Foreigners in Their Own Land: Pennsylvania Germans in the Early Republic

Foreigners in Their Own Land: Pennsylvania Germans in the Early Republic

by Steven M. Nolt
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Historians of the early Republic are just beginning to tell the stories of the period’s ethnic minorities. In Foreigners in Their Own Land, Steven M. Nolt is the first to add the story of the Pennsylvania Germans to that larger mosaic, showing how they came to think of themselves as quintessential Americans and simultaneously constructed a durable

Overview

Historians of the early Republic are just beginning to tell the stories of the period’s ethnic minorities. In Foreigners in Their Own Land, Steven M. Nolt is the first to add the story of the Pennsylvania Germans to that larger mosaic, showing how they came to think of themselves as quintessential Americans and simultaneously constructed a durable sense of ethnicity. The Lutheran and Reformed Pennsylvania German populations of eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the Appalachian backcountry successfully combined elements of their Old World tradition with several emerging versions of national identity. Many took up democratic populist rhetoric to defend local cultural particularity and ethnic separatism. Others wedded certain American notions of reform and national purpose to Continental traditions of clerical authority and idealized German virtues. Their experience illustrates how creating and defending an ethnic identity can itself be a way of becoming American. Though they would maintain a remarkably stable and identifiable subculture well into the twentieth century, Pennsylvania Germans were, even by the eve of the Civil War, the most "inside" of "outsiders." They represent the complex and often paradoxical ways in which many Americans have managed the process of assimilation to their own advantage. Given their pioneering role in that process, their story illuminates the path that other immigrants and ethnic Americans would travel in the decades to follow.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Nolt provides the first truly comprehensive study of the largest non-English-speaking white ethnic group in the early United States. He is the first to trace developments among the German Lutherans and Reformed from the 1780s to the 1850s, and he has explored many little-known unpublished and published materials by largely forgotten writers. Foreigners in Their Own Land is full of historical detail that should be new even to most specialists in the field.”

—Mark Häberlein, University of Freiburg, Germany

“Nolt traces the acculturation process among German Lutherans and Reformed in great detail. This is a scholar’s book, so the author notes and bibliography consume half as much space as the text. Still, the book is highly readable.”

—Jack Brubaker, Scribbler

“This regional study of German immigrants comprising the old Lutheran and Reformed groups who migrated to Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the Appalachian back country during the mid-eighteenth century is well researched and thoroughly documented.”

—J. D. Born Jr., CHOICE

“This judicious assessment of the transformation of Pennsylvania German culture from 1790 to 1850 fills a major historiographical gap. Steven M. Nolt convincingly integrates sweeping themes of national, religious, and ethnic identity with clear analyses that remain close to his evidence.

Given the importance of American pluralism, this book deserves a large audience, especially due to its concise and synthetic style.”

—Liam Riordan, Journal of American History

“It is well written, accessible, tightly organized, and thoroughly rooted in the primary sources as well as the relevant historiography of early modern Germany, colonial America, new republic, and American church and religion. It provides a fascinating, insightful portrait of German Americans during the period of the new republic.”

—Beverly Smaby, William and Mary Quarterly

“This aside, I recommend the book as a clear, well-written, and carefully edited work that adds a wealth of fascinating information to the expanding mosaic of ethnic histories in America.”

—Firth Haring Fabend, American Historical Review

“In the end, Foreigners in Their Own Land is convincing, well-researched, and elegantly written.”

—Christian Keller, Journal of American Ethnic History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780271021997
Publisher:
Penn State University Press
Publication date:
07/28/2002
Series:
Pennsylvania German History and Culture
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Steven M. Nolt is Assistant Professor of History at Goshen College. He is co-author of Through Fire and Water: An Overview of Mennonite History (1996), with Harry Loewen, and of Amish Enterprise: From Plows to Profits (1995), with Donald B. Kraybill.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >