Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

Traugott Bromme and "The State of Mississippi" *

Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

Traugott Bromme and "The State of Mississippi" *

Article excerpt

In the early 1800s, economic and political problems brought many Europeans to the United States. A large number came from Germany. Among them was Traugott Bromme, who in fact was more of a traveler than an immigrant. Bromme quickly saw a chance for making a profit from this movement of peoples by writing guide books for Germans entering the United States. Between 1840 and 1866 he wrote and published several editions. His guides included information on many regions of the Western Hemisphere, including all the states east of the Mississippi.

Simon Traugott Bromme was born on December 3, 1802, in Anger, near Leipzig, in what would later become Germany. His father was apparently a well-to-do estate owner and Gerichtsschöffe, a legal assistant to the court. Traugott, who had at least four siblings, was orphaned at the age of five. He grew up witnessing, among other pivotal events of the era, Napoleon's troops marching to Russia in 1812.

In 1817 he attended a class at a Leipzig bookshop, which would eventually lead him into the book business. He did not immediately become a writer or publisher; instead, he spent three years studying and traveling, even finding adventure. In April 1821 Bromme emigrated to the United States and studied medicine. After this, he is supposed to have served as a doctor in the "Columbian service" and also spent time in a Haitian jail (Wilson & Fiske 1:384; Hein-Mooren B45-46).

Bromme's writing career began in 1824. In June of that year he returned to Saxony, settling in Dresden; there he became a partner in the Walther'schen Hoffbuchhandlung, which his brother-in-law, the book dealer Johann Gottlieb Wagner, had purchased in the same year. In 1833 Bromme again traveled to the United States, this time to Baltimore (where he possibly had relatives), and took up a partnership in the publishing house of Scheld and Company (Hein-Mooren B45-47). While in Baltimore he published travel guides, producing eight titles between 1834 and 1837. He appears to have returned to Germany by about 1840, settling in Stuttgart.

One thing that Bromme learned in his travels between Germany and America was that many emigrants to America arrived with no prospect of a job and were unable to speak English, the dominant language. He also would have seen that many of the people looking for a new start in life were Germans. These émigrés needed information that would let them know what to expect. In response, Bromme wrote a travel guide for German emigrants that became relatively popular. Published in 1848, it was titled Traugott Bromme's Hand- und Reisebuch für Auswanderer nach den Vereinigten Staaten von Nord-Amerika, Texas, Ober- und Unter-Canada, Neu-Braunschweig, Neu-Schottland, Santo Thomas in Guatemala und den Mosquitoküsten (Traugott Bromme's Hand- and Travel-Book for Emigrants to the United States of North America, Texas, Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Saint Thomas in Guatemala and the Mosquito Coast). Bromme's travel guide indicates that he did substantial research on the various states using the maps of Henry Schenck Tanner and others.1

The book contains over 550 pages divided into two main parts. In the first part, Bromme gives a general overview of the United States, including thumbnail sketches of most of the states, territories, or countries that an emigrant was likely to enter in North America. He devotes more attention to those places he considered most likely to benefit an immigrant-for example, the state of Massachusetts, which is described in about four pages. Bromme devoted much less space to locales he considered inhospitable to immigrants. For example, "The Territory of Missouri and the Oregon Territory" received less than half a page, and Bromme told his readers that for "settlement, this recommendation comes still too early . . . in the two here-named Indian territories with the wild inhabitants of the same" (185-89, 225-26).

In the second part of his book Bromme deals with the problem of who should and should not emigrate; he discusses the various trades and professions most in demand in the region, about one hundred in all. …

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