mahieu has been carried on by Prof. Vicente Pistilli, who founded in Asuncion the Instituto Paraguayo de Ciencia del Hombre on the model of Mahieu’s Buenos Aires institute. Here is a short biography, from Pistilli’s book La Cronología de Ulrich Schmidel, Instituto Paraguayo de Ciencia del Hombre, 1980:

El autor señor don Vicente Pistili S. nació en Asunción el 27 de Febrero de 1933. Graduóse de Bachiller en Ciencias y Letras del Colegio Nacional de la Capital en el año 1951. Obtuvo los siguientes títulos universitarios : Topógrafo (1954), Licenciado en Matemática (1955), Ingeniero Civil (1958), Malariólogo y Sanitarista (1962), Licenciado en Filosofía (1965), Licenciado en Teología (1967). (…) El Profesor Ingeniero Don Vicente Pistilli S. ha colaborado con la Educación Paraguaya, siendo el primer docente a Tiempo Completo en Matemática del Colegio Nacional de la Capital. (…)

Cuando en 1972, el Profesor Doctor Don Jacques de Mahieu publicó la comunicación cientifica “Las Inscripciones Rúnicas Precolombinas del Paraguay” [my emphasis], el profesor Pistilli comprendió en toda su magnitud la importancia que tenía el descubrimiento arqueológico del notable investigador francés, quien abría una vía nueva para la investigación de nuestro pasado precolombino. Así fué como, conjuntamente con un grupo de intelectuales paraguayos, crearon el Instituto Paraguayo de Ciencia del Hombre, asociación civil de carácter científico. (…)

Pistilli ha dirigido equipos nacionales de investigacion arqueológica, con resultados positivos en todas ellas, relevándose inscripciones rúnicas, dibujos nórdicos, bosques sagrados, caminos precolombinos y monolitos tallados. Además ha realizado importantes investigaciones lingüísticas, las cuales confirman la influencia nórdica precolombina en el Paraguay.