In Germany, on the other hand, often even the greatest effort didn't achieve much. The young Johann Jakob (he would later Americanize his name to 'John Jacob') saw this early in the case of his father, who traveled from farm to farm, in order to slaughter the cattle of the farmers. But most people couldn't afford to kill their animals and eat them, as the historian Alexander Emmerich writes in his biography of Johann Jakob Astor. Only on holidays did the older Astor earn reasonable money; the rest of the year, the family had to go hungry. For a while, Johann Jakob helped his father in his meager business, but then he made his way toward faraway places - at first, to London. There, his brother had learned the trade of building instruments. This is the first reason for the success that John Jacob Astor will later have: Astor had valuable flutes in his luggage, as he, merely twenty years old, arrived in America in January of 1784. The last few meters across the sea he finished by foot, and that might serve as an example of his determinedness. The South Carolina, the ship on which he traveled, actually got stuck in the ice near the city of Baltimore. Astor was too impatient to wait for warmer weather. He packed his things and walked over the frozen slabs of ice.
We see here two principles about immigration into the U.S.: first, temporary economic conditions can lead to permanent emigrations; Germany was mostly a prosperous nation, but during the few tough years it experience in the late 1700's people left. Secondly, immigrants are often very determined people - exceptionally decisive and adventurous.