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Anglofritz is a great blog, which serves you the "transcontinental zeitgeist." Two posts in particular to check out:
German Freedom Fighters in Fredericksburg

American Optimism vs. German Realism - Salesmanship


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Pat Patterson on :

The impact of German immmigrants in the North far exceeded that in the South. Nearly 10% of the total number of men in the Union Army were German immigrants, not including native born of German descent. Most of the cowboys in Texas were of Scottish, Welsh and English descent from the border areas where cattle raids were quite popular thus came the name of cowboys. The earliest known use of the term cowboy is in the Celtic epic poem The Tain, the poem may have been epic but the subject matter was a raid to steal cattle by young cowboys. And regardless of what was in the link most eligible German immigrants in Texas did serve in the Confederate Army. Many of the units of Gen. Hood's Texas Brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg were made up of German immigrants so much so that Hood actually had a Lutheran minister of German extraction act as his interpreter as many of the Germans had refused to learn English. John O. Meusebach was serving in the Texas Senate and voted to secede from the Union in 1861. Yet even as many of the German communities shunned slavery they supported a slave state both before and during the Civil War. Many revisionist historians of this era writing of the Lost Cause blame the radicals of '48 for helping Lincoln get elected and bringing communism and socialism to the US.

Gerd on :

Thanks for the response. I didn't argue that the impact of Germans in the South far exceeded that of the North, it's only a part of history that is far underrepresented. The documentary in German television ARD, which I linked to in the post on Anglofritz, mentions that many German settlers avoided the use of slave labor and chose to be cattle ranchers, essentially stemming from the cowboy tradition; the term is not derived from German though. As for the Germans serving in the Confederate Army, the documentary talked about persecution of Germans who denied military service, an issue forgotten in US history books. And that Meusebach signed a peace treaty with the Indians that was the only one upheld is very much worth teaching in high school. Americans and Indieans today still celebrate the tradition. The documentary talked those Germans in Texas, who stood up for freedom, rejected slavery and were peaceful with Indians. The argument that many Germans supported the slave state is similar to saying that many Americans indirect support Bush although they didn't vote for him. Yup, I didn't vote for him, but I can't do anything about it anyway. Since WWII Germans have lost a lot of traction in US media and history books, this story still needs to be told, especially of those German freedom fighter immigrants.

Don S on :

"Meusebach signed a peace treaty with the Indians that was the only one upheld is very much worth teaching in high school" I'm not so sure of that. For one thing, statemenst like this are very likely to be false. Had the person making that assertion exhaustively researched all peace treaties made with Indians throughout US history? Extremely unlikely. For that matter is this assertion even true? Perhaps Meusebach did do this - was the peace treaty scrupulously upheld after his death by others? Seems to me there were other agreements which were comparably upheld in US history. The treaty may have gone out of date because the Indians died out in the area or intermarried or whatever. Or new settlers may have moved in and killed Indian - but that does not mean that the original agreement was not kept by the signatories. Asky yourself one more thing: was Meusebach empowered to sign a 'treaty'? Or was it a mere 'agreement' between a private individual and an indian tribe, or perhaps even indian individuals? Somethimes I think Karl May's fiction with it's impossibly noble Germans cowboys and scummy Americans has taken too firm a hold on the German imagination....

Gerd on :

The documentary concluded that Meusebach's peace treaty was the only one. Great point to investigate further what and how long this treaty or pact was upheld. The point made in the documentary was those Germans settlers in Fredericksburg were on good terms with Indians - a culture of sharing. Here's a link to the German page of the documentary: It's funny to continually bump into "The Good German" complex in the US media and history books. In short, there's denial.

Don S on :

"The documentary concluded that Meusebach's peace treaty was the only one." And I ask whether any reasearch was done or whether they merely read it or heard it somewhere? The latter seems likely - in which case it's merely hearsay. If it was hearsay then it's self-serving fiction - like Karl May.

Don S on :

"The point made in the documentary was those Germans settlers in Fredericksburg were on good terms with Indians - a culture of sharing." It sounds too good to be true. All Germans shared with all Indians? Cmon..... I've actually been to the 'german' section of Texas, the area between San Antonio and Austin. I've been to New Braunfels and Luchenbach. Nice neat towns rather better than the usual Texas town - but absolutely no signs of Indians or Indian culture. So perhaps the Germans 'shared' the Indians right out of existance? Could be....

Gerd on :

Check out Wikipedia entries on "Meusebach" in English and German, the German entry is much longer and includes the text, "On this site a treaty of peace was agreed upon, March 1-2, 1847, between twenty Comanche chiefs and the German colonists represented by Otfried Hans Freiherr von Meusebach (1812-1897), who became a citizen of Texas under the name of John O. Meusebach...this treaty was never broken." The English entries writes this, "This treaty is regarded as one of the few treaties between white settlers and Native Americans that was not broken." Now, please someone tell me that Wikipedia has a cultural bias?

Pat patterson on :

The treaty basically paid off the Commanches $3,000 on signing then either $1,000 to $2,000 a year until the treaty seemed to end in the 1870's due to the cholera epidemics and the end of the Civil War, which allowed the Texas Rangers and the US Army to reassert control. This treaty did serve as a model for several other colonies in that by bribing the Commanches they were less likely to be attacked though the Mexican government complained mightily at the time and after the Mexican-American War that this sharing was better equipping the Commanche for raiding into Mexico as well as their fellow Texans property. Eight chiefs were listed on the document and it was understood that the colonists would also hand over a hostage to remain as surety. Emil von Kriewitz "volunteered" to serve as the Indian Agent but essentially was a prisoner until the next season when the Commanches were paid off again. [url][/url] Now as to it being the only unbroken treaty in the US, I think that the Mohicans and most specifically the Agua Calientes who own a sizeable chunk of Palm Springs and the surrounding area via treaty, might differ.

Don S on :

So it was a shakedown, but a 'noble' payoff it would seem.... ;)

David on :

It would be interesting to research the impact of Germans on American abolitionist thinking in the mid-19th century. Longfellow became an ardent abolitionist after befriending the radical poet Ferdinand Freiligrath in Germany. Some of Longfellow's strongest poems show the direct influence. Of course, Freiligrath himself was inspired by the ideals of the American Revolution.

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