Henry Hotze, Confederate Propagandist: Selected Writings on Revolution, Recognition, and Race

Henry Hotze, Confederate Propagandist: Selected Writings on Revolution, Recognition, and Race

Henry Hotze, Confederate Propagandist: Selected Writings on Revolution, Recognition, and Race

Henry Hotze, Confederate Propagandist: Selected Writings on Revolution, Recognition, and Race

Excerpt

In late summer of 1855, a youthful Henry Hotze was en route to Philadelphia to hand deliver his completed manuscript of an English translation of Count Arthur de Gobineau's Essai sur L'inégalité des Races Humaines. Hotze carried with him a letter of introduction from his friend and mentor, Dr. Josiah C. Nott. In this correspondence, Nott referred to Hotze as “the greatest intellectual prodigy you ever met.” Nott, himself of no small reputation among the scientific world, continued to brag on the not-yet naturalized citizen, noting that he “though but twenty-one knows everything.” In these brief remarks, Dr. Nott highlighted two unique features of Hotze's public career—his impressive intellectual prowess and his youth. Hotze would live only fifty-three years. Forty of these years (the first and last twenty) are shrouded in mystery. However, for one eventful decade, from 1855 to 1865, the “literary soldier of fortune” compiled a notable record of service to his adopted homeland and left a wealth of written material for us to ponder. During this ten-year period, Hotze translated and edited a major work on scientific racism, served in various Mobile, Alabama, municipal positions, was appointed secretary to a foreign diplomatic legation, worked as an associate editor for a major Southern newspaper, spent a brief time in the Confederate army, was named to an important Confederate diplomatic post, and edited a London-based newspaper. A sometimes overlooked figure from the American Civil War, Hotze was perhaps the most effective propaganda agent of the Confederacy.

Henry Hotze was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on September 2, 1834. Almost nothing is known about his childhood. His father, Rudolph Hotze, was a captain in the French Royal Service; his mother was Sophie Esslinger. Hotze apparently received a very strong Jesuit education. From his youth, he . . .

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