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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

For most of a century, German-Americans nurtured the myth that they, as an ethnic group, had effected the election of Abraham Lincoln. By sheer numbers, they asserted, their votes had sent Lincoln to the White House. While historians have since disproven this myth, it is undeniable that German-Americans played a key role in the formation and early platform of the Republican Party. Those who arrived in the wake of the volatile German Revolutions of 1848-49, the so-called Forty-Eighters, played a particularly central role in formulating the Republican party’s immigration policy and in courting the votes of their countrymen for the Party’s principle cause, the abolition of slavery. Having been thwarted in their struggle to establish democracy in their homeland, they used their pens, presses, voices, and sabers to promote the cause of freedom in their new home.

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