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Legacy of 1848:
Transplanted Ideas & Values in America’s Past and Present
Who was America's most remarkable and unique immigrant group? Surprisingly, many historians feel it was a group of a few thousand democratic revolutionary refugees from Europe who arrived in the United States between 1847 and 1856. Although unsuccessful in their struggle for freedom in Europe, these "Forty-Eighters" provided an intellectual transfusion that had a pronounced effect on the political and social history of America during one of its most critical periods.
Many of these Forty-Eighters from Northern Germany and Hungary chose Iowa as their adopted home. There, some of the best and brightest began using their finely honed journalistic skills to argue for the freedoms and liberties so dear to them. Ironically, these recent immigrants’ patriotism was grounded more in the bedrock beliefs of America's founding fathers than in many of the attitudes in the United States at the time.
The extraordinary European immigrant group’s legacy, although far-reaching and profound, is little understood by most Americans, many of whom are three or four generations removed from their own immigrant ancestors. The overarching purpose of the conference - Legacy of 1848: Transplanted Ideas & Values in America’s Past and Present is to identify and come to grips with the important, timeless legacy left to all of us by the Forty-Eighters.
We invite scholars to submit panels or individual papers proposals by April 20, 2013, to both Joachim “Yogi” Reppmann (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Daniel Walther (daniel.walther @wartburg.edu). Abstracts should be no more than 250 words and should be accompanied by a 1-2 page c.v. Topics might include (but are not limited to):
- Forty-Eighter contributions to life in America (arts, politics, mores, social organizations, music, theater, etc.)
- The acculturation of the Forty-Eighters: Lessons for today’s immigrants
- Biographical sketches of Forty-Eighters
- German-American: Immigration experience
- Low German in America
- How would widely held Turner beliefs mesh with recent developments in America, such as the role of government vs. the rights of the individual, public education vs. private religious beliefs, and public health care programs?
- “Arab Spring”: blue print of the European Spring of Nations, 1848?
Graduate students and junior faculty are especially encouraged to apply. For these applicants, a limited number of travel subsides are available to defray transportation costs. In your proposals, please indicate if you would like to be considered for the subsidy.
As it becomes available, more information about the conference can be found at the conference website: www.wartburg.edu/1848
Yogi Reppmann email@example.com
September - February: 103 North Orchard St., Northfield, MN 55057 (Home: 507-645-258)
March - August: Moltkestraße 6, 24937 Flensburg, Germany (-461-570-0078)
„The year of the revolution began in January, in a small country of little importance. Then the protests spread to the region's largest and most important state, toppling a regime that had seemed firmly entrenched. The effect was far-reaching. The air was filled with talk of liberty and freedom. Street protests cropped up everywhere, challenging the rule of autocrats and monarchs, who watched from their palaces with fear.
That could be a description of events in Tunisia and Egypt as those countries' peaceful revolutions have inspired and galvanized people across the Middle East. In fact, it refers to popular uprisings 162 years earlier that began in Sicily and France. The revolution of 1848, as they were called, were remarkably similar in mood to what is happening right now in the Middle East. ( They were dubbed the springtime of peoples by historians at the time.) The backdrop then, as now, was a recession and rising food prices. The monarchies were old and sclerotic. The young were in the forefront. New information technologies -mass newspapers!- connected the crowds."
(„Time" Magazin, 28 February, 2011, page 30)
We might all agree that the recent financial crises is only the tip of the
iceberg. Could not the value system advocated by the Forty-eighters be a blueprint for how to deal with the many pressing challenges facing us all today? - Please see below our "Call for Action."
The Folly of Freedom without Social Responsibility
Deutschland schafft sich ab, a recent book by former German politician and Deutsche Bundesbank board member, Thilo Sarrazin, has fanned the flames of an ongoing national debate in Germany about immigration and integration policies. The book also revealed the dangerous loss of moral values afflicting not only Europe, but the entire western world.
In democracies, freedom is often viewed as a license for carte blanche pursuit of egoistic interests. Nowhere was this demonstrated more forcefully than in the financial arena where unscrupulous members of banks, investment houses, and insurance companies engaged in behavior so eggregiously self-serving and shortsighted as to preciptitate a worldwide financial crisis. Through naked corruption and irresponsible speculation, a small group of individuals amassed huge profits at the expense of clients that had placed their trust in them. In essence, free market capitalism benefitting society as a whole was replaced by a rigged market enriching only a few.
The financial crisis resulted from a widespread cancer of moral irresponsibility. This cancer will continue to grow until there is a radical awakening of the world's conscience and a collective understanding that freedom is unsustainable if we are only responsible to our selves. Conscientious, civic-minded people should consider the prevailing aversion to constructive politics and the resulting apathy as a call to arms to search for lasting solutions that benefit all.
Enduring solutions do not require the individual to give up his cultural identity. They do require an acknowledgement that the concept of freedom is meaningless without social responsibility. These two basic tenets are the yin and yang of any civilized society. One without the other is meaningless and unsustainable. Laws must reflect the democratic values of human dignity, free speech, help to those in need, respectful and civil dialog among people of diverse backgrounds, gender equality, and a government that is neutral in religious and philosophical matters, as long as these do not undermine its very existence.
With the foregoing in mind, a common European constitution with a global vision would be an important first step. The guiding principles on which to base this constitution are not new. They can be found in the ideas of the European Enlightenment of the 18th century, concepts which form the bedrock of America's Constitution and the Basic Law of the German Republic.
The fight for political freedom was a powerful motive for many of the almost 500,000 men and women who left Germany and Europe between 1848 and 1850 to immigrate to America. Following the failed democratic revolutions in their home country, these "Forty Eighters" took a stand in their new country for freedom from unjustified and unwarranted governmental intrusion and state-sanctioned discrimination. These courageous individuals can serve as role models as we seek a new path. In our search for new answers, we can draw inspiration from their conviction that each of us is imbued with inherent moral values that we must exemplify in both our public and private lives.
© Kaupp, Reppmann