You are Going to be Surprised at this Account of the Origins of Most Americans
From a broad prospective, the peopling of America was motivated by the love of liberty and economic opportynity. During the seventeenth century the people of the Old World brewed dissatisfaction with the "old ways" Since Martin Luther presented his ideas of religious freedom, an awakening enlightened Europeans with a yearning to cast off the oppressive control of the state church and its orthodox power. There were rumors of a virgin land in the English colonies which attracted true adventurers and idealists. We should acknowledge the part which James Edward Oglethorpe played in such a resurrection after discovering that an artist friend had been cast into Fleet Prison for failure to pay his debts, and died there because he was placed in a cell with a prisoner suffering from a contagious disease. Oglethorpe wrote pamplets and articles, which were published in newspapers while other were distributed on the streets. The cause of Oglethorpe resulted in several religious migrations into Georgia. In the meanwhile, Louis XIV would not allow Huguenots to settle in New France. Spain barred the foreigner from her colonies, and even the Spaniard might not go thither without a permit from the Crown. Heretics were so carefully excluded that in nearly three centuries the Inquisition in Mexico put to death "only 41 unreconciled heretics, a number surpassed in some single days (in Spain)" during the reign of Philip II. Is it any wonder that Spanish-American history shows men swayed by greed, ambition, pride, or fanaticism, but very rarely by a moral ideal. The struggle to exist in the colonies was surmised as " When you empty a barrel of fish fry into a new stream there is a sudden sharpening of their struggle for existence. So, when people submit themselves to totally strange conditions of life. Death whets his scythe, and those who survive are a new kind of fittest."
Founder of Georgia, James Oglethorpe
Probably no stock ever came here so gifted and prepotent as the French Huguenots. Although only a few thousand immigrated, we are told, their descendants furnished 589 of the fourteen thousand and more Americans deemed worthy of a place in Appletons Cyclopedia of American Biography. When the census was taken in 1790, only one-half of one per cent of Americans bore a French name; yet this element contributed 4.2 per cent of the eminent names in our history, or eight times their due quota. Similarly, compared to the Puritans and the Quakers, the Huguenots were of an element that meets the test of fire and makes supreme sacrifices for the sake of the consciene. They had the same affinity for ideals and the same tenacity of character as the founders of New England, yet their French blood delivered a unique fervor or sensibility and an artistic endowment all their own. This study stock of immigrants presented themselves worthy of their place when, during the early times of settlement, it was not unusual for parties to walk from New Rochelle to church in lower New York, a distance of twenty-three miles. As a rule they walked this distance with bare feet, carrying their shoes in their hands.
When seeking settlers for his new colony in America, William Penn gained much publicity for it in Germany, where he had a wide acquaintance. The German Pietists responded at once, and a stream of select families mingled with the English Quakers who founded the City of Brotherly Love. The first Germans to come were well-to-do people. Nearly all had sufficient money left after paying their passage, to purchase land. And by 1710, there arose in parts of Germany a veritable furor to reach the New World. The people dwelling in the ravaged Palatinate became agitated over the lure of America, and ship after ship breasted the Delaware River filled with Palatines, Hanoverians, Saxons, Austrians, and Swiss. The cost of passage from the upper Rhine was pricey, however, despite that, a vast number of penniless Germans got over the barrier by contracting with the ship-owner to sell themselves into servitude for a term of years. These were known as "redemptioners," and their service was commonly for from four to six years. The same situation occurred with many immigrants to Virginia, but were called "indentures." Before the Revolutionary War, at least 60,000 Germans had debarked at Philadelphia, to say nothing of the thousands who settled in the South. Although not without a sectarian background, this great immigration bears clearly an economic impress. The virtues of the Germans were the economic virtues; invariably they are characterized as "quiet, industrious, and thrifty." The Colonial Records of Georgia by Candler are replete with this sort of explanation of the emigrants to Ebenezer.
The flailing of the clans after the first Jacobite Insurrection of 1745, motivated Scottish Highlanders to seek homes in America, a migration which took them some 20,000 people first to Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and ultimately to South Carolina and Georgia. But most of our Scottish blood came by way of Ireland. This is because early in the eighteenth century the discriminations of Parliament against the woolen industry of Ireland and Presbyterianism, provoked the largest immigration which occurred before the American Revolutionary War. The Ulster Presbyterians were descended from Scotsmen and English who had been induced between 1610 and 1618 to settle in the north of Ireland, and who were, in Macaulay's judgment, "as a class, superior to the average of the people left behind them."
At the beginning of this outflow, Ulster there was probably less illiteracy in Ulster than anywhere else in the world. Entire congregations came, each headed by its pastor. "The whole North is in a ferment," lamented an Irish archbishop in 1728. "It looks as if Ireland were to send all her inhabitants hither," complained the governor of Pennsylvania. On the eve of the revolution, about 200,000 came and probably constituted one-sixth of the whole population of the colonies. They were the true frontiersmen and bore the brunt of the warfare with the savage. The Quakers and Germans of Pennsylvania were left undisturbed to live up to their ideals of peace and non-resistance. In eminence, the lead of the Scotch-Irish has been in government, exploration and war however had little to offer in art and music. Their prowness and skilled guerrilla warfare, prompted James Edward Oglethorpe to select Highlanders from the Isle of Skye to fight his war with Spain in the colony of Georgia. The outstanding trait of the Scotch-Irish was will. No other element was so masterful and contentious. In a petition directed against their immigration, the Quakers characterized them as a "pernicious and pugnacious people" who "absolutely want to control the province themselves." The stubbornness of their character is probably responsible for the unexampled losses in the battles of our Civil War. They not only fought the Indian, but the British in two wars and were in the front rank in the conquest of the West. "More than any other stock has this tough, gritty breed, so lacking in poetry and sensibility, molded our national character." Source: The Old World in the New by Ross