Eric Foner’s Voices of Freedom contains an excerpt from “Letter by a Swiss-German Immigrant to Pennsylvania,” which is a letter that was written by Johannes Hanner, a European immigrant, in “August 23, 1769” (Foner) after he had migrated to the Colony of Pennsylvania in the same year. He wrote this letter to his family who were living across the Atlantic. In this letter he explains why so many Europeans migrated to the New World to start a new life, leaving every behind. He writes about the freedom and opportunities that were not available back at home. He writes about people in the New Land are able to climb the socioeconomic ladder, how food is available in excess, how there are no land taxes, etc. Of course, the time during which Hanner migrated to the Americas was a fortunate time, and he had settled down in a well-established colony, therefore, he described his experiences accordingly. The fact of the matter is that many of colonies had established to quite an extent by the late 1700s, and some were even further developing. During the 1600s, many of the immigrants who had settled in the Americas had died because they were not familiar with the land, they were disorganized, and they did not have enough supplies. During the time in which Hanner migrated to the Americas, majority of immigrants who migrated were able to find work and could purchase land if they wanted to. However, it was primarily because of settling in the Colony of Pennsylvania that he was able to enjoy all those freedoms that he describes in t his letter. Even though immigrants were able to enjoy more liberties in almost every colony than they did back in their homelands, but immigrants living in Pennsylvania enjoyed much more freedom. It was because of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, that the immigrants who settled in the colony were able to enjoy such freedom. Penn believed in democracy and religious freedom because he was a pacifist Quaker. It was because of Penn’s governorship that citizens were able to enjoy greater freedoms than elsewhere in the Americas, such as the ones Hanner describes in this letter.
Brief history of william penn. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ushistory.org/penn/bio.htm
Foner, E. (2005). "Letter by a Swiss-German Immigrant to Pennsylvania" Voices of freedom, a documentary history. (1st ed., Vol. 1). New York: W W Norton & Co Inc.
Pennsylvania state history. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thingstodo.com/states/PA/history.htm