Around the year 1700, many Germans were fleeing their homeland to find an easier life in other European countries, the Western Hemisphere, and Australia due to extremely violent conditions. Unlike most immigrants, German immigrants mostly did not immigrate for political reasons. In fact, the country was repeatedly being attacked by armies of various nationalities. Inhabitants of the southwestern part, especially, were constantly robbed and tortured. Entire villages were often burnt down and their inhabitants killed. During the flood of emigrants from Germany, its rulers tried to stop the flow, but to little effect. In fact, the flow increased, and in 1709 about 15,000 Germans left for Britain, and 3,000 crossed the Atlantic to New York. In 1745, there were an estimated 45,000 Germans living in Pennsylvania alone.
After the year 1800, Germans still poured into the US, but for different reasons than the earlier generations. Modernization and population growth forced many Germans from their respective family businesses. Also, modernization made immigrating more convenient and faster with inventions such as the steam boat and steam train. Many Germans took long, complicated, but cheap routes through Great Britain by way of train and boat to get to the United States.
In the United States, most Germans lived on the countryside. Only about two fifths lived in cities larger than 25,000 people. In 1870, German-born farmers made up one third of the agricultural industry in the region. This does not include most Pennsylvanian Germans who were born native to the US. German farmers didn't just stay in the east. Large numbers of German farmers could be found in the Midwest and in Texas. Some even went as far west as Anaheim, California. West coast German farmers, though, didn't live up to the east coast stereotype of a German farmer. Most of the west coast farmers would sacrifice fertile land for a closer location to other Germans.
Also, in cities, Germans would cluster together to form communities not unlike the Chinese Chinatowns. These replications of Germany would house prominent German businesses such as the lager beer industry. German entrepreneurs such as bakers, butchers, cabinetmakers, cigar makers, distillers, machinists, and tailors also could be found in abundance in these "Miniature-Germany" towns. German women, however, were less likely than the average American woman to enter the labor force. Very few German women could be found holding jobs in a factory, or as a clerk. Instead, they sought after work as bakers, domestic workers, hotel keepers, janitors, laundry workers, nurses, peddlers, saloon keepers, and tailors.
Not all Germans got along in large groups, though. During much of the nineteenth century, divisions among Germans seemed more significant those between German Americans and other groups. These divisions were based on geography, on ideology, and on religion. The first two were most apparent before 1871, when the push for German unification tended to unite most but certainly not all German Americans in feelings of pride in their fatherland and its achievements. Initially, German immigrants tended to identify themselves as Bavarians, Württembergers, Saxons, and so on, although intellectuals and those who politicized yearned for some kind of German unification. Most of these were liberals of one kind or another, who dreamed of a more-or-less democratic Germany. Even so, when unification did come to Bismarckian, autocratic terms after the wars of unification, all but the most ideologically committed German Americans rejoiced: Liberals and conservatives, as well as the more numerically important apolitical, were united in a feeling of pride. (Roger Daniels, 1990)
Religious differences were more enduring. Most German immigrants were Protestants, with Lutheranism by far the most denomination; perhaps a third of German immigrants were Catholics, and around 250,000 were Jewish. With the Lutheran community in the United States there was considerable friction. Nineteenth-century German Lutheran immigrants found that the existing German Lutheran churches in the US had developed into what, to them, were unwelcome tendencies. Most had been Americanized enough so that English was used for all or part of their services. Even worse, doctrine had been liberalized. The older churches and their offshoots, established by immigrants who had come before the Revolution, had come closer to Reformed and even Anglican churches and in many instances had adopted preaching styles similar to that of the Methodists. These trends were, not surprisingly, more pronounced in the cities than in the country. In New York and Philadelphia, for example, Lutheran bodies had adopted new constitutions in which all reference to the Augsburg Confession had disappeared. The result was, eventually, schism. By 1847, under the leadership of a recent immigrant pastor, C. F. W. Walther, whose enemies called him "the Lutheran pope of the West," the newer Lutheran arrivals who wished to maintain the old-style doctrine had organized the Missouri Synod. Over the years it has remained the bulwark of the more conservative American Lutherans, regardless of where they live.