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8 o n e p American yet German The State of German-American Culture and the Relationship between Germans and Non-Germans in Missouri on the Eve of World War I Those who would meanly and coldly forget their old mother could not be expected to be faithful to their young bride. Carl Schurz, Senate speech, 1872 Carl Schurz, one of the most famous German immigrants who called Missouri his home for several years, said in a speech before the United States Senate that he and other German immigrants who came to America to begin a new life should not “entirely forget their old fatherland.” He was “proud to be an American,” but he did not believe he should be “ashamed of being a son of Germany,” a nation that “has sent abroad thousands . . . of her children upon foreign shores with their intelligence, their industry, and their spirit of good citizenship.”1 Schurz embraced this philosophy throughout his distinguished career as a journalist and politician. He co-owned and co-edited the Westliche Post, the premier German-language newspaper of the Midwest, in St. Louis, served as a U.S. senator from Missouri between 1868 and 1874, and accepted the appointment as President Rutherford B. Hayes’s secretary of the interior in 1877.2 He became successful by learning English and embracing the American political system; but he also continued to speak and write in German. In short, he merged his foreign heritage with American ideals of freedom and prosperity and forged a new identity. Thus, Carl Schurz serves as an excellent example of the German-American identity most German immigrants and their descendants had created by the eve of World War I as they American yet German p 9 adopted American economic and political principles while retaining German cultural traditions such as language and religious practices. Yet, several of the factors that contributed to the creation of the German-American identity also shaped relationships with non-Germans that would influence the treatment of German-Americans during World War I. During the nineteenth century, five million German settlers came as groups, families, or individuals to the United States, including Missouri, where they represented the majority among the foreign-born population for many decades .3 Motives for leaving the homeland varied. Some aimed to evade military duty or left for religious or political reasons. Inheritance patterns that splintered land into small economically unfeasible holdings and “economic misery” after series of failed harvests convinced others to look for a better life elsewhere. The end of the cottage textile industry, changes in the labor market, and reduced standards of living through the industrial revolution encouraged many Germans to migrate between German principalities, within Europe, and across the Atlantic Ocean.4 What drove most was the dream for improved economic conditions and a new life. Missouri became a popular destination for German immigrants in part because early nineteenth-century travelers to the territory, including Gottfried Duden, had written glowing reports about its land, waterways, and climate, and described a free society and accessible government that stood in stark contrast to Germany’s closed and privileged society.5 Additional elements that contributed to immigration to Missouri were the growing efficiency of emigration societies, improved accommodations aboard steamships, and the expanding rail networks that eased travel worries and expenses.6 By midcentury the most important factor shaping the decision to cross the Atlantic was that more and more Germans had relatives in America who wrote letters to the old country. Their correspondence advised where land or employment opportunity was available, explained institutions and culture, and made suggestions about whom one could trust or whose assistance one should avoid along the way. Furthermore, relatives often sent money for others to undertake the voyage , provided shelter until the newly arrived could establish their own households , and secured work.7 The first sizable wave of German immigrants to Missouri during the early 1830s included a few noblemen, lower-middle-class scholars, preachers, artisans , and shopkeepers, as well as farmers and farm laborers from southwestern and northwestern German regions, who settled in St. Charles and Warren Counties. “Poor but not destitute,” most of them had struggled to maintain their economic independence in the old country and had enough savings to 10 p Degrees of Allegiance pay the passage and to buy land.8 Several of these early settlers were liberal intellectuals who fled repressive measures after the unsuccessful revolutions against the undemocratic governments in a number of German states during...


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