2025 History

“Restauration leaving Stavanger” by Benjamin Blessum (1877-1954). Painted in 1914. Owner: the Norwegian Emigrant Museum and Research Center Foundation. Anno Norsk utvandrermuseum.

The Voyage

On July 4, 1825, the Restauration left the harbor of Stavanger, Norway, with 45 passengers and seven crew. After a long and difficult journey, the group arrived in New York on Oct. 9. Sometimes dubbed the “Norwegian Mayflower,” the Restauration has become a symbol of the first organized migration from Norway to North America.

Since the Restauration was a type of vessel called a sloop, the immigrants onboard became known as “Sloopers.” Led by Lars Geilane, the Sloopers were Haugeans, Quakers, and their sympathizers, who left Norway in search of religious freedom and economic opportunity. Sailing as far south as the Madeira Islands to harness the eastern trade winds, the group arrived in New York more than three months and 6,000 miles later. All survived the journey. While at sea, Martha Geilane, the wife of the group’s leader, gave birth to a baby girl, Margaret Allen. The 39-ton, 54-foot Restauration was severely overcrowded according to American law. Upon its arrival in New York, local authorities impounded the vessel immediately.

A Pathfinder

Cleng Peerson, remembered as the “Norwegian Pathfinder to America,” served as the group’s advance agent. After the Restauration was impounded, Peerson secured aid from Quakers and other sympathizers in New York. Eventually the group was pardoned by U.S. President John Quincy Adams. Peerson led the Sloopers to their first settlement in Kendall (now Murray) township in Orleans County, N.Y. Some remained in the area despite the hardships the group faced there. Peerson later led a group to Fox River Valley, Ill., remembered as the second Norwegian colony in America. 

A Larger Story

The voyage of the Restauration was only the beginning of three great waves of mass migration from Norway to North America over the next century. Since 1825, about 900,000 Norwegians have migrated to North America, leaving lasting effects on both sides of the Atlantic. While most stayed, many returned to Norway, bringing their new ideas and earnings with them to improve their lives back home.

The story of Norwegian immigration is only one chapter in the larger story of migration and colonization in North America. And that history continues to unfold today. In addition to sharing this transatlantic story, an important goal of Crossings is to frame it within the larger narrative of human migration, past and present. By doing so, we can more fully appreciate the complexities of migration for individuals, nations, and Indigenous peoples. It can also help us understand the tension all immigrants feel between keeping the old and adapting to the new.

See map of the sailing.