Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 64.djvu/71

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
67
RUSSIAN IMMIGRATION.

of Livonia. German artisans were imported and enjoyed the favor of the Great Peter, and German farmers took advantage of the breaking up of the large Polish estates after the insurrection of 1863 to establish themselves upon much of the best farming land in Poland. But none of these different divisions of the German race in Russia concerns us in our consideration of the Russian-German immigrant. He has a history entirely his own and has no more connection with other isolated colonies of Germans in Russia than he has with the Russian, from whom he holds himself religiously aloof.

Anne, daughter of Peter the Great, married the Duke of Holstein Gottorp, a German prince, and their son, who was crowned Peter III., was thus half German. Peter III. married a German princess, Sophia, of Anhalt Zerbst, who later deposed him and became sole ruler of the country, taking the name of Catherine II. The Ukraine, or country north of the Black Sea, which was the most fertile part of Russia, had never been consistently cultivated. This magnificent 'black mold belt,' one of the finest wheat-raising regions in the world, could only be kept from the Tartar hordes by the employment of the Cossacks as a protection. The Cossacks effectually prevented further Tartar raids, but were not farmers; and to develop this fine country Catherine offered special inducements to German settlers.

These inducements included the use of their own schools and the practise of their own religion, exemption from military service and some other special privileges. Many Germans took advantage of their countrywoman's liberal offer. As a result there are to-day in southern Russia in the governments immediately north of the Black Sea thousands of Germans who speak only German, who are in religion Lutherans and who are by far the most prosperous agricultural class in Russia.

The present Tsar has withdrawn the privileges granted by the Empress Catherine, has sought to replace the German schools by Russian, and the Lutheran religion by the Greek orthodox church; but he has only succeeded in exiling from Russia thousands of these German farmers, who come as immigrants to America with the proceeds of their Russian farms in their pockets and the courage of the pioneer in their hearts.

 

The Finns.

The Finns belong to the Ugro-Finnic or Uralo-Altaic stock and are akin to the Magyar and Laplander. About a dozen different tribes of this Ugro-Finnic stock are recognized; they are scattered over northern and central Russia and Siberia.

It must be remembered that the classification of Finnic peoples is made from a philological view-point, without regard to the influence great or slight which surrounding races may have exerted on the racial type. Otherwise it would often be hard to believe that the Finnish immigrant was of the same race as the Lapp, Magyar or Volga Finn.