At a time in U.S. history when negative stereotypes and prejudices toward the Germans in Pennsylvania abounded, Benjamin Rush’s account sought to redeem their image in the eyes of Americans—both citizens and leaders. Rush uses sixteen points to discuss his observation of the habits and culture of the Pennsylvania Germans, portraying them as hardworking and industrious farmers, opposed to debt and excess.
Published in 1789, just one year after the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, this account remains as part of an eighteenth-century narrative that stressed the virtues of Jeffersonian Republican ideals, which Rush held strongly. His positive generalizations about Pennsylvania German diet, material culture, work ethic, religion, hospitality, and other manners came from experience working with the members of the community, and are put forth to reinforce the group as an example of citizenship to others. The volume concludes with a call to citizens of the United States, and national and state legislators, to see the Pennsylvania Germans as a model for upholding the republican virtues of industry and economy.
Benjamin Rush’s brief account is accompanied, in this reprint of an 1875 edition, by extensive notes, a preface, and appendixes written by the Pennsylvania historian I. Daniel Rupp.