While the majority of Irish immigrants came to the Lake Superior mining region largely to escape British government policies in Ireland, another contributing factor was the potato famine which began in 1846. With the Cornwall, one of the main reasons for their immigration was the economy. Cornwall’s economy was heavily based on tin and copper mining. As mining began to expand elsewhere, particularly in the Americas, the Cornish mining industry was negatively affected and many Cornish people migrated to other areas to find employment.
The problems facing German emigrants were largely political and traced back to Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire. The Holy Roman Empire, later called the “First Reich” (reich being German for empire) got on pretty well until the early 1800s when it crumbled under pressure from Napoleon.
Thomas Childers, Ph.D. of the University of Pennsylvania stated in his “A History of Hitler’s Empire” lecture series, 2nd edition, that:
“It was not until 1871 that Germany was unified by Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of Prussia. The united nation-state lacked common traditions; it lacked shared political norms. In fact, ‘German Central Europe’ was the proper term to use – not ‘Germany’ – until 1871.
Simply put, the former Holy Roman Empire, since its collapse, has undergone political and military upheavals that many average German citizens have felt compelled to flee. Even after the unification of 1871, there was no automatic acceptance by the German people.
Unification, Childers continued, had been supported not by the proverbial man and woman on the street, but by Germany’s business and industrial elites. They could not compete with English or French goods, and there was no common currency, weights or measures, etc. They wanted a united Germany.
As Childers explained, Bismarck unified Germany under Prussian auspices through successful wars: against Denmark in 1864; against Austria in 1866, which excluded the Habsburgs, Germany’s traditional dynastic family; then finally in 1870-71, with the defeat of France. It was a unification without territories traditionally considered part of the former Holy Roman Empire.
Bismarck was perfectly content with a united Germany, as long as it was under Prussian control, Childers continued. His task, he said, was to deliver a Germany that would be based on traditional elites, monarchy, military, bureaucracy, all supported by the old aristocracy.
As Childers pointed out, Bismark had set the stage for the political elements that led to World War I. All this happened during the rapid industrialization of Germany, which only caused more problems.
Although Finland did not suffer the negative impact of an industrial revolution, it was sandwiched between Sweden and Russia, where Finland had been under Swedish control for centuries.
Around the same time the First Reich was collapsing, Russia conquered Finland in the 1808-09 war with Sweden. Under Sweden, Finland was only a group of provinces and not a national entity. Under Tsar Alexander I, however, Finland became an independent Duchy of Russia. Alexander, whose title included Grand Duke of Finland, made Finland a state in 1825.
An article published on the website, “https://finland.fi/life-society/main-outlines-of-finnish-history/”>This is Finland, states: “The Finnish national movement has gained momentum during the Russian period. The Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, created by Elias Lönnrot, was published in 1835.
“The Language Decree issued in 1863 by Alexander II marked the beginning of the process by which Finnish became an official administrative language”, indicates the website. “Although only a seventh of Finland’s population spoke Swedish as their first language, Swedish retained its dominant position until the beginning of the 20th century.”
It was during the 1860s that the Quincy Mining Company recruited the first Finnish and Norwegian immigrants, experienced miners from the Finnmark region of Norway.
Walfrid John Jokinen’s 1955 dissertation and dissertation at Louisiana State University, “Finns in the United States: A Sociological Interpretation. said what started as around 20 Norwegian and Finnish miners recruited by the Quincy Mining Company has become what could be compared to mass migration.
Online essay of an Ellis Island interior, “https://ethnicity.lib.mtu.edu/groups_Finns.html” > Keweenaw Ethnic Groups: Finns agreed with Jokinen, saying, “In the years By 1870, some 3,000 Finns had left Scandinavia, and from 1880 to 1886 alone, 21,000 emigrated.By the mid-1880s, more were emigrating from the provinces of the Duchy of Finland itself.From then and through 1893 another 40,000 left and in that year alone another 9,000 left, most to the U.S. Although the next four years would see a steady rate with an additional 16,000 applicants, the year of the introduction of the February Manifesto in 1899 brought a record demand for passports, 12,000, a number that would peak at 23,152 applicants in 1902. From 1893 to 1920 the total number of emigrants was 274 000 people, most of them before 1914 and a small minority being Swedish Finns.
The same website goes on to say: “Although the first Finns arrived at Hancock for employment with the Quincy Mining Company during the American Civil War, it was the rising star of the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company who would begin to offer the greatest employment opportunities both in the mine and in the surrounding businesses.In 1880, in the mine settlement area around the village of Red Jacket, Finns comprised about one in five inhabitants or 1,800 out of 9,000 people. -American Arne R. Alanen with Suzanna E. Raker made startling discoveries regarding Finnish institutions that same year: “Despite relatively small numbers, Finnish immigrants soon established several ethnic institutions in Calumet, the community that emerged as their first pesapaikka, or “nesting place,in America. By 1880 the Calumet Finns supported a newspaper, two churches, a welfare society, a literary society, a printing press, a lending library, a landholding society, and two mining companies. The Finns also operated a store general, a watch shop, nine public saunas and a saloon in Calumet.
The rapid increase in Finnish immigration to the Lake Superior copper region was not the only development. With more and more mines opening in the western states, copper mines in Michigan faced stiffer competition at the same time as their production costs rose as their copper grade began to decline. In order to extend their life, mining companies should seek out the benefits that the Industrial Revolution presented to the mining industry. Companies must either modernize or close.
Pneumatic rock drills had evolved rapidly since their introduction to Michigan copper mines in the 1860s. Mine managers in the Lake Superior mining region were ready to introduce the new technology to their mines. Replacing hand drills with machines would dramatically increase production. Coupled with the use of dynamite rather than gunpowder, management was optimistic that copper mines in Lake Superior could remain competitive with those in the western states. These technologies had to be tested first, but the management was ready to test them and invest tens of thousands of dollars in the purchase of drills, the installation of air compressors, the conduct of overhead lines in the wells and through the galleries of the mine to the workings, and the teaching of selected mining. teams how to use the new exercises.
In the region’s transition from “Lake Superior Copper Mining Region” to the “Copper Country” the region was also in transition. The mines got bigger, requiring more and more workers. Gone are the days when everyone from agent to trammer knew each other and lived crammed into a small mine. Alexander Agassiz, president of the Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, from his home in Boston, became increasingly distrustful of his workforce, creating an atmosphere in which the workforce, in turn, also began to distrust the company.
Tensions began as policy changes and the creation of new policies made many older residents feel like the companies were creating a “Us and Them” mentality. As time progressed, it did not improve.
Graham Jaehnig holds a BA in Social Science/History from Michigan Technological University and an MA in English/Creative Nonfiction Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. He is internationally known for his writings on Cornish immigration to the mining districts of the United States.