Mandatory Oaths and Pledges by Immigrants
As we begin this page, let me say that it is here for the educational and informational value, more than anything else. All newly arriving immigrants had to sign an Oath of Allegiance and an Oath of Abjuration upon arrival in whatever port their ship may have docked. Our ancestors were no different and our inclusion in the genealogy is, as I said, more for the informational value than anything having to do directly with the Baker's or the Weigel's.
To familiarize yourself with the reason for "Ships Lists", the "Oath of Allegiance", and the "Oath of Abjuration", we've copied segments of a document that I feel is simply chock full of interesting stuff. You can click on this link and be taken to the website of the Pennsylvania State Library Archive in Harrisburg, PA, and the full document by Ralph Beaver Strassburger. The document is titled: "Pennsylvania German Society, Volume XLII of the Society Proceedings, Pennsylvania German Pioneers by Ralph Beaver Strassburger, Volume 1, 1727-1775". Mr. Strassburger is listed, on the face of the document as the "President of the Pennsylvania German Society". The document is some 800+ pages long, so you might understand why we have limited our information to only a few segments. And in case you're interested...the passenger list for The Ship Peggy, dated September 24, 1753 is contained on pages 545 through 550. When you access the library document, it will open in "txt" format (which is tough to read). There is a link to view it in "other formats". For most of us, click on the PDF format and allow the document to download for viewing in your Acrobat Reader software. The PDF file is about 38Mb in size but it'll download pretty fast, depending on your internet connection and provider. If you need the Adobe Reader, you can click this link and be taken to Adobe's download site.
The article in the previously mentioned link, is very detailed in the explanation of the various "Oaths" that were part of the process for those arriving in America. Also, bear in mind, that these "Oaths" were required during this period, and up until the beginning of the Revolutionary War. So up until the war began, "foreigners" were required to take the following oath:
"We subscribers, natives and late inhabitants of the Palatine upon the Rhine and places adjacent, having transported ourselves and families into the Province of Pennsylvania, a colony subject to the crown of Great Britain, in hopes and expectation of finding a retreat and a peacable settlement therein, do solemnly promise and engage that we will be faithful and bear true allegiance to his present majesty, King George the Second and his successors, kings of Great Britain, and will be faithful to the proprietor of this province; and that we will demean ourselves peacably to all his said majesty's subjects, and strictly observe and conform to the laws of England and this province, to the utmost of our power and best of our understanding."
Once the war started, immigration was suspended, and during the Revolutionary War, oaths of allegiance were administered to officers of the Continental Army, pursuant to a Congressional resolution of February 3, 1778. An example appears below:
"I, James Glentworth, Lieutenant, of 6th Pennsylvania Regiment, do acknowledge the UNITED STATES of AMERICA to be Free, Independent and Sovereign States, and declare that the people thereof owe no allegiance or obedience to George the Third, King of Great Britain; and I renounce, refuse and abjure any allegiance or obedience to him; and I do Swear that I will, to the utmost of my power, support, maintain and defend the said United States against the said King George the Third, his heirs and successors, and his or their abettors, assistants and adherents, and will serve the said United States in the office of Lieutenant which I now hold, with fidelity, according to the best of my skill and understanding."
Sworn at the Valley Forge Camp this 11th day of May, 1778, before me
STIRLING, M. G.
And AFTER the Revolutionary War, immigrants were subject to a NEW set of "Oaths". The NEWLY formed and free country of The United States certainly didn't want new arrivals to be swearing allegiance to the King of England!!! So an "Oath of Allegiance" for prospective citizens originated with the Naturalization Act of 1790, which required applicants to take an oath or affirmation "to support the constitution of the United States", but did not provide a text. The Naturalization Act of 1795 added renunciation of the new citizen's former sovereign to the oath. The Naturalization Act of 1906 added the section of the oath requiring new citizens to defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; and bear true faith and allegiance to the same. The Oath acquired a standard text in 1929. Prior to then, spoken oaths were adapted from naturalization law, and each court could develop its own procedures for administering the oath. The McCarren Internal Security Act of 1950 added the text about bearing arms and performing noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States. The section about performing work of national importance under civilian direction was added by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.
So what's today's (2017) Oath of Allegiance??? Check it out...:
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
So there you have it. The history and stories of Oaths of Allegiance and Abjuration required to be uttered by immigrants from early in the 1700's until today. Our ancestors took their freedom and this fledgling country seriously. We need to do the same today. Keep in mind that what is copied above is specific to Pennsylvania in those colonial times of the early to mid 1700's. If you're interested in some other sections of Early America, you can check this link to a document entitled Oaths of Allegiance in Colonial New England by Charles Evans.