The German Historical Institute is contributing “Land of Opportunities” to Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America in the upcoming exhibit opening on September 6, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. in Washington, D.C.at the German American Heritage Foundation’s museum. This is part of the Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies 1720 to the Present program by GHI. See the PDF with more information 20140722_Giessener_Allgemeine.
The Giessen Emigration Society was a pioneer of German mass immigration into the U.S. Most newcomers became farmers, craftsmen, retailers, or skilled workers; but German-Americans shaped the U.S. with entrepreneurial spirit and capital as well.
Eberhard Anheuser (1806-1880) grew up in a family of winemakers in Rhenish Prussia. Wine prices, however, declined rapidly, swaying him and his young family to move to Cincinnati in 1843 and then to St. Louis in 1845. He started a career as a soap maker, predominately in the factory of Silesian emigrant William D’Oench.
From the 1850s, he became a partner in several larger soap, oil, and candle firms. In 1860 Anheuser used his capital to invest in the Bavarian Brewery in St. Louis, founded by Bavarian immigrant Georg Schneider. Anheuser benefitted from the Civil War, selling large amounts of beer to Union soldiers. From the 1870s, Anheuser and his son-in-law, Hessian immigrant Adolphus Busch, invested heavily in advanced European technology and used modern advertisement to become, a decade later, the world’s largest brewery.
Mathilde Franziska Anneke (1817-1884) became a social entrepreneur after her arrival in the U.S. in 1849. Having grown up in a wealthy Westphalian family of nobility, she became notorious for her divorce from her first husband. Already active as a writer and a journalist, Anneke engaged herself in womens’ rights topics. She married Fritz Anneke, a former Prussian officer and socialist, and together they were active in the revolution in Baden 1848/49. The family had to flee to America, to Milwaukee. In 1852, she founded the first feminist newspaper in the U.S., Die Deutsche Frauen-Zeitung. She was active as a writer and as the head of the Milwaukee Töchter Institut, established in 1865. Anneke, who published in German, worked closely with Anglo-American women and was an important voice for women’s suffrage and abolition.
The Utopia – Revisiting a German State in America exhibit will open at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis on November 22, 2014.