The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999 Page: 444
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
magnitude could hardly have arisen without a conscious choice by many
or most Germans against human property. (Indeed, Jordan's own fig-
ures show a higher incidence of landownership among Texas Germans
than among their Anglo neighbors, further evidence that it was not
poverty alone that prevented them from owning slaves. My earlier work
on Missouri Germans documents similar patterns.) So physical geogra-
phy was important, but ethnicity and culture were more important.3
Several pieces of evidence suggest that domestic service was one of the
primary reasons Germans held slaves, which the small number per
owner would seem to indicate, as would the fact that several German
slaveowners in Texas and Missouri were outspoken unionists and eman-
cipationists.4 People of the servant-keeping class in Germany were faced
with a dilemma in the South: native whites, no matter how poor,
thought domestic work was fit only for slaves or other blacks, and was
therefore beneath them. Immigrant women usually filled the domestic
worker gap only temporarily; given the unbalanced ethnic sex ratio, they
were much in demand as marriage partners. Being true to antislavery
principles often meant forcing one's wife to do without domestic help
entirely. Whatever the explanation, more than just lack of capital kept
the incidence and size of German slaveholdings low.
The secession referendum of February 23, 1861, provides another
measure of Texas German attitudes toward southern independence and
institutions. In this context, it is important to remember that German
and Anglo unionists were not the natural allies one might suppose.
Many of the latter had earlier expressed their nationalism in the form of
nativism, especially during the Know Nothing movement of the mid-
185os. Thus Germans were faced with a devil's choice between an
alliance with the Southern fire-eaters or with political opponents of the
Across Texas, secession won by a landslide, with less than a quarter of
the voters in opposition. In an appeal to ethnic voters, two thousand
copies of the declaration of secession were printed in Spanish and two
thousand in German, in addition to the ten thousand copies in English.
But the German copies largely fell on deaf ears. Two German frontier
counties, Gillespie and Mason, led the state with a 96 percent margin
sJordan, German Seed in Texas Soil, o16-111, 180-85; Jordan, "Germans and Blacks," 89-97.
Cornelia Kuffner, "Texas-Germans' Attitudes Toward Slavery: Biedermeier Sentiments and Class
Consciousness in Austin, Colorado and Fayette Counties" (M.A. thesis, University of Houston,
1994), 17-20, 46-68, 110-14, 123-26; the interpretations of Kuffner's data are largely my own,
based on further calculations from her Table 2 to more clearly reveal German-Anglo contrasts.
On Texas landholdings see Jordan, German Seed in Texas Soil, 115-17; on Missouri see Walter D.
Kamphoefner, The Westfahans: From Germany to Missoun (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
Walter L. Buenger, Secession and the Union in Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984),
84. For Missouri parallels, see Kamphoefner, The Westfalians, 116-17.
5 Buenger Secession and the Union, 26-33, 91-94
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999, periodical, 1999; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/m1/515/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.