Today, the city of Frankfurt-am-Main is the largest financial hub in Continental Europe, home to the European Central Bank (ECB), the Deutsche Bundesbank and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The same city was at one time the epicenter of a liberal uprising that swept the German states. The Frankfurt Parliament was convened in May 1848; its members were elected by direct (male) suffrage, representing the full political spectrum. In the end, the revolution of 1848 failed and was suppressed with excessive force and retribution. [Read more…] about Justus Schwab & East Village Radicalism
Revolutions of 1848
Nationalism of the nineteenth century represents very different values to those of our era. With the present rise of frenzied flag-waving and militant xenophobia, it is hard to understand the cult status achieved by foreign revolutionary figures such as Lafayette, who was honored as the “French Hero of the American Revolution.”
In 1878 a bust of Giuseppe Mazzini was unveiled in New York City‘s Central Park. A decade later, on the sixth anniversary of his death, Giuseppe Garibaldi was memorialized with a bronze statue in Washington Square Park. Why were these relatively unknown Italian insurgents given such a prestigious presence in New York? [Read more…] about Italian Heroes In New York: What Purpose Did Statues Serve?
By the mid-nineteenth century European gymnastics was an established system that had evolved through a century of innovation and adaptation. Originating in the Enlightenment with the
experiments of educational reformers intent on reviving a Greek ideal which the Roman poet Juvenal had summarized as mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body), gymnastics achieved widespread recognition after Friedrich Ludwig Jahn initiated the Turnverein (gymnastics club) movement.
The inventor of apparatus such as the balance beam, parallel bars, and vaulting horse, he used the discipline of organized exercise to inspire young gymnasts with a sense of national (Prussian) duty and solidarity. Jahn turned gymnastics into an agency of German patriotism.
The ambiguity of his message: enjoyment of competition and companionship versus militant nationalism, brought about Jahn’s contrasting legacies in Europe and the United States. [Read more…] about Gymnastics History: The Legacy of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn’s Turnerism
One of nineteenth century Syracuse’s largest celebrations took place on the 1st of May, 1871. It was called the Friedensfest, the Peace Festival.
The reason for celebration was the unification of Germany following Prussia’s crushing defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War. The emphasis on Peace was less about the end of hostilities between Prussia and France than it was about a new and lasting peace among the previously independent states of Germany, some of whom were caught in a rivalry between Austria and Prussia that had already erupted in war, in 1866. [Read more…] about Friedensfest: Syracuse’s 1871 German-American Peace Festival
In cities with growing populations and increased prosperity during the eighteen and nineteenth centuries, the demand for amusement venues rose dramatically. Leisure became an economic factor and show biz took off with a bang.
Urban pleasure gardens were recreational spaces that featured landscaped grounds, lights, fountains, grottos, music, and theater. Offering a variety of entertainments, they were open day and night. [Read more…] about Niblo’s Garden, Yiddish Broadway and the American Musical
In 1850, after a long journey, a large German family sailed from Hamburg into New York Harbour. There was no Statue of Liberty to welcome them. Newcomers faced no questions or restrictions. There was no Castle Garden (opened in 1855), no Ellis Island (opened in 1892) – they simply made their way and settled in the city.
The family brought music to New York. [Read more…] about German Immigrants & Instruments: 48ers, Slomans and Steinways
Between 1763 and 1848, an age of revolutions took place in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. But why is it that we only seem to remember the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Haitian Revolution?
Given that the American Revolution took place before all of these other revolutions, what was its role in influencing this larger “Age of Revolutions?” Did it influence this larger period?
Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History’s exploration of what the American Revolution looked like within the larger period known as the “Age of Revolutions” continues as Janet Polasky, a professor of history at the University of New Hampshire and the author of Revolutions Without Borders: The Call of Liberty in the Atlantic World (Yale University Press, 2015), guides us through the period to explore answers to these questions. [Read more…] about 1763-1848: The Age of Revolutions