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Monday, July 29, 2019

The Forty-Eighters

Evidence from the Forty-Eighters in the Civil War."  The abstract:
A growing theoretical literature emphasizes that prominent individuals (‘leaders’) can be instrumental in changing behaviors and beliefs inside social networks, and  consequently play an important role in shaping the path of history. We test this assertion in the context of the U.S. Civil War. Our analysis is organized around a natural experiment: leaders of the failed German revolution of 1848-49 were expelled to the U.S., and became important anti-slavery campaigners who helped mobilize Union Army  volunteers. We find that towns where Forty-Eighters settled in the 1850s increased their enlistments by ten men per hundred adult males over the course of the war, or roughly eighty percent. The Forty-Eighters’ influence worked at least in part through the local press and local social clubs. In the army, Forty-Eighter officers reduced their companies’ desertion rate. In the long run, towns where Forty-Eighters settled were more likely to form a local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
From the paper:
German-Americans had traditionally supported the Democratic Party, and were additionally put off the Republican Party when after 1857 it absorbed large numbers of anti-immigrant ‘Know-Nothings’.To counteract this, the Forty-Eighters demanded a formal repudiation of nativism by the Republican Party at the 1860 Chicago convention; effectively ”forcing the party to choose between Eastern nativists and the German vote in the West” (Wittke, 1973, 213). It is not our aim to weight in on whether the Forty-Eighters’ demands were the main reason this formal repudiation came to pass, but pass it did, and became known as the ”Dutch plank” in the Republican Party platform (Baron, 2012, 5).26 And as a result of the Dutch plank, many German-American votes swung Republican, whilst the nativists “were absorbed into a party which made no concessions to them” (Foner, 1970, 258).27