May 11, 2010

Immigration is Positive for the USA



I observe with regret that the law for the admission of foreigners was not passed during this session, as it is an important moment to press the sale and settlement of our lands. From a letter written by William Bingham to Gen Henry Jackson, April 9, 1793*


     From the birth of the United States into the present time, immigration has had advocates. In the 1790s, immigration was supported by land speculators, who hoped to make it rich by settling their lands with immigrants.


     My interest in immigration issues was piqued during my research for a historic journal paper and a historic romance novel, both set in the 1790s. Many of the characters in my novel—including Gen. Henry Knox, Col. William Duer, Gen. Henry Jackson, Madame Rosalie de Leval, even Pres. George Washington—were land speculators. Except for Washington, they favored immigration to supply the settlers to fulfill their land purchase contracts.

     In Roy L. Garis’s book on immigration** I discovered the “great immigration” controversy that existed in the decades immediately following the American Revolution.

     My intention is not to indicate any personal preference or bias in the immigration issue. It is to present both sides of the issue as found in early United States documents. This post offers immigration pros. To read the negative views of immigration click on Immigration is Negative for the USA.


In William Penn’s time (starting 1682), all immigrants, regardless of their religious or ethnic background were welcomed. (In Philadelphia) Quaker immigrants arriving in need of financial assistance were given or lent money interest free, but the others (who were not Quakers) became the responsibility of the city. The Friends established the first alms house in the city in 1713…Poor of all faiths lived there in cottages and were encouraged to work. In 1717 the Assembly ordered that a “workhouse” for the colony be built in Philadelphia within three years. With the Friends’ alms house meeting much of the need, public officials continuously delayed construction. The first public alms house finally opened in 1732…it had separate facilities for the indigent and the insane, and also an infirmary…#


     As early the 1730s, Samuel Waldo encouraged immigration: (due to) certain difficulties having arisen in regard to the Muscongus Patent (Maine)…thirty miles square—about a million acres…between the Penobscot and Muscongus Rivers…one-half the patent…set off in 1762…was bestowed on (Samuel Waldo)…he subsequently became proprietor of five-sixths of the entire patent…thereafter known as the Waldo Patent…he planned and executed measures for peopling (this land)…(he) invited immigration

(to continue reading, click on )


Intertwined Love: Novel Synopsis—

Immigration is Negative for the USA

Doing Historical Research in Philadelphia

Eyes in shades of purple

Dog Fighting & Cock Fighting: Cultural Phenomenon?

From the Bastille to Cinderella

September 13, 2009

From flax to linen: The Stahlstown (Pa.) Flax Scutching Festival



      The making of linen from the fiber flax plant is celebrated by the Stahlstown (PA) Flax Scutching Festival, held in September each year.

     “We actually make linen that day,” said Marilee Pletcher, publicity chairperson.  “We use flax from our own field but when necessary we purchase it from outside sources. The distributors grow their flax the same way we do.”

     When asked if flax is grown in western Pennsylvania, Kathie Plack, who lives in Herminie, said (more…)

September 11, 2009

Flax scutching in Pennsylvania & Europe



      When Stahlstown (PA) was a settled and respected stagecoach stop in the days of the early settlers, everything a family used was either grown or hunted in their own back yard. That included the raw materials necessary for fabric production, including sheep and flax. From these they made their mainstay fabrics, linen and wool—fabrics that covered their bodies and kept them warm in the cold winters.

     Linen, made from the fiber flax plant, is a fabric dating from pre-Biblical times. Seed was brought from Europe to America by the nation’s first immigrants. In time, easier to produce and care for cotton and synthetic fabrics replaced the linen threads that were woven into linen. It was a long tedious process that included seed broadcasting, plant harvesting, retting, and scutching.

     Following the invention of the cotton gin, cotton became the preferred fabric. When synthetic fabrics became available, linen took another hit. Although the European Union subsidizes flax farmers and processors, fiber flax has not been grown commercially in North America for more than forty years.

     To view photographs of growing flax, click on:

     The Stahlstown Flax Scutching Festival works to maintain the art of making the flax fibers necessary to linen production. In 2009 the festival will be 102 years old, celebrating flax scotching since 1907 (missing only 1908 and the war years, 1942-1947). (Official Festival website: )

     This year also marks the year that the European Cooperative Research Network on Flax and other Bast Plants has designated as the International Year of Natural Fibers. The network is a part of the European System of Cooperative Research Networks in Agriculture. Its fifty-two nation membership includes Canada and Mexico (but, notably, not the United States).

     If the European Cooperative network has its way, ancient times will not be so ancient. Producing linen from fiber flax plants may become as current today as it was (more…)

Create a free website or blog at