Albrecht, Charles

Charles Albrecht was one of the most important musical instrument makers in early America. He immigrated to Philadelphia in the mid-1780s and by 1789 went into business as a piano maker. His business thrived for nearly thirty years in a very competitive market, as more instrument makers settled in Philadelphia and imported pianos became increasingly common. By 1825, Albrecht had earned sufficient wealth to retire from the instrument-making business and became a leisured gentleman.

Albrecht, Johann Andreas

Johann Andreas Albrecht was a European-trained gunstocker, who emigrated in 1750 to the Moravian community of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. After initially being deployed as a music teacher and a tavern keeper by the Moravian community, Albrecht established a new gun shop at Christiansbrunn in 1763, which supplied arms to Pennsylvania during the American Revolution. At Christiansbrunn and later at Lititz, another Moravian community where he lived the last three decades of his life, Albrecht trained a new generation of gunsmiths, including Christian Oerter and William Henry Jr.

Aust, Gottfried

German immigrants Gottfied Aust and Rudolph Christ established a long-lasting, important, and distinctive pottery tradition in the southern United States. Master potter Gottfried Aust settled in Bethabara, one of the earliest Moravian communities in North Carolina, in 1755. He and his apprentices and journeymen, including Rudolph Christ (who replaced Aust as master in 1789), were some of the earliest American potters to experiment with the production of creamware, white, salt-glazed stoneware, and tin-glazed earthenware. Together, Aust and Christ developed a distinct aesthetic tradition that would continue to be appreciated centuries later for both its visual and aesthetic qualities.

Business of Migration since 1815

Millions of American immigrants, who worked in business or started new businesses of their own, also used businesses in order to reach America in the first place. Before the mid nineteenth century advent of the telegraph, railroad and steamship, this migration usually relied on the services of multiple businesses and intermediaries in order to carry out long multi-stage journeys across land and ocean. In the modern “global village,” interconnected by widely available fast air travel, key services needed by international migrants are also generally dispersed across multiple businesses, often related mainly to surmounting and adapting to legal restrictions. In between, during late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the business of migration was concentrated mainly on the crossing of the North Atlantic. Mass transatlantic migration then became the core segment of the world’s first major intercontinental travel industry, a business in which large German shipping lines played a leading role. Within a longer term context, this essay emphasizes that middle epoch of commercially-provided physical relocation from Europe to the United States, and also includes a sub-focus on entrepreneurship of German origin.

Heckscher, Charles August

Charles August Heckscher hailed from an influential, well-to-do, and sophisticated Jewish family of merchant-bankers in Altona and the nearby, independent city-state of Hamburg. In 1829 he emigrated from Hamburg to the United States to become a successful merchant and entrepreneur. He acquired wealth by opening a trading house in New York City and later used his personal capital to invest in anthracite coal mining and transportation operations in eastern Pennsylvania. By the time of his death shortly after the end of the Civil War, he was one of the leading colliery operators in the nation.

Living the American Dream? The Challenge of Writing Biographies of German-American Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Biographies of businesspeople offer a new integrative perspective not only to trace the lives, careers, and business ventures of significant immigrants but to answer core questions of American, business, and migration history in a new way. The Immigrant Entrepreneurship project aims to explore hundreds of biographies; the sheer amount of this material has made clear that biographies can be used not only to analyze individual lives but also to address general questions in the history of capitalism and modernity.

Ludwig, Christopher

Christopher Ludwig was one of the most successful German immigrant entrepreneurs in the British North American colonies and later the United States during the late eighteenth century. Following his arrival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1754, Ludwig converted his savings and culinary skills into a bakery and confectionary shop in the Letitia Court district. The enterprise thrived, which allowed Ludwig to expand his bakeshop and branch out into other business endeavors. Within two decades Ludwig had amassed significant wealth that included ownership of numerous properties in the region.

Miller, Henrich

A printer, journalist, bookseller, and translator who had traveled much of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world before beginning his publishing business in Philadelphia in the early 1760s, Henrich Miller counteracted ethnic isolationism among German immigrants and ensured their investment and enfranchisement in the emerging public sphere of early national America. From his ardent rejection of the Stamp Act to his enthusiastic support of American Independence, Miller did not merely witness and report the momentous political, civic, and cultural changes occurring in North America, but he actively shaped and participated in these events.