Otto G. Hoiberg


World War I, immigrants, Danish agriculture, farming


During the half century preceding World War I, 300,000 Danish immigrants came to America, according to an estimate by Kristian Hvidt. Why did they come? Among many reasons, the Homestead Act of 1862 certainly stands out prominently. To the small-acreage farmers and the hired men in Danish agriculture, 160 acres of free, fertile land looked mighty inviting. Enthusiasm for migration was also generated by the glowing "Garden of Eden" advertising campaign conducted by America's railroads - a worthy prototype for today's Madison Avenue. Further, there were the so-called " America Letters" , received from relatives and friends already across the Atlantic, extrolling the virtues of the new Land of Opportunity. To be sure, these letters did not disregard negative features such as grasshoppers and drought; but the pros far outweighed the cons.