Tuesday, December 11, 2007

India and the Pennsylvania Dutch. American New World Models of British Colonization in India.

Colonial Rule in India

What was done in India was done before in America. C. S. Lewis does not hide in his history of the literature of the 16th century that "we became to America what the  Huns had been to us" (15).  Nineteenth century British romanticism glorified an untroubled acquiescence in imperialism (16) according to Lewis, but it was not acquiescence, it was racist and bloodthirsty. America and its supposed sea passage to India empowered that  transfer of avarice from all of Europe via Britain to America. British hegemony responsible for this avarice then transferred responsibility for its racism en masse to every immigrant group upon which the English had practiced. Avarice is too kind a word. In American history the victim has become the tyrant, hiding once again the bloodthirsty British reign. If you are an Irish or German or Hispanic or Black or whatever American you are now responsible for sponsoring America, the Master of War, with nine hundred military bases worldwide. Does it sound like you live in ancient Rome?

Nowhere is the velvet glove more off than in England's occupation of India. This mirrors the Pennsylvania Dutch, American Indian, Welsh and Irish oppressions. Majority history controls the field, forces the popular mind to take its history as romance. That is how it turns its soldier victims into "heroes." In terms of getting along with the Originals (Indians) without calling them child of the devil as the English Puritans did, compare the English in New England to the Pennsylvania Dutch in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Germans seem visionary in comparison, as if they belong in the golden ages the English harnessed to the new world: harmony with nature, gentle breezes, three harvests.

The English projected this Golden Age onto the land and native peoples they were themselves  foreigners to in order to further their control. This Gold was more brutal the further it strayed from European ethnicity. As bad as British occupation was in Ireland, where Swift's fictional/realistic Irish peasants are mocked in his yahoos, it was not so supercharged with racism as in India where the English cultural machine was in full view.  Not unlike the cultural war in the homeland of the Welsh, and Irish, British oppression occurred in greatest force in India. Épater la Bengali. This cultural war continues against the Hispanic.

Colonial rule in India demanded that "Britain needed a class of intellectuals meek and docile in their attitude towards the British, but full of hatred towards their fellow citizens. It was thus important to emphasize the negative aspects of the Indian tradition, and obliterate or obscure the positive." If there were no negative aspects, invent them. These were standard procedures. Likewise, the Pennsylvania German was called stubborn and thickheaded so much that they called themselves so, internalizing the prejudice against them. "Indians were to be taught that they were a deeply conservative and fatalist people - genetically predisposed to irrational superstitions and mystic belief systems" (British Education in India). The educated native remnant was to think and speak like the conqueror and reinterpret itself as English. Its own people, quisling substitutes, did the teaching.

The particulars of German speech and habits cited by Weygandt in Red Hills (1929) match the Indian "intellectuals meek and docile." Pennsylvania Germans were called people "doing what they did in the days before the Mexican War, interpreted without sympathy it means that the 'Dumb Dutch' do not know that the world moves."

"It is a worn witticism in Pennsylvania that we still vote for Andrew Jackson in Berks. This saying, interpreted with sympathy for us, means that things change so slowly in the heart of the Red Hills that people are doing there what they did in the days before the Mexican War. Interpreted without sympathy for us it means that the "Dumb Dutch" do not know that the world moves. A libel, some of us declare the last interpretation, a half libel others. There are those among us who will admit it has in it a modicum of truth, if it be taken, of course, figuratively. In any event it serves to point out that we Pennsylvania Dutch are the most conservative people in America. We still approve strongly of all Andrew Jacksons, of their works and of their ways" (Weygandt, 5).

Change is the stalking horse for this prejudice. Get the indigene to internalize the prejudice against him. In the analogy between India and Pennsylvania the so-called Dutch hex signs match the Indian irrational superstition. Sectarian pietism, the many religions of Pennsylvania, match mystic belief systems, although the argumentative will want to say these occurred at different times, hence must not be true, and that the Germans were the colonists not the English. False argument and rhetoric continues until the lights go out.

British rhetoric said that India "had no concept of nation, national feelings or a history," which argument applies to the division of the Dutch between Church and Sect. As if to reduce it to most common denominator, Yoder says (Hex Signs) hex signs and plain dress were their markers of culture. Such rhetoric declared of India that "if they had any culture, it had been brought to them by invaders - that they themselves lacked the creative energy to achieve anything by themselves" (British Ed). Fabian's Decorated Chest says of Pennsylvanians, "Borrows from their betters." India writes large the trivialization and peasantization of Dutch culture that centuries of folklore societies and universities foster.

In India and Pennsylvania however, supposedly, "the British, on the other hand epitomized modernity - they were the harbingers of all that was rational and scientific in the world." Capture in this ethnic mental prison for the young was the same for the Navajo and Pennsylvania Germans as much as it was for the subcontinent Indian. The British had their own people repeat the idea of British superiority verbatim in the minds of young who received instruction, and were made to learn English. In India the British created a class of quislings, as Macaulay says (1835, cited in this source), 'to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, words and intellect.'" [see British Education in India]

These native "English-Indians" were the vanguard of cultural domination. Again, their role in India resembled church groups in Pennsylvania, Lutheran and Reformed, who, much to the disagreement of their own historians that this even happened, sold themselves for social acceptance to the English. The quisling Pennsylvania German class, speaking for the colonial powers, characterized the native German in burlesque, as a caricature of itself. Yoder says that Dutch plain folk endangered German identity as a class because as they got plainer and legislated their plain dress to further their Dutch identity. As church folk painted hex signs on their barns to preserve their compromised ethnicity, Plain sects painted them off (Hex Signs, 39).
All backwards.

English Against the Welsh, German, Navajo

English rule insinuated shame where their language wasn’t spoken, like the dual street signs in Wales with the Cymraeg crossed out. English fear of German dominance in PA was a chief motive behind the English Only  of that time. If that phrase sounds familiar, English domination could not have occurred without the deconstruction of Pennsylvania German culture and language. This deconstruction took many forms. Peasantry, including folk art, was denigrated as ignorance.

You can take political and social prisoners without walls if you steal ethnicity and language, for instance, put all the Navajo children in "Indian schools," where they are forced to speak English. You say the Americans did that, not the English, but that is the point. The English transferred all their social control systems to the Americas where the majority leaders were English and quisling English. And still are. These mind games occurred between the English and every ethnic and racial group in America, the American Indian first, the German second, the Hispanic the latest.

 English parody of the German began with turning their religious self-denial into an inferiority complex, the so-called dark faces and incomprehensible tongues that antagonized Franklin. These were made to symbolize the backward peasant mind. Franklin’s prejudice gets barely a footnote in his illustrious (?) life, as though it were merely a stigma against farmers. This prejudice existed before 1730 when Pennsylvania had passed two acts to regulate immigration, requiring an oath of allegiance to George I, the taking of names, occupations and points of origin of immigrants in the famous ship lists. The number of immigrants was exaggerated, but even the exaggerations were doubled to make Franklin’s point. His cronies insisted around 1750 that Pennsylvania was being overrun. Various Presbyterian and Anglican clergy influenced by Franklin hatched a scheme called the Society for Promoting Religious Knowledge and the English Language among the German Emigrants in Pennsylvania (1753). Its purpose was to domesticate the either 60 or 100 thousand “foreigners,” and “strangers,” who were “speaking a different language from the English colony’ (Charles H. Glatfelter. Pastors and People, II. Samuel Chandler, quoted 309).


It was always the view of the formal churches, Lutheran and Reformed, that true wisdom came from their hierarchy and authority, not from the people. This vested authority prostituted itself to the British. Church formalists reasoned that the populace was “utterly ignorant” and “in danger of sinking deeper and deeper every day into these deplorable circumstances, as being almost entirely destitute of instructors, and unacquainted with our language” (Smith, in Glatfelter, 309).

Such talk masked deeper political and social motives, especially that the Germans “shall turn our trade out of its proper channel by their connections, and perhaps at last give some of our Colonies laws and language” (Smith, in Glatfelter, 310). Such rhetoric stemmed from Franklin’s ideas and politics. Franklin’s explicit view was that the “Palatine Boors” should “swarm into our Settlements” (Letter 1751) “of the most ignorant Stupid Sort (Franklin, [1753] (1961: IV, 483–484). This imputed ignorance and stupidity were reason for thinking the Germans would subject themselves to “Credulity” and “Knavery,” meaning influence by the French. That Pennsylvania would become a “colony of aliens” provoked fear that they “will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion" (IV, 24.[confirm page #] Franklin's wit betrays the racism of his understanding. (The letter of May 9, 1753 to Peter Collinson.)

So Franklin made alliance with “Lutheran, some Reformed, and the rest Englishmen” who were offended by the many undisciplined populist sects of Mennonites and Dunkers because they opposed the Churched views on infant baptism, war and serving in the militia, let alone paying the war tax (things that immigrants are really good for, and as cannon fodder). The ill-fated Michael Schlatter was appointed Supervisor of these “schools” of correction in the German settlements, but was mightily opposed by the Germantown printer Christopher Saur. Schlatter funded a rival press to support his views against Saur. Since the school plan was merely to anglicize Germans and maybe to get German votes to fund military salaries for preachers and schoolmasters, Saur argued that the Anglicizers “had the least regard for the uninformed Germans of Pennsylvania, to actually convert them; or whether the establishing of the Free-schools, is not rather to serve as a foundation upon which to establish the thralldom of the Germans” (in Glatfelter, 319).

In addition to language, mind, habit and skin color, religion and war were also vehicles of English prejudice. If the goal was to make them “good protestants, join the militia, speak English,” the means was backward. In the end the free school movement lasted but ten years. Schlatter resigned and joined the British Army as a chaplain!

Saur said that turning everyday people to English speech had as its motive a social overturning of German society. Mennonites argued against contact with outsiders, for “German children learn to speak English according to English fashions; and parents have a great deal of trouble to get such foolish whims out of their heads” (Glatfelter, 320). The English attempt to steal ethnicity with language was not a religious or altruist but “a political affair” (Glatfelter, 321), as Muhlenberg, who initially supported the plan, later said. Franklin's fear that too many Germans would destabilize the colony show the fears of a xenophobe, but with inevitably greater fallout than that. Yoder says

the disappearance of the parochial school and the shift to the English language especially caused the loss of “the mystical and theosophical symbolism of Rose and Tulip and Lilly of Jacob Boehme and his medieval sources.” This impacted every folk form from fraktur to design, “the entire nineteenth century disintegration of the folk culture of the Pennsylvania Germans” (?, 280).

However defined, it is not easy to see the invisible. To view nature as uncontaminated contradicts the essence of puritan thought, total depravity, and Calvinist and American fundamentalism. It contradicts materialism too and is most contrary to what is taught in schools about these Pennsylvania people. If they viewed nature as uncontaminated they were the first environmentalists. Though the flowering heart was gone by the Civil War, with remnants lasting a half century or more, it is still easy to love their torn flower. As a product of cultural endgame, indoctrinated with English poetry, puritanism and dominion politics, every prejudice the Pennsylvanians internalized might be taken as fact, which tells in fact that it is not.

English Theological Nature

As  a natural expression of its will to empire, English culture invented a theology to include the destruction of the natural with the cultural; both were allied against the Germans not only for control, but also out of habit. The English did it without thinking. This domination values English authorities and their thinkers transferred from the specific English origins to the more general "white" politics of later times. This protective coloring covers them.  To claim cultural dominion as their own would expose them as its authors, so dominion was cast as a wider cultural custom belonging to all the new white world settler groups, but it was  only English politics and theology transferred entire to the now dominant American culture, an English Only, beyond language. Take heart you ethnic white people, you are not inherent racists.

The English Invented American Racism

The American Revolution was won by the English who invented American racism as a further extension of  empire.  Boehme and the PA Dutch were a different cup of tea from the reigning English philosophy of the Puritan. Erudite Jefferson sounds like the xenophobe Franklin on the imperfections of the Germans when he worries about the Jews' so called inferior moral philosophy. Jefferson, with nothing better to do, had razored out the words of Jesus, “cutting verse by verse out of the printed book” and made his own gospel of 46 pages (The Adams-Jefferson Letters, 384). Expunging the so-called Platonized corruptions from the text did not however result in removal of his own imperfection; attention to the details of the Law would have remedied this failure in the “minute enumeration of duties” (Adams-Jefferson, 383) that he blames the Jews for keeping. The English did not understand the natural goodness the Germans posited. If you boil it down to a sound bite, what you get from the Pennsylvania Dutch is more acceptance than rejection, for rejection had already been theirs in Holland and Germany.

Homogenators Now

The argument that the demise of Pennsylvania German culture was a function of social controls foisted on them by the English, with subtle and not so subtle social mechanisms, is not favored by writers such as Don Yoder, the best contemporary. The epilogue of his Pennsylvania German Broadside (312) takes its assumption that such losses are to be expected and are good and desirable in order to make American homogene, the Americanization of sorting out the idiosyncrasy of subgroups so they can be homogeneous, interchangeable parts of American citizens held together by a general glue such as economy, human rights, commercialism and language.

This implicit destiny of all migrant groups then is seen as a good by homogenators now. More social control. Once a sub culture is denatured, subverted from its peculiarity, identity shorn, it is more apt to social control. What was done to the immigrant group to make it generalized and "American" is now done to all of America to make it global. The argument is that this is progress and not loss. This is hogwash that occurs concomitantly with the standard of diversity, that many are one, only shows how the opposite things are from the truth. The more diverse we get the more the same we get.  

Blacks, Germans, Hispanics, Indians, once they lose their languages and folkways will be the same interchangeable widget the English first desired to control.

This phenomenon where the cure becomes the disease is common enough in psychology where the patient is named for the disease and the side effects of medications given for the cure become the new symptoms and cause -bipolar! A further implication is that we are our own worst enemies in an environment or economy where, if we  stop spending for consumer goods we will go into depression, but if we spend we will individually go broke. This pretends that acclimation to gas prices if done in an unpatterned way prevents societal/governmental pain because the sudden shock of a major price rise would change behavior and cause true change. Applied to culture and subcultures this denaturing and denuding destroys the uniqueness of whatever is addressed, wilderness, humanity, botany, wildlife, culture.

Not that the Germans did not reject themselves. The seeds of division were the stuff of social control, although the more formal churches were quicker to identify with the colonial English powers, witness the anointed Schlatter, who came to bring peace to the German Reformed churches, but became a stalking horse for the English only movement of that time and a chaplain to the British. Folklorist Don Yoder sees division as a function of religion, not politics, blames the sectarians who "withdrew from worldly matters; in fact the word "worldly" among them had a negative connotation" (The Pennsylvania German Broadside, 170). No kidding! It has had a negative connotation since Babylon, since Ur, since Chuang Tzu! Yoder says this as though worldliness were not a huge Biblical problem. That Lutheran and Reformed groups should be "both church members and citizens" was the point of tension for the whole, he says:

"because of this radical division, this cultural gulf between the plain sectarians and their more worldly neighbors in the Lutheran and Reformed churches, the Pennsylvania Dutch population has never been able to unite on any major political or cultural question" (Broadsides, 171).

But we look at it differently. Rather, it isas though there were a war of attrition were being waged, and like any war of this kind, quisling substitutes infiltrate the naive body politic to disestablish it. All kinds of pretty humanistic labels change this not. We're doing it for your own good, you see, making you learn, dragging you kicking and screaming into the 21st century and into the texting, digital imprint world. Such "liberation and emancipation" mask dark motives. These motives are not likely to be confessed. Instead, their uncovering will be resisted. Do you want to perpetuate your cultural ignorance? the Dutch seemed to ask themselves.

But this insecurity was forced from the outside.Yoder laments the failure of Zinzendorf's attempt in 1742 to join all the churches under his headship. He calls an "ecumenical project" what was a naked power grab clothed in religious garb and words (Broadsides, 175). The sectarians were as suspicious of Zinzendorf as Sauer was of Franklin's effort to establish English schools for the Germans.

Yoder allows the loss of German individuality came just about the time of all others: "in the twentieth century Pennsylvania Dutch religion changed radically. The churches themselves became group oriented. Following the American penchant for joinerism..." (175), but he admits that "all of these institutions came in from the English world of Anglo-American denominationalism" (175). Revivalism, Boy Scouts, Christian Endeavor and like species were introduced, with premillenialism, from the English. With this came demythology of the Dutch status. Yoder says (210) that efforts of scholars to show how the former beliefs were superstition: "a common conceit of scholarship at the time" (1908), in this case referring to the Himmelsbrief, or so called Heaven-letter, a species of pow-wow that is the never ending delight of Dutch sycophants, like today's equivalent of the chain letter, a deranged take on sympathetic magic derived from Boehme and his theory of Correspondence. This began late (1820), but is an example of a much wider practice of disestablishing all the Dutch beliefs and ways with magnification of a few superstitious oddities, so that, thoroughly anglicized, their culture seems to have been discredited and abandoned.

Sect or Insect

The designation of 10 % or 25% of the Pennsylvania Dutch population as sect does not endear them to any anybody. The connotations are difficult. Those who control history are in charge. The majority Dutch, as Yoder finally calls them (Broadsides, 87), deny prejudice, say this was the designation from the beginning.

There is prejudice of the Church groups against the plain sects. To be fair there is a rejection of the Churched by the sects because they were seen as doctrinally weak and worldly, who substituted world wisdom for biblical. But majority prejudice rules, so Church groups went against anyone who opposed the standard historical line they offered. The Churched after all did not suffer in the old world as the plain sects did. They were not chained or burnt or drowned. Their claim that they came like the sects to gain freedom to worship in America is bogus. It comes with the old assumptions of power from the state to enforce its way, how else explain the short shrift the best Reformed historians Henke and Harbaugh give for the founding of the first Reformed church in PA, in Skippack, c. 1727? This we continue to research here.

This animus does not seem to be returned by the plain sects against the churched, just rejected as what they consider false doctrine, infant baptism, for example, and worldliness. Yoder revisits this again and again with talk of "this radical division, this cultural gulf" (Broadsides, 171), even attributing to plain sects part cause in "the demise of the hex sign...when they purchase a farm with hex signs, the signs are one of the first things to disappear...part of their aesthetic of plainess" (Hex, 39). This troubles him because he attributes the images on barns as a last vestige of the culture, but the plain people would surely retort that the image is within, and that the hex is none.

This Shaker-like austerity of the sects does not quite claim "that their furniture was originally designed in heaven, and that the patterns have been transmitted to them by angels," as Thomas Merton says of Shakers. But Merton, already a monastic, sees what he himself has a capacity to know and likens the Shakers to Blake's interiors, invoking "Edenic innocence" (Seeking Paradise, 79), that "work was to be perfect, and a certain relative perfection was by all means within reach: the thing made had to be precisely what it was supposed to be. It had, so to speak, to fulfill its own vocation." (78-9). This seems to me to have been the unspoken aesthetic of ten generations of Pennsylvania Germans. Here's one I happen to know. To further the general deceit about the American, "the American was a new being who had nothing to do with the world of European complexity and iniquity" (Paradise, 84).

Yoder says "Pennsylvania Dutch culture is still evolving, and the modern hex signs can be seen as new outgrowths of the older folk art trends that were brought from Europe and transplanted.... (Hex Signs, vii). But you could better say that my allegories of Ooks are an outgrowth of old folk art trends, set ablaze, maybe. That culture is more than co-opted. Yoder says "this colonial ethnic group evolved into one of the most colorful and most original cultures on the East Coast." When you are all done with these denatured platitudes put on the lights and post a sign on the container. Einstein's brain, except in science fiction, is not evolving. Latin is  a dead language with little embarrassment to Rome. The Pennsylvania Dutch were arrested.

These are more remnants of old colonialism, the 60% unemployment rate on the Navajo reservation, for instance, and the Pennsylvania suburbs made from farms. New colonialism is the digital age replacing life with screens. Yoder speaks for the point of view that all is well among those who "formed one people with a culture united except for religion" (Hex, 2). One people how? Subjugated cultures continue to exist, but they are artificially controlled. He says sociologists divided the Dutch into church and plain but he knows that was done from the very beginning before 1730 by Boehm and all the churched and furthered by Mittelberger, et al. Church and Plain means worldly vs. austere and could well suit the opposition of mass manufacture vs. hand. Mass culture dictates it will absorb you. The Church faction was absorbed and assimilated and as a reward got the tourist trade. The Plain groups, Plain and Plainer in dress and speech got islanded and compromised by the pressure of the malleable whole.


Slow strangulation was also a function of the propaganda machine. Prejudice is learned not observed, says Gordon Allport, and all the more easily taught therefore, especially when the people teaching it are quislings of conqueror. Yoder perpetuates the stereotype in Broadsides, chooses his examples strangely, that "European travelers, especially those of German background and education, who visited the Dutch Country in the nineteenth century, often sneered at what they considered the 'ignorance' and limited viewpoint of the Pennsylvania Dutch" (Broadsides, 15f). What is the point anyway? Travelers is plural but he gives only one example, "the most pointed" that proves the negative, which he himself calls "damaging and very biased." But he quotes at length about books on "dreaming and witchcraft" [superstition] (17), the "corrupt dialect." His second example, not a traveler, but a scholar, damns with the faint praise, "they were not as ignorant as has sometimes been stated...granting that the aims of many of them, especially in the rural districts, were very narrow, nevertheless" (17). You can get so many quotes like this from academic and religious functionaries on Charlie Rose you'll need a Heimlich. The weight of this stereotype, repeated ad infinitum over centuries, continues in the present. Its justification, for it will be justified, is that they are just repeating what was said. Ben Franklin lives.

 The immersion of every member of a class into an ethnic/language identity by sociologists is noxious. Not troubling with exceptions, everything is the rule, as if all of "them" were homogeneous. This mindlessness curses for instance David L. Valuska and Christian B. Keller's Damn Dutch: Pennsylvania Germans at Gettysburg (2004) who cite Steven M. Nolt, Foreigners in Their Own Land for the same curses. Only after constant repetition does an underlying point of view grind the ax and appear in a combination of defensiveness that hides behind scholarly fact/myths, as if apologizing for damn, dumb Dutch and explicitly repeating 18th and 19the century prejudices for all. This negative is supported by various societies and publishers who foster it, who think it attracts the market they target, as though none of them survived Ben Franklin's worst day.

Pennsylvania Myth

Self-loathing is a deep contradiction that goes beyond Pennsylvania mythology of the simple, dumb peasant. But it is salable for being so widely repeated. Pennsylvania Dutch Stuff  by Earl F. Robacker (1944) is as good as the current folklore even if old. He says "the Pennsylvania Dutch of yesterday were a simple folk and came of peasant ancestry long ago" (1) which could no doubt be said of anyone.

If a twelfth of Americans were Dutch in 1775 there is a roughly greater percent of Hispanics today. Hispanics are the new Dutch. The crux is always that they are "colonists of non-British extraction" (Stoudt, xv). Chauvinism is strong, but the stakes are greatest for the loser.

 Visions of Milkweed

The assumptions that justify assimilation come into question. The loss of identity through the creation of a group mind in the media causes pressures toward globalization to denature every nationality. This was done to the Dutch, so we need not pose further erosion of identity that would occur from contact with alien civilization, but that analogy makes plain that what happened to every other colonial or conquered people would happen here.

But there's no need to go to the future when past and present assimilations are so fertile. The Pennsylvania Dutch illustrate the past, and  Modern synthetic culture illustrates the present. Majority scholars and quislings want exceptions to this loss of identity, but traditional culture stands in the same relation today as those Indians taken back to Queen Elizabeth's court to be displayed as trophies, followed by their enslavement at Jamestown. The majority always takes captive and subverts native identity, appoints from among them native governors, just as the Romans did their quislings, while it swallows them whole. Jonah, Jonah, the ship is the world! It is not pretty put this way. At all costs the majority must make things seem better than they are, but as Sartre might have said, resistance is existence in the will to know.

Assimilation was never a good idea, no matter what propagandists said, especially as it was forced in subtle and unsubtle ways. It was never anything but the theft of heritage, that underbelly which the prime minister of Australia apologized for, even as Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to Canada's native peoples for "forcing their children to attend state-funded schools aimed at assimilating them" (Bob Gillies, AP, June 12, 2008). More than an apology is due the Hopi and Navajo children sent to "Indian schools" in Phoenix, where roads are yet named Indian School. These travesties are somehow more obvious than the same things, yet worse, wreaked upon the Pennsylvania Dutch in the nineteenth century. Take away the language, assimilate to the body politic whole. Ben Franklin feared the "dark faces" among the Dutch in his racism, which was an English invention.

So far there has been no attempt among scholars to see the Pennsylvania Dutch as an oppressed co-opted people subject to surrender their ethnic identity, but that is commonly observed among the peoples of India in relation to the British. It is only a matter of degree. David Weaver-Zercher gives a good summary of the cultural war between the English and the Dutch (The Amish in the American Imagination, 2001).  The Germans were defensive and conceded the doltish nature they were charged with. "It was not that Pennsylvania Germans but were brutish by nature," the Pennsylvania German Society said, but "they were too busy conquering the elements to support higher education, fine arts and other cultural endeavors" (Weaver-Zercher, 28). It was entirely rhetorical, understood against the history of English colonies subverting identity. I heard it myself from my own family.

 Stoudt in his preface cites many causes in the demise of the Dutch, but at root was the belief that to fit in was good. To belong, to homogenize was necessary and desirable. The apology for speaking German was that "it in no way distorts their Americanism" (Pennsylvania German Folk Art, xvi), not the other way round, that speaking English does distort the Pennsylvania Dutch. Colonial powers find benign rule in their interest to encourage commercial exploitation.

Loss of identity is the damage done by the British/American propaganda machine to all subgroups. If only they could "absorb" the Taliban! Call it "slow disintegration" or "slow absorption," "slow strangulation" (Stoudt xvii),  "the Pennsylvania German soon began to view his own culture as outworn and outmoded" (xvii). It was the loss of the language and culture composed of  beliefs and doctrines different from the British. Many writers cite the loss of German devotional ways:

 "as English hymns and devotional literature supplanted the traditional literature, as spiritual vitality degenerated into camp-meeting hallelujahs" (Yoder, xviii), plus of course the grand Industrial Revolution. In all this however Stoudt makes a judgment that the ones who really defined the Dutch were the sects and not the Churched who assimilated so easily. This has probably caused him to be given short shrift in the 75% majority Dutch churched culture. "Most of the German settlers...were [not] religious refugees" (xvi). Only the sects were. It is easy to take the part for the whole. Most of the peculiarities of sects, "left-wing, radical Protestant groups," (xvi) were dimmed by the camp-meeting hallelujahs... "apocalyptic ideas dimmed when the 'lily age' seemed further and further away" (xviii).

We Have Added to the World Pennsylvania

Draw then if you will a circle around Pennsylvania as if it were Virginia where the poet John Donne tried to emigrate. He declares, "but who ere saw, though nature can work so, / That pearl, or gold, or corn in man did grow. / We have added to the world Virginia."

We have added to the world Pennsylvania he could have said later. The newest creature of that new world, whose virtue likened it to the golden age, a metaphorical Virginian, a voyager under the Protection (Chas. Wms.) settling the ground of Christ (136), would then have been for Donne the Pennsylvania Dutch. What benign interactions among peoples this would suggest! What a wonder this new age!

"It is plain from the letter of Pastorius of March 7th, 1684, that the Dutch and German immigrants who founded Germantown expected to receive their grant along a navigable stream, to have a little province of their own, free from the sway of It is plain the English, or, as Penn described it," a new Franckenland." Pennypacker, "Bebber's Township and the Dutch Patroons,"2
Works Cited

Thomas Merton. Seeking Paradise: The Spirit of the Shakers. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2003.

John Joseph Stoudt. Pennsylvania German Folk Art. 1966.

Frederick S. Weiser in The Pennsylvania-German Decorated Chest by Monroe H. Fabian. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd.

J. C. Wenger. History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference. Telford, PA: Franconia Mennonite Historical Society, 1937. Republished by Mennonite Publishing House. Scottdale, PA, 1985.

Cornelius Weygandt. The Red Hills. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1929

Don Yoder; Thomas E. Graves. Hex Signs. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2000

Don Yoder. The Pennsylvania German Broadside. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005.

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