Culture at Twilight: The National German-American Alliance, 1901-1918

By Charles Thomas Johnson | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

“Hoch Der DANB!” 1906—1910

The four year period between 1906 and 1910 was a time of consolidation for the National German-American Alliance. After a year-long debate in Congress the group received a national charter. The NGAA continued to grow and expand, claiming by the end of 1909, more than two million members in forty states and the District of Columbia. The executive commit tee was also enlarged to meet the demands of the growing organization. While the state and local branches still acted autonomously, more and more the national officers, through a hierarchy of commit tees, came to formulate policy for the national organization as the Alliance moved into a wide range of issues. These activities included the by-now familiar bat tle against the prohibition of alcohol, continued efforts at maintaining German culture in the United States, as well as attempts to promote close ties between German- Americans and the fatherland. The Alliance also made overtures to such other ethnic organizations as the Catholic Central Verein and the Ancient Order of Hiberians, an Irish-American organization. By 1910 the NGA A had positioned itself to act on a number of issues, although the bat tle against prohibition would remain its top priority.

During the convention at Indianapolis in 1905 the executive commit tee had discussed the possibility of obtaining a national charter from the United States Congress. The idea grew out of a belief that a charter would provide a greater sense of legitimacy in the eyes of the nation and within the German-American community. Congressional recognition also would affirm that the goals and objectives of the Alliance were patriotic and motivated by a sense of national pride and loyalty to the principles laid down in the Constitution. The NGAA achieved its goal, but only after a debate that lasted more than a year.

The first step occurred on January 10, 1906, when Representative Richard Bartholdt of Missouri—a German-American—introduced into

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