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The United States During Its First Century of Independence as it Appeared in Finnish Print (1776-1880)

Reino Kero

Ph. D., University of Turku

1. The Rise of The United States into the Finnish Ken (1776-1850)

When the British colonies in North America declared their independence and proved their ability to keep their independence in their armed struggle against the mother country, people all over Europe sat up and took notice. Interest in the transatlantic struggle was stirred even in Sweden, from where officers set out to fight against the British side by side with the colonists. A prominent Finnish officer named Georg Magnus Sprengtporten also intended to go to America as a mercenary. Even though Sprengtporten did not make good his intentions,1 the fact that he had entertained them does prove, at any rate, that news about America trickled to the Finns, too.

After the United States became independent, the slight interest in American affairs felt in Finland seems to have died out almost entirely. The members of the faculty of the Turku Academy undoubtedly knew something about America, and graduates of the academy had a rough idea, perhaps, where America was situated. Besides, Finnish sailors sailed now and then in North American waters; but on the whole at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, information about America was limited to a very small circle of people, and the facts known even to these people were quite scanty.

When the temperance movement, which demanded total abstinence, was born in the United States in the 1820s, it soon aroused interest also in Finland. There were reports in some Finnish newspapers about the American temperance movement as early as the beginning of the decade of the 1830s. And when the crusading American temperance pamphlet entitled "Juopumuxen erinomaiset edut" (On the benefits of Drunkenness) appeared in Finnish in 1833, it was circulated in Finland by the thousands.2 From these crumbs of information, Elias Lönnrot, among others, got the idea of forming in the town of Kajaani a temperance society named "Kohtuuden Ystävät" (Friends of Moderation).3 Another early temperance man, Henrik Renqvist, was receptive to the influence of the temperance work done by Americans, and in his well-known book "Wiinan Kauhistus" (The Abomination of Liquor) he makes references to the achievements of Americans in the field of temperance work.4

The American temperance movement did not inspire the Finns to work up any national movement of their own. But the very fact that printings of "Juopumuxen erinomaiset edut" continued to appear in Finland even at the end of the 19th century serves as an indication that the principles of the American temperance movement were regarded by Finnish advocates of temperance as acceptable models up to that late date, when the temperance movement emerged as one of the most important social movements of the time in this country.

The acceleration of passenger traffic and communications in the middle end of the 19th century serves as an indication that the principles of the Amerithe railroad train and the telegraph led to a marked intensification of reciprocal relations between Europe and America. The United States was undergoing a period of rapid growth. The country was fast becoming industrialized, and at the same time settlers kept moving westward. The westward expansion was augmented by the steady stream of immigrants entering the United States from Europe.

The firming up of contacts between Europe and America signified in practice also that in mid-century more and more information about America began to reach Finland. The dissemination of this information was assisted by the press, which at the same time had begun to grow out of its swaddling clothes. America's share of all the foreign news printed in Finnish journals amounted to only a few per cent, but an examination of the news concerning America reveals clearly that the significance of America from the Finnish point of view was changing. The following tabulation shows how often a certain newspaper published in the city of Turku, "Åbo Underrättelser", included items about the United States in its columns from 1840 to 1860.


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This tabulation shows that up to the end of the 1840s, news about America was given space in the Turku newspaper cited completely at random. Thus, as late as 1847, only one news item having reference to the United States appeared in this paper during the entire year; it dealt with the Mexican war. By 1849, however, the number of items had increased to 19, and in the 1850s it varied between 20 and 41 a year.

It would therefore appear as if news material dealing with the American scene was regarded as considerably more important at the end of the 1840s than earlier. No central position was gained by news coming from the United States, however, for even during the 1850s there were still years when only one newspaper out of five gave even passing notice to American affairs.

The news material relating to the United States changed in the 1840s in content at least as much as it did in quantity. At the beginning of that decade, news about the United States was published either just at random or if it had a sufficiently bizarre twist. At the end of the same decade, attention was paid in the choice of news, on the other hand, to the more general significance of the content. Thus, in the early 1840s, no mention was made in the newspapers of Finland on the whole about the presidential elections in the United States; but by the end of the decade there were frequent references in the press to approaching American elections, and the method of choosing the new president was also likely to be described. Newspaper editors in Finland had begun to grasp the fact that the United States was emerging as a new major power. An article appearing in one Turku journal in 1848 contained these observations:

"... Considering the rapid development that has taken place lately in the United States, both intellectually and materially, and considering the important place the United States has held and will continue to hold to an even greater extent in world history ..."5

It was realized that the United States was growing into a future political power. Thus, at the end of the 1840s, newspapers were already speculating on the effects of the gold discoveries in California on the development of world trade.6 A certain shipping firm in Turku, again, took up for serious consideration the question of how to extract the most profit out of the economic boom set into motion by the discovery of gold in California.7 The crisis that overtook the American economy some ten years later became so well known in Finland that some of the newspapers took to following overseas economic developments almost weekly.

Emigration, too, was a matter that caused interest in the United States to awaken. Of primary significance from the Finnish standpoint was the fact that the numbers of emigrants departing for America from Sweden and Germany were on the increase. Since the Finns had lively contacts with Germany and Sweden, information about emigrant departures spread to Finland. A large proportion of the emigrants leaving Sweden in the 1840s were still idealists belonging to the educated class who, dissatisfied with conditions in their own country, saw America as a land of unlimited opportunities. Among the German emigrants, on the other hand, were political refugees, who sought sanctuary in the United States, particularly in the year 1848. Emigration to America under such circumstances appeared to be some kind of pursuit of freedom and new opportunities.

Emigrants departed from Finland, too. The Finns leaving their homeland were primarily sailors, among whom jumping ship became absolutely the thing to do during the California gold rush. In the 1850s and early 1860s, the number of Finnish seamen pitching camp on American soil could probably be counted in the hundreds. A certain amount of interest in migrating to America was also felt in the larger Finnish cities, Turku, in particular.8

Contributing to the awakening of interest in America among the Finns was the fact that elsewhere in Europe as well America was the object of much admiration around this time. This became evident in the circumstance, for example, that newspapers began to print frequent articles about America. Also travel literature describing America became popular all over Europe during this period. Interest was further inspired by the Mormons, whose missionaries began to arrive in Europe in the middle of the century. When some of them made their way to Sweden and Denmark, it looked as if Finland, too, might fall into their range of influence. All these factors had the effect of stirring the interest of educated Finns in America and causing them to procure literature on America printed abroad.

Of the works dealing with America to reach Finnish readers, the most important, perhaps, was Alexis de Tocqueville's "De la démocratie en Amérique", about which one Finnish periodical remarked in 1877: "... thirty years ago, this book was in the hands of every educated person".9 It has also been said that, on the strength of this volume, Tocqueville "was the most important apostle of a democratic civil society in Finland, next to Snellman",10 and even to Snellman, Tocqueville's work on America was an important source of ideas.11 Among students, too, Tocqueville was quite popular. In fact, in the University of Helsinki, this work was on the shelves of at least three student union libraries. The censorship, to be sure, included Tocqueville's work in the list of banned books as early as 1840, but the ban probably did not, at least, reduce its popularity, although the censorship orders most likely made its acquisition troublesome.

In addition to Tocqueville's work on America, highly important sources of information were P. A. Siljeström's "Resa i Förenta Staterna" (A Trip to the United States), which appeared in 1852-54 and Fredrika Bremer's "Hemmen i den Nya Verlden" (Homes in the New World), which was published in 1853-64. In the accounts of Siljeström and Bremer, the United States appeared in at least as favorable a light as in Tocqueville's volume. And if the literary criticism of the 1850s can be relied upon, Siljeström's book in particular was very favorably received in educated Finnish circles. Siljeström's book ended up, however, on the list of banned works.

Educated Finns seem to have acquired a taste for literature about American Indians as early as the middle of the 19th century. Reviewing the book "De första nybyggarne i Amerikanska vestern" (The First Pioneers in the American West), which was published in 1857, J. V. Snellman notes that "the reader knows already from the novels of Irving and Cooper that in the wilds of North America there is a terror-inspiring danger in the way of settlement - the Indians".12 In any case, it can be concluded from Snellman's statement that he had himself become acquainted with the output of Irving and Cooper and that in the 1850s a front-ranking Finnish intellectual of his caliber could indulge in reading about Indians; and there appears to be no reason to suspect even that Snellman's observations about his readers were not valid. Thus a certain prominent Finnish bookstore distributed around mid-century 151 copies of Cooper's works.13

Translations into Finnish were also done of literature dealing with America. In 1846, there appeared a book by Otto Tandefelt under the title of "Kristopher Kolumbuksen elämän waiheet eli historja hänen purjennoista ja Amerikan löytäminen" (The Life of Christopher Columbus or a History of His Voyages and the Discovery of America), and in 1843 and 1849, a booklet about an Indian woman titled "Wanha Saara Amerikassa" (Old Sarah in America). In educated Finnish circles, these translations aroused scarcely any interest. The amount of information offered to their readers by these books was, furthermore, very small. A far greater impact in Finland was made, on the other hand, by Harriet Beecher-Stowe's story "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

The Finnish version of Harriet Beecher-Stowe's famous work appeared in 1856. A few years earlier, the book had been read in Finland in a Swedish-language edition. This propaganda volume seems to have served effectively as propaganda in Finland, too. In "Uncle Tom's Cabin", the United States did not appear to advantage, but in stimulating interest in American life, this work was undoubtedly of considerable significance. Its popularity was due, to be sure, even at this stage, partly to the fact that it "came from the country toward which all eyes are nowadays turned". At any rate, this work was quite well known in Finland, too; in the spring of 1853, one bookstore in Helsinki ordered nearly 200 copies to be put on sale.14 In addition to the Swedish-language edition, the book was also marketed at the same time in the original English and in a German version.

Harriet Beecher-Stowe published in 1850 the famous story "Uncle Tom's Cabin", which was translated into Finnish some years later. In the picture the title page of the book published in-1856

Harriet Beecher-Stowe published in 1850 the famous story "Uncle Tom's Cabin", which was translated into Finnish some years later. In the picture the title page of the book published in-1856.

In the introduction to the Finnish translation of "Uncle Tom's Cabin", slavery is described in highly dramatic terms. The Finns are even urged to pray for the Negroes: "Pray to God that he might have mercy on those wretched Negroes and soon make an end to their slavery!"15 One Finnish immigrant in the United States recalled the book by remarking that "whoever has read 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' and has never seen a Negro must imagine that the only difference between a black and a white man is in the skin".16 Decades later, the work was still remembered by pointing out that "our parents have all read it in their youth with tears in their eyes and their hearts overflowing with sympathy".17

By mid-century, the United States had become a country to which "all eyes ... turned". Very soon after this, the United States also became a country that excited much admiration in Finland.

2. American Society as the Ideal of Finns in the 1850s

On the basis of the works of Cooper and Beecher-Stowe, the estimate can be made that by the 1850s the number of people in Finland who had read literature dealing with America had risen to at least a few hundred. On the other hand, it is not possible to determine the proportion of the readers for whom the United States represented more or less a model state. It can nevertheless be said that in the 1850s there were people in Finland in whose eyes the United States stood out as the ideal society, and it can also be shown that the admirers of the American social order included people of considerable distinction.

One of the wholehearted friends of America in Finland was S. G. Elmgren, chief librarian of the University of Helsinki. His post made of him quite a conspicuous public figure. In his political outlook, Elmgren was a moderate liberal. As a youth, he had, to be sure, been regarded even as a radical; but by midcentury, unlike the ideas he had stood for earlier, he himself no longer qualified as a leader students at large were eager to follow.18 Elmgren's favorable attitude to the United States appears in many of his book reviews. In his review of Siljeström's aforementioned book "Resa i Förenta Staterna", Elmgren observes that its contents are new to most readers, for most Europeans had not "till now" bothered to learn "why everything succeeds so well for the inhabitants of North America". Elmgren's explanation was that the people in America had put eager effort into the development of schools and education.19 He also reviewed quite a few other works about the United States, which indicates the deep interest he took in American affairs.

The admiration felt by Elmgren for the United States is revealed most clearly in an article he wrote in 1853 under the title "Nittonde seklets folkvandring" (Migration of the Peoples in the 19th Century). In it, he observes that what is involved in the emigration to North America is not merely a transfer of a certain mass of people from one continent to another but primarily the fact that a few million indifferent, lazy and melancholy people from Europe become energetic, industrious and confident citizens just as soon as they have crossed the Atlantic and soaked up into themselves the refreshing social spirit of North America. "A good example is contagious; the freedom to be master of one's own destiny gives strength." In then considering the causes of emigration, he sees the United States as standing in distinct contrast to Europe. In comparing them, he regards the fact in America's favor that over there everything is done according to the will of the people themselves.20 In Finland of the 1850s, the advantages of democracy could scarcely have been praised more openly without provoking the censor to interfere.

Among the political radicals of the time was C. I. Qvist, editor of the newspaper Viborg. In his attitude toward the United States, however, he took by and large the same line as the moderate liberal Elmgren. Qvist followed the migratory movement to America with interest, and he was afraid the migratory fever might spread to Finland too. He felt the government should see to it that the emigration from Finland would not, at least, swell to any large proportions.21 This fear of his did not, however, make him admire the United States any the less. For in the fall of 1856, Qvist wrote as follows:

"America in our day is the land toward which the gaze of every forwardlooking person is directed. Everywhere the idea has been nurtured that it is the land of the future. From the intellectual fatigue, moral and political deterioration, vain struggles against tyranny and barbarism, futile external wars and internal revolutions of the Old World, people gladly turned toward the new social order established in the Western Hemisphere, where tireless activity leads everything forward by giant steps, where every battle against Nature and barbarism culminates in victory ... Compared to Europe and Asia and everything that history has till now had to show, America is as a matter of fact a wonderful, enigmatic phenomenon, the existence of which cannot be explained by reference to those spiritual factors that have been known till the present."22

In 1857 Viborg opened its columns to many articles dealing with the United States. Most of them were borrowed from foreign newspapers, but Qvist generally provided such articles with introductory remarks, in which the editor's own views were brought out clearly. In the fall of that year, he published a new article of his own on emigration. He was now particularly interested in the reasons behind emigration. It was due in his opinion to discontent of many kinds. The emigration to America was influenced fundamentally also by the fact that it was no longer necessary to move into uninhabited terriories but into a land that was already sharing in the highest benefits of contemporary civilization and all the blessings ushered in by freedom. The United States also had plenty of space to accomodate the entering migrants, and this country was apparently destined to play a prominent part in world history.23

Again in 1859, Qvist returned to this pet theme of his, now observing that "whatever might be said of [America's] many mistakes, imperfections and shortcomings, it nevertheless remains quite a unique and novel form of expression of the human spirit".24

In his infatuation with the United States, a self-educated bookstore keeper named J. W. Lillja, of Turku, was at least as far-gone as Elmgren and Qvist. As far as his political views are concerned, he can be classified as ultra-radical. The first article written by Lillja on America bears as late a date as 1860. It deals with the presidential elections in the United States and reveals that that country had long been a sore problem to the author. His familiarity with the issues concerning the United States is in plain evidence. Lillja notes to start with that while Europe is constantly in the throes of political crises, there is a general tendency to overlook the fact that in the New World too there are regularly recurring crises. By these crises, he means elections, which are accompanied by political agitation characterized by features of anything but a constructive nature. "The opponents of democracy frequently bring to the fore these shady aspects in both this country and elsewhere." Such shortcomings cannot he concealed or even defended, but Lillja nevertheless observes that

"these periodic crises constitute an escape valve, which saves the American society from the unfortunately only too common and unavoidable explosions of our continent, which rock governments and administrative systems, reduce cities to ruins and cause hundreds of thousands of victims to be slaughtered on fields of battle."

In spite of their negative aspects, American elections were great historical events, which it was not fitting to forget.25

Lillja's writing makes it altogether clear that he regarded American democracy as far superior to the European monarchical form of government. In a review composed at the turn of the years 1860 and 1861, the fact emerges plainly once more that in Lillja's mind the United States held quite a special position. The election to the presidency of Lincoln signified to him that humaneness and freedom had gained a brilliant victory on the other side of the Atlantic and that the future of free labor had been made secure in the far-away land of the West. The increasing number of stars in the American flag would become symbols of humanity and liberty, not of slavery and oppression.26

J. V. Snellman was Finland's most illustrious statesman in the 19th century. He too had been influenced to a considerable extent by Tocqueville's volume on America in the 1840s, and even during the following decade he appears to have retained a lively interest in the United States. This is shown most clearly in the book reviews he wrote. Snellman reviewed, for instance, the works of Siljeström and Bremer, which he found could open up entirely new vistas to the reader. He considered them to be the first and till then the only works to represent the life of the people in America in a true light. Snellman noted that previously it was American materialism that had been the subject of discussion, along with the dominance of money and materialistic interests. In American schools, however, the humanities were studied more than the practical applications of knowledge. Snellman felt constrained to aver that actually American materialism was on a sufficiently idealistic level in educational work; and his overall impression was that there was not another nation in the world that embraced intellectual pursuits so warmly as did the Americans.27 Snellman appears to have been quite exceptionally interested in American popular education, in which he saw models to be copied and applied even in Finland.

The United States stirred the imagination of Yrjö-Koskinen too, one of the leading Finnish statesmen of the latter half of the 19th century. The fact that in debates concerning the elementary school system Yrjö-Koskinen drew on examples from the United States28 indicates that the might also have been an admirer of the American school system. The interest felt by Yrjö-Koskinen in the United States is further proved by the fact that he was the first Finn to undertake a study of the history of the Delaware Finns. The resultwas a rather short article published in 1863 under the title "Suomalaiset Delawaren siirtokunnassa Pohjois-Amerikassa" (The Finns in the Delaware Colony in North America).29

The newspapers and magazines published in the Finnish language carried noticeably less news and feature articles about the United States in the middle of the 19th century than did Swedish-language journals. A few little remarks show, however, that many of the editors of the Finnish-language publications and the contributors likewise took a rather favorable stand toward the United States. For example, a piece in the following vein appeared in the Suometar in 1854:

"Over there in North America, everything is tried out and considered, and new methods are the whole time invented there: for the joy and benefit of mankind ... But how wonderfully resourceful and inventive men are these North Americans and, in general, all the Englishmen."30

To the writer, the United States appears to have: been a wonderland, out of which there came all kinds of remarkable things to make mankind rejoice.

In the 1850s, the Oulun Wiikko-Sanomia (Oulu Weekly News) published a serial narrative called "Toimelan Elias", which was probably produced by the editors themselves. The hero of the tale was sent out on his adventures to America too; and since it was the aim of the editors to instruct their readers, the story reveals to some extent also what the editors themselves thought of America. Elias was made to describe the conditions prevailing in the United States in the following terms:

"There's no lack of work over here ever, and as long as you work, you're also paid a good wage; but lazybones get nothing at all. And you're never asked what manner of man you are, either; after you prove you can manage and apply yourself, you establish your worth. Whether a gentleman or anything else, there's no need to be ashamed of doing any kind of work whatsoever... Soon I found him to be in esteem who just had the money. No matter where he went, the way was never barred just so long as he could pay for what he wanted."31

The talk about the dignity of labor was likely to have been due to the instructional purpose of the narrative - but also to some extent to admiration of the United States. Its democratic system appears also have been, in the authors' opinion, one of the good things about the United States, though the references to this matter are only guarded and indirect. Among the negative features of American scene was, as viewed by the authors, the almighty status of the dollar.

To one Finnish-language periodical, the United States was a realm that "the Creator had ordained first to give the present era a new spirit and then to serve as a place of refuge for all the oppressed people of the Old World.32 In the same periodical, emphasis was later placed on religious freedom as one of the best sides of the American system. It was noted with satisfaction that "in North America, you won't therefore find any highly paid Pope, provost or consistories". The publication further paid tribute to the organization of public education in the United States.33

3. The American Civil War Divides Finnish Opinion

When the Civil War broke out in the United States in 1861, many a Finnish admirer of the United States had thrust upon him the realization that in the promised land of liberty there were other crises besides elections. The issue of slavery had been known to be sure, in the light of Harriet Beecher Stowe's book about Uncle Tom; but it did not emerge to the forefront of the American image before the Civil War. Notwithstanding the institution of slavery, the United States remained to the Finns of the 1850s the promised land of liberty. After the Civil War broke out, however, the question of slavery could not longer be bypassed. Besides, the United States was now involved in war, which people had become accustomed to regarding as a phenomenon characteristic only of old Europe.

Information about the American Civil War was transmitted to the Finnish public mainly by newspapers. In describing the progress of the war, the newspapers differed greatly, in both the volume and content of the news carried. With respect to all the journals, however, it can be said that they contained a greater abundance of material about the United States now on account of the war than ever before. The amount of news about the United States was particularly large in 1865. For one thing, the events bringing the Civil War to an end aroused a great deal of interest, and then much space was devoted in journals to describing the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

The American Civil War seems to have split public opinion in Finland down the middle. For newspapers, the United States remained, in spite of the war, the ideal among states. This was the stand taken, at least, by Suometar and Åbo Underrättelser.

A news item on the U.S. Civil War in the newspaper "Suometar" on November 28, 1863

A news item on the U.S. Civil War in the newspaper "Suometar" on November 28, 1863 (University Library at Helsinki).

In a review of the events of the previous year published at the beginning of 1866, Suometar observed that the war had ended in the triumph of liberty and justice. The newspaper felt that Vice-President Johnson was carrying on the work of Lincoln skilfully. Johnson's administration offered proof of the fact that "in free countries, a good cause does not depend on any one person, no matter how noble and great". Suometar stressed further that Lincoln and Johnson had risen from the lower levels of society to the top on their own power. It applied to Lincoln the epithet "the man with the hoe from Illinois" and to Johnson "the Tennessee tailor".34

Lincoln was held up by Åbo Underrättelser as the symbol of the free American state and country. Even the boldest imagination could not have foreseen the material progress made by this country; it was unprecedented in the history of all times and all lands. In conclusion, the newspaper expressed the hope that Lincoln's free spirit would spread over the world.35 The return home of the armies was described with equal solemnity: the citizen had fulfilled his duty as a soldier and he had no desire to play the game of war. That is why he exchanged as soon as possible his rifle for a plow.36

Helsingfors Dagblad and Helsingfors Tidningar took a very pessimistic view of the future of the United States at the end of the Civil War. When Lincoln was assassinated, Helsingfors Dagblad wrote a glowing tribute to the deceased, but elsewhere in the same paper it was conjectured whether the United States would trust in that drunk, Vice-President Johnson, or whether to get rid of him it would fall back on a military dictatorship. Moreover, the paper was not at all sure whether anybody could now carry out to a finish the emancipation of the slaves.37 Helsingfors Tidningar wrote in similar terms. It likewise gave Lincoln high marks - but it did not believe in the future of American democracy. The paper therefore pointed to the possibility that General Grant might set up a dictatorship in the country, and it felt that Vice-President Johnson had no other qualifications for office than a democratic way of thinking and public support. Otherwise, his skill in the crafts of statesmanship was slight.38

4. Literature About the United States in Finland in the Period 1865-1880

The illusion of the perfection of the American political system had thus been shattered. Interest in the United States was, however, by no means extinguished. American literature began after the end of the American Civil War to find its way more and more to the Finnish market, and the beginning of emigration from Finland stirred the curiosity of many people about the affairs of the great democracy across the Atlantic.

More literature than before dealing with the United States began to appear on the Finnish market. A large proportion of it was translated into the Finnish language too. On the other hand, no work appearing between 1865 and 1880 seems to have scored a success comparable to that of the book's by f Tocqueville, Siljeström and Harriet Beecher-Stowe in the 1840s and 1850s. The content of the books was now essentially different from what it had been in the earlier decades. Whereas the best sellers of the 1840s and 1850 had been informative works inspired by a kind of crusading spirit, the most popular books about the United States to appear in the 1860s and 1870s were either stories of adventure or novels.

Literature about the Indians and the Wild West spread to Finland, at least in the Swedish language, as early as the 1850s. In the same decade, the newspapers also featured articles and serial narratives, like "Toimelan Elias", which were full of the romance of the Wild West. It was not, however, until the 1860s and 1870s that Wild West literature, properly speaking, made its breakthrough in Finland.

The trailblazer of Finnish Wild West literature appears to have been the two-part work "Kuwaelmia Amerikasta" (Tableaux from America),39 which was published in 1863-1864, as written "by adaptation" by one J. Bäckwall. "By adaptation" (mukaellen) is apparently meant that Bäckwall had used as a model some foreign work dealing with life in America. In any case, his two volumes give a colorful account of the hard life of the settlers on the American frontier and of the wars fought against the Indians. In producing this work, Bäckwall laid the basis for the vocabulary of the literature on the American Indians appearing in the Finnish language.

Bret Harte and James Fenimore Cooper rank among the most celebrated writers about the American frontier of their time. After failing to strike it rich in the gold fields of California, Bret Harte turned into a newspaper man and then took to writing short stories with a Californian setting. Thanks to the popular interest in California, he became an instant favorite of the American reading public. In the 1870s, his range of influence extended all the way to Finland. In 1874, there appeared the Finnish version of his collection of short stories "Tales from the Gold Fields of California" under the title of "Tarinoita Kalifornian kultamaalta",40 and it was quite favorably reviewed in "Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti" (Literary Monthly Journal). The critic remarked of the first part of the work that "through his fresh and lively descriptive style, Bret Harte must surely have a wholesome effect on Finnish literature".41 In discussing the second part of the work, the critic only concerned himself with the quality of the translation.42 The editors of "Suomen Kuwalehti" were likewise taken with Harte's short stories, eight of which this periodical published in the years between 1874 and 1878; and about the author himself, it was observed that "he pleases us irresistibly, delights us with these objects of his narratives".43

Translations of Cooper's novels began to be made at the end of the 1870s. The first of the Finnish versions appeared in 1879; it was "Kuwauksia metsäelämästä siwistyksen äärimmäisillä rajoilla eli Natty Bumbon elämänwaiheet Pohjois-Amerikan indianien parissa" (Accounts of Life in the Woods at the Extreme Frontiers of Civilization or Events in the Life of Natty Bumbo among the North American Indians).44 "Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti" reviewed this work quite warmly, affirming:

"...This book is truly for youth: for the boy who seeks life and nourishment to sustain his growing spirit. For such a one, more suitable reading can scarcely be provided than these accounts of fighting and danger, which in the manner of an epos show 'quid virtus et sapientia possit,' and are composed with such a naturalness and truthfulness as to have the effect of having sprung from the events themselves. In an atmosphere like this, it is healthful for the youthful phantasy to exercise itself, with the fresh breeze of the forest blowing, out of the range of the stale air of decay of civilization."45

The view expressed by "Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti" indicates that in the 1870s the literature of the Wild West was starting to be regarded primarily as literature for young people. Cooper's books probably very soon found their way on to the shelves of rural libraries. This is indicated by the fact, for instance, that the library of Turku University in the 1920s acquired its copies of Cooper's first novels translated into Finnish from the old lending library of the small rural commune of Kustavi. Novels by Cooper have appeared in Finnish translation from time to time since 1879. "Wiimeinen mohikaani" (The Last of the Mohicans) came out in 1881 and "Wakooja, romantillinen kuwaelma Pohjoisamerikan wapaus-sodasta" (The Spy, a Romantic Account of the North American War of Independence) the following year. In the Finnish versions of Cooper's works, the Finnish terminology of Wild West literature formulated by Bäckwall began to crystallize into nearly its present form.

The popular interest in Wild West literature - specifically, stories about Indians - is also indicated by articles and pieces of fiction published in certain periodicals. Thus "Kyläkirjaston Kuwaalehti" (Village Library Pictorial) in 1873 printed a picture of "An Indian and His Defeated Foe", in connection with which the reader was given basic information about the Indians. The Indians were described as a nation of savages, who live "in the dismal wild forests of America". When the Europeans invaded the territories in which the Indians lived, these natives had withdrawn "into the deepest wildernesses of the land, where they have ever since lived skirmishing eternally with the civilized settlers". The Indians were scantily clothed, and as weapons they still used the bow-and-arrow: "With these apparatus slung across their shoulders, they wander through the wastelands and the woodlands, shooting beasts to feed upon and hunting down their enemies." This picture showed an Indian who had just removed the scalp of a white settler he had slain.46

In 1875 "Suomen Kuwalehti" for its part published a piece titled "Atlantin takainen tarina" (A Tale from Beyond the Atlantic), in which a Finnish seaman and gold-digger named Juho Korpeinen was put through his paces adventuring in Indian country. The substance of the tale was probably borrowed from some foreign source, but the editorial staff in any case worked up the material as a whole into a new shape.

In addition to Wild West literature, the novels of Harriet Beecher-Stowe were also read to some extent in the 1870s. In 1874, there appeared "Vaimoni ja minä eli Harry Henderson'in elämäkerta" (My Wife and I, or the Life of Harry Henderson)47 and in 1880, the works "Urpunen" (Catkin)48 and "Lukinwerkkoja eli pieniä tomupiiloja jotka kotionneamme haittaawat" Cobwebs or Little Hidden Stores of Dust that Disturb the Happiness of Our Home).49 The first-mentioned work was accorded unqualified recognition too upon its publication,50 but the novels of Beecher-Stowe no longer achieved the same kind of success as in the 1850s. Her books were apparently read to some extent in the countryside too, for orders for them came from rural lending libraries.

Besides translations, a few works by Finnish authors were published in which the United States figured in one way or another. The most important of these was a work in the Swedish language titled "Från Förenta Staterna", which, based on letters sent from the United States by one Felix Heikel, also appeared in a Finnish version under the title "Yhdyswalloista" (From the United States).51 The review of this book in "Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti" said it was welcome because there was a scarcity of non-fictional literature dealing with the United States in Finland. The significance of the volume and the merits of the author were lessened in the critic's opinion, however, by two things. For one thing, the author was still caught in the spell of the uncritical admiration of America prevalent in the 1850s. For another thing, the ideas aired in the book had been taken, in the reviewer's view, from Lefebvre's work "Paris en Amerique".52

In the foregoing, it has already been pointed out how Yrjö-Koskinen had published in 1863 a study designed for the average reader on the Finnish settlers in the Delaware valley. In addition, booklets with a popular format dealing with the United States appeared in a series called "Tietovarasto Kansalle" (Store of Knowledge for the People), the first number of which bore the title "Kristoffer Kolumbus eli Amerikan löytö" (Christopher Columbus or the Discovery of America) and the second "Yrjö Washington, maansa wapauden perustaja" (George Washington, Founder of the Freedom of His Country).53

As media for news about the United States, newspapers were, of course, among the most important. The ones published in the national capital of Helsinki and "Åbo Underrättelser", which appeared in the former capital of Turku, followed developments in the United States actively. In featuring articles dealing with the United States, again, the papers published in central Finland and northern Finland did not fall behind the press based in the capital. "Keski-Suomi" (Central Finland) and "Oulun Wiikko-Sanomia" published such articles frequently. Certain issues of "Keski-Suomi" devoted as much as over half the space in its columns to material touching on the United States in one way or another, and sometimes this paper even had a separate department called "Pikku uutisia Amerikasta" (Little News Items from America). The most diligent contributor of articles on America to journals appearing in central and northern Finland was an emigrant named Alexander Leinonen, who had settled in the United States in 1869. Articles and serialized stories written by Leinonen came out by the dozen during the decade of the 1870s.

5. The American School System Arouses Interest in the 1870s

Reforms were introduced in the Finnish school system during the 1860s and 1870s that were largely inspired by foreign models. It cannot, to be sure, be said that American models had any decisive influence on the development of Finnish schools, but going back all the way to the 1850s the school system in the United States was a source of interest in Finland. It has been pointed out in the foregoing that Snellman and Yrjö-Koskinen took quite a favorable attitude toward American. schools. Elmgren likewise held the American school system in high esteem in "Litteraturblad" in 1852, he notes that German educational conditions have usually been regarded as worthy models by the Finns, although even a brief glance at the American scene sufficed to show that American schools were much better than German ones. In America, the teaching of many subjects was avoided, whereas in Germany such teaching was common. In American schools, the number of subjects taught was small, but these subjects were selected with an eye to usefulness in the pupil's life ahead. Later, Elmgren went on to praise the neatness and attractiveness of American schoolhouses.54

During the decade of the American Civil War, educational conditions in the United States were brought up in Finland somewhat less frequently, perhaps, than in the preceding decade. Nevertheless, even in these years, articles obtained from foreign newspapers were published that cast light on the principles underlying the American school system. Thus, in 1867, the "Helsingfors Dagblad" featured an article on a co-educational experiment in the United States. And the next year, there appeared an article in which a correspondent for a Swedish newspaper described his visit to an American school. A letter sent from the United States was given space in 1867 by "Kyrkligt Weckoblad". The writer contended that the American school system was "the obedient servant of materialism", but the newspaper itself did not fully go along with this view. To be sure, the newspaper did not care for the materialistic features of American life, but it pointed out that, in spite of everything, American schools might have many features worthy of being adopted as models.55

It was not until the 1870s that the schools of the United States were given attention with considerable frequency. A Helsinki lawyer named Eugen von Knorring took to writing about American schools during this period in a very favorable vein, offering as they did opportunities also to girls to study. Otherwise, von Knorring found much to criticize in the conditions prevailing in the United States.56 Around the same time, "Uusi Suometar", borrowing from the Swedish afternoon paper "Aftonbladet", found the democratic nature of American schools something to admire. It was pointed out that

"instruction in the United States was free of charge and the schools open to the children of both poor and rich, girls as well as boys. Like the perfect mother, the republic considers it its duty to provide all its children with bread ..."57

An even clearer indication of the interest felt by the educated class than newspaper articles dealing with American schools was a trip to the United States made in 1873 at the expense of the State and the University of Helsinki by Felix Heikel, a Helsinki journalist, for the purpose, in the main, of becoming acquainted with educational conditions in the United States. Heikel compiled the letters he had sent from the United States to make a book called "Från Förenta Staterna", in which he notes that it was not until he had arrived in the United States that he discovered a public (i.e., elementary publicly subsidized) school truly deserving the name of a "public school". This type of American school accepted for admission as pupils children totally irrespective of their economic circumstances, social standing or religion. To the writer, it was a wonderful thing to have the children of millionaires, ragged Irishmen and Negroes attend the same school. School attendance was not, however, compulsory, and thus Negroes, for instance, were preferably allowed to remain ignorant than forced to learn to read and write. Also libraries were infused with the democratic spirit, and they were used by ordinary workmen the same as by scholars. Not even an elegant lady need hesitate to take a seat in an American library next to a colored lad.58

As Heikel saw it, American schools exhibited features similar to those characteristic of American conditions in general. In his view, in speaking about America and Americanism, one would do well, first of all, to learn to remember that to obtain the right idea about the United States, all the political and social conceptions learned in childhood must be turned upside down. The most important principle of the American social order was recognition of religious freedom. However, an exceedingly great significance was attached to the words "publicity" and "open to all" too. Self-control, moreover, was a special virtue prized in this democratic society. The free social conditions had a positive effect in many ways on the citizens. The police were not held in contempt and burglaries were so uncommon that doors were not usually kept locked on houses. Even a laborer could feel himself to be a capitalist in a small way, with opportunities open to him to rise to the very top of the social structure. Examples of such a rise on the social ladder were the rail-splitter Lincoln, the tailor Johnson and the leather salesman Grant, who all became elected president. Even when one traveled in a train, it was easy to tell the difference between a European and an American. A European liked to sit with his back to the direction of movement, whereas an American usually preferred to sit facing the direction in which the train was moving. The European faced the past, the American the future. At the end of his book, Heikel observes that freedom is the best teacher of prosperity, culture and manners and that on the strength of such principles America forges confidently ahead.59

Although his attitude toward the United States was otherwise negative, Agathon Meurman even, who was known for his conservative views, felt constrained to observe that the American school system was admired in Finland. To this he added, however, that at least as far as the prevalence of the ability to read and write was concerned, "Prussia at present is doing better than the United States.60

The discussion about the American school system extended even to papers published in country towns. Thus the "Borgå-Bladet" of the town of Porvoo published on the basis of information drawn from a journal in Sweden, an article called "Den fria kyrkan och den fria skolan i Amerika" (The Free Church and the Free School in America). This article contained the same sort of praise as Heikel's book did. In American schools, the article noted, children were educated irrespective of their social standing, race or creed. The children of Whites and Negroes, rich and poor sat shoulder to shoulder on the same benches, singing of the stars and stripes and the golden eagle symbolizing their nation.61

Swedish sources were also used by the "Ilmarinen", a newspaper published in the lake-country town of Kuopio, when in 1879 it eulogized the democratic character of American schools. According to this paper

"... in the education of the nation as a whole, the improvement of all levels of the population, there is the principle that has been adopted as the guideline for organizing the schooling in North America is to give every citizen sufficient learning in all the branches of knowledge ... which are deemed necessary in private as well as public life ... These schools are based on the principle that they must educate young men and women to comprehend the age and the land in which they live as well as the purpose of the Nature surrounding them and for that reason instill in them knowledge that does not specifically prepare a person for any special walk of life but that is of great value to every enlightened citizen, whether he be statesman, teacher or plowman."62

The "Ilmarinen" commended the Americans also for the fact that they sacrificed for the benefit of their school system proportionally more funds than did the Europeans. The methods of instruction applied in America were also described by the paper as commendable. They suited

"well the practical character of the nation. All knowledge is acquired in a natural way and developed through reflection without taxing the memory too much. The purpose of instruction in America is the sharpening of the power of comprehension and the ability to think. It is known that in this way more men of a practical turn of mind, more of strong will power than if young minds be burdened with a dead load of memory exercises …"63

The educational ideals gotten from the United States had some practical significance too in the 1870s, for the impressions brought back by Heikel from his trip to the New World gave the impetus for the establishment of the first co-educational school in Helsinki. Later on, again, Mikael Soininen, who exerted a decisive influence on the development of pedagogy in Finland, drew valuable ideas from Heikel's book on the United States. The trip made by Soininen himself to America at the beginning of the decade of the 1880s had a further strong influence on his educational ideals.64

6. Interest in the Women's Rights Movement in the United States in the 1870s

The actual breakthrough of the Women's Rights Movement took place in the last two decades of the 19th century, but stands both pro and con began to be taken even earlier. These stands were based expressly on the foreign achievements of the movement and the status of women abroad.

The way the subject was treated in newpaper columns indicates that the women's rights movement too had to some extent been influenced by developments in the United States. To a large extent, what the Finnish papers did was to borrow articles from foreign journals. Though the articles were often introduced merely by a mention of the source and no more, the very publication of such subject matter affords evidence of current interest in it, and in certain cases, perhaps, the appearance of the articles should be interpreted as proof of a desire to influence the thinking of readers along particular lines. In addition to the articles taken from foreign journals, space was given to numerous letters sent from the United States. From among them, two sent around the year 1860 warrant attention as examples, one having been published in "Finlands Allmänna Tidning" and the other in "Åbo Underrättelser".

The person who wrote the letter appearing in "Finlands Allmänna Tidnig" was obviously a Finn belonging to the educated class, who aimed to describe the people in America for the benefit of readers in the Old Country in a sensational light. With regard to the American woman, he observed that she enjoyed certain privileges in comparison with the opposite sex. Thus, if a woman stepped into a crowded bus, some man would have to give up his seat for her. Likewise, in the booking of hotel rooms, women were given special consideration. Girls were brought up in America in a practical way; they associated with boys freely - but, on the whole, properly. And when American women married, they generally became good mothers and housewives. The writer took a somewhat more critical view of the extravagance of American women and their manner of spending leisure time, but by and large his impressions of the women in America were highly favorable.65

In 1860, "Åbo Underrättelser" gave space to a letter mailed from New York that had evidently been written by a native, originally, of the city of Turku. The writer had evidently arrived in New York only a few days before, for which reason what he had to say was undoubtedly based on both preconceived notions, carried over from Finland, and first impressions gained after landing in New York. To start with, the writer remarks that in America woman was a goddess, adding playfully: "... not a word about this, though, to the girls of Turku lest our city lose all its adornments". He noticed while riding on a streetcar the sort of privileged status the fair sex enjoyed, for the vehicle was full of women occupying the seats and men standing in the aisle. The respect shown women appeared also in the fact that "over here, a woman does not need any protector or chaperone: she can move about in complete safety everywhere; every gentleman, even if a stranger (and everybody is a gentleman here), is prepared to serve her in all things it might pop into her head to desire". A woman might even arrive at a theater at the last moment. All she has to do is commandeer a seat from some male patron, a stranger even, who might have arrived as much as an hour earlier to make sure of getting a place. Amid his amiable marveling, the writer quotes a Hungarian-American cigar dealer with a less flattering view of American women as "lazy creatures, who loll all day long on a sofa and who are worshipped by the men like goddesses".66

In the letters cited in the foregoing, the view taken of the American woman's role is mainly one of wonderment. The writers do not seem to have really known what attitude to take in principle. This is altogether understandable, considering that there existed no women's rights movement, properly speaking, as yet in those days in Finland. By the 1870s, the matter was better known, and there was a clearer idea of where to take a stand. In the light of the source material used, to be sure, it cannot be said whether the status of the American woman was for some the ideal. On the other hand, for some, the American woman represented precisely that which the Finnish woman ought under no circumstances, to be.

In 1870, the lawyer Eugon von Knorring, who is cited in the foregoing, wrote an article for the lawyers' journal under the title "En ljussida och en skuggsida qvinnan i Nordamerikas Förenta Stater (Good and Bad Things in the Position of Women in the United States), at the beginning of which he lists the "facts" known in Finland about the American woman. It was known that the position of the American woman in the family was independent and dignified and that on the streets, public places and transit vehicles she was treated with respect and consideration. Every American man was the protector and friend of every American woman. A woman might travel without fear of danger from coast to coast. This considerate treatment was by no means confined to the upper social classes but was also enjoyed by the women of the lower classes. After this, von Knorring asks why the status of woman should be better in America than in many European countries, which were culturally nowise lagging behind the United States. The explanation as he saw it was that the American school system opened up opportunities for study also to women. Learning was no monopoly of the male sex, for in line with the American mode of thought women were also fully entitled to a liberal education.

After discussing the educational conditions prevailing in America and having noted that women in America had achieved an important position as teachers and doctors, von Knorring launched into severe criticism. In the light of birth statistics, he concludes that the attitude of the American woman toward childbearing was morally reprehensible. The prevalence of abortions, in his view, threatened the United States with destruction. The reason for this menacing situation was the fact that American women were primarily interested in enjoying life, which made of motherhood in their eyes a downright chore.67

The afore-mentioned Agathon Meurman contributed in 1876 to "Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti" an extensive article on questions pertaining to the United States and expressed views about American women quite as stern as von Knorring's. Common to these articles was the fact that, in the opinion of both men, the attitude of American women toward motherhood symbolized the decline of American society and that the point of view adopted by both toward the women's rights issue in general was based on the Biblical dictum that women should hold their tongue in the congregation. Meurman wrote about the question as follows:

"Since the desire dearest to the wife's heart is luxury of every kind, fine clothes and vain social intercourse, then the family is only a burden, motherhood an annoying obstacle to pleasure... Far have we become removed from the time when Americans took pride in the fertility of their wives and rejoiced in large families of healthy children. If the reason for this change of heart were overcrowding of the country and difficulty in the feeding of families, then one might at least, though regretting the fact, understand it. But light-mindedness, which on account of the mere lust for earthly pleasure denies the most deeply rooted and noblest of human sentiments, leads to perdition; and this - thank God - is still mainly a native American condition."68

Meurman draws a sharp line between the American woman of yore and that of the 1870s. In his opinion, the former was a symbol of perfection while the latter represented America falling into a deep state of decay. This juxtaposition of two opposing types of women was apparently due to the fact that, on the whole, Meurman viewed the America of his own day as a caricature of the America of the past.

7. The Yankee Image is Born

To the liberals of Finland, the United States still seemed in the 1870s to have been a country worth the search for examples to follow. At the same time, the United States was also being criticized quite severely, as has already been pointed out in a couple of connections. Since Agathon Meurman's article69 dating back to 1876 offers a concentrated summary of the negative features attached to American life by its critics, his comments warrant closer examination.

As mentioned in the foregoing, Meurman's point of departure was that the America of his own day was in every respect the reverse of the America of the past. The America of the early days meant for him a great ideal. The qualities possessed by the first emigrants to the New World, as he saw them, were

"uncorrupted habits, honest work and a Christian upbringing... They had not frivolously left their fatherland to search for easily gained riches, then to return to enjoy them at lazy leisure. The reason for their departure was simply the oppression that they had suffered in the land of their birth on account of their religion and that they were escaping in going to live in the wild backwoods of the New World, where they were threatened with mortal perils and troubles of all kinds ..."

The new America, on the other hand, was something else again to Meurman. In his opinion,

"the most regrettable thing is, however, the fact that in the representations received by us nowadays of the American people we can observe no resemblance whatsoever any longer between the esteemed forebears and their descendants. If in the forefathers we sometimes notice almost exaggeratedly stiff solemnity, then in their sons, by contrast, what we almost exclusively see is the prevailing wild spirit of adventure."

The newest immigrants were judged by Meurman with equal severity:

"The first settlers were people of such toughness of mind as to choose leaving their homeland and facing unknown dangers rather than submitting to religious persecution, while those who came after were generally possessed of the most reckless craving for adventure."

In analyzing the vices of his own time, Meurman condemned most sternly the materialistic "go ahead" spirit. Thus he felt that wealth had "corrupted the original character of the people to an alarming degree". According to the American way of thinking, the pocketbook had to be filled, if possible honestly - but, in any case, it had to be filled. This greed for riches did not take human lives into account. "The accumulation of money was man's only aim", Meurman argued. In his view, the material achievements of the Americans had no worth, however, because they had gained their wealth the same way as "an army wins on afield of carnage".

Meurman was further of the opinion that American civil servants were good for nothing. In a democracy, to be sure, it was only natural for both tailors and shoemakers to seek the highest offices in the land too. The democratic system had brought about such a situation in America, however, that adventurers had manned the public offices and for this reason "the honesty of civil servants was nowhere in the world in such a sorry state as in America, where bribery and every kind of shameful practice for personal gain was quite universal". It was difficult, furthermore, to make American "robber office holders" answer for their deeds because they "held the public purse in their hands and controlled large amounts of stolen wealth, with which they could buy votes and thereby carry on for years on end with their robbing". Consequently, there prevailed in America "an appalling decline of public morals".

As Meurman saw it, something comical was popularly attached to Americanism. Accordingly, he noted that "the newspaper reader becomes acquainted with the name of the state cited in these times only when his paper contains some quite wild, bizarre or stupid anecdote; it usually carries the headline 'American'". Sometimes, again, in Meurman's view,

"we are likely ... to wonder as we read how those free American citizens go about with a revolver in their pocket and also put it to use, for the most trivial reason, on roads and streets; on occasion, we are ready to admire those spirited men, who without waiting for the courts of justice to act, seize their daggers or hangman's rope to dispense swift justice."

The worst faults in the American character, he thought, were coarseness, a propensity to violence, cruelty and drunkenness. These faults could be attributed to a poor upbringing at home.

In his article, Meurman also contested the view that Americans constituted a separate race. His argument was that

"on the whole, no new, singular nationalities are created in the world all of a sudden, any more than that old ones vanish quickly. All that peculiar American briskness and energy is in the opinion of many nothing more than the old vigor of the Caucasian race transferred to conditions where it has a splendid chance to develop."

Of the assertions made by Meurman, the one reflecting the most widely held view perhaps was that Americanism displayed materialistic features. There was already a traditional basis for this view in Finland. Considering the events of the year 1840, Topelius in his diary noted that in North America there prevailed the same worship of material values and faith in the power of money as before.70 Snellman, for his part, observed at the beginning of the decade of the 1850s that "earlier there had been talk of the materialism of America and the omnipotence of materialistic interests there".71 In the foregoing, the editorial staff of "Oulun Wiikko-Sanomia" has been cited, with the hero Elias Toimela voicing his opinion about America: "... soon I saw over here them to be held in esteem who just had money".72

After enough connections with America had gradually been established for letters to begin to arrive in Finland, these letters bolstered the notion that America was the promised land of "makers of money". As early as 1859, "Finlands Allmänna Tidning" carried a latter describing the business world in the United States. According to this letter, the American loves "making money" more than having a good time. As soon as an American youth reaches the age of 18 and finishes school, he steps, into the practical world to earn money, which in the United States is an easy thing for anybody willing to work. Older businessmen, besides, are quite happy to help the novice.73

As for the American businessman's daily routine, the letter drew the following picture for readers: The businessman's main principle is flattery and the upholding of good relations with the public. Therefore, his office too is located in a very modest room, which is entered through just a dark, narrow passageway up a flight of stairs. This is because the businessman wants to court the favor of his employees by imitating their mode of living. Achieving popularity among the masses, again, was necessary because without popular support it was impossible to gain a seat in Congress or be elected to any state office. Businessmen also have their own restaurants, which have been built to please the taste of Uncle Sam. A restaurant of this type is divided into three departments, the first of which serves oysters. These the businessman feeds on ravenously as an appetizer. Then he forks up a few coins in payment and hurries on to the next room, where readymade sandwiches and pastries are served. After buying a couple of sandwiches and tossing over some coins again to pay for them, he rushes into the third room, where different kinds of drinks are available, like sherry or beer. After gulping down a few swigs, the businessman flies out chewing on a sandwich. The writer of the letter claims in conclusion that, according to quite a few of his personal observations, the whole lunch operation lasts only three minutes.

The letter published in "Finlands Allmänna Tidning" thus draws mainly a comical picture of the American business man. Another letter, which appeared eight years later in "Kyrkligt Weckoblad", commented sarcastically on the American financial scene. Characteristic of the American, in the writer's opinion, is the fact that all he knows is confined to his own time and his own country. His derisive description of the American runs as follows: "History moves in the past, the American in the immediate present; history refers calmly and respectfully to its old images and pictures, replete with wisdom, romance and poetry, whereas the American rushes about, eternally restless, seeking new means of making money." The consequence of this is that in America there prevail a suffocating materialism and brutality.74

Letters like this reached Finland frequently also in the 1870s. For example: "Helsingfors Dagblad" in 1875 published a letter signed with the initials A.a.m. and mailed from Philadelphia which asserted that the only thing separating people from each other in America was money. The almighty dollar is the chief measure of value in the United States.75 A correspondent for "Åbo Underrättelser", again, wrote in 1876 that "the American does not count his money when he is out to make a name for himself..76 In a letter sent from the United States in 1877 by J. A. Estlander, a Helsinki physician, the comment is made that there are scarcely any native American artists because the "money-making" society lacks "an inner pulsation and a true love of life".77

There are some grounds for Meurman's assertion that newspapers applied to absurd anecdotes the attribution "American". In the 1870s, the fact is, Finnish newspapers really did begin to find space in their columns for tall tales about the strange antics of Americans. The headings over such anecdotes, however, did not at any rate generally carry the tag "American", but simply referred to the subject matter. Even a superficial glance through copies of these old newspapers suffices to make it clear that anecdotes at the expense of Americans were stock in trade of the press in quite some abundance back in the 1870s. The same anecdote, furthermore would often make the rounds of different papers.

A good example of the tall tales told about Americans appeared in the journal "Tapio" in 1877. Two men, it seems, were beheaded simultaneously somewhere in America and a certain doctor wanted to see if he could restore the heads to the bodies. In his experiment, though, he made a mistake by picking the wrong head in each case "so that each man got the head of a stranger on his body. - But neither man seemed to have any desire to undo the switch".78

The placing of various idiotic and comical happenings in an American setting, even though only in fictitious stories, probably had the effect, in addition to everything else, of making the "Yankee" into a comical character in the popular imagination. Estlander, for instance, in 1878 used the figure of speech: "talks humbug like a genuine American female".79 Heikel, for his part, observes that it is usually considered characteristic of the American to "chew a quid, spit and walk around with his hat hung down over his neck".80 According to Soininen, the commonest image carried of the genuine Yankee is that he travels

"with a revolver at his side, a quid inside his cheek, a hat perpetually on his head and his eyes forever watching for a chance to grab some dollars, no matter where or how."81

In the 1850s, the notion was quite generally held that the American way of life was in many respects better than the European. Two decades later, Meurman denied this categorically, even going so far as to argue that no such thing as Americanism existed. And he was by no means alone in holding this view. Thus "Suomen Kuwalehti" ridiculed American beliefs in their own superiority while relating how Chinamen were being persecuted in the United States.

"How come! - those Americans, who cherish freedom above everything else, now are out to restrict freedom by denying the right to migrate to an entire race of people? Those Americans, who of the proud Caucasian race are the proudest of all, are now terribly afraid of people belonging to an 'inferior' race... Strangely fateful would it be if some despised nation belonging to one of those human races supposedly incapable of becoming civilized were, through the power of civilization, to triumph over the very Caucasians that boast about being on the highest level of civilization."82

Although a great deal of material dating back to the 1860s and 1870s can be found in which the United States is criticized in many ways, the fact cannot be overlooked that during the very same two decades there also appeared material representing the American scene in a favorable light. For example: in 1869, Yrjö-Koskinen refers to the United States as a "land of the future;"83 and in 1874, "Suomen Kuwalehti" mentions America as a country that "always hurries so far ahead of us in all ways..".84

In the 1850s, the United States was the great shining ideal of the Finnish people in many a matter. During the next few decades, the image of America changed. There continued to be people who looked to the United States as the promised land of everything good. On the other hand, however, there were those who viewed the United States with horror. Specifically in the 1870s, from the Finnish standpoint, the United States appeared to be a country where radical reforms were carried out. For this reason, to those demanding social changes in Finland, the United States could serve as a splendidly suitable model. To Finns with a conservative outlook, however, the United States was now the source and root of all evil. Besides the stands taken toward social reforms, the change in the image of the United States was fundamentally affected by the fact that emigration had started from Finland to the United States. The view was taken that emigration out of sparsely populated Finland was a threat to the entire future of the country. The educated class therefore wanted to impress on the minds of the people on "lower" levels of society that it did not pay to migrate across the Atlantic, and therefore representing the United States in a negative light seemed to be the right thing to do.

1. Sakari Kuusi, Yrjö Maunu Sprengtporten, Jyväskylä 1971, pp. 83-91.

2. Viljo Hytönen, Suomen raittiusliikkeen historia, Porvoo 1930, pp. 105-106.

3. Arne Anttila, Elias Lönnrot. Elämä ja toiminta I, Helsinki 1939, pp 184-187.

4. Henrik Renqvist, Wiinan Kauhistus, Helsinki 1835, pp. 80-81; Hytönen, op cit., pp. 106-107.

5. Åbo Tidningar, Nov. 20, 1848.

6. Åbo Underrättelser, March 27, March 30, April 10, May 8, May 11, May 18, May 22 and May 25, 1849.

7. Finlands Allmänna Tidning, Feb. 18, 1850.

8. Reino Kero, Siirtolaisuus Suomesta Amerikkaan vuosien 1849-1865 välisenä aikana. Studia Historica II, Oulu 1969, pp. 167-175.

9. Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti 1877, p. 138.

10. Matti Klinge, Kansalaismielen synty, Porvoo 1967, p. XVII.

11. Raija kesäläinen, J. V. Snellman ja Alexis de Tocqueville. Vapaus J. V. Snellmanin ja Alexis de Tocqueville'in valtiofilosofiassa. Thesis submitted to satisfy a "laudatur" requirement at Turku University, 1967, p. 168.

12. Litteraturblad för allmän medborgerlig bildning 1858, p. 253.

13. Kerttu Juva, Piirteitä Suomen kansan lukuharrastuksesta 1820-1850-luvuilla. Turun Historiallinen Arkisto XI, Turku 1951, p. 168.

14. Accounts of Waseniuksen Kirjakauppa for 1853. Library of Turku University.

15. Harriet Beecher-Stowe, Seta Tuomon Tupa, lyhykäisesti kerrottu ja kuwauksilla walaistu, Turku 1856, p. 7. Translator unknown.

16. Oulun Wiikko-Sanomia, Jan. 23, 1875.

17. Valvoja 1893, p. 622.

18. Klinge op. cit., pp. 18-19.

19. Litteraturblad ... 1852, pp. 169-171.

20. Litteraturblad ...1853, pp. 151-156.

21. Viborg, April 8, 1856.

22. Op. cit., Oct. 31, 1856.

23. Viborg, Sept. 4, 1857.

24. Op. cit., March 9, 1859.

25. Äbo Underrättelser, June 6, 1860.

26. Op. cit., Jan. 3, 1861.

27. Litteraturblad ... 1855, pp. 29-32.

28. G. Suolahti, Nuori Yrjö Koskinen, Porvoo 1933, pp. 293, 294, 304-306, 308.

29. Yrjö Koskinen, Suomalaiset Delawaren siirtokunnassa Pohjois-Amerikassa. Opiksi ja huwiksi. Lukemisia perheille I, Helsinki 1863, pp. 59-72.

30. Suometar, April 7, 1854.

31. Oulun Wiikko-Sanomia, May 9, 1857.

32. Mehiläinen 1859, p. 130.

33. Op. cit., pp. 61-65.

34. Suometar, Jan. 8, 1866.

35. Åbo Underrättelser, April 29, 1865.

36. Op. cit., June 1, 1865.

37. Helsingfors Dagblad, April 28 1865.

38. Helsingfors Tidningar, April 28, 1865.

39. J. Bäckwall, Kuwaelmia Amerikasta I-II. Oulu 1863-1864.

40. Bret Harte, Tarinoita Kalifornian Kultamaalta I-II. Porvoo 1874. Translator unknown.

41. Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti 1874, p. 233.

42. Op. cit., 1874, p. 288.

43. Suomen Kuwalehti 1875, p. 222.

44. Helsinki 1879. Translated by K.E.S.

45. Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti 1880, pp. 89-91.

46. Kyläkirjaston Kuwalehti 1873, pp. 233-234.

47. Helsinki 1874. Finnish trans. by Hj. Sandelin

48. Kuopio 1880. Translator unknown.

49. Helsinki 1880. Trans. by Hj. Sandelin.

50. For example, Morgonblad, December 18, 1874.

51. Swedish version 1873, Finnish 1876.

52. Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti 1877, pp. 138-140.

53. O[tto] T[andefelt], Kristoffer Kolumbus eli Amerikan löytö. Tietovarasto Kansalle. Lukemista maantieteen, historian ja luonnontieteen aloilta 1, Helsinki 1846; Yrjö Washington, maansa wapauden perustaja. Tietowarasto Kansalle. Lukemista maantieteen, historian ja luonnontieteen aloilta 2, Helsinki 1875.

54. Litteraturblad för allmän medborgerlig bildning 1852, pp. 169-174.

55. Kyrkligt Weckoblad 1867, pp. 150-151.

56. Tidskrift utg. of Juridiska Föreningen i Finland 1870, pp. 116-120.

57. Uusi Suometar, Jan. 2, 1870.

58. F, Heikel, "Från Förenta Staterna",.Helsinfors 1873, pp. 16, 33, 47, 158.

59. Heikel, op. cit., pp. 38, 46, 69, 76, 82, 85, 119, 176.

60. Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti 1876, p. 158.

61. Borgå-Bladet, Jan. 5, 1876.

62. Ilmarinen, Sept. 13, 1879.

63. Ilmarinen, Sept. 13, 1879.

64. Aarni Voipio, Mikael Soinisen elämä, Helsinki 1944, pp. 77-78.

65. Finlands Allmänna Tidning, Sept. 10, 1859.

66. Åbo Underrättelser, Oct. 25, 1860.

67. Tidskrift utg. of Juridiska Föreningen i Finland 1870, pp. 114-122.

68. Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti 1876, p. 176.

69. Op, cit. 1876, pp. 158-163.

70. Z. Topelius, Dagböcker IV: 2, Helsingfors 1924, p. 493. Ed. by Paul Nyberg.

71. See above.

72. See above.

73. Finlands Allmänna Tidning, Sept. 9,1859.

74. Kyrkligt Weckoblad 1867, pp. 143, 150.

75. Helsingfors Dagblad, Aug. 1, 1875.

76. Åbo Underrättelser, March 10 and March 24, 1876.

77. Finsk Tidskrift 1877, p. 235.

78. Tapio, March 3, 1877.

79. Finsk Tidskrift 1878, p. 190.

80. Heikel, op. cit., p. 126.

81. Voipio, op. cit., p. 102.

82. Suomen Kuwalehti 1877, pp. 23-24.

83. Kirjallinen Kuukauslehti 1869, p. 25.

84. Suomen Kuwalehti 1874, p. 129.

Published in Old Friends - Strong Ties. The Finnish Contribution to the Growth of the USA. 1976, p. 35-63.

© Reino Kero

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