Missouri Germans Consortium

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Rules for membership in the GES in 1833

On the individual members of the Society

[Ed.note: The following are the final part of the Statutes of the Giessen Emigration Society. These relate and describe the rules for membership in the Society, i.e. costs, voting, deadlines, etc.. They were translated from the German by Dr. Steven Rowan of the University of Missouri St. Louis and for which we are deeply indebted. These Statutes were published for the September 1, 1833 meeting in Friedburg, Germany.] 


  • 24 All members of families described in §4 are members of the Society. Only the adult male heads of families belonging to the Society are members with voting rights.

The word “family” is understood here to be the concept of all persons belonging together in one household, united under a head invested with domestic power and subject to him in this setting, either according to the laws of nature or through contract. The acceptance of the head of the family implies the acceptance of the family, with the exception of the members received through contract, whose reception by the leadership or the Society can only be desired following demonstration of good morals, but then unconditionally. Every member of the Society standing under the familial power of another can be received as a head of family with right of voting as soon as he is adult and has begun his own household.

  • 25 The conditions for acceptance of voting members are as follows:
  • 1) Demonstrated morality vouched for by signed documents of the heads of communities and competent civil authorities, as well as by local clergy. Each candidate for acceptance requires documents from all of these officials;
  • 2) An independent household of his own;
  • 3) Adulthood, specifically the completion of the 22nd year;
  • 4) /40/ Proof of the required wealth according to the standards of the following paragraphs;
  • 5) Personal application to the leadership for the purpose of acceptance and the payment of 5 fl[1] for each head of his family, but at least 25 fl, if the latter does not amount to five members, to the Society treasury, as the first goal of his total payments enumerated in the following paragraph;
  • 6) Signing the statutes and the promise to respect its commands as legally binding and to follow them accordingly;
  • 7) As a rule (see §27, letters a and b) embarkation and settlement at the same time as the entire Society.
  • 26 Particularly required concerning wealth:

Every head of family is to pay to the Society treasury:

  1. a) A one-time payment of 15 fl toward the cost of the commission to be sent in advance;
  2. b) To purchase 50 acres of land within the limits of the Society area, 150 fl.
  3. c) For raising the first housing on the site of the settlement, obtaining the necessary equipment, the necessary draft animals, etc., for the family, 200 fl.
  4. d) For the support of the family until the next harvest, for every family member 20 fl.
  5. e) Double the amount of the usual journey price from Bremen to Baltimore, for every head in the family.

Over 12 years, usual price 80 fl, hence 160 fl.

Between 8 and 12 years, 60 fl, hence 120 fl.

Between 4 and 8 years, 40 fl, hence 80 fl.

Between 1 and 4 years, 20 fl, hence 40 fl.

For children under 1 year, 10 fl, hence 20 fl.

/41/ The wealth of a family required here must be partly paid into the Society treasury at the time of acceptance into the Society (see §25, no. 5), but otherwise punctually according to the following general conditions at the time set by the Society leaders, all at the 24 fl exchange rate, and any loss through exchange must be compensated.

  • 27 Exceptionally, one may become a member of the Society without traveling at the same time to the place of settlement, in two ways, either
  1. a) through inclusion as a substitute in a family, on making the ordinary payments required in the previous paragraph, or:
  2. b) through the simple purchase of landed property within the Society area.

In the former case, both the host member of the Society and the substitute should review and accomplish all the monetary payments listed in §26, in keeping with the capacity of the family of the substitute, which do not become members of the Society through this substitute in and of itself. In the latter case concerning all obligations of the person substituting applies only to the person of the substitute and is entitled, in case these obligations are not punctually performed, to compensate himself from the money paid in and from the real property acquired within the limits of the Society lands. The substitute exercises all the rights due to his patron in keeping with the statutes.

Incidentally a contract in written form must be made between the person substituting and the substitute, providing adequate written authority. Both documents must be presented to the leadership for approval, and either the original /42/or a complete official copy be deposited in the Society archives.

The Society guarantees that the property granted to the substitute by his client will not be alienated or wasted before five years have passed, both insofar as the contract concluded between the two as well as a special permission by the Society leadership that gives the latter adequate powers, and it is regarded as an essential obligation of the Society to exercise as great an oversight as possible over it, so that the substitute acts in every case to the advantage of his client.

In the latter case described above in letter b, a sum must be given to the leadership of the Society before its embarkation to purchase at least a hundred acres, hence at least 300 fl Rhenish.

Under all circumstances a quarter of this endowment goes to the Society as its property; it receives unlimited freedom of disposition over this to its own benefit. The remaining 3/4 of the endowment will be purchased within the limits of the Society area and managed as property of the Society. If, after the distribution of property of the Society area, five years have passed without an absent member settling in person or with an acceptable substitute in the location of the Society, all the property purchased for him falls to the Society as free property, without any obligation of compensation.

If the absent member of the Society takes permanent residence in the Society, either personally or through a substitute in the course of those five years, he receives, if this occurs,

  1. a) /43/in the first year of the settlement of the Society, the whole of the property purchased for him,
  2. b) From the end of the first until the end of the second year, four fifths;
  3. c) From then until the end of the fourth year, then two thirds of the whole land purchased for him, without the Society having to compensate him any further for its use in the meantime, in the average productivity of the Society property, as close as possible to the homes of the Society, either in an undivided lot or in parcels, which with the exception of those for the homestead and the kitchen garden, will measure at least six acres. This building will be certified and transferred by the Society leadership, which the entire Society and all members guarantee.
  • 28 The exclusion of received members can in general only take place for two reasons, but always as the result of Society acts and as a result of a majority vote of 2/3 of the Society assembly, specifically:
    • 1) due to a continually immoral way of life or because of common crimes demonstrating moral turpitude;
    • 2) due to chronic disobedience against statutory orders of Society officials or other statutes, including particularly the groundless refusal of a member to accept his election to a Society office or of a guardianship, as well as refusal to give witness in a legal matter before the Court of Arbitration.

In the first case, the leadership of the Society is /44/ empowered and obligated to call members accused of major immoral actions secretly to itself and warn them in kindness. If these kind admonitions have no result, particularly if the leadership considers it has happened repeatedly, or the one summoned refuses to appear, the leadership is obligated to bring the matter to the General Assembly and to move a proper resolution requesting either that the accused be rebuked before the General Assembly by the President to achieve his improvement, or to exclude him immediately in any case. If the accused disputes the facts asserted against him, then he may demand an investigation before the Court of Arbitration.

In the situation described under no. 2 above, the same procedure will be followed, with the difference that, insofar as the action against the statutes would have as a result an infringement of the private rights of individuals, the leadership, after a friendly warning before the beginning of the effect of its results, will bring the matter quickly before the General Assembly for decision, and in this case the act of the Assembly can only result in the rejection of the accusation or the exclusion of the accused. Here as well, the accused may ask for an investigation by the Court of Arbitration.

  • 29 All of the rules of the previous paragraph only apply to the heads of participating families with the right to vote. On the other hand, every head of family is responsible to the Society for conduct against the statutes by the members of his family, and he is specifically obligated, when his domestic authority dies not suffice to counter it, to achieve this by using the competent state authorities. Neglect of this /45/ obligation after a warning by the leadership authorizes the exclusion of the head of the family himself.
  • 30 Voluntary withdrawal from the Society can always take place, but under the condition that before this all obligations under the statutes are to be fulfilled, or their full equivalent compensation, according to the decision of the court of arbitration. In every case the person withdrawing loses his payment of 5 fl per head for his family (see §25, no. 5).



General Rules


  • 31 Every member of the Society renounces receiving slaves; contrary action will be punished with expulsion from the Society and the loss of landed property within the limits.
  • 32 The Society is obligated to provide every family consisting of members of tender age that has lost its head with a guardian from its own resources, on the request of the natural mother or closest relatives. It will rely in the first instance on existing orders of the deceased head of the family, and lacking that, on his closest relatives and friends.

The guardian is bound in his own responsibility and under continuous oversight of the Society Committee generally to give the best care to the family entrusted to him. Complaints against him will go to the leadership of the Society, which will refer the matter if proper to the /46/ Court of Arbitration in all cases where the rights of wards appear to have been injured.

  • 33 An actual Society treasury for purposes beyond those named in §25 will not be created for the time being; it is rather left to the disposition of the Society to make appropriate action after the completion of settlement.
  • 34 The landed property that every family must buy according to §25 (50 acres) will be purchased by the leadership as a whole for the Society out of the money deposited for this purpose; the leadership will divide this entire property, on the advice of experts, using the building plans to be composed on the spot and approved by the Society, into as many lots as there are families. These lots will receive continuous numbers, and each will receive his lot and enjoy it at a special meeting of the general assembly.

In this context it is permitted that some families, but never more than six each, will declare to the leadership that they wish to become neighbors, so that as many numbers of lots as these neighbors need will be written on one lot, and they will receive as many properties as building sites as they have requested, when they have expressed their particular desires in advance, either to be in a row next to one another or opposite one another, so far as this fits with the building plan, distributed by lot.

  • 35 Every family is obligated to concede to the Society as much landed property for the purchase price as is needed for building necessary streets, or other public ways and adequately large spaces for commons and burial grounds. The building plan approved by the Society will establish what is necessary /47/for the size and direction of these routes and public places.
  • 36 Whoever buys land in addition to what he is required to purchase and to add it to the local territory must wait until the obligatory property has been distributed by lot, so that if several find themselves in this situation it will be decided by lot.

Also for those who obtain property in the territory in §27, b, and wish to sell it at once, the President of the Society will draw the lot in their place for members of the Society who wish to buy more than the required landed property.

  • 37 In organizing the allotments, as much attention as possible must be given that each family receives an equal amount of arable land, meadow and woodland and that, without cutting the allotments into smaller parcels, these should be as close as possible to the dwelling.
  • 38 Each building site should have enough undivided land so that a comfortable house can be built next to a roomy stableyard[2] and a kitchen garden, with all of it measuring from three to four acres.
  • 39 Before the arrival of the Society, some larger log cabins will be erected for the transitional residence of the families, financed by the common donations described in §26 e, and as much landed property as possible will made arable, as well as supplying necessities in field tools. — In the later division of landed property, those who receive the cleared parcels should give adequate compensation to other members of the Society /48/ not so favored, but in no case more than the local clearance originally cost.
  • 40 Both the entire territory of the Society as well as each landed property of every individual is to be properly marked by the leadership of the Society, with the cooperation of the participants, and each member of the Society is obligated to place the usual boundaries of his own property and to perform the required duties of setting the boundaries of the Society described in documents.
  • 41 Every member of the Society may request and formally demand in the case of a private-law dispute with another member, a trial and decision by the Court of Arbitration, and every member is obligated to give witness in legal disputes and to enforce its truth by his word of honor.
  • 42 Every head of a family has the right to send to school members of his family from the age of seven until fourteen inclusively, but only under the condition to cause them to participate consistently and to submit themselves to the school ordinance without restriction.
  • 43 The money required of Society members under §26 must be paid into the Society treasury at the times set by the leadership, at least half before the close of 1833, the balance at the latest on 1 April 1834, save with an adequate guarantee, in which case the due date can be extended to the day of embarkation. Payment will be made to the Clerk of the Society, after previous notification of the President, and both guarantee this with their entire wealth. As soon as 4000 fl has been collected, this payment must be delivered to the banking house that has arranged the credit for the /49/exchange to take to America. The President and Clerk are to be obligated to prove this to any Society member at any time on demand.
  • 44 The cash, letters of exchange, accounts, and the contracts concerning the Society are to be kept in a well-protected chest only capable of being opened with three different keys, and is to be kept by the Clerk to be transported with him. The President, the Secretary and the Clerk are to keep the keys to it.
  • 45 For the obligations taken on by the members of the Society, their total landed property located in the Society territory in the first instance, and all other as if individually, as well as the total held in the Society treasury, is in mortgage.

V    Guarantee of the Statutes

  • 46 The guarantee for the preservation of the statutes during the period of their operation lies primarily and essentially in the mutual solid trust that the members of the Society have in their mutually pledged word, and also in their conviction that every member of the Society can best achieve his own best particular interest via the obligations assumed.

But in order to secure the Society against the results of the bad will or lack of insight of individuals, the following rules have been established:

  • 1) /50/ To prevent the frustration of the goals of the Society through infiltration by unsuitable third parties, each member is committed for five years from the day of the arrival of the Society at the place of settlement, should not think of alienating landed property located within the limits of the Society but only to the Society as such or to members of the same, except that he is offered a higher price than members think reasonable, or are provably unable to pay.
  • 2) But if a member wishes to alienate the same real property to an outsider, the leadership has to be informed of this at least eight days before the conclusion of the transaction, and the leadership has to inform the Society in an immediately-called General Assembly.

The Society itself prevails over any individual member in the purchase of this piece of property.

If no acceptable offer has been made to the alienator within eight days, he will be free to alienate the property to an outsider, who does not become a member through that purchase.

  • 3) The Society is incapable of being dissolved for a period of five years from the day of the arrival of the Society at the place of settlement, except by a resolution of 5 /6 of all members, and after the completion of all Society obligations.
  • 4) Alterations and amendments of individual statute orders can only be made through a majority of 2/3 of all members of the Society.
  • 5) [3]/51/The Society leadership is obligated, if possible before embarkation of the Society, but in any case soon after their landing in America, to undertake all the formalities required by the local law, through whose observation the full legal validity and applicability of these statutes can be achieved as a contract binding all members.

[1] The currency used throughout is the Prussian Guilder or Gulden, for which the symbol “fl” is used here.

[2] The German is “Hof,” which in Germany is a courtyard surrounded by farm buildings.

[3] The number 4) is repeated in the original.

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