A few months back, I discovered that Delpher.nl has an incredibly large collection of digital, searchable Dutch-language newspapers online. Unlike some Dutch websites and archives, Delpher doesn’t require any registration or payment. The website is in Dutch, and it takes a while to figure out all of the advanced search features. But once you have a knack for it, you can easily find occurrence of your favorite historical topics or people. For historical linguists, as well, this is going to prove to be a major benefit.
Fortunately, Delpher includes a few Dutch American newspapers. To my knowledge, this is the first time that De Grondwet is online and searchable. The krantenbank zeeland website already has the Sheboygan Nieuwsbode online, and Delpher includes it as well. Delpher also has Onze Toekomst (published in Chicago), the Pella Gazetter, and the Sioux City Nieuwsblad, and Het Oosten (Patterson, New Jersey)
The image below comes from the second available issue of the Sheboygan Nieuwsbode from November 6, 1849. It is curious that the editor, Jacob Quintus, decided to translation from German a poem about the westward course of civilization.
This theme of western movement of the sun, of freedom, and of time (i.e. the future is in the west, the end of the day in the west) was the of a book by J.W. Schulte-Nordholt De Mythe van Het Westen (American als laatste wereldrijk) in 1992, translated as The Myth of the West: America as Last Empire (Eerdmans, 1995). Westward the course of empire takes its way.
Quintus was en enterprising chap, and in studying Dutch American history, you can’t help but feel the excitement of the immigrants in the Midwest in the 1840s and 1850s, as they dreamed of new lives and built new settlements in the forests and the plains. Part of their inspiration must have come from this progressive view of history, this westward movement, the coming of trains and innovations and all the hub-bubs of American market society at mid-century.
Here is my attempt at a quick translation. (Maybe this poem already exists out there in English somewhere?)
From the east came the sun,
That brings us light
And still in the east their reigns
A dark, pitch black night.
In the West, the Sun goes down.
From the West comes the nights.
And still in the West
We joyously expect the day.
The morning breaths life,
And is ? with gold
But still in the morning
The air is so deadly cold.
The evening brings rest again
One celebrates nakedly
Because again in the evening
Life tastes right.
Do you want to solve the puzzle?
Redeemed, exclaim with me:
In the West lives FREEDOM!
But oh, in the dark East?
There reigns TYRANNY!