The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982 Page: 350
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
James W. Goodrich, general editor. George H. Kellner et al.,
editors and translators. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press,
1980. Pp. xxiv+372. Editor's introduction, preface, appendices,
This handsomely designed translation of Gottfried Duden's Bericht
ilber eine Reise nach den westlichen Staaten Nordamerikas (1829)
brings to English readers the foremost work of some 15o volumes of
emigration literature published in Germany between 1827 and 1856.
The introduction presents an overview of the book's significance,
Duden's life, his objectives in visiting the United States in 1823-1827,
the influence of the book on organized emigration, and the context of
German culture and politics. The translation itself evokes a nine-
teenth-century style while remaining smooth and clear and basically
modern, a masterful accomplishment by translation standards. Two
appendices of textual emendations and editors' annotations enhance
the value of this fifteen-year group project of The State Historical
Society of Missouri.
Duden's Report was overly optimistic in promoting the building of
a "New Germany" in the North American heartland, but Duden did
not write for the masses. He repeatedly cautioned his readers, as the
editors note, that "successful emigration required preparation, money,
and a select group of people" (xxii). Nonetheless, the book quickly
caught the popular fancy, and many overlooked the fact that Duden's
experimental farm outside St. Louis succeeded in large part because
it was generously bankrolled. Consequently, the emigration plans de-
veloped along Duden's lines, notably those of the Giessener Gesell-
schaft led by Friedrich Miinch and Paul Follenius, bore mixed fruit.
Trained in jurisprudence and medicine, but also widely read in his-
tory, economics, and natural sciences, Duden wrote in a basically ob-
jective, nonliterary style. He consistently exaggerated, however, when
he compared Germany and the United States, finding only one excep-
tion-not slavery, which he justified-to America's superiority. For
Duden, Americans ate too quickly, but that was an understandable,
though lamentable, result of food being so abundant in the New
World! Otherwise, Americans controlled the world market in virtue,
or at least in those virtues practiced diligently by middle-class German
Duden viewed emigration as a way of engineering a more desirable
future. In perceiving the New World as a revitalizing environment, he
characteristically combined Romanticism and a scientific outlook. The
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982, periodical, 1981/1982; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101208/m1/396/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.