Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- April 13, 1869Habitual Begging (Editorial)
The German "collection plate" is again making the rounds in America. The city of Cannstadt wishes to erect a monument to Wilhelm, King of Swabia, and the "ignorant" Germans in America, who "are rolling in wealth," are being asked to contribute to the fund.
Now, it is true that old King Wilhelm was a good man, and it will not be forgotten that he remained a "good German" at the time when France dominated Germany (Napoleon's time) and all other rulers in Germany were doing their utmost to further French customs among Germans; no doubt he was much more German than the present enemies of Prussia who dwell on the Neckar and who would revive the Rhenish Confederation as soon as possible; but just because 2of this infamous attitude it is doubly shameful that these obstinate beggars of Swabia are stretching their hands to the Germans across the ocean for donations. Of course, if this attitude is made plain to them, they will be ready with the indignant reply:
"Why, it is not just for the sake of the money; we merely seek evidence of your love toward your mother country, and we wanted to do the Swabians in America a favor by giving them an opportunity to participate in this most worthy cause."
However, we are familiar with such lame excuses; they are nothing more than a mask which covers the greed of our "good friends" across the sea. Apparently the committee which is doing the begging here thinks that it is making a valuable contribution to a public enterprise by composing pathetic requests. That is the "mite" which the members of the committee contribute; they keep their money in their own pockets.3
As far as we can see the German press in America is unanimous in its contempt for habitual begging on the part of the Germans. Regarding this habit the West Bote says:
"If the officials of Cannstadt wish to erect a monument in honor of the late King Wilhelm, let then reach into their own pockets. The Germans in America will not contribute to the glorification of a kingdom that chased them across the ocean. We advise these beggars to withdraw their petition and spare themselves further disgrace. They will receive no assistance here, neither copper nor paper, much less gold. Now, it is true, in America begging is not prohibited by law as it is abroad; but it does not look well when the admirers of a kingdom solicit funds in our American Republic. Even our good friend Wilhelm Rapp who makes no effort to conceal his admiration for Wilhelm, King of Swabia, says:
"By the way, it is our opinion that Wuerttemberg is wealthy enough to erect 4a monument to the honor of the man who did so much for the development of cattle and horse-breeding, agriculture, and manufacturing in his country, and who bravely led his soldiers against the French; but in view of the fact that the wounds which we suffered in the Civil War have not yet healed, we can and must contribute to causes that are more useful and urgent than a monument could ever be."
We agree, Swabia, once a poor, starved country, became rich chiefly through the ability and foresight of King Wilhelm, and can easily donate enough money to pay for ten monuments. However, the people living on the banks of the Neckar, like those who dwell on the banks of the Elbe and the Weser, have not developed the sense of honor which prohibits respectable people from asking others for money, while they themselves are living in affluence. Perhaps rude refusals of their bold requests will help develop a sense of decency in these people.
Often, when it has been necessary, mother countries have assisted their 5colonies, and that is only natural. Thus some German religious organizations which settled in America have received assistance from their brothers in faith in Germany; but now matters are reversed. Germany, which is rich, which holds American securities worth $400,000,000, is not ashamed to beg from those of her sons whom she has banished to a foreign country. But appeal to her for contributions to some worthy cause in America--say a German hospital in New York--and see how much money you will get! Our former countrymen would not contribute one cent; yea, they would regard any plea for their aid as an affront. When eighty brave German fathers were killed in the terrible massacre at Lawrence, Kansas, five years ago, an appeal for aid for the widows and children of these unfortunate victims of Indian treachery and brutality was published in Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, the most widely read newspaper in Germany. And how much money do you suppose our rich German friends across the ocean donated? Not one penny! This despite the fact that by that time many thousands of German capitalists, big and little, had realized enormous sums from their investments in American securities.6
"Not one penny!" --henceforth let that be the answer of all German-Americans to all petitions which are directed from the mother country to her emigrant sons, who, like stepchildren were forced to find a new and better home in America.
I C, I E, II D 10, III H
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