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An Account Of Two
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Journey to America
Daniel Lefever's Legacy
Massacre at Hancock's
John Woolman's Journal
Reason for my emigration to the free United States of North America in May of 1822.
Unrelieved great and heavy sufferings were the chief reason for my decision to emigrate to those transatlantic free states.
From the beginning of the year 1802 until May, 1822, I was employed as a teacher of youth in my Braunschweig fatherland at three different locations, the last eleven years in Vallstedt, and I could have witnesses to show if necessary that it was by God's guidance that I was led and moved to a great inclination toward my calling, especially where the greatest hindrances were laid in my way. Still I worked with greatest enthusiasm and through purposeful instruction of the youth that were given to my care incited much good and spread it around me. Thereby I gained the trust of my superiors to a high degree and rejoiced constantly in the love and regard of all knowledgeable persons with whom I was in touch.
But that stirred up the jealousy of a single individual who had the power to turn my life into a hell. Here is not the place to give further clarification of the matter-how and wherefore this happened-and such a description would certainly be of little interest to my readers. To me, however, just the remembrance of seven years of hard suffering and endured injustices is unbearable and for that reason I never again want to remind myself of it clearly and dismiss it with silence.
Only I must explain briefly how in my forty-sixth year I could still reach the decision to emigrate to America.
It required much consideration and evaluation of my circumstances; I simply could not remain in Vallstedt, if I were not to become a martyr to my relationships. I did not have a better position in view and I could not bring myself to accept a lower paying one. Except for schoolteaching, farming was my preferred occupation, and because I am very knowledgeable in it I might have hoped to pursue that business to great advantage. But my means were not sufficient to carry out such an undertaking in my fatherland. Then I thought of the fortunate inhabitants of the United States of North America, where for little money one could obtain an independent estate and sufficient lands and the wish became ever more animated to be able to bring my remaining days to a close in peace as a free farmer, for dear peace was the' only thing I lacked here and for which I so dearly craved. Of course I always thought that I was already too old for emigration to that distant land and also thought of the great difficulties of such a journey by water and land, and I feared that my body, weakened, sickened and palsied by so much suffering would possibly not be able to bear the burdens connected with such a journey; but I could no longer supress the wish to be able to live there, especially since I could find no exit from my unfortunate circumstances, and so I began to mention it to good friends and relatives. These persons talked further about it and so the rumor, as of that time yet unfounded, was spread that I had decided to emigrate to America. Soon there were about twenty well to do, healthy and blossoming young men who requested to travel with me, promising to help me with farming and other business there and in any case mightily supporting my undertaking. I found it necessary to test sharply the decisions of these young people, to hold before them the uncomfortable nature of the journey and describe in a lively and clear fashion other possible misfortunes, and constantly to counsel them more against than for. Through this several of them became so sober that they gave up the decision which they had made too prematurely and without sufficient reflection. But most of them remained by their decisions. Only then did my wish approach the decision, for now I could advantageously carry out my undertakings as a farmer in America.
Of course, the advice was repeatedly given to me to become a preacher in Pennsylvania, but I considered it better advised that if my decision to emigrate carne to maturity and I really were to go to America, I would farm there, so much the more because I could take along the necessary assistance for it. These persons pressed me almost daily and with persistence for emigration, swore to me often and repeatedly unflinching loyalty and so my decision grew at last to full maturity.
Then I began to prepare myself for emigration and sold my accumulated harvest and cattle in the summer of 1821, reported my decision to the duchy's consistory, asked from the same my discharge and a voucher for my rightful twenty years' conduct in office. This high authority, however, gave me to understand that they would have to examine my intentions and seriously consider them and withheld, perhaps with good intention, for a long time the discharge and the granting of the requested service voucher so that the summer and also the next winter passed by before I could receive my discharge; it was not until the spring of 1822 that I received the same and also the awaited permission to emigrate from the high authority.
Then I settled with my successor for incidentals, sold my things to the highest bidder except for a featherbed and sheet which I took with me to America and readied myself for the journey to Hamburg. Of the inexcusable, frightening and horrid suffering which I had to bear shortly before and during my departure from Vallstedt I would not like to be reminded again and pass over the same in silence. Amid streams of tears I left the place where I worked for the ennoblement of men for such long years with unquenchable enthusiasm and the effort of all my powers. The young people that wanted to travel with me were arrested en masse at my departure and not one was allowed to go with us. Only after several days were they again given their freedom.
Source: Edited by Bryan Wright
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