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The Log Cabin Was Not an American Invention

The log cabin is an enduring symbol of American history. Abraham Lincoln was born in one. So was Andrew Jackson.

Yet the log cabin that Americans know so well was not, in fact, an American invention. Americans have Swedish settlers to thank for that.

Yes, immigrants from Sweden settled in Delaware in 1638. They brought with them the idea for building a house entirely out of logs. Sweden had lots of trees, and American did, too. It was a good match.

So did the Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam or the Pilgrims in Plymouth use the log cabin? Well, not really. The Swedes and Dutch and English were jealous of each other and fought over land occasionally. They weren't exactly friends, and it wouldn't have been surprising if they didn't get together and share house-building secrets.

During the Revolutionary War, however, when the 13 Colonies fought together against the British, the idea of the log cabin became popular and spread to the rest of the colonies. And after the war, with the boundary of the new United States spreading ever westward, so did the log cabin.


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