“I am in a free country”

Letters sent home to Germany, tell us a story in a way nothing else can. Franz Hillenkamp, came from Warstein with the Giessen Society in 1834. He was 32 years old when he wrote to his dear friend Lorenz Schulte back in Germany in 1843 and said:

“I have never been sorry that I came here, as you have been told so falsely. That thought has not even occurred to me in my wildest dreams, much less in my wakened moments.”I have a good piece of property, no debt, a good wife and 4 blooming children; lots of cattle of any kind, food in abundance, and above all, I am a free and independent man, who is subject to none, except God and the law.”… Our two economies, here and there, are so totally different, that you could not possibly picture it.” … “I am in a free country, you my friend are in an unfree country. Here one may say his opinion freely and openly, but you have to keep quiet, otherwise you could run the danger like thousands of innocent people who have been sentenced and burned at the stake.”

Emigrants choose to make America their home. Not having the good fortune to have been born here, they do not take any of the wonderful liberties of freedom and independence for granted. They suffered many a hardship to call America home, a country where almost all us are immigrants.  Happy 240th Birthday America! May you have many many more. 

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