“Passing the Plate for Revolution”: European Forty‑Eighters’ Fundraising Tours in the United States
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Following the defeat of the revolutions in France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Hungary in 1848 and 1849, many participants of the liberal movements had to flee to escape retaliation. In Europe, Britain was the only safe haven for the refugees: in London perhaps the most interesting group of idealists of many nationalities convened − with the major link between them being their unsuccessful clash with the forces of monarchy in their homelands and their grandiose plans for re-starting the freedom fights. For Marx, Kinkel, Hecker, Kossuth, Mazzini, Ruge London, as one of them put it, offered little bread, but did provide the necessary freedom of speech and that of press. Many deemed it crucial that they succeed in the mobilization of the United States in support of their struggles. In order to mobilize the American public, and, of course, to collect donations for their cause, these (ex-)leaders of the revolutions traveled to the United States sometime in the 1850s and organized extensive lecturing and fundraising tours: Gottfried Kinkel (September 1851 to March 1852), Amand Goegg (December 1851 to July 1852), Kossuth (December 1851 to July 1852), Alberto and Jessie White Mario (October 1858). This paper aims to analyze the historical significance of the lecturing tours by seeking answers to the following questions: 1.) Why did the revolutionary spokespersons unanimously turn to America for inspiration? 2.) What practical benefits did the individual fundraisers hope to gain from their trips? What specific target audiences did they choose for their campaign, and why? 3.) What was the reaction of the American public? 4.) What was the relationship between the travelling revolutionaries themselves? 5.) How can the results of the tours be evaluated from the perspective of the a) individuals b) the ethnic group/political issues they represented c) American general public/political groups?
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