Pilgrims of '48: One Man's Part in the Austrian Revolution of 1848; and a Family Migration to America

Pilgrims of '48: One Man's Part in the Austrian Revolution of 1848; and a Family Migration to America

Pilgrims of '48: One Man's Part in the Austrian Revolution of 1848; and a Family Migration to America

Pilgrims of '48: One Man's Part in the Austrian Revolution of 1848; and a Family Migration to America

Excerpt

In presenting to American readers the story of the Revolution of 1848 in Vienna, a historical episode which may at first thought seem antiquated in sentiment and remote from the modern scene, two convictions have dominated my mind.

The Revolution of Vienna is, first, in itself of heroic proportions and dramatic quality. It is a story of compelling tragic interest.

It has, in addition, a special appeal for Americans. In the flux of peoples who came to this country at the middle of the nineteenth century, one special group became known as the "Forty-eighters." These were people who, after the failure of their hopes in mid-Europe, sought in the new world the liberty for which the liberal youth of France and Italy and Germany and Austria had died in vain. The Forty-eighters were folk distinguished by certain characteristics. They brought to this country a certain strain, a certain quality and flavor recognized as distinctive. Their lives were knit up into the fabric of the nation. What they contributed is part of the American heritage. As a background, then, of American life, as one of the spiritual sources from which it has drawn, the Revolution of '48 is significant for Americans.

The year 1848 was, indeed, one which left an ineffaceable mark on European society, and the last ripples of that tragic wave of failure which engulfed its high hopes did not die away until they merged into the greater world disaster of 1914.

The year 1848 [says G. M. Trevelyan] was the turning-point at which modern history failed to turn. The military despotisms of Central Europe were nearly but not quite transformed by a timely and natural action of domestic forces. It was the appointed hour, but the despotisms just succeeded in surviving it, and modernized their methods without altering their essential character. The misfortunes of European civilization in our own day sprang in no small degree from those far-off events.

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