The Pennsylvania Dutch are descendants of German speaking immigrants who came to Pennsylvania prior to 1800. They were the first foreign language speaking culture in America. The Pennsylvania Dutch were not really people of Dutch descent or lineage at all. Some people feel that the Dutch title came from a confusion of the word Deutsch which means German, so strictly speaking the title Pennsylvania German is probably more correct. However, some Pennsylvania Dutch argue strongly in favor of the Dutch term as it implies a subculture that has thrived apart from its European connections. The true ethnic origins of the Pennsylvania Dutch arose from the European nations of Germany and Switzerland.
Between the years 1689-1697 French troops pillaged the town of Palatine, Germany during the War of the Grand Alliance. Many Germans were forced to flee as refugees. A great may of these people left the homeland for America with the intent of settling in the colony of William Penn while others immigrated to Ireland. The Germans were largely assisted in their immigration efforts by the British until just prior to the Revolutionary War, when much of the British assistance ceased.
To the Germans, Pennsylvania offered a vast amount of rich farmland and the chance for religious freedom. By choosing to settle in Pennsylvania, the farmers cou> vary widely. In addition to the Amish or Mennonite religions there are Lutherans and Catholics as well as other smaller religious orders. They were a devout, quiet, non aggressive agricultural people known for there fair treatment of the Indians and their extreme opposition to the enslavement of men.
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