Amerikanska Emigrant Kompaniet Transit Agreement. IMMIGRATION, LABOR.
Amerikanska Emigrant Kompaniet Transit Agreement

Amerikanska Emigrant Kompaniet Transit Agreement

New York/Hartford, Conn. American Emigrant Co., n.d., but ca. 1880s.

10-6/16 x 8-3/16" bifolium, [4] pp. printed recto and verso with text and engraved illustrations. Previously folded, with creasing and a few tiny chips out at the folds, else fine. The agreement has been filled out in ink and dated May 31, 1883.

Beginning in the mid-1860s, in response to the sudden perceived need for "white labor" throughout the Union, territories, and the "exhausted and devastated" South, the American Emigrant Company served as a clearinghouse for employers and prospective employees. "Farmers, Manufacturers, Railroad and Mining Companies, and large employers of labor of every class" were encouraged to submit their needs, and, for a fee, the Company would endeavor to fulfill them. In their 1865 charter, the Company was explicit: "Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales" would provide the gene pool, and, having matched the abilities of workers to employers, the Company would provide seed-money to the worker to be put toward their passage to America (at no risk to the Company, those funds having been previously deposited with the Company by the prospective employer, to be repaid at a later date by the worker, in labor or in cash). Here we have such a transit agreement, in Swedish, with the heading "Nybygget Svea" ("New Sweden"). It has been filled out by hand by "Kapten R. E. Jeanson, Agent," billet number 160883, fronting one John Olson $9 to be used for transit from the Scandinavian port of his choice to New York, and thence to Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. Permitted transatlantic fares ($28 for an adult, $14 for a child under the age of 12, and $3 for babies under the age of 1) have been specified. What occupation or position Mr. Olson will be expected to fulfill in Susquehanna has not. The four-page document functions as a promotional piece as well as a binding legal contract, hinting as it does at a new-world paradise--with illustrations of cattle drinking from a stream on a prosperous Iowa farm, and of the American Emigrant Company's own bustling New York offices on Lower Broadway. An illuminating artifact of post-Civil War immigration, racial, and labor history.

Item #19853

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