German-American Radicals


Sometimes historical editors strike a rich lode that merits much more extensive exploration than the editors can conduct.  Annotations in their work will point to the sources they discovered, perhaps narrate some part of the story, and just hint at the possibilities. Such happened while editors of the Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony researched a tense prelude to the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, when Anglo-American woman suffragists disagreed about crafting a joint protest with German-American radicals. 

German-American radicals, you say?  Weren’t Anglo-American woman suffragists bourgeois, white, socially and economically conservative, and a bit nativist?  That was our reaction too.

Here lie stories of democratic idealism, secularism, economic justice, and equal rights shared in German and English.

The story as we could tell it appears in National Protection for National Citizens, 1873 to 1880, volume 3 of The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (2003).

Collaboration and disagreement between the two groups in 1876 brought into focus other points of confluence: German-American freethinkers addressing letters to the Revolution in 1868 and 1869, Stanton repeatedly quoting Karl Heinzen, What Is Real Democracy? Answered by an Exposition of the Constitution of the United States (1871), a strong community organization of suffragists in Milwaukee centered on Matilda Anneke. 

Only a few of our sources are reproduced here—appetizers, as it were.  Anyone wanting to pursue the encounter between German-American radicals and Anglo-American suffragists must use the sources linked below, the leads on this website within the Labadie Collection, and all the riches we have not yet found.

Karl Heinzen's What is Real Democracy? Answered by an Exposition of the Constitution of the United States (Indianapolis, 1871), which Stanton quotes in a 24 January 1877 editorial in the Ballot Box, is available in full online.

Click here for the Wisconsin Historical Society's catalog description of the Fritz Anneke and Mathilde Franziska Anneke papers, 1791-1934; and here for a list of libraries holding original or microfilm copies of Der Pionier.

The Labadie Collection's homepage is http://www.lib.umich.edu/labadie-collection.

Created by Danielle Bradley .
Last edited by Danielle Bradley .