J roolter- Sparious ra wdcr
PHILIP D. JORDAN
lieved that a Frenchman, Captain J. Tolmer, actually trav-
eled in the United States and recorded his impressions and
experiences in a volume entitled Scenes de L'Amdrique du Nord
en 1849.1 Both Norwegian settlers and students of Norwegian
immigration have commented at length upon Tolmer's adverse
criticisms of Texas and the Texans. Bibliographers, like the his-
torians, have accepted not only the book but also the name, na-
tionality, and title (captain) of the author as genuine.
Tolmer did not travel throughout the United States, and he
did not write his book from personal observations. There is no
satisfactory evidence that he was a captain, that he was French,
or even that his name was Tolmer. The erroneous statements in
the literature have stemmed from two factors: Norwegian-Amer-
ican historians based their opinions on secondary sources and did
not examine either Tolmer's volume in the Library of Congress
or the identical material which appeared serially in the French
Journal des Ddbats Politiques et Littdraires prior to the publi-
cation of the book;2 bibliographers who did examine the volume
accepted it on faith and failed to subject it to internal criticism.
They, therefore, found it to be "original and stimulating," main-
tained it was a "good source for a glimpse of rugged social life
1J. Tolmer, Scenes de L'Amdrique du Nord en 1849 (Leipzig, 1850), vi + 134 pp.
18 can. Copy in the Library of Congress; not in the British Museum or the Biblio-
thbque Nationale. I am much indebted to my colleague, Professor Paul Bamford,
who, while in Paris, instituted search for the identity of Tolmer.
2Rasmus B. Anderson, First Chapter of Norwegian Immigration (1821-184o):
Its Causes and Results (Madison, 19o6), 383; Theodore C. Blegen, Norwegian
Migration to America, 1825-186o (Northfield, Minnesota, 1931), 186-187; Carleton
C. Qualey, Norwegian Settlement in the United States (Northfield, Minnesota,
1938), 2o6; Theodore C. Blegen, Land of Their Choice: The Immigrants Write
Home (Minneapolis, 1955), 352; Clarence A. Clausen (ed.), "A Texas Manifesto:
A Letter from Mrs. Elsie Waerenskjold," Norwegian-American Studies and Records,
XX (1959), 32-35; Clarence A. Clausen (ed.), The Lady With the Pen: Elsie
Waerenskjold in Texas (Northfield, Minnesota, 1961), 27-38; Journal des Ddbats,
December 4, 19, 21, 26, 1849; January 12, 15, 22, 31, March 5, 9, 1850o.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/. Accessed September 21, 2014.