Atlantis -- [Unknown date]A Trip to Wisconsin
In America we are indifferent about the future, although it is the "Land of the Future." Likewise, Chicago does not consider the possibility of commercial catastrophes, which have afflicted and affected all of our commercial cities. The speculators,-and who is not a schemer in Chicago? -fear no business crisis; they act and conduct their affairs as if the city were twice as large. If Chicago has a future,-and we have no doubts of it whatsoever,-then it appears that it is being anticipated. After all, Chicago's geographical and commercial conditions are very auspicious. In the end it will exceed the hopes of the most sanguine.
We saw many splendid buildings, but the German House, in particular, attracted our attention. Situated on the North Side, near she business district, centrally located, its position provides equal accessibility to the inhabitants of the North, West, and South sections of the city.2
The hall was built by Germans with funds obtained through a bond issue. The building forms the focal point of all German endeavors; associations, meetings, etc. We consider this an excellent proposition and predict most gratifying results, especially so because the structure is not the property of any specific club or lodge, being dedicated to the entire German population, which presumably precludes a repetition of the fate that engulfs our German Free-Masonic halls in Cincinnati, St. Louis, etc. The German element will gain considerably thereby, as the work is conducive to create a certain permanence, and that in turn builds power. We feel certain that the might thus obtained will not be wasted in the furtherance of reactionary politics and corrupt office seekers, because Chicago's Germans, in the main, are liberal-minded, consisting of young, ceaselessly ambitious individuals, while the few grey-beards have no influence. The latter, therefore, must stay inactively on the sidelines. German initiative is capable of anything; it requires only a 3proper start. A plastic, formative material is available, and the sculptor's expert touch need only add the requisite precious image.
This phase is the problem of the only German newspaper of the city, The Illinois Staats-Zeitung. How the publication prospers becomes most apparent when one considers that it is the only German daily in Illinois and Chicago, where we have nearly 30,000 Germans. But the political and social significance of the paper vastly exceeds its material basis. After all, the Germans of Chicago are almost unaffected by preconceived opinions and party preferences, being comparable to a blank leaf which is suitable for any test. We hardly know of any other German publication in the United States which may proceed so individualistically and independently as this newspaper, which need not follow the dictates of popular opinion but is in a position to hold it. The German public here is inclined to accept the best, yet appears satisfied with the common offerings.4
The Illinois Staats-Zeitung attained considerable recognition in its responsible task, and in our judgment its leaders will continue on the straight political path. Some deviations, such as supporting the election of Chase, are temporary; and the paper soon reverted to a decided anti-slavery program. The Illinois Staats-Zeitung reflects the opinion of the great American majority of Chicago who regarded Douglas's Nebraska speech of last year as worthy of a Benedict Arnold. The Germans acquiesce, although they are more interested in business than in politics. Obviously, the demand for a good, regularly appearing slave-driver publication is not very great in Chicago, and if the politicians organize one, it may prove detrimental to their party.
When we arrived in Chicago, Hillgaertner had departed for Iowa to follow his former legal vocation. He had been editor of the Staats-5Zeitung for three years and his liberal views, above all, brought prosperity to the paper. We cannot refrain from taking advantage of this opportunity to pay him our profound respects. A man like Hillgaertner should not leave the battlefield during its present dreary aspect; we hope to see him again doing effective work among the people. Even if American politics with its crass contradictions and questionable methods do not fascinate a friendly soul, one feels nevertheless that the hour approaches when men in Europe will combine to proclaim justice, extol liberty, and then Hillgaertner will not be absent.
Among the English newspapers, the Chicago Tribune now shows the same tendency as the Staats-Zeitung. Only six months ago the Tribune was a violent temperance and know-nothing organ [Knownothing, a political party opposed to anything which was not of English or Irish origin.6Transl.], fundamentally opposed to the Staats-Zeitung as well as the entire German population.
I C, II B 2 d 1, II D 6, III C
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German // Contributions and Activities > Benevolent and Protective Institutions > Settlement Houses and Community Centers (II D 6) ?
German // Assimilation > National Churches and Sects (III C) ?
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