Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Rapp, 7 January 1806

Thomas Jefferson, Esquire

President of the United States of America

The Memorial of George Rapp & 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 purchassing a Quantity of Land of the United States.

Your Memoralists are natives of the Electorate of Wurtemberg 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 & 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, & where they may exercise unprevented the Religion of the Spirit of Jesus. Your Memoralists 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 brethern before them, to inquire about the Coantry; after whose Notice are already in Phila. & Baltimore arrived about fourteen hundred men, which body of People consists of Tradesmen, Farmers and chiefly cultevators of the Vine, which last occupation they contemplate as their primary Object, and wilst 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 Memoralist George Rapp has Eighteen Month 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, & about Eighty miles west of Pittsburg, 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 of 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 experinced 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 per Acre.

The Society engreases dayly, and after the Letters Your Memoralists 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 brocken & to cold for to raise Vine. Your Memoralists can not whether hit to their aim in Cultivating Vineyards nor extend themselves, On Account of this Your Memoralists Respectfully solicits 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 Memoralists will choose a suitable piece of Land for their purposes, if the Government will grant.

Your Memoralists 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 Fright, that they bought their Lands above mentioned by Cash, that they spended much Mony by regulating of their Housholds after the greatest Exigence, that they bought Cattles for two thousand Dollars, & 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 Terms of four, Eight and twelf Years. After three or four Years Your Memoralists will be able to pay thereon about, twelf or fifteen thousand Dollars. The whole Society does bind themselves as long as there shall be any property among them. Your Memoralists hope that the Government will deem it good Policey, and be desposed to encourage an Emigration so valuable, as they flatters themselves, this will prove to this Country.

Finally, Your Memoralist deem 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 sie Cause to engage the Needed but Honest and industrious People on their Arival in this Country, That Your Memoralist with all those associated with him are willing to be bound to the United States for any advance it may juge right to make them.

All of which is Respectfully Submitt’d.

Georg Rapp

and 152 other signatures

To his Exellency

Thomas Jefferson, Esquire

President of the United States of America.

Your Supplicants, which are lately joined to the Society of Harmony in Butler County have not been present when the Memorial of George Rapp and his Associates was made & delivered; Whereas they Solicit from the Government & agree with all the Memorial of George Rapp and his Associates contains.

David Gloss

and 48 other signatures

DNA: RG 46—Records of the U.S. Senate.

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