Between 1851-1860, over 25,000 Swiss emigrated to the United States. Generally speaking, it is not the richest inhabitants of any country who seek a home elsewhere. This is particularly true in Switzerland, where the love of country is so strong that only absolute necessity could tempt people to leave their native villages. The majority of the emigrants came from the agricultural cantons. They often traveled with groups coming out of their same region. In some areas the local council gave them a financial incentive to leave so they would have less citizens to feed during times of economic recession. The money was given to the emigrants on the condition that they never return to Europe, and with the caveat that if they did return, the money was to be repaid with an interest rate calculated on top of it.
Advertisements were placed in Swiss newspapers by travel agencies who catered to the demand for emigration. Some were reputable, and some took advantage of the poor Swiss who were enticed by the offers of cheap and fertile lands in America, or the opportunity for higher wages and better opportunities for work. The agencies of ill repute were referred to as Seelenverkäufer and Bauernfänger (soul-sellers and peasant-catchers). Eventually the Swiss government stepped in to supervise the travel agencies in an effort to protect its citizens.
|Landgasthof Weisses Kreuz|