The first large wave of Hungarian emigration to the US

by | Aug 31, 2014 | Common History

The constant influx of Hungarian emigrants was marked by several waves of sharp increase. The first large wave occurred in 1849-1850.

Agoston Haraszthy, traveler, writer, town-builder and pioneer winemaker, who settled in Wisconsin in 1840, was the first Hungarian to permanently settle in the United States. After him, the first large wave of Hungarian emigration to the United States occurred in 1849-1850 when the so-called “Forty-Eighters” fled from retribution by Austrian authorities after the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. By the 1860s, an estimated 4,000 Hungarians lived in the United States. Some stayed for a while and then returned to Hungary, while others made America their new home.

László Újházy, Hungarian politician came with Kossuth to the United States, and remained behind to found a Hungarian settlement, New Buda, in Iowa. He later became an American consul in Ancona, Italy.

Scholar János Xantus, a unique contributor to Hungarian-American relations, lived in the United States from 1851 to 1864. He conducted scientific research and worked for the U.S Government (serving in the army, as geologist and explorer, and at one point as the American Consul in Manzanillo, Mexico). His sometimes exaggregated accounts were published, accompanied by his drawings of Native Americans and western landscapes. He once wrote, “I like riding in the prairies best. They very much resemble our own beautiful, unforgettable plains. Often I hum a folk song, but instead of our fata morgana, the roar of the buffalo is heard.” The buffalo’s cries could not compare with the mirages known as “castle in the air” seen on the Hungarian plains. He gave the Smithsonian Institution a collection of rare plant and animal specimens.

Count Béla Széchenyi, the adventurous son of the reformer István, also wrote about his 1862 travels to the United States. He praised the role of American women, and the U.S. educational system, but criticized the treatment of African-Americans and native Americans – and complained that people sometimes displayed rude manners.

Source: U.S. Department of State (Paths of Diplomacy)

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