"The Family in America"    Online Edition    [SwanSearch] 

 Volume 16  Number 01 / 02


January / February  2002 




The Peculiar Legacy of German-America*

By Allan C. Carlson

*A version of this essay will comprise a chapter in ‘The American Way’: Family and Community in the Shaping of the American Identity, forthcoming from ISI Books.

"The alternative before Americans is Kultur Klux Klan or Cultural Pluralism."  
~ Horace Kallen, 1924

"Approached from the neighborhood and family and met squarely, the problem of Americanization can be solved adequately."   ~ Frances Kellor, 1918

"There is disloyalty active in the United States and it must be crushed," declared President Woodrow Wilson before hundreds of thousands of Americans at a "Preparedness" rally held in Washington, DC, Flag Day, June 14, 1916. This form of treason came from a minority "who are trying to levy a species of political blackmail, saying ‘do what we wish in the interest of foreign sentiment, or we will wreak our vengeance at the polls.’" Wilson predicted that the American nation "will teach these gentlemen once and for all that loyalty to this flag is the first test of tolerance in the United States."1

Speaking in the Midwest on the same day, former President Theodore Roosevelt was less circumspect about the identity of the disloyal: "No good American...can have any feeling except scorn and detestation for those professional German-Americans who seek to make the American President in effect a viceroy of the German Emperor." Roosevelt blasted "adherence to the politico-racial hyphen which is the badge and sign of moral treason."2

One day later the Democratic Party, meeting in Convention in the heavily German-American city of St. Louis, adopted a platform plank on "Hyphenates" and "Americanism." Together, these stood as "the supreme issue of the day," the document declared. Anyone "actuated by the purpose to promote the interests of a foreign power in disregard of our own country’s welfare" created "discord and strife" among Americans, obstructed "the whole sum process of unification," was "faithless to the trust...of [U.S.] citizenship," and stood as "disloyal to his country." Any "division" of Americans into antagonistic racial groups destroyed "that complete... solidarity of the people and that unity of sentiment and national purpose so essential to the perpetuity of the nation and of its free institutions." In his re-election campaign, President Wilson pledged to make "anti-hyphenism" the leading issue. Meanwhile, convention officials in St. Louis distributed new campaign buttons to the Party faithful, featuring a picture of the President above two words cast in bold letters: "America First."3

Held during the third year of The Great War in Europe, the American election of 1916 became, at least at the rhetorical- and domestic- political levels, a form of civil war. More broadly, the supposed "German-American threat" to national unity betokened a crisis in American self-understanding. For 125 years, from 1790 to 1915, the dominant view of immigration had been positive and welcoming. There was an implicit faith in the power of American institutions to tolerate difference and to craft a minimum degree of unity. The purest expression of this embrace of difference came in a 1915 essay by the Jewish-American writer Horace Kallen, making the case for "Cultural Pluralism" in America. Wartime, however, brought to the fore both demands for "100% Americanism" and an openly racialist Anglo-Saxonism. The latter demanded immigration restrictions and forced assimilation into the English language and customs. The institutions of German-America became its first foe. Between 1916 and 1924, the conflict between these rival visions of America was intense. Yet quietly, and unexpectedly, another vision of American identity also took form. With roots in both the folkways of German-America and the ideology of the Settlement House movement, this vision of American unity rested on a new communitarianism focused on "natural" structures such as the family, giving particular attention to the mother in the home and the defense of infant life. When the more visible contestants, the "Cultural Pluralists" and the "Anglo-Saxonists," faded after 1925, the family-centered vision of America remained as a viable, compelling moral and political force, with direct consequences for another forty years.


At the Founding of the new American Republic, most persons saw the American identity in abstract, ideological terms. For obvious and personal reasons, ethnic considerations among the Anglo-American revolutionaries drew little attention. America stood as the "asylum of liberty," "the new order for the ages," where the ideals of freedom, equality, and republicanism held sway. The American nationality stood open to anyone who desired to adhere to these principles. Naturalization policy adopted in 1790 "bespoke great confidence in the power of American principles, institutions, and environment" to transform immigrants quickly into acceptable Americans, without systematic coercion.4

John Higham emphasizes how, into the early 20th century, a deep faith in the resilience of America and of the assimilation process held sway. Moreover, "the American people did not really demand a high level of national solidarity. They had enough already for their individualistic purposes." Nativist episodes such as the anti-Catholic "Know Nothing" movement and reactions to the 1886 Haymarket Riot (sparked by a bomb thrown by a German-born anarchist) were the short-lived exceptions. Most of the time, a "loose-knit, flexible society" and a common interest in commerce seemed adequate for a nation facing few external dangers.5

Some saw the Americanization process in more active terms. They mused about a "melting pot," where the best traits of foreign-born and native-born alike would fuse into a new and distinct American way. The image first appeared in the late 18th century through Michel-Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer:

What then is the American, this new man?….He is an American who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced….Here individuals are melted into a new race of men.

The term surfaced again in Israel Zangwell’s famed 1909 play, The Melting Pot. It showed the fire of the American experience burning off human impurities, fusing all the best elements of each immigrant "race" into "a new and superior American nationality." The old identities could not survive this change. As Frederick Kapp’s history of the Germans in colonial New York had concluded: "he who emigrates gives up his fatherland and is lost to it....Therefore either German or American: The German-American is only a transitional figure, who disappears in the second generation."6

The "melting pot" concept, though, seemed inadequate to others as an explanation of the American reality. Historian Frederick Jackson Turner emphasized "the primacy of geography over race and culture," and suggested that the development of distinctive sectional or regional identities formed the American present and future.7 The continuity of dozens of distinct immigrant communities into the early 20th century–Little Italies, "Andersonvilles," "Micktowns"–suggested still another vision of the American identity. Rather than a "melting pot" or an ideological union, this orientation cast America as a federation of nationalities, where hyphenization was permanent, where diversity and harmony co-existed, where America stood as "a multiplicity in a unity, an orchestration of mankind."

The most compelling advocate for this view of Cultural Pluralism was Horace Kallen. The son of Jewish immigrant parents, Kallen attended Harvard University, where he became an early Zionist and an active member of the Intercollegiate Menorah Association. From one of his teachers, Barrett Wendell, he picked up the distinctive arguments that America had begun as "another Israel" and that the early Puritans were in fact largely Jewish in blood. This told him that one could remain fully Jewish while still belonging to America. From William James he adopted a view of pluralism that gave legitimacy to the balancing of independent loyalties within each personality.8

In February 1915, the venerable Nation magazine carried a two-part article by Kallen, "Democracy versus the Melting Pot: A Study of American Nationality." Importantly, he wrote in reaction to a book by Edward Alsworth Ross, The Old World in the New, which focused on the issue of the declining birthrate among old-stock Anglo-Americans. Kallen quoted from Ross’ book: "A nation may reason: why burden ourselves with the rearing of children? Let them perish unborn in the womb of time. The immigrants will keep up the population. A people that has no more respect for its ancestors and no more pride of race than this deserves the extinction that surely awaits it." Taking vehement exception to his own characterization of this argument, Ross went on to call for restrictions on immigration. For his part, Kallen picked up on the highlighted phrases, noting that such language was found "wherever Americans of British ancestry congregate thoughtfully." By implication, he deplored this evidence of racialism among the Ango-Americans as a negation of the ideals of democracy and equality.9

At a deeper level, though, Kallen actually shared aspects of the racialist worldview of Ross. The young Jewish-American held that ethnic or racial characteristics were natural or innate, deeply rooted, and incapable of change. This made the "melting pot" a myth. While one might choose one’s profession, one’s citizenship, or even one’s religion, ethnicity was an unalterable inheritance. Even intermarriage would accomplish nothing: an Irishman would always be an Irishman; a Jew always a Jew.10

From this, Kallen drew a portrait showing America to be a grand ethnic mosaic. In American cities, "[p]robably 90 percent" of the population was "either foreign-born or of foreign stock." Such towns were "aggregations" of peoples, not unities. City life revolved around the incidental cooperation of these ethnic enclaves and a common commitment to commercial endeavors, rather than resting on "a unity of heritage, mentality, and interest." Only "South of Mason and Dixon’s line" did "the descendants of the native white stock, often degenerate and backward, prevail among the whites." Elsewhere, "the older America, whose voice and whose spirit was New England, is gone beyond recall." Attempts at "Americanization" through "adoption of English speech, of American clothes and manner" crashed in futility against the sturdier and more natural reality of true nations: the Creoles of the South, the French- Canadians of the North, the "intensely national Irish," the "universally separate Jews," the dour Scandinavians of the Middle West.

Where Ross saw the Poles as "a backward people, prolific, brutal, priest-ridden," Kallen praised their distinctive qualities: "What troubles Mr. Ross...is not really inequality; what troubles [him] is difference." Kallen underscored how true Americanization "liberated nationality." In truth, America was no longer a federation of states: it had become "a great republic consisting of a federation or commonwealth of nationalities." To force unity on this grand diversity of peoples would require draconian measures: "the complete nationalization of education," the abolition of all private and parochial schools and of the teaching of languages other than English, and a strict focus on instruction in history and literature from an English perspective. But these acts, he said, would deny both liberty and democracy.

Properly understood, America was "a democracy of nationalities, cooperating voluntarily and autonomously in the enterprise of self-realization through the perfection of men according to their kind." America’s common "politico-economic" system allowed "the realization of the distinctive individuality of each nation that composes it."11

In subsequent essays, Kallen drew out the implications of his argument. He underscored how the great immigrant influx of the 1866-1914 period had "irrevocably" built "a new America, an America of new institutions, new stocks, new ideals, with a wider and more varied cultural inheritance and therefore cultural prospect." The American idiom "make good" underscored how "values accrue to persons and institutions by achievement, not inheritance." The old America had been agrarian, where landlords and freeholders held on to a liberty rooted in land, localism, and statehood. But the Civil War gave birth to "a different type of liberty," one "progressively industrial and commercial," where growing economic interdependence "led to the conception of subordination of political rights to changing economic needs," and the transfer of political authority from local to centralized government. Kallen celebrated this "Americanization of Capitalism" as wholly compatible with a mosaic of ethnicities. "Big business is an amiable monster," he wrote, making possible "the spontaneous self-rooting and automatic growth of differentiated communities" across the continent. He underscored "the natural hyphenization of the American citizen." American democracy involved "not the elimination of differences, but the perfection and conservation of differences. It aims, through union, not at uniformity, but variety."12

This cultural liberty, Kallen insisted, extended beyond matters of language, food, and festivities: "Free enterprise for the mind is the ineluctable precondition of every other variety of free enterprise." Freedom of conscience presupposed freedom of religion, and "all cults and denominations" had found ways in America to live together peacefully, an "unprecedented" development in the "war of faiths which marks the long history of Judeo-Christianity." Kallen extended this cultural pluralism to embrace moral and familial matters as well. He mocked efforts by "the evangelical church" to govern "familial mores" and "familial habits." Human nature, he insisted, had "no inevitabilities, no rigidities"; instead, it was "variable." The intent of the American Idea was "to keep the ways of life equally open to the enterprise of whoever in good faith freely chooses to seek his or her spiritual or material fortune upon them." "[B]elieving Americans" knew that there was no fixed social order, no one form of home or family. Americanization meant learning how to live with diverse styles of life; "Americanism...denote[s] the union of the diverse."13


In his celebration of cultural pluralism in America, Kallen’s most frequent example of success was German-America. This people had spread throughout and dominated the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys. Over large parts of Ohio and Indiana, study of the German language was required for young students. In Wisconsin, "the fragrance of Deutschthum [‘German-ness’] pervades the life of the whole state." Efficient, centralized governance existed there and a strong reform-socialist presence. German was the overwhelmingly predominant "foreign" language in the public schools and universities. Throughout Middle America, German hymns rang out in churches, complemented by singing societies, "cooking" institutions, a massive German press, a German theatre, and widespread club life. The German-Americans created "Germanic museums," erected monuments to German heroes, and exchanged professors with the homeland. Moreover, "they are organized into a great national society, The German-American Alliance [sic], which is dedicated to the advancement of German culture and ideals. They encourage and make possible a close and more intimate contact with the fatherland."14

Indeed, the remarkable rise and apparent durability of German-America deserves close examination. The first German-speaking immigrants arrived in America in 1683; and a modest but steady stream followed in the 18th century, settling most often in the Delaware Valley and Pennsylvania. The early 19th century witnessed several abortive attempts to craft a "New Germania," resting on a pure German culture, in Missouri, Wisconsin, and Texas. The failed liberal revolutions of 1848 in several German states brought a wave of new immigrants to America. These ’48ers were well educated and highly idealistic and produced distinguished statesmen such as Carl Schurz (major general in the Civil War, senator from Wisconsin, minister to Spain, and Secretary of Interior). The number of Germans entering the U.S. surged after 1850. During the 1860’s, over one-third of all immigrants were German; even by the 1880’s, the proportion remained high (27.5 percent). In the whole sweep from 1840 to 1900, over five million Germans landed on American soil. Although the number of new immigrants fell off sharply after 1893, the German element in the United States remained massive. Between 1850 and 1900, they were never fewer than 25 percent of all foreign-born persons in America. And between 1880 and 1920, they were–at 30 percent–the largest single element among first-generation Americans. The German-Americans were heavily settled on farms in the greater Mississippi Valley. In 1900, 11 percent of all American farms were owned by the German-born, with family-centered production–"labor rich, cash poor"–the rule. In urban areas, meanwhile, German-Americans in 1900 constituted over half of the inhabitants of St. Louis, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Newark, Jersey City, Louisville, Indianapolis, and Columbus, and the largest single immigrant group in New York and Chicago.15

How well did they embody Kallen’s vision of a distinct and impermeable ethnic culture? Most historians concur that the large majority of German-Americans in 1900 were rapidly assimilating into American society. According to David Detjen, the Germans were "better attuned to the environment they were entering in America" than any other immigrant group. Enthusiastic about democracy, they rapidly learned to handle the prevailing political order. Once mastering the English language, they were quick to leave the "little Germany" ghettoes. After the immigrant boats from Bremen and Hamburg ceased coming in significant numbers, even the massive German press began to decline. As late as 1892, there were 727 German-language newspapers in the U.S. (including six dailies in Milwaukee alone). By 1904, though, the number had already fallen by 25 percent. The1900 census showed that German-Americans were the most likely of all immigrant groups to become naturalized: over 90 percent of German-born persons had at least taken out their first papers. German-American rhetoricians described Germans as the most assimilable of peoples. According to the speaker at the 1890 "German-American Day" rally in Milwaukee, the German is fit to become an American "because all the qualities for making one are born in him...integrity, straight forwardness, trustworthyness [sic], and enthusiasm....[The German] loves the country that sustains him and is always ready to protect it." Viewed this way, the genial melting pot inherited from the 19th century seemed to be doing its work, fating German-America for a quiet obsolescence.16

But other forces were pushing for something closer to Kallen’s vision. Some in the German-American community did not submit completely to Americanization. At the most benign level, they remained attached to the "joy of living," evidenced in boisterous songs, beer gardens, and elaborate celebrations at Christmas and Easter. But among a significant minority, there was a certain "mental reservation" about "full immersion into American culture." Conservative German-American Lutherans, for example, held strong beliefs in Bible-centered education and in the preservation of German as a church and family language. Eschewing the secular public schools, they built their own: some 2,100 of them existed by 1900. German Catholics held similar views and built their schools as well.

Among the more secular German-Americans, the growing power of Imperial Germany and the high prestige attached to early 20th-century German achievements in music, science, education, and industry sparked a greater interest in the "old Fatherland." As a prominent German-American from Cincinnati, Carl Ruemelin, explained: "We did not wish to establish here a mere New Germany, nor...did we wish simply to disappear into America....[W]e have succeeded in remaining honorably German without...being untrue to our new Fatherland." An editor at The Omaha Bee cast the formula this way: "Germania our Mother, Columbia our Bride." Such expressions were as music to Kallen’s ears. Only a few, such as the editor Emil Preetorius, prophesied "that the cultural juggling act" performed by many German-Americans "would collapse if the United States and Germany [ever] went to war."17

The rallying point for this rejuvenated German-America was the Deutsche-Amerikanischer National-Bund, or the German-American National Alliance. Founded in 1899, it followed by two years the creation of the Pan-German Alliance in Berlin, an ultra-nationalist organization designed to rally expatriate Germans around the globe in support of the Fatherland. The stated purposes of the Alliance were actually Kallen-like: to increase the feeling of unity among the German element of the United States; to pursue worthy aims (such as promotion of the German language) which do not run counter to good citizenship; to oppose nativistic influences and support further immigration; and to cultivate a spirit of friendship "between America and the Fatherland." At another level, the Alliance represented an effort to unite the "Church Germans"–Catholic, Calvinist, and Lutheran–with the secular "Club Germans" in the singing societies and athletic clubs. Historian Carl Wittke saw the Alliance as an effort "to preserve a German Lebensanschauung. It opposed prohibition, feminism, Puritanism, and ‘all follies which threaten personal liberty.’"18

Formally, the Alliance was a loose union of 6,500 distinct German-American organizations. While claiming to eschew politics, the political potency of the Alliance became evident in 1907 when the U.S. Congress took the unusual step of granting it a Congressional Charter. As an advocate of immigrant rights and a distinctive culture, the Alliance might be seen as the La Raza of its day. Appearing before the Prussian Diet in early 1914, the German-American poet and editor Louis Viereck claimed that the German-American National Alliance was "the most widespread German body the world has ever seen." Membership that year was two million; in the critical year of 1916, the Alliance would claim three million members.19

Peering deeper into the Alliance’s activities, though, one sees more complex aims. First, the German language press actively promoted the Alliance as a way to boost its flagging readership. Second, and more importantly, the Temperance campaign of the early 20th century can be seen as an indirect challenge by old-stock Americans to German culture and style of life. Detjen emphasizes how "the Prohibition movement gave German-Americans a common foe, which created a solidarity within the German-American community that had never existed before."20 The German-dominated brewing industry gave lavish financial support to the Alliance as a counter to Prohibition: "The Anti-Saloon League did more to build the Alliance than did German politicians in the Reich or the lovers of German culture in America."21 The Alliance’s president, the American-born son of a ’48er, Charles Hexamer, claimed that German-America would survive "only if we stand together and conquer the dark spirit of...Prohibition just as Siegfried slew the dragon."

At its best, the Alliance’s campaign against Prohibition can be seen as a defense of personal and cultural liberty. More dangerously, the Alliance also began to project an attitude of cultural superiority, particularly within its secular wing. The mounting "glory of the German Reich" in the years after 1900 gave evidence of the greatness of the German language and of the culture of Goethe and Schiller, Beethoven and Bach. This pride "also encouraged a sense of aloofness from...those aspects of American society and culture that German-Americans found vulgar."22 The rhetoric of German-American leaders grew more pointed. In a 1902 speech to a rally in Madison Square Garden, Dr. Hexamer declared that:

...we are all patriotic Americans....But with just cause we are also proud of our ancestry, for we spring from a great race. A race that defeated the Romans, and crushed the Old World Empire,...produced a Kant, a Fichte, a Hegel,...a Schopenhauer, ...gave the world the most exalted results of modern thought–German philosophy, liberated youth from the shackles of scholastic instruction...[and gave humanity] those astounding triumphs of modern science.

He emphasized that while the Puritan New Englanders were persecuting Quakers and burning witches, it was "our forefathers at Germantown [Pennsylvania]" who in 1688 "drew up a remonstrance against slavery–the first of all such protests."23

These German-American claims centered on Kultur. In an official 1911 history of its early years, the Alliance stated that its "lofty" purpose was to bring German idealism to a crass American people: "It feels that its duty is to remedy to the best of its ability the lack of ideals; to fill the hollowness and shallowness of purely materialistic prosperity with the solid happiness and real contentment of purely cultural achievement." Dr. Hexamer explained that "it is German culture which has advanced more than any other" and that the "German-American idea will grow and blossom into one of the tenets of the American Nation, enhancing its ideals and culture for the good of America."24 Writing in The Pan-German Gazette the same year, Robert Thiem was more expansive, arguing that "the Germanization of America has gone ahead too far to be interrupted....In a hundred years the American people will be conquered by the victorious German spirit so that it will present an enormous German empire."25 While English was the American language for commerce, German should be seen as the new "language of culture." "Consider, you German pioneers, that we are giving this people here the best thing that there is on earth–Germanic culture."26 Indeed, the more chauvinistic of the German-Americans were projecting "their heritage as a counter-culture to the dominant one," creating a most volatile situation.27 Such phrases and goals would soon come back to haunt and hurt their creators.


War exploded across Europe in August 1914. Following the German invasion of Belgium, Great Britain joined France and the Russian Empire in alliance against the German and Austro-Hungarian empires. The loyalties of German-Americans, just as the identity of America itself, were quickly put to the test.

With the United States formally neutral (although soon selling war materiel and lending money to Britain and France), reason prevailed for a time. Theodore Roosevelt actually wrote a book in 1915 (published a year later) where he labelled attempts to paint the Kaiser as a bloodthirsty devil "an absurdity." He sympathized with the German position and heaped praise on Kaiser Wilhelm II:

...as so often before in his personal and family life, he and his family have given honorable proof that they possess the qualities that are characteristic of the German people.

The Germans, "from the highest to the lowest, have shown a splendid patriotism." Roosevelt continued: "they themselves are fighting, each man for his own hearthstone, for his own wife and children, and all for the future existence of the generations yet to come." The Germans were "not merely brothers; they are largely ourselves," which underscored his call for a peace without victors.28

The war of 1914 gave another rejuvenating jolt to German-America. No one seriously argued for American entry into the conflict on the German side. Instead, German-Americans showed solidarity with the Old Fatherland by opposing American aid to the British and French. Some joined anti-war groups and most advocated a strict neutrality. They called for an embargo on all arms sales and opposed U.S. loans to Britain and France. Congressman Richard Bartholdt of Missouri introduced a bill to prohibit the export of all war materiel, warning his colleagues that Germany and Austria claimed the kinship of 25 million Americans "who cast at least five million votes." German-language newspapers and churches collected two million signatures favoring an embargo, received by Congress with a few Anglophile mutters about "a close resemblance to treason."29

A second priority was countering British war propaganda. The main vehicle for this was The Fatherland, a newspaper founded in 1914 (with $100,000 in support from Germany itself) and edited by the clever publicist George Viereck. After only two months, circulation had soared past the 100,000 mark. Arguing that it fought for the true interests of America, The Fatherland claimed to give a fair hearing to the German side of the war, to offer unbiased reporting on military campaigns, and to correct "misstatements and prejudices" in the pro-English American press. Viereck portrayed the war as a battle between German civilization and the "pan-Slavic, half-Asiatic, and thinly veneered barbarism" of Russia. The French were in it for revenge, and the British for profits and empire. He also denied that The Fatherland was a tool of German propaganda:

In fact, the German government has often treated us shabbily. The German Empire as such is nothing to us. We are with America, right or wrong, at all times. We now propose to set America right...[Many] have ridiculed the hyphen. We shall make it a virtue.

Indeed, Viereck urged readers to "Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday by subscribing to The Fatherland."30

This campaign to cast German-Americans as the true heirs of the Founders and Preservers of Union actually had some good arguments to work with. George Washington fought the same foe that Germany now faced. In fact, "just one hundred years ago the British burned Washington. Today they rule Washington." Notably, it was Germans who had defended Ft. McHenry in Baltimore from British attack under "the rockets’ red glare." Moreover, they were commanded by George Armistead ("of German blood"). While the British and French governments had encouraged the Southern Confederacy, it was Prussia and the German-Americans in the North who had supported the Union. The states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri were kept out of the Confederacy only because of unwavering German-American support for the cause of liberty and union. Editor Rudolf Cronau noted that the American colonies had waged two "wars of independence" against "selfish England," the first from 1775 to 1783, and the second, 1812-14. He now called on all American patriots "to wage a third war for independence, and to combat with spiritual weapons the Tories who, in our midst, make propaganda for King George V with the same loyalty and foul means used by their ancestors in the interests of George III."31

England as The Evil Empire of its day was another recurrent German-American theme. "This Tartuffe among the nations," declared Dr. Hexamer in late 1914, "has subjugated India, has taken Egypt..., has crushed out two South African Republics, has forced opium on China by the mouth of the cannon,...and has marked her path in history red by the streams of the blood of its victims."32 The German-American National Alliance sponsored lecture tours by Indian opponents of the British Raj and by Irish rebels against English rule.33

German-American publicists also portrayed their community as being the true patriots. Hexamer declared that "We are real Americans," unlike the pro-British advisors in the White House who were closet Englishmen. He continued: "We know what we owe our new home, the United States, namely, that we protect it from British tyranny." During the American Revolution, it was Peter Muehlenberg, Baron DeKalb, and Baron von Steuben who answered the call of Liberty. The 1500 reinforcements who arrived in Valley Forge in the darkest days of the War for Independence all came "from the soil of fair Germanized Pennsylvania." And it was German-American merchants who raised the $100,000 needed to feed the Continental Army at the same crucial time. Referring as well to Valley Forge, a poem by John L. Stoddard summarized the case against the "Anglophile" in the White House:

What say you to your nation’s chief,

Too loyal to King George,

To join his fellow-countrymen

In storied Valley Forge

When ardent patriots unveiled

Von Steuben’s statue, where

The German trained our freezing troops

And saved them from despair.


Shame on the canting Anglophile

Who rules by Britain’s grace,

And seeks to keep his sullied post

By cleaving race from race!

Shame on the blood-stained Britonettes

Who toast the King and Tsar

The people yet shall come to see

The ‘creatures’ that they are.


Great Spirit of Mount Vernon,

With Monticello’s sage,

And Franklin, Adams, Hamilton,

Rebuke this servile age!

And you, old time Americans,

Arise from sea to sea,

And once more make our starry flag

The banner of the free.34


In their desire to bear the title of "true patriots," German-American publicists also claimed Abraham Lincoln as their own, arguing that his paternal ancestor, Samuel Lincoln, was actually born a "Linkhorn" and had come out of the heavily German Berks County, Pennsylvania.35

The year 1916 brought the contest between "Anglophiles" and German-America to its climax. In March, the New York World ran an exposé of the Alliance. Using documents obtained from German agents through a comic series of errors, the World revealed Imperial German efforts to influence American public opinion, part of "an astounding chapter in the continued story of the German conspiracy against the United States." Arguing that the Alliance worked to "Prussianize" American foreign policy, the World called for its abolition.36

With the critical presidential election of 1916 looming, Alliance leaders resolved on a risk-laden strategy. President Wilson had already joined Roosevelt in mounting regular attacks on "hyphenated" America.37 Craving acceptance, German-Americans were stung by Wilson’s implication that they were traitors. As a Lutheran pastor from Minnesota wrote: "I have been as good an American as ever any of the Wilsons were. Yea, a better American, because none of my ancestors raised a hand against the Stars and Stripes like Wilson’s ancestors....He deliberately insulted us."38 Another German-American leader mused: "Just as Europe has fallen upon Germany, so America is now falling upon German-Americans, or attacking them; but we have a weapon which we can use to good effect, namely our ballots; and in these days so dark for Germanism, we must use our ballots for our Germanism."39 Gottfried Kirn, head of the Alliance’s Kansas City Chapter, warned that "the two and one-half million members of the German-American National Alliance" would soon give "very tangible expression to their feelings about neutrality." The New Yorker Herald editorialized that if German-Americans "are insulted, if men in public life turn against what is German and if they scorn and revile it–then German blood flames up, then the ‘furor teutonius’ appears, then there are German blows."

Dr. Leo Stern of the Wisconsin Alliance became an early advocate for a plan to guarantee nomination of a Republican who shared their strict understanding of neutrality. In Chicago, The Teutonic Sons of America declared Wilson "utterly unfit" to govern a society "composed in the main of people of hyphenated origin." The Chicago Chapter of the Alliance endorsed Charles Evans Hughes in late April. A month later, a National German-American Conference convened in Chicago’s Kaiserhof Hotel, "to give expression to the united opinion of the American citizens of German descent and birth with reference to certain presidential candidates," essentially endorsing Hughes. Hexamer distributed a memo at his own expense, declaring that "no self-respecting American of German birth or extraction can vote for President Wilson."40

When Hughes won the Republican nomination on June 10, German-Americans congratulated themselves on their success. But they also reaped the "Flag Day" denunciations by Wilson and Roosevelt, reported at the start of this chapter. Wilson made "anti-hyphenism," along with "he kept us out of war," his major campaign issues. In early September, he warned darkly about "the passions and intrigues of certain active groups and combinations of men amongst us who were born under foreign flags [and] injected the poison of disloyalty into our most critical affairs." He largely succeeded in casting Hughes as the candidate of "the Kaiser" and of extremists of all kinds. When the St. Louis Chapter of the Alliance endorsed Hughes and boasted of 20,000 members ready to vote as a block, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch accused the group of a "vehemently unAmerican," pro German conspiracy.41

As the November electoral results came in, the failure of the German-American electoral strategy was obvious. Wilson won a resounding victory; he even carried St. Louis. Many "Church Germans," it turned out, remained strictly neutral in the campaign, including German Catholic leaders, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the Mennonites. While detailed polling analysis showed that Americans of German birth did vote disproportionately more Republican than the population as a whole, a surprising number of German-American ballots actually swung to the Socialist Party candidate, Allen Benson. Ambivalence about Hughes (who never quite repudiated Roosevelt’s "anti-hyphen" outbursts) and a fatal misreading by Alliance leaders of their influence within their own community spelled ruin. Not only did Wilson win. "Prohibition" initiatives triumphed in a number of states, as did Woman’s Suffrage. The German-American National Alliance went into "a sudden tailspin." In early 1917, Imperial Germany reinstituted open submarine warfare against Allied freighters, and on February 7, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Germany. Meeting that night, Alliance officers threw in the towel and endorsed the U.S. actions. In an Open Letter, Dr. Hexamer wrote: "the German-American National Alliance must, as always, take its stand...as a patriotic institution, otherwise it has no right to exist." A Declaration of War came less than two months later.42


But protestations of loyalty by the German-American leaders were not believed. Government officials declared that unlike most other ethnic bodies, the German-American cause had "assumed the character of a separatist movement." The 6,500 local societies within the Alliance had become "centers of German propaganda." The German-American newspapers were "more or less under the influence of ‘the new German spirit.’" Editor Hermann Hagedorn warned that German-Americans were "prisoners of an illusion," tied to a sentimental view of the old Fatherland. Germany "sent silver-tongued orators to thrill" the German-American, "she sent ponderous professors to give his beer-dreams a pseudo-intellectual basis; she sent secret agents; she bought newspapers." The Chicago Tribune warned that "110,000 German agents" were active in the U.S. Dr. Earl Bishop Downer, former physician for the Russian Royal Family, told the same paper that "the German of today gets his greatest pleasure in inflicting torture, mental and physical, upon a helpless victim. Tortured, outraged women, blazing homes, murdered men and women, and children–they are the sights that please the eye of the Hun."43

What one historian calls the "furor Americanus" followed with the open suppression and persecution of all things German-American. U.S. Attorney General Thomas Gregory organized 200,000 "volunteer detectives" into the American Protective League. Their task was to give the Justice Department information on "suspected aliens and disloyal citizens." The Council of National Defense, designed to speed the assimilation of Germans and other hyphenates, was extended to each state. The U.S. Post Office gained authority to censor or shut down German and other foreign language papers. Meanwhile, the Division of Work Among the Foreign Born of the Committee on Public Information "mobilized the foreign-language societies and the foreign-language press in the service of the United States," turning those that remained into semi-official war propaganda arms.44

Out in the states, countless vigilante acts directed against German-Americans occurred. In Illinois, there were "nightrider" attacks on Mennonite churches with skulls and crossbones painted over the doors. A mob demolished the piano of a German singing society in Eugene, Oregon. Eight men entered a Birmingham, Ohio, pastor’s study, and burned his books. In Bishop, Texas, a mob flogged a German Lutheran pastor. The tar-and-feathering of German-speaking clergy was common. Boy Scouts burned German-language papers in Columbus, Ohio, while the National Guard torched German books in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Pacifist Mennonites and Hutterites were jailed and treated with unusual brutality. German language classes–called a "distinct menace to Americanism"–disappeared from many school districts; among all the others, the number of students fell sharply. In South Dakota, authorities closed a Mennonite flour mill when a customer reported finding glass chips in the flour. The spirit of the age was ably expressed in a pamphlet linking the Alliance to the brewing industry, A Disloyal Combination: "Everything that is pro-German [in this country] must go. The German Press. The teaching of German in the elementary schools....German alliances and the whole German propaganda must be abolished....The brewers and allied liquor trades that back such an alliance should suffer the same penalty." Somewhat surprisingly, given the passions roused, only one confirmed death occurred during the frenzy: the lynching by 400 Illinoisans of Robert Praeger, called "an enemy alien" and "German spy" by the Chicago Tribune; in fact, he was a nearly blind Socialist Party organizer caught "speaking German" to a woman over a backyard fence (the sixteen persons ultimately charged in the case were acquitted on June 1, the jury accepting defense arguments "that the present war situation had developed a new ‘unwritten law’ which had been invoked by the men who hanged Praeger because he was alleged to be a German spy").45

The once mighty Alliance came under public fire as well. In January 1918, Senator William Henry King of Utah introduced a bill to revoke its Congressional Charter. During an April hearing, critics of the Alliance levelled an array of charges. It was an unofficial arm of "the Junker-dominated Pan-German Alliance." Instead of Americanizing German immigrants, the Alliance "has done much to keep German immigrants German." It worked "to organize for political action along racial lines." The Alliance sought to turn America "into a feif of the German Empire." It had "secret income." The Alliance "has aroused racial antagonism and has caused opposition to processes of assimilation." And it "has developed a rabid and violent opposition to prohibition." The organization mounted no real defense, and in July, the King bill cleared Congress on unanimous votes, abrogating the 1907 charter.46

More broadly, the associational structure of German-America largely disappeared. Thousands of societies folded. The German language swiftly disappeared from Catholic and Lutheran churches. The number of German-language newspapers fell from 554 in 1910 to only 234 by 1920; more importantly, total daily circulation in the latter year was only 25 percent of its 1910 level.47 Historian John Hawgood concludes that German-America did not survive 1918: "The war had so enhanced the distance between the German and the American that no hyphen could stretch from the one to the other….German-Americanism was obsolete."48


In its place came a call for "100 percent Americanism," the demand for "an unprecedented degree of national solidarity, loyalty, and social conformity." Among some advocates, the term held a fairly vague meaning. Roosevelt, for example, said that "we must make Americanism and Americanization mean the same thing to the native born and to the foreign born; to the man and to the woman." Regarding specifics, though, he offered only somewhat obtuse–if interesting–ideas such as "cooperative ownership and management" of corporations so "that the tool users may, so far as possible, become the tool owners."49

At a more specific and mean-spirited level, Anglo-Saxonism enjoyed a brief period of political dominance. Since the late 1880’s, a string of books–such as Edward Ross’ The Old World in the New–had appeared, casting the Anglo-Saxons of Old England "as a simple, upright, freedom-loving race" binding together "Protestantism and Liberty." William J. Ripley’s 1899 tome, The Races of Europe, divided the Continent’s peoples into the Teuton, Alpine, and Mediterranean races. While Germans were a mix of Teuton and Alpine types, he argued that the English were more purely Teutonic. Madison Grants’ The Passing of the Great Race, published in 1916, called the "melting pot" ideal a folly. The Nordic peoples were the true master race, Grant explained. Racial self-preservation "clearly demanded" restriction of the "human flotsam" forming the current immigration.50

Cultural anti-hyphenism, a tumbling birthrate among the native born, and the new "scientific" Anglo-Saxonism blended together into a successful push for immigration restriction. The War against Germany "destroyed most of what remained of the old faith in America’s capacity to fuse all men into a ‘nation of nations.’"51 A 1917 Immigration Act, passed over Wilson’s veto, excluded adults unable to read some language, mapped out an "Asiatic barred zone," and denied entry to revolutionaries and anarchists. Concern over German-American loyalty faded after 1920, to be replaced by more racialist concerns. Grant’s appeal to preserve "Nordic America" led directly to the Law of 1921, which limited European immigration to 3 percent of the foreign-born of each nationality, according to the 1910 Census. This slashed overall pre-war entry levels by nearly 75 percent, to about 350,000 per annum. The Law of 1924 perfected the exclusion of Asians and moved the census base back to 1890, so allotting 85 percent of total immigration to Northwestern Europe and largely shutting off the flow from Southern and Eastern Europe.

The "Americanization" campaign took other manifestations as well. The Chicago Tribune editorialized in April 1919, that "only an agile and determined immigrant, possessed of overmastering devotion to the land of his birth, can hope to escape Americanization by at least one of the many processes now being prepared for his special benefit."52 Most Chambers of Commerce boasted "Americanization Committees," as did the local chapters of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and the YW- and YMCA. In January 1920, U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer launched his infamous "Raids" across the country. Now worried that immigrant communities sheltered Bolsheviks rather than German spies, authorities arrested tens of thousands of suspected Communists and Radicals for sedition and other crimes of disloyalty. Many were of German and Scandinavian ancestry. A majority of the aliens seized were simply expelled from the country. Meanwhile, the newly reorganized Ku Klux Klan enjoyed an explosive growth in membership, much of it outside the Old South. By 1924, up to four million Americans had joined the secret society’s ranks. Behind fear of the immigrant, the Catholic, the Jew, and the Negro lay a "pathetic, if dangerous" effort "to restore a kind of order and morality that had all but disappeared from American life."53

The two new Amendments to the U.S. Constitution from this time can also be seen as motivated by anti-hyphenism, in general, and by an effort to dissolve German-America, in particular. Where the German-American National Alliance cast all restrictions on the liquor traffic as nativistic encroachments on personal liberty, the ratification of the 18th Amendment on January 29, 1919, meant that German-Americans "will eitherbe compelled to change their habits and adjust themselves to the new environment or else find some beer-soaked, Bacchus-dominated spot in the fatherland and go there."54 The Alliance’s fervent opposition to women’s suffrage, seen as a threat to the traditional family order, also came to an end in August 1920, with ratification of the 19th Amendment. Anglo-America stood victorious over its Germanic foes, abroad and at home.


Yet at the very time of the defeat symbolized by the 19th Amendment, the familistic inheritance of German-America was moving toward acceptance, or victory, on other–and arguably more important–fronts. Among the "Church Germans," leaders had perceived for some time that "their communities and families were under siege from foreign ‘American’ values," notably extreme individualism and materialism. In response, they began in the 1880’s to articulate a new "corporatist ideology." With both European roots and a distinct American accent, this worldview emphasized the vital role of the intermediary institutions of family, church, and community: those social structures standing between the individual and the state. Historian Jon Gjerde, in his important volume The Minds of the West, shows how "the flowering of intellectual movements carried from Europe...built upon fears of familial and social decline." In response, these idea movements sought to privilege "natural institutions" such as family and community, and protect them from "artificial" structures such as great corporation and state.55

Gjerde emphasizes that the new corporatist thought "flourished in German speaking areas" of America, "where romantic notions of an organic society composed of people enveloped by groups" took root. Among German Roman Catholics, the influence of the new Social Catholicism was particularly strong in its affirmation of family autonomy and the vital role of small communities of virtue. In 1891, both the German-American Catholic Central-Verein and the Kathiolikentag passed resolutions praising Leo XIII’s new encyclical on the condition of labor, Rerum Novarum. The effort by Bishop Wilhelm E. von Ketteler to encourage Christian labor movements and social reform in Germany appeared after 1900 to growing praise in German-American periodicals. Father John Ryan, Irish-American promoter of the living "family wage," found considerable support among German-Americans. They embraced the idea that fathers, as heads-of-households, deserved a wage adequate to support a wife and children at home. At the Central-Verein’s 1901 convention, Father Anton Heiter of Buffalo called for the "decisive championing of the cause of religion in public life according to the principles laid down by Leo XIII." He stressed the particular need for "the influence of religion...in the relations between labor and capital." German-Americans must now "enter into the Christian social movement which Leo XIII has so happily inaugurated and to which our Catholic brethren of Germany owe their great success." When the Central-Verein adopted its "social program" in 1908, director Frederich P. Kenkel declared: "It becomes imperative that steps be taken to conserve the German [reform] tradition, sentiment, and feeling and to win the young German-American for the [social] cause for which the Central-Verein stands."56

German Protestants showed a similar turn toward communitarian thought. Among Lutherans in the Missouri Synod, the intellectual leadership of C.F.W. Walther emphasized the structures that sanctioned the power of the congregation and the family, rather than those of individual and state. The family mediated relations between parents and children, husbands and wives, and was "the Foundation not only of the Church but also of the State." Meanwhile, many Dutch and German Calvinists embraced the anti-liberal thought of Abraham Kuyper. This theologian rejected the "artificial" authority crafted on individual free will, embracing instead "a God-willed community, a living human organism" such as religious community or family. He wrote: "The Home! Wonderful creation of God!...As for the individual the proceeds of life are from the heart, so for society are the proceeds of life from the Home."57 As Gjerde concludes:

In rural Middle West societies, the local community thus was central for [German] Roman Catholics, who followed this corporatist ideology. German Lutherans, under the leadership of Walther, who was also influenced by nineteenth-century German corporatist theory, empowered the congregation and the community so that the individual was connected organically to the group interest....Kuyper maintained that the family was the basic unit of society because it was the only social institution that predated the Fall and had an express mandate from God.58

Indeed, internal and external observers had long recognized the special role of the family within the German-American community. "German family life has been held up as a model of peace and happiness," reported George Meyer in 1890. In his 1909 history of the Germans in America, Albert Bernhardt Faust explained: "The German has furnished and continues to furnish an example of simple life and home life....The German is economical and thrifty, and has shown that plain living is conducive to health and progress." Moreover, the "middle class German is fond of home life, and takes his family with him in pursuit of simple pleasures." Jane Addams of Hull-House testified to the "strong family affections" found between immigrant German parents and their children and "an effort to bring together the old life and the new, a respect for the older cultivation."59 More boldly, Dr. Hexamer described "the German family" as "the holy place, where love and honor are united, where the children...look with respect and also with heartfelt love to their parents, who live for them as a model." Testifying to this distinctive home-centeredness, German-Americans were the most likely of all ethnic groups in the U.S. to own their own homes. The 1910 census showed 26 percent of German-born Americans as homeowners, compared to a mere 5 percent among the native born.60

Individualism, materialism, and feminism stood as foes of the German-American home. The German Catholic Tribune editorialized in 1899 that individualism was "a cold-hearted principle," one tearing "man from man" and proclaiming "selfishness as the mainspring of all human action." The Luxemburger Gazette said that individualism inflicted "great wounds...if it is not checked in time." In his 1889 booklet, The Question of Nationality in Its Relation to the Catholic Church in the United States, Anton Walburg emphasized how the "true Americanism" of the Founders was devoted to the "public good" and the "general welfare." "False Americanism," resting on "infidelity and materialism,... adores the golden calf and is directed to the accumulation of wealth." He warned: "A republic that is not based upon morality and religion...is ripe for an ignoble grave." A 1901 article in The Catholic Tribune, examining "the Disorganization of the Family," pointed to "the increase of crime against born and unborn children," "Godless schools," and the "spirit of pleasure-seeking...that draws the parents from the home, [and] separates them from the children, for whom they have no time." It was fear that "the ‘German’ conception of the home and family was being undermined" by radical American individualism which accounted for the German-American National Alliance’s fierce opposition to women’s suffrage. The same attitude explained the strong German-American preference for rural life. In an 1887 pamphlet, Nicholas Gonner argued that the Germans preferred farming in order to be close to God, while the Anglo-Americans preferred manufacturing and trade. As Gjerde explains, rural living "not only kept farmers close to nature, but also safeguarded religious attitudes and encouraged strong, unified, and large families."61

Motherhood was particularly prized by the German-Americans. Faust was effusive in his praise of the "domestic type" of German-American woman and her formative example to the nation as a whole: "[O]ur country [i.e., America] would not be what it is in vigor, population, and the bedrock civilization that comes from home training" in her absence. He continued:

Historically, the emphasis laid upon the household arts, [such] as cooking, sewing, care of the house and children, by so large a formative element of the population from the earliest period of German immigration to the present time, cannot have resulted otherwise than in impressing the economic advantage of the principle and furnishing an example for immitation.

In a 1915 speech on the "Great German Ideals," Dr. Hexamer described "that noblest of creatures, the German hausfrau, the German mother!" The Alliance president added: "Happy is he who had a German mother, who could pass his childhood in a German home. What depth of feeling, what innate love are embodied in the German home! How sacred is the German family."62 Others reported that German-American Jewish women also craved training in "domesticity...in the arts of housekeeping, cooking, and motherhood." They flocked to the Settlement Houses to absorb–in the words of a contemporary pamphlet The Language of America–an "American idealism expressed in the practice of thrift, cleanliness, the support of a good home, [and] the education of children."63

The growing implication was that an unusually strong "maternal instinct" no longer stood as just a distinctive German trait; motherhood was becoming "uniquely American." The hausfrau was making the transition to American mother and homemaker. More broadly, the German-American home was "no longer... regarded as a weapon of Deutschtum [‘German-ness’]" but instead seemed to be serving "as an influence in breaking down Deutschtum" for the greater goal of familial strength and social reform in America.64


Emerging parallel to the German communalist vision of family-centered reform was the Settlement House movement and its direct offshoot, The Maternalist Campaign. The philosophy of the Settlement House ran counter to attempts to restrict, segregate, disenfranchise, or ghetto-ize the immigrant. Rather, in the words of historian Gwendolyn Mink, it offered a new vision of citizenship; one largely achieved by recognizing "one motherhood from diversely situated women":

The manly citizen waged war and engaged in productive labor; the woman citizen raised children and thereby promoted political reproduction. The reformers believed that all women shared the maternalist vocation and that therefore all women controlled the future of the Republic.

As Edith Bremer, German-American executive of the YWCA’s International Institute, explained, "to men it may appear that America’s great concern is over the immigrants who could be citizens and soldiers....[But] to America the ‘immigration problem’ is a great ‘problem’ of homes....When it comes to homes, women and not men become the important factors."65 McClymer concludes from a less objective, but still useful, angle: "the [maternalist] movement politicized domestic stereotypes of women–transforming images of women as homemakers, wives, and mothers into key components of the ‘American Way of Life.’"66

Hull-House, under the guidance of Jane Addams, stands as the prime source of The Maternalist Campaign, through both ideas and personnel. Sometimes called "the monasteries of the nineteenth century," Settlement Houses sprang up within impoverished, immigrant, urban neighborhoods, where upper-middle-class women could assist the new arrivals in their adjustment to American life. True to her roots in rural Illinois, Addams was guardedly hostile to the new industrial order. She indicted "the ungodly industrial relation" and "the machine" which "dominate[s] the workman and reduce[s] his production into a mechanical distortion."67 To counter the alienation of workers from their work, Addams launched projects such as the Arts and Crafts Society to reintroduce ideals of craftsmanship into the lives of workers.

As a social reactionary in this vein, she sought to "preserve and keep whatever of value" the immigrants’ peasant life had obtained. Hull-House also worked to reassert the authority of parents in the eyes of immigrant children. A central strategy was "to recover for the household arts something of their early sanctity and meaning." Addams founded a Labor Museum to reveal "the charm of woman’s primitive activities"–"the milking, the gardening, the marketing"–which "are such direct expressions of the solicitude and affection at the basis of all human life." The Museum, featuring active displays of spinning, weaving, and food preservation, showed immigrant children something of "the freedom and beauty" of the peasant life and "how hard it must be to exchange it all for a two-room tenement, and to give up a beautiful homespun kerchief for an ugly department store hat." The Museum also gave complementary courses in modern housekeeping, showing the historic bonds between tasks done in the peasant household and those now to be done in the urban home.68

This reconciliation of old and new extended to culture as well. Addams described how she had encouraged immigrant German women to perform music or read poetry from the old country, and how their children showed "a growing touch of respect" and "a rising enthusiasm for German literature and reminiscence on the part of all the family."69

The Maternalist Campaign took shape through women who worked within or who were inspired by Hull-House, among them Julia Lathrop, Florence Kelley, Grace Abbott, Sophonisba Breckinridge, Mary Anderson, Josephine Baker, MD, and Lillian Wald. Relative to "American- ization," the key figure was Frances Kellor.

An attorney and former Hull-House worker, Kellor became vice chair of the National Americanization Committee in 1916 and an executive officer of The Committee on Immigration of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 1918, she assumed the post of director of Americanization Work for The Federal Bureau of Education. Kellor underscored that 78 percent of New York City residents in 1910 were either foreign born or of foreign-born parents. German-Americans there numbered 544,000, from which had come "the pacifist movement" and "a foreign language press circulation that for so long has poisoned the hearts and minds of our foreign-born peoples."70 Kellor hoped that "[s]urely there must be some key to assimilation which will open the doors of racial and American institutions alike, through which both the native and foreign born may pass freely."71

In subsequent essays and lectures, she insisted that this "key" was the home. The factory system and military service Americanized the men. Public schools Americanized the children, who became "the interpreter[s] to the family of American life–a bad thing for family morale and discipline." This left "the foreign-born woman and her home" as "the most vulnerable spots in our whole defense as well as in our democracy." The realities of urban American life had crowded the immigrant woman "into tenements, cut her off from American influence, and shown her all the ugliness of low pay, long hours, and over-crowding, exploitation, and temptation." Building Americans must begin with her, to renew the family as the basic building block of society, among native and foreign born alike:

If we start with the family and work upward, we get a sound city that will stand the strain of any crisis because its weakest links are strong. Every great strain and burden eventually rests upon the family....Approached from the neighborhood and family and met squarely, the problem of Americanization can be solved adequately.72

The resulting Maternalist Campaign might be fairly labelled pro-natalist. The idea of birth control stood as abhorrent. Instead, the goal was to encourage maternity through better health care for all mothers before, during, and after pregnancy. Jane Addams, Julia Lathrop, and Florence Kelley all had seen close relatives–mothers and siblings–die of childbirth, and all were determined to lower the infant- and maternal-mortality rates. They were also inspired by the immigrant women they worked with. The "isolation of the foreign-born mother" was a special problem, to be sure; but the Maternalists were convinced that these mothers wanted the same high standards of health care as American mothers: "all foreign mothers want their children to keep well." Moreover, there was the curious fact–reported by Josephine Baker–that the "highest baby death rate we have during the first month of life is among the babies of American mothers. Every race group of foreign birth we have in this country shows a better record in this respect than our native born." A greater likelihood of breastfeeding among the foreign-born was the most likely cause. These factors underscored how "the Americanization program in this country" was directly bound "to the health problems of women and children."73

This conclusion rested, in turn, on the understanding of motherhood as a universal trait. The Maternalists held that all women had "a common identity as nurturers and a common gift for caring."74 These characteristics were innate and the consequence of natural differences between the sexes. But now they were threatened. Ellen Richards, the founder of modern home economics, emphasized how industrialization had disrupted the traditional American homestead:

...that place of busy industry, with occupation for the dozen children, no longer exists. Gone out of it are the industries, gone out of it are ten of the children, gone out of it in large measure is that sense of moral and religious responsibility which was the keystone of the whole.

It was now necessary to build schools of domestic science for girls, to train them up as good mothers and fit wives, "to teach those means of social control which may build yet again a home life which will prove the nursery of good citizens and of efficient men and women with a sense of responsibility to God and man for the use they made of their lives."75 Before an audience at her alma mater, Vassar College, Julia Lathrop told the young female scholars about the appalling lack of good data and research on the current status of the family. She called on women of the universities to create "a single center of training for research in the problems of the family," in order to give the woman in the home "the status of a profession," and to "elevate into a national system, strong, free, elastic, the cult of the American family."76 The same emphasis on the mother at home filled the pages of the U.S. Bureau of Naturalization’s Suggested Lesson Topics for immigrant girls and women. They included "the child," "child welfare," "the mother and the neighborhood," "the mother and the school," and "the mother and the community." Indeed, 148 of 151 topics dealt with domestic and maternal duties. Citizenship for the immigrant woman was to be mediated through her maternal role.77 As Mink correctly summarizes:

From women’s universal role as natural educators, [the Maternalists] derived not only women’s crucial role in creating the citizenry, but an educational strategy for reforming mothers. Maternalists accordingly eschewed the dominant racial discourse and substituted the promise of assimilation for the ideology of subordination and exclusion.78

The counterpart to maintaining the mother in the home, for the Maternalists, was securing a family-wage for fathers. Here, their interests converged with those of the trade labor unions, who also recognized "the wage base of familial existence." The goal was to combine the Maternalists’ emphasis on mothercare with the trade union emphasis on the dignity of the home and the self-reliance and responsibility of the male breadwinner. On the one hand, this meant restrictions on the supply of labor. As Alfred Strasser, the German-American president of The Cigar-Makers’ International, explained: "We cannot drive the females out of the trades, but we can restrict their daily quota of labor through factory laws."79 On the other hand, it meant securing higher wages for fathers. Pointing to research showing that as the father’s average income doubled, the infant mortality rate was more than halved, Julia Lathrop concluded that "a decent income, self-respectingly earned by the father, is the beginning of wisdom, the only fair division of labor between the father and the mother of young children, and the strongest safeguard against a high infant mortality rate."80 Florence Kelley celebrated the fact that "the American home has hitherto been the most fortunate home of the working class in the civilized world, because...the little children in America have had their mothers with them much more than the little children in the other industrial countries."81

When a breadwinning husband died or became disabled, the Maternalists’ solution was mothers’ pensions, normally provided through local and state governments. Such pensions should be large enough to allow the mother to remain at home without outside work. As a Jewish delegate to the 1909 White House Conference on the Care of Dependent Children explained: "She has rendered to society a service by becoming a mother, and she continues to render a social service if she devotes herself to her child and brings her child up to good citizenship. Then society is morally bound to help the mother discharge that purpose."82

In short, the Maternalists held that the universality of motherhood was stronger as a force for social unity than were ethnic and cultural differences pushing for social decay. They defined the family as the true crucible of Americanism, and held up the mother in the home and the family wage as their economic and political program for renewal. The "moral soundness" of the immigrant industrial family was rooted in the family’s innate "conservatism," which made it "the source and spring of the life of the next economic period."83 The Maternalist educator C. Cora Winchell underscored the natural organization of the family around the infant-mother bond. In "her business of homemaking," each woman contributed to "a clear and well-defined body of principles of right living and right thinking." Indeed, Americanization was largely the task of sharing the values of the American home: "The silent influence of the good housekeeper, surrounded by neighbors from other lands who are eager to learn American ways, is a potent factor in the great work of Americanization."84 Frances Kellor underscored how "[t]he first principle in race fusion is the opportunity to establish a home base in a country and a genuine love for that home. The home sense in the many peoples that have come to America is inseparable from the sense of the soil itself.... Whatever there is of poetry in their lives is associated with the soil, and their worship is inseparable from it." Kellor concluded: "A systematic effort should be made to give [the immigrants] a land interest and a home stake and to get them close to the soil."

"[P]aternalistic and patriarchal assumptions about the nature of gender"85... the homemaking mother.... the social or "family" wage for father...maternal pensions...the campaign for infant life or "baby saving"...neighborhood...the central role of home ownership...attachment to the soil: these attributes of Maternalism could also stand as a fairly close definition of German family ideals. As the first and largest immigrant group passing through the Settlement House environment, it may be that the German-Americans did shape their "friendly visitors" and their "Settlement workers," perhaps as much as they, themselves, were shaped. Meanwhile, the communalist theories spreading among German-American Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists gave a philosophical and theological framework to pro-family and baby saving strategies that went well beyond the practical lessons of Hull-House. Born within German-America, this rooted form of communitarianism began to enter American political discourse.


Between 1912 and 1927, The Maternalist Campaign claimed a remarkable series of public policy victories, measures that set a pattern for half a century. The Maternalists focused on family reconstruction, built on clear distinctions between male and female natures and responsibilities, held "broad sympathy for the immigrants," warned against reckless Americanization, and were consistent opponents of racism,86 assumptions that guided all of their programmatic efforts.

Their first policy victory came with creation of the U.S. Children’s Bureau in 1912. The idea had emerged nine years earlier, when Lillian Wald queried Florence Kelley: "If the government can have a department to take such an interest in the cotton crop, why can’t it have a bureau to look after the nation’s child crop?" In early 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt endorsed the idea, and his successor, William Howard Taft, signed the measure into law three years later. Most of the women’s associations, including the conservative National Congress of Mothers, rallied in support. Housed in the Department of Commerce and Labor, the new agency had a miniscule budget and a staff of only fifteen. Yet Julia Lathrop, of Hull-House experience, became the Bureau’s first director (indeed, the first woman ever to head up a Federal agency) and she mobilized thousands of volunteers in the Settlement Houses and Women’s Clubs to advance the Bureau’s agenda.87

Its principle focus was "Baby Saving" through better mothering and family life. Lathrop explained that "the first and simplest duty of women is to safeguard the lives of mothers and babies." This meant raising the status of motherhood and improving the "partnership" between wife and husband, so they were "equally responsible" for the family: "the father for the support of the home, the mother for the wise comfort and peace within it." Toward these ends, the Bureau published two path-setting books: Prenatal Care (1913) and Infant Care (1914); 1.5 million copies of the latter circulated over the next ten years. Bureau bulletins showed a deep respect for women’s work in the home and for "the profession of parenthood." Where most physicians were aloofin their relationships with expectant mothers, the Bureau treated them "as colleagues, not subordinates." According to historian Molly Ladd-Taylor, Bureau personnel "held a respectful, though somewhat romantic, view of immigrant mothers who seemed to share their cultural values regarding children." Although sometimes engaged in questionable projects (such as the attempt to convince Italian-born mothers to give up spaghetti), the Bureau was popular among its clients, operating "more as a distant relative or friend than a government bureaucracy." Lathrop personally answered each year hundreds of letters sent to her from young mothers, an example followed throughout the Bureau. Detailed Bureau research in Johnstown, New York, underscored–in Lathrop’s words–the "coincidence of underpaid fathers" and "overworked and ignorant mothers" as the leading cause of infant mortality. In urging "family wages" for men and full-time mothering for women, the Bureau advanced a distinctively "American" family life.88

The Bureau also took up an idea pioneered by Josephine Baker in New York, and launched Little Mothers Leagues. Girls, particularly from immigrant families, were recruited into clubs teaching baby feeding and care. By 1915, 50,000 girls in 44 cities were in Little Mothers Leagues, complete with the paraphernalia of merit badges, club meetings, and the like. As one script for a League skit read:

Child: I belong to the Little Mothers League. They teach us how babies ought to be kept....

Mother: Baby seems to be getting fatter and better every day since I stopped giving it fruit and the other things you told me were not good for the baby.

The Bureau also religiously promoted the breastfeeding of infants and discouraged early weaning and infant formula use. The Maternalists understood how maternal nursing made for healthier babies and also reinforced the parental division of labor. By 1916, Josephine Baker could testify before Congress that "We have induced most of the mothers who come to visit us to nurse their children," which had markedly reduced infant mortality.89

Other Maternalist victories followed. In 1914, Congress elevated Mothers’ Day to a national holiday, to be celebrated the second Sunday of each May. The Smith-Lever Extension Act of 1914 created the nationwide extension program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While men on farms would be given training and assistance in improved farming techniques, specialists would train farm women in home economics and housekeeping skills. The youth component of the program would follow the same division of labor: crops, animal husbandry, and machine maintenance for boys and the household arts for girls. The Smith-Hughes Vocational Training Act came in 1917. This measure followed growing Maternalist complaints over the failure of public schools to prepare young women for their futures. As Florence Kelley explained in 1914:

The schools may truthfully be said actively to divert the little girls from homelife....For the schools teach exactly those things which prepare girls to become at the earliest moment cash children and machine tenders: punctuality, regularity, attention, obedience, and a little reading and writing–excellent things in themselves, but wretched preparation for...homemaking a decade later.

Jane Addams concurred that homemaking classes in the schools would assist immigrant girls in connecting "the entire family with American food and household habits." Indeed, the emerging homemaking class might be seen–in Gwendolyn Mink’s words–"as the fulcrum of the maternalists’ Americanization strategy." As the first Federal involvement in elementary education, the Smith-Hughes Act provided funds for teacher training and salaries in agriculture, the industrial arts, and homemaking. The program rapidly spread across the country.90

The "Baby-Saving" campaign enjoyed other successes, as well. In 1914, the Children’s Bureau gave support to a "Baby Week" in Chicago. The idea quickly caught on. The General Federation of Women’s Clubs, the National Congress of Mothers, and the Bureau co-sponsored a National Baby Week in 1916 (March 4-11). Over 4,200 communities took part through lectures, baby-care seminars, and parades. "Best Mother Contests" tested mothers’ knowledge and devotion. Orators celebrated motherhood as a sacred vocation and vital to national welfare: "Like military heroes, mothers with infants in arms paraded down Main Street to the applause of flag waving townspeople." Congress declared 1918 to be "The Year of the Child," and the Bureau’s campaign to promote good mothering and reduce infant mortality involved an amazing 11 million women. The program included the weighing and measuring of 6.5 million preschool children.91

Meanwhile, as the nation mobilized for war in 1917, Lathrop helped to craft new forms of compensation for soldiers and sailors. Building on "the theory that the family income is profoundly disturbed by the mobilizing of the armed forces" and seeking "to protect infancy and children," the pay system would have "features entirely novel in the United States." One half of the soldier’s pay would go directly to the wife and children, and an extra family allowance was provided: keyed to family size, it was valued at up to $50 per month for four or more children. The plan also featured death and disability benefits for widows and children.92 As Lathrop told a conference on child welfare:

The power to maintain a decent family living standard is the primary essential of child welfare. This means a living wage and wholesome working life for the men, a good and skillful mother at home to keep the house and comfort all within it. Society can afford no less and can afford no exceptions. This is a universal need.93

The Maternalists’ greatest achievement, though, was probably passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act in 1921. Drafted by Julia Lathrop, the measure would expand the "Mother- and Baby-Saving" campaign. Lathrop showed that in 1918 maternal deaths in childbirth counted 23,000, up from 16,000 two years earlier. Eighty percent of expectant mothers still received no prenatal advice or care. The infant mortality rate stood at 100 deaths per 1000 live births, about twice that found in Western European countries. Using the Smith-Lever Act as a model, Sheppard-Towner would provide funds for state-level programs of instruction in maternal and infant hygiene, prenatal child-health clinics, and visiting nurses for pregnant and new mothers. The measure set no income limits on potential clients, although its structure insured that most help would be focused on rural and blue-collar women.

The American Medical Association [AMA] fiercely opposed the bill as "German paternalism" and "sob stuff." However, women’s organizations, ranging from The Women’s Trade Union League to the Daughters of the American Revolution, actively sought its passage, forming "one of the strongest lobbies that has ever been seen in Washington." When a powerful Congressman blocked the measure in a House Committee, Florence Kelley appeared before its members and compared Congress to King Herod and the slaughter of the innocents, asking: "Why does Congress wish women and children to die?" Endorsed early on by The Democratic, Socialist, Prohibition, and Farmer-Labor parties, Republican Presidential candidate Warren G. Harding gave it his support in an October 1, 1920, "Social Justice Day" speech. After amending the measure to insure that participation would be strictly voluntary and homes not invaded, a nervous Congress–soon to face fully enfranchised female voters for the first time–gave the women what they wanted on a 279 to 39 vote in the House and a 63-7 vote in the Senate. President Harding signed it into law.94

Sheppard-Towner, in Lathrop’s view, encouraged "the Americanization of the family." It "is not to get the Government to do things for the family," she explained. "It is to create a family that can do things for itself." In its traditionalist assumptions regarding marriage, fertility, and motherhood, Sheppard-Towner "was also the first national policy to tie cultural and gender role conformity to social welfare."95 Forty-five of 48 states eventually took part in the program (only the AMA-dominated states of Illinois, Massachusetts, and Connecticut stayed out). Funding varied between $1.4 and $2 million a year. By 1929, Sheppard-Towner workers had held 183,252 prenatal and child health conferences, helped establish 2,978 permanent maternity clinics, visited 3,131,996 homes, and distributed 22,030,489 pieces of literature. Between 1925 and 1929 alone, the program reached 4 million babies and 700,000 expectant mothers. The majority of clients were rural, Lathrop and staff having learned from Children’s Bureau correspondence that "white farm women...were the main audience for Infant Care and Prenatal Care." Moreover, fertility remained higher in rural areas, meaning that farms were still "the nursery of the nation."

All evidence points to the grass roots popularity of the Sheppard-Towner work. As one farm woman wrote:

I don’t see how we poor mothers could do without them [prenatal clinics]....I am the mother of 14 children, and I never was cared for till I begin going to the goodwill center clinic [sic]....We are so glad the day has come when we have someone to care for our babies when they get sick.

And the nation’s infant mortality rate did go down, from 76 per thousand in 1921 to 69 by 1928. In fact, deaths by gastrointestinal diseases–the ones most preventable through education–fell by 45 percent.96 Sheppard-Towner saved babies and encouraged rural families.


The repeal of the Sheppard-Towner Act in 1929 brought a temporary halt to The Maternalist Campaign. The Act had been renewed for two years in 1927, but at the price of its automatic termination thereafter. Between 1928 and 1932, Congress saw fourteen bills introduced to reverse this repeal, but they all failed. Fierce opposition to Sheppard-Towner came from the American Medical Association and two organizations, "Woman Patriots" and "Sentinels of the Republic," who cast Sheppard-Towner as the entering wedge of "socialism." In a limited sense, they were right, for Sheppard-Towner was the first Federal measure to introduce an "entitlement," without means test, as an expression of the nation’s shared values, or solidarity. It is a tribute to the vision of the architects of Sheppard-Towner that this innovation occurred through a voluntary program to protect motherhood and infant life and in a manner that increased family size and strengthened the home economy.

Moreover, given their goal of encouraging full-time mothering, the Maternalists could claim real success. Not only did infant- and maternal-mortality rates fall steadily, but the flow of married women into the labor force also stopped. In 1900, the proportion of married women in the labor force was 5.6 percent, rising to 10.7 percent by 1910. However, for the next twenty years, that figure remained frozen. The worldview of the Maternalists–that the policy interests of women and children were largely the same; that women’s first responsibility was to marriage and children; that social policy should be designed to benefit men as wage earners and women as wives and mothers–triumphed over the extreme individualism and egalitarianism of the liberal feminists congregated in the National Woman’s Party.97 The Maternalists would expand their policy beachhead during the 1930’s and remain dominant on domestic issues until 1964-65.

Meanwhile, the furor over Americanization was over by 1929. The Ku Klux Klan’s appropriation of the term in the mid-1920’s, mounting public disillusionment with the whole World War episode, weariness with Prohibition, and the end of mass immigration through the acts of 1921 and 1924 discredited the cause and allowed attention to turn to other areas. German-America, it is true, never recovered, and the great–albeit informal–American experiment in cultural pluralism receded. All the same, Americans of German descent continued to show some peculiar traits. From the 1920’s to as late as 1970, they were still more likely to be married than the general population; more likely to have three or more children; more likely to reside in male-headed households; more likely to have some higher education; less likely to be unemployed; more likely to count farmers in their ranks; and more likely to pass the family farm across the generations.98 When the U.S. Census Bureau resumed asking citizens about their dominant ethnicity in 1980, some observers were surprised to learn that "Germans" were 50 million strong. By 1990, they were–at 58 million–by far the largest ethnic body in the U.S., and nearly twice as numerous as those who claimed to be of "English" stock (32.6 million and falling). The map of dominant ethnicity, by county, issued by the Bureau showed a great swath of German "blue" across the upper half of the 48 states from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, through the Ohio River Valley into the great Middle West (especially Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin), across the Plains States, ending in eastern Oregon and Washington, with large pockets in the Carolinas and Texas. While the nativists of the 1910’s and early 1920’s had suppressed the more visible cultural attributes of German-America, the deeper social and familial traits remained, to help people a continent.

This "shadow" German-America, it appears, thrived in the policy world constructed by the Maternalists. Or perhaps it is just as accurate to say that America was "Germanized" after all, in this case to the special benefit of families, mothers, and babies.


1 "Wilson Hits ‘Hyphenates,’" Rockford Morning Star, 15 June 1916, p. 1.

2 Quotation from June 14, 1916; in Frederick C. Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty: German-Americans and World War I (Dekalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1974): 174.

3 Rockford Daily Register-Gazette, 16 June 1916, p. 1; Rockford Morning Star, 16 June 1916, p. 3; and Rockford Daily Republic, 15 June 1916, p. 1.

4 Philip Gleason, "American Identity and Americanization," in Stephan Thernstrom, ed., Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980): 31.

5 John Higham, Send These to Me: Jews and Other Immigrants in Urban America (New York: Atheneum, 1975): 32-33, 39.

6 Quoted in Kathleen Neils Conzen, "German-Americans and the Invention of Ethnicity," in Frank Trommler and Joseph McVeigh, eds., America and the Germans: An Assessment of a Three Hundred-Year History (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985): 141; also 131-34; Gleason, "American Identity," pp. 33, 38.

7 See: Higham, Send These to Me, pp. 201-02.

8 On Kallen’s background, see: Higham, Send These to Me, pp. 203-06.

9 Horace M. Kallen, "Democracy Versus the Melting Pot: A Study of American Nationality. Part I," The Nation 100 (Feb. 18, 1915): 190-191.

10 On this point, see: Gleason, "American Identity," pp. 44-45; and Higham, Send These to Me, p. 207.

11 Kallen, "Democracy Versus the Melting Pot. Part I," pp. 192-93; and "Part II," The Nation 100 (Feb. 25, 1919): 217-220.

12 Horace M. Kallen, Culture and Democracy in the United States (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1924): 12-13, 22, 32-32, 58-62; and Horace Kallen, Cultural Pluralism and the American Idea: An Essay in Social Philosophy (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1956): 57-60, 73, 87, 94.

13 Kallen, Culture and Democracy, pp. 18, 31, 53; and Kallen, Cultural Pluralism and the American Idea, pp. 74, 92, 97.

14 Kallen, "Democracy Versus the Melting Pot," pp. 217-18.

15 See: Kathleen Neils Conzen, "Germans," in The Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups, ed. Stephan Thernstrom (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980): 406, 410, 415.

16 Quotation from: Geo. Meyer, The German-American (Oct. 6, 1890); in The Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet Collection, Madison, WI, #57-574. See also: David Detjen, The Germans in Missouri, 1900-1918: Prohibition, Neutrality, and Assimilation (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1985): 20-22; John A. Hawgood, The Tragedy of German-America (New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1940): 290; Conzen, "German-Americans and the Invention of Ethnicity," p. 131, 143-44; and U.S. Census Office, Abstract of the Twelfth Census of the United States. 1900 Statistical Atlas (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1902): Plate 64.

17 Quotations from Detjen, The Germans in Missouri, 23, 25-26. Also: Lavern J. Rippley, The German-Americans (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1976): 180; and Albert Bernhardt Faust, The German Element in the United States. Volume II (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1909): 246-49. Symbolic of this cultural schizophrenia among the German-American intellectual elite was the career of Geroge Sylvester Viereck. Born in New York to German parents, his early poetry and books stressed the virtues of German culture and the crudeness of America. He cast Germany and America as seductive women competing for his loyalty [e.g.,: "He returns to She-America, to the source of his vigor and to his ‘pristine’ mother love."] Backed by wealthy German-Americans, he founded a magazine, The International, described as "a vital American periodical with strong German affiliations." Viereck’s career would peak in 1914, only to be destroyed by the calamity of World War I. See: Phyllis Keller, States of Belonging: German-American Intellectuals and the First World War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979): 121-61.

18 Carl Wittke, German-Americans and the World War (Columbus, OH: The Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1936): 164. Also: Faust, The German Element in the United States. II, pp. 198-200.

19 Rippley, The German-Americans, p. 181; and Conzen, "Germans," p. 416.

20 Detjen, The Germans in Missouri, p. 27.

21 Rippley, The German-Americans, p. 181.

22 Detjen, The Germans in Missouri, p. 28.

23 C.J. Hexamer, "German Achievement in America," German American Annals I (Jan. 1903): 46-48.

24 In Albert Godsho, Chronological History of the National German American Alliance of the United States (Philadelphia: National German-American Alliance, 1911): 3, 32, 37.

25 Quoted in A Disloyal Combination: The National German-American Alliance and Its Allies (Westerville, OH: American Issue Publishing Co., [1918-?]): 4; in Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet Collection, #54-1020.

26 Taken from Don H. Tolzmann, ed., German-Americans in the World Wars. Vol. II: The World War Experience (Munich: K.G. Saur, 1995): 395-96.

27 Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty, pp. 76-77.

28 Theodore Roosevelt, America and The World War (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916): 65-66, 68-69. A somewhat later and radically different view of Imperial Germany and its war aims can be found in appendix A ("Why We Are at War: The German Horror") of Roosevelt’s The Foes of Our Own Household (New York: George H. Doran, 1917): 273-76.

29 Rippley, The German-Americans, p. 182.

30 Kellor, States of Belonging, pp. 140-45; and Wittke, German-Americans and the World War, p. 7.

31 Rudolf Cronau, Do We Need a Third War for Independence? (New York: German American Literary Defense Committee, 1914): 1, 6. Also: Keller, States of Belonging, p. 146; Wittke, German-Americans and the World War, pp. 14-15; and Rippley, The German-Americans, p. 183.

32 Address of Dr. C.J. Hexamer to the Mass Meeting at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia, PA, Nov. 24, 1914 (Philadelphia: Graf and Breaninger, [1915]); in Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet Collection, #54-989.

33 Wittke, German-Americans and the World War, pp. 10-11.

34 Poem in Frederick Franklin Schroder, The German American Handbook...1916-1917 (New York: n.p., 1916): 24. Also: Tolzmann, German-Americans in the World War, p. 404; Hexamer, German Achievements in America, 49-52; and Dr. C.J. Hexamer, Address (Nov. 24, 1914): 4.

35 In Schroder, The German American Handbook, p. 105; and originally in Faust, The German Element in the United States, p. 184.

36 Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty, p. 163; and Detjen, The Germans in Missouri, p. 120.

37 For Roosevelt, this was no new obsession. As early as an 1897 speech, he reported: "I stand for the American citizen of German birth or descent, precisely as I stand for any other American. But I do not stand at all for the German-American, or any other kind of hyphenated American." He rejected the "English-American" label as well, arguing that "We Americans are a separate people...a new nationality." In a direct rebuke of what later would be called "cultural pluralism," Roosevelt declared: "We are a nation, and not a hodgepodge of foreign nationalities....We must insist on a unified nationality, with one flag, one language, one set of national ideals." In Hermann Hagedorn and John Lester, eds., The Americanism of Theodore Roosevelt: Selections from His Writings and Speeches (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1923): 201-09.

38 Quoted in Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty, p. 160.

39 Quoted in A Disloyal Combination, p. 10.

40 Detjen, The Germans in Missouri, pp. 119-25; Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty, pp. 158-64.

41 Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty, pp. 178, 184; and Detjen, The Germans in Missouri, pp. 122-25.

42 See: Wittke, German-Americans and the World War, p. 166; Rippley, The German-Americans, pp. 184-86; and Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty, p. 190.

43 Hermann Hagedorn, Prisoners of an Illusion (reprint from McClures magazine for January 1918) in Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet Collection, #54-1633. Also: Robert E. Park, The Immigrant Press and Its Control (New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1922): 414-17; and Don H. Tolzman, German-Americans in the World Wars. Vol. I: The Anti-German Hysteria of World War One (Munich: K.G. Saur, 1995): 239-40, 268.

44 Park, The Immigrant Press and Its Control, pp. 434, 444; Rippley, The German-Americans, pp. 185-86; and The Committee on Public Information, American Loyalty by Citizens of German Descent (Washington, DC: Committee on Public Information, 1917): 5-8.

45 From: Wittke, German-Americans and the World War, pp. 179-95; Rippley, The German-Americans, pp. 186-91; Tolzmann, I: The Anti-German Hysteria of World War One, pp. 239-44; and A Disloyal Combination, p. 8.

46 The text of Senate hearings on S.3529 is reproduced in: Tolzmann, II: The World War Experience, pp. 373-475; also Rippley, The German-Americans, p. 191.

47 Conzen, "Germans," p. 423.

48 Hawgood, The Tragedy of German-America, p. 297. Some former "German-Americans" founded The Steuben Society in May 1919 to present a new face for Germanism in America by "fostering a patriotic American spirit among all citizens" and educating "the public on the important part played by the Germanic element in the making of America."

49 Theodore Roosevelt, Letter to the Congress of Constructive Patriotism, The National Security League (New York: The National Security League, [1917]: 1-5; in Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet Collection, #54-825; also Higham, Send These to Me, p. 53.

50 See: Gleason, "American Identity," pp. 41-42.

51 Higham, Send These to Me, p. 53.

52 Quoted in John F. McClymer, "Gender and the ‘American Way of Life’: Women in the Americanization Movement," Journal of American Ethnic History 10 (Spring 1991): 3.

53 Oscar Handlin, Race and Nationality in American Life (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1957): 175.

54 A Disloyal Combination, p. 13.

55 Jon Gjerde, The Minds of the West: Ethnocaltural Evolution in the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997): 252, 261.

56 Philip Gleason, The Conservative Reformers: German-American Catholics and the Social Order (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968): 69-83.

57 Gjerde, The Minds of the West, pp. 262-63.

58 Ibid., pp. 264, 268.

59 Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1910): 233-34.

60 Meyer, The German-American, p. 40; Faust, The German Element in the United States, p. 471; Tolzmann, II: German-Americans in the World War, p. 394; and Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty, p. 65.

61 Gjerde, The Minds of the West, pp. 253-60, 264; and Wittke, German-Americans and the World War, p. 4.

62 Faust, The German Element in the United States, p. 463; and Tolzmann, II: German-Americans in the World War, p. 394.

63 From: Jeraldine R. Kraver, "Restocking the Melting Pot: Americanization as Cultural Imperialism," Race, Gender & Class 6 (No. 4, 1999): 68; and Hawgood, The Tragedy of German-America, p. 289.

64 Hawgood, The Tragedy of German-America, p. 289.

65 Gwendolyn Mink, The Wages of Motherhood: Inequality in the Welfare State, 1917-1942 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press): 9, 25.

66 McClymer, "Gender and the ‘American Way of Life,’" p. 4.

67 From Jane Addams, "A Function of the Social Settlement [1899]," in Christopher Lasch, ed., The Social Thought of Jane Addams (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965): 189, 192-93.

68 Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House., pp. 235-40, 240-47.

69 Ibid., p. 234.

70 Frances A. Kellor, Neighborhood Americanization: A Discussion of the Alien in a New Country and of the Native American in His Home Country. An address to the Colony Club in New York City, Feb. 8, 1918; Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet Collection, #54-997.

71 Frances Kellor, Immigration and the Future (New York: George H. Doran Co., 1920): 257.

72 Kellor, Neighborhood Americanization, pp. 9-10, 19.

73 Molly Ladd-Taylor, "‘My Work Came Out of Agony and Grief’: Mothers and the Making of the Sheppard-Towner Act," in Seth Koven and Sonya Michel, eds., Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of the Welfare State (New York: Routledge, 1993): 324; Josephine Baker, MD, "Why Do Our Mothers and Babies Die?" The Ladies Home Journal 39 (April 1922): 32; and "Round Table Conference in Cooperation with The National Study of Methods of Americanization," in Transactions of the Ninth Annual Meeting. American Association for Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality. December 5-7, 1918 (Baltimore: Franklin Printing Co., 1919): 230-31, 234.

74 Mink, The Wages of Motherhood, p. 10.

75 Ellen H. Richards, "The Social Significance of The Home Economics Movement," The Journal of Home Economics 3 (April 1911): 123-25.

76 Julia Lathrop, "The Highest Education for Women," The Journal of Home Economics 8 (Jan. 1916): 3-6.

77 McClymer, "Gender and the ‘American Way of Life,’" pp. 12-13.

78 Mink, The Wages of Motherhood, p. 12.

79 See: Eli Zaretsky, "The Place of the Family in the Origins of the Welfare State," in Barrie Thorne, ed., Rethinking the Family: Some Feminist Questions (New York and London: Longman, 1982): 214-16.

80 Julia Lathrop, "Income and Infant Mortality," American Journal of Public Health 9 (April 1919): 273-74.

81 Quoted in Mink, The Wages of Motherhood, p. 48.

82 Quoted in: Joanne L. Goodwin, Gender and the Politics of Welfare Reform, Mothers’ Pension in Chicago, 1911-1929 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997): 38. Maternalists, though, were torn on the issue of aiding never-married mothers. The majority thought that aid should be withheld, lest it encourage more illegitimacy. A minority reasoned that "a mother is a mother," and that help should be given. Also: Mink, The Wages of Motherhood, pp. 33-39.

83 Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch, The City Worker’s World in America (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1917): 81.

84 Cora Winchell, "Homemaking as a Phase of Citizenship," The Journal of Home Economics 14 (Jan. 1922): 30, 32-33.

85 Virginia Sapiro, "The Gender Basis of American Social Policy," in Linda Gordon, ed., Women, the State, and Welfare (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1990): 39.

86 See: Mink, The Wages of Motherhood, pp. 95, 102.

87 Molly Ladd-Taylor, Mother-Work: Women, Child Welfare, and the State, 1890-1930 (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1994): 75-80; and Ladd-Taylor, "‘My Work Came Out of Agony and Grief,’" pp. 324-25.

88 Ladd-Taylor, Mother-Work, pp. 76-88.

89 Mink, The Wages of Motherhood, pp. 64-65, 69.

90 Ibid., pp. 78-87, 100; and Addams, Twenty Years at Hull-House, p. 253.

91 Richard A. Meckel, Save the Babies: American Public Health Reform and the Prevention of Infant Mortality, 1850-1929 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990): 147-51; Ladd-Taylor, Mother-Work, p. 89; and Ladd-Taylor, "‘My Work Came Out of Agony and Grief,’" pp. 323, 328.

92 Julia Lathrop, Provision for the Care of the Families and Dependents of Soldiers and Sailors (New York: Academy of Political Science, 1918): 140-51; in The Wisconsin State Historical Society Pamphlet Collection, #54-617.

93 Quoted in Ladd-Taylor, Mother-Work, p. 91.

94 See: Ladd-Taylor, "‘My Work Came Out of Agony and Grief,’" pp. 321-28; and J. Stanley Lemons, The Woman Citizen: Social Feminism in the 1920’s (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973): 154-66.

95 Mink, The Wages of Motherhood, pp. 70-71.

96 Ladd-Taylor, "‘My Work Came Out of Agony and Grief,’" pp. 329-337.

97 Feminist analysts discussing the victory of the Maternalists in scornful ways include: Barbara J. Nelson, "The Origins of the Two-Channel Welfare State: Workmen’s Compensation and Mothers’ Aid," in Linda Gordon, ed., Women, the State, and Welfare (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990): 132-32, 142; and Sapiro, "The Gender Basis of American Social Policy," pp. 39, 43.

98 See: Conzen, "Germans," p. 410; and Sonya Salamon, Prairie Patrimony: Family, Farming & Community in the Middle West (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1992).





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