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Category: History

“I am in a free country”

Emigrants choose to make America their home. Not having the good fortune to have been born here, they do not take any of the wonderful liberties of freedom and independence for granted. They suffered many a hardship to call America home, a country where almost all us are immigrants. Happy 240th Birthday America! May you have many many more.

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Gottfried Duden

During the 1830s, over 120,000 Germans emigrated to the United States. Over one-third of those emigrants chose the new State of Missouri to settle in, because of a small German book published in 1829, by Gottfried Duden. They soon settled along the hillsides of the Missouri River and counties of Saint Charles, Warren, Franklin and Gasconade. Soon Missouri’s ethnic composition would become predominately German, an important factor during the Civil War, considering that Missouri had entered the Union as a slave state. Missouri’s German heritage began with these early immigrants.

The reason? A small volume simply titled “A Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America”. Duden wrote “I was of the opinion that the emigrants of Europe would have to direct themselves to those regions where the mass of natives is also seeking new homesteads. I also held the view that the Europeans had best take these natives as their models in the establishment of their new settlements.” In Germany Duden’s Report would become a best seller, and soon there would be several additional editions. It was what Germans needed, and definitely the right words at the right time. Shared in the wine gardens, discussed after church, pondered at family gatherings, and read to fellow passengers headed for Baltimore and New Orleans, the book inspired thousands.

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Germans and Emancipation

Arnold Krekel, a Democrat, was elected President of the new Constitutional Convention that met in the Mercantile Library in St. Louis on January 6, 1865. On January 11, 1865 the convention, by a 60 to 4 vote, abolished slavery in the state with no compensation for slave owners.

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