4 Ways Carl Schurz, a 19th Century Missouri Socialist, Impacts America TODAY

Abraham Lincoln, Marxism, Socialism, Communism, Carl Schurz, Lincoln's Marxists, Missouri, HistoryA friend recently shared with me a short audio CD entitled “Lincoln’s Marxists” – which consisted of a lecture given by Al Benson Jr. (editor and publisher of the Copperhead Chronicle, and author of the book “Lincoln’s Marxists“). The lecture basically consisted of how Karl Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto, praised Lincoln in 1865 as a “single-minded son of the working class” (Also see our resource: A perspective on the American “Civil War”). The lecture examines why Marx and other socialists supported Lincoln’s War and notes their negative influence on modern society today. As part of this, Benson talks about the Forty-Eighters, a group of radical socialists who sought positions of prominence in American society and government, and supported Abraham Lincoln and his administration in a variety of ways. One of these Forty-Eighters was none other than Missouri’s own Carl Schurz.

Carl Schurz (1829-1906) was a soldier, politician, and writer noted today for his fervent support for so-called liberal democracy. Through his influence, he helped elect President Lincoln, fought alongside his socialist revolutionary compatriots in America’s unCivil War, served as a U.S. Senator from Missouri (1869-1875), and denounced the Republican Party’s shift toward conservatism in the late 19th century. (1)

1. Carl Schurz, Forty-Eighter and Radical Socialist

Schurz, who was born in Germany, writes of meeting Karl Marx in his youth, “I was all the more eager to gather words of wisdom from the lips of that famous man. This expectation was disappointed in a peculiar way. Marx’s utterances were indeed full of meaning, logical and clear, but I have never seen a man whose bearing was so provoking and intolerable.” (2) However, not dissuaded, Schurz would go on to plan an active, but unsuccessful role in attempting to replace German government with Socialism in 1848. And like so many of his German compatriots who had played an important role in the failed revolution, many would soon migrate to the United States in order to continue waving the banner for their leftist cause of taking things from others by force and coercion (which sums up the modern socialism of Bernie Sanders and other politicians as well).

2. Carl Schurz’s Governmental Influence

Carl Schurz was an early supporter of Abraham Lincoln, served as chairman of the Wisconsin delegation to the Republican National Convention, and was appointed as an ambassador to Spain in order to dissuade Spain from aiding the Confederacy. In 1862, Schurz was commissioned as a brigadier General in the Federal Army, and fought at Gettysburg and the Second Battle of Manassas. Later he would work in St. Louis editing a German Language newspaper, and was elected U.S. Senator from Missouri. (1)

3. Carl Schurz’s Cultural Influence

In 1870, Carl Schurz would lead a Liberal Republican party, which started in Missouri, and which would spread nationwide with support from Horace Greeley (who himself was fascinated with Utopianism, Socialism and featured Karl Marx as a correspondent in the New York Tribune), Charles Sumner, Lyman Trumbull and others. Eventually Schurz would lead the Indian Affairs Office, and advocate the resettling of Native American tribes on reservations. However, he later changed his mind and promoted an assimilationist policy…kind of like the Borg from Star Trek. (3)(4)

4. The Schurz’s Public School Legacy

Carl Schurz’s wife, Margarethe Meyer Schurz, was also quite active in promoting socialism in the United States. As a native of Hamburg, Germany, she learned about the concept of “Kindergarten” from Friedrich Froebel (See Friedrich below). Upon coming to America, Ms. Schurz started a small Kindergarten in Watertown, Wisconsin and then Milwaukee. “The Kindergarten continued sporadically here, always operated as a private school, through the nineteenth century, finally becoming a part of the public school curriculum after the turn of the last century.” (5) Ah yes, the proud legacy of public *cough* government *cough* school.

Note: Friedrich Froebel – the individual who Ms. Schurz learned the concept of Kindergarten from, was accused of undermining traditional values in 1851 by Karl von Raumer, the Prussian minister of education. Raumer believed that Froebel was spreading  atheism and socialism – which Froebel denied. Still, von Raumer banner kindergartens in Prussia. In 1852, in the midst of the controversy, Froebel died. Although kindergartens existed in other German states, they were not reestablished in Prussia until 1860. By the end of the nineteenth century, kindergartens had been established throughout Europe and North America. (6)

  1. Wisconsin Historical Society 
  2. The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz/Volume One/06 Darkening Prospects – Resisting the Reaction
  3. Hoxie, Frederick E. A Final Promise: The Campaign to Assimilate the Indians, 1880-1920, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1981
  4. “Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, November 1, 1880,” In Prucha, Francis Paul, ed., Documents of United States Indian Policy, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.
  5. Watertown History
  6. Friedrich Froebel at State University.com
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