Why do people emigrate?
Another one leftEverybody knew somebody who emigrated. There were stories about people moving to the US everywhere. In every village, families sold their possessions in order to go the US. They could pay the journey with that money. But why did they emigrate?
PeriodsEvery year, people emigrated but there were three periods where the emigration to Michigan was enormous: around 1845, around 1880, and the Second World War.
ConditionsImmigrants often left for most of these reasons:
Why did they go the the US?Why the US as opposed to any other country?
Many people thought they had only one possibility: the US. There were reasons for that.
First of all, because of the economic prosperity. The Netherlands got into economic crisis at a time when the US was very strong. The industry and the agriculture was better than ever, which made the US a world power at that moment.
OpinionAnother reason to emigrate was the opinion of a religious leader. Followers went where their leader decided to move to. Once in the US, they led them to new places and they eagerly listened to their leader's advice.
Something else...Leaders of groups also had considered some other countries to emigrate to, such as Van Raalte and Brummelkamp, who thought about Java. However, as Java was a Dutch possession, they decided on the US, where the Dutch government would no longer have any control over them.
Who writes, let them emigrateBesides their reasons to emigrate, they recieved the last reason to go. Often their thoughts were swayed by the letters they got from friends and family who had all ready left. They knew them, family and friends, so they could trust them. Their correspondents wrote very enthusiastic letters. The letters sometimes contained only the good things, giving people considering emigration a false impression. There would be plenty of cheap and fruitful land that could make a poor immigrant a prosperous farmer. In the letters, it also stood out that everybody had the same rights and there was religious liberty for all. An example from Reverend Seine Bolks from Michigan:
"Nobody admired the homeland; no, we feel we don't have any problems. (...) And something which says even more: we have totally religious liberty. (...) The most poor people here have a better live than the richest people in the Netherlands. You work her for yourself and you aren't a slave of somebody."And who emigrated, saw for themselves that this wasn't true. Working hard didn't make them into instant millionaires, but the people kept writing optimistic letters, and there came more and more immigrants. In the forties of the 19th century, there was written a poem which was typical for that time. It said that the people thought that Europe was horrible, which could fall in the sea every moment, and that the US was the paradise of freedom. This kind of information often led the immigrants astray.
Do you want to leave?Of course, the trade got into it. The shipping trades which transported the immigrants to the US had agents constantly recruiting passengers.
Newspapers published many articles about the emigration. There wasn't one opinion. An economic crisis in the US was published in papers which were against the emigration. The other side published things about a fast recovery and that even people whose ancestors had lived in a blockhouse could become president.
Injured PrideIn the 19th century it was considered a shame to emigrate in the Netherlands because America was considered a country of loose mouths, godless people, and sinners. Without clear reasons, the public opinion turned against immigrants. The Dutch pride was injured and people in Rotterdam hooted at the immigrants.
Why don't you leave?Some people want to leave. They had built up a community for years. Why would would to go away from everything they knew to go to somewhere else with an uncertain future? To emigrate took a strong conviction.
A great streamThe Netherlands' government tried to act against to huge stream of people leaving their country. They had several reasons for wanting people to stay. If people are going away, it means that there isn't a good management, and then there could come several side effects, which could work against the country.
They said that there were thiefs at their destinations who were waiting for the immigrants, unknown sicknesses that would make them victims, the heat in the summers, defective accommodation, threat by Indians, and more, hoping to kept people from leaving. Some perspective immigrants decided to stay when they heard these warnings, but for others, their fate was sealed... in America.