Original Document
Original Document
George Rapp's Harmony Society Petition to Thomas Jefferson, 1806.

To His Excellency,
Thomas Jefferson Esquire,
President of the United States of America

The Memorial of George Rapp and Society of Harmony in Butler County Respectfully sheweth:
First, the Reason of their Emigration to America,
Second, their Concerns in that place where they live presently, and
Third, their purpose of purchasing a quantity of Land of the United States.

Your Memorialists are natives of the Electorate of W├╝rttemberg in Germany, and have been there incorporated to the Lutheran Religion after the Law of the Country yonder; having become acquainted through the Grace of God and Enlightening of the Holy Spirit with the decline of the Christianism since Eighteen Years, so they was going the Way of Piety, after the Sense of Jesus, and formed a proper Community, the Number of which now amount to about Two thousand men; having been persecuted & punished in many manner for sake of the Truth which they perceived and confessed, they was necessitated to look for a place, where is liberty of Conscience and where they may exercise unprevented the Religion of the Spirit of Jesus. Your Memorialists understanding by the History of the United States, America would be such a place, the whole Society was unanimously resolved to send their Leader George Rapp accompanied with some brethren before them; to inquire about the Country; after whose Notice are already in Phila. and Baltimore arrived about fourteen hundred men, which body of People consists of Tradesmen, Farmers and chiefly cultivators of the Vine, which last occupation they contemplate as their primary object, and whilst they know to plant and prepair Hemp & Flax having good weavers among them; so they are intented to erect too a Linen Manufactory. Whereas the Culture of Vine requires a peculiar climate & Soil, Your Memorialist George Rapp has Eighteen Months ago been travelling in the Western part of this Country, on the North side of the River Ohio, in quest of a suitable Situation for this body of People & their purposes, where he had found a piece of Land thirty Miles north of the Ohio, and about Eighty miles West of Pittsburgh, which Land he understood is the property of the United States, and which he had flattern Reasons to believe will answer to the objects in view of his fellow Country men, however when he was travelling back to Philadelphia to expect the ships with his Friends, an other bought the best Section out off said Land which he had choosen-and if they were gone further back into the Woods; they would have put themselves in a Distance of 60-80 Miles from all settlements about, which they would not venture out of warning and counsel of many experienced men; thereof they bought four thousand five hundred acres of Land in Butler County in a Distance of 26 Miles of Pittsburgh, for two Dollars a half pr. Acre.

The Society encreases dayly, and after the Letters Your Memorialists have got lately from Germany, they expect as much men more as are here already. The Land where they live presently is too small, too broken & to cold for to raise Vine. Your Memorialists can not whether hit to their aim in Cultivating Vineyards nor extend themselves, On Account of this Your Memorialists Respectfully solicit from the Government to grant them a Quantity of about Thirty thousand Acres of Land (more or less, as the Government will deem it) in the western Country, where Your Memorialists will choose a suitable piece of Land for their purposes, if the Government will grant.

Your Memorialists beg to represent, that when they was selling their Houses and Properties in Germany, they got Scarce half the Value of it; that they had large Expences of Travel by Land & Sea, having a good deal unwealthy People among them for which they paid Freight, that they bought their lands above mentioned by Cash, that they spended much Money by regulating of their Households after the greatest Exigence, that they bought Cattles for two thousand Dollars, and that they had a whole year to buy Victuals for about nine hundred men, in that manner their Estate has been diminished, they can not pay directly the land for which they supplicate they therefore Respectfully Solicit from the Government.

To allow them a Term of four, Eight and twelf Years. After three or four Years your Memorialists will be able to pay thereon about, twelve or fifteen thousand Dollars. The whole Society does bind themselves as long as there shall be any property among them. Your Memorialists hope that the Government will deem it good Policy, and be desposed to encourage an Emigration so valuable, as they flatters themselves, this will prove to this Country. Finally, Your Memorialist deems it incumbent on him further to represent, that he left a good Deal Members of his Society in Germany, desiring support of the Society, to be brought too to America, but finding it impossible to undertake too unwealthy a Charge, most of them being indigent Circumstances, he found it necessary to decline such Overture, but he deem it his duty to represent the Case to the Government, and if it should see Cause to engage the needed but honest and industrious People on their arrival in this Country, That Your Memorialist with all those associated with him are willing to be bound to the United States for any advance it may judge right to make them. All of which is Respectfully Submitted.

Source: William E. Wilson, The Angel and the Serpent: The Story of New Harmony, Indiana University Press, 1964.

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