Mid-Eighteenth Century Pennsylvania
Voyage A Slow Boat
The voyage from the capes of the Delaware Bay to Philadelphia was neither fast nor easy. Everything depended on the wind. If the prevailing breeze came from the south, then the ship probably reached Philadelphia in short order, as was the circumstance when Gottlieb Mittelberger came to Pennsylvania. He noted in his travel journal that the journey up Delaware Bay took forty hours, or about 1½ days.  In a letter to Germany, Christopher Saur noted that some ships needed eight to ten days to travel the same distance. 
When a ship finally arrived in Philadelphia, people usually gathered on the wharf. The narrator of another journal noted as they approached the dock, a crowd of persons was seen gathering on shore in expectation the newly arrived immigrants were to be exposed for sale.  Merchants looking for servants soon boarded. Frequently, those merchants were the proprietors of the ship or were in the employ of the owner. An official account was taken to determine the passengers who could be sold as indentured servants. The merchant then placed an advertisement in one of the Philadelphia newspapers, German Servants For Sale.  Sometimes, those advertisements noted the wharf where the ship dockedinformation that can be especially useful for any family historian whose ancestors may have arrived on a ship so advertised.
Frequently, a representative of the government accompanied the merchants. The official was not looking for servants, but wanted to make certain that all fit males sixteen and older who were aliens disembarked and proceeded to the courthouse where the required oath was given.  Immigrants, whose origins were not in the British Isles, made their way to the courthouse located at second and High Streets. As they proceeded to the courthouse they climbed the steep riverbank to the city on some very wobbly legs. After an extended period of time at sea they were used to the rocking motion of the ship, and they did not have their land legs. Most probably looked like a pack of drunken sailors as they proceeded to the courthouse.
The captain of the vessel usually led the way. When the alien immigrants entered the courthouse, a representative of the governmentnamely the Mayor, President of the Assembly, or a Justice of the Courtwas waiting. He told them they were now in a country that belonged to the King of England; a fact that required them to take an oath of allegiance to that King and his successors.  The oath was then explained to the immigrants. Given the numbers of Germans arriving in Philadelphia, one presumes that someone was available who could translate. The immigrants had to promise they would conduct themselves as good and faithful subjects, that they would not revolt against his Majesty, nor would they settle on lands that were not their own. They were also required to abjure or renounce allegiance to the Pope. In the words of another narrator, After we took the oath, we signed our names to two different papers, one belonged to the King and the other to the government of Pennsylvania. 
Arrival In Pennsylvania
Immigrants undoubtedly formed some interesting impressions of Pennsylvania in the days and weeks following their arrival. In fact, their initial impressions were probably formed on the docks. Mid-eighteenth century maps of Philadelphia show sixty-five docks covering a fairly extended area along the west bank of the Delaware River. Philadelphia had become the largest and single most important port in the American colonies.  Immigration records reveal a very busy place. In one month alone, September 1753, fifteen ships arrived with German immigrants; on average they arrived every other day during that month.  Other immigrants arrived as well, including the Scots-Irish, who came in numbers almost equal to the Germans. And, there was related activitynumerous ships in the harbor were used to transport agricultural products from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware to Europe and the West Indies, and other ships brought manufactured goods from Europe. 
The import-export business in Philadelphia created a complex economy that involved the efforts of thousands. Generally, an eighteenth-century sailing ship was docked for about thirty-six days.  Immigrants would have seen sailors roaming about the docks, along with stevedores moving goods on and off the ships, and cart men and laborers who transported the goods to warehouses. Contributing to the chaos were numbers of teamsters with wagons, and flatboat operators who brought goods to the city for export.