The Jew in American Politics (part 3): 1848ers

Arrival of the German Jews

A rapid expansion of population in Germany during the decades of peace following the Napoleonic wars resulted in mass emigration to America. Schedules of vessels departing for the United States were posted even in the most humble German towns and villages. The exodus was so immense that, in the course of barely two weeks, four thousand people left the small state of Baden alone. German Jews were part of this trek. They were subject to the same forces of overpopulation and economic need as their Christian neighbors. They had the additional goad of rampant discrimination, inability to get licenses as craftsmen and an atmosphere poisoned by anti-Semitism. [. . .]

The emigration was immensely accelerated by the crushing defeat of the liberal 1848 revolutions in Europe and the triumph of reaction. Up to 100,000 German Jews came to the United States in the twelve years between that event and the Civil War.

Jews had taken a prominent part in the leadership of the 1848 uprisings and a large majority of European Jewry had sympathized with them. Thus, Daniele Manin, a Catholic of Jewish ancestry, was the outstanding leader of the Venetian rising of 1848 and two Jews were members of the Cabinet of the short-lived Weimar Republic of that time. The Prussian National Assembly which proclaimed the new liberal constitution of 1848 had several Jews as members and elected one of them, Raphael Kosch, as its vice president. The more important Frankfurt parliament had at one time a Jewish president and a Jewish vice president. In Breslau, Berlin, Mainz, Worms, Cracow and Vienna, Jews were prominent in the 1848 struggle as military leaders, politicians and newspaper editors. In the last category was Karl Marx, the Jew-hating son of an apostate Jew. The Hungarian National Army under Louis Kossuth had no fewer than 20,000 enlisted Jewish soldiers in its ranks.l7

When the revolution was stifled throughout Europe, its Jewish and non-Jewish adherents turned increasingly toward the United States. Hence, the massive Jewish emigration of the 1840's and 1850's was politically selective.

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