Daily Buffalo Democrat and World Citizen


Thursday Evening, June 8, 1854; Page 2, column 2, middle

Our Foreign Citizens

Under this title the Democracy publishes an article similar to that which we communicated last Saturday from the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. It will be of interest to our readers to know the opinion of this influential newspaper concerning the various aspects of our national character. We therefore render the article to you in faithful translation:

"The German people are currently revelling in their most joyous period of recreation. The festival of the solstice (?), which began on Monday and ends today. During this time of celebration no German newspaper will be printed (?), business activities are suspended as far as practical, and the entire population makes it the prime assignment to enjoy itself. The Turners (gymnasts) have marched out in full number, traversing the streets with music and banners, taking excursions to country places. The national and time-honored customs are fully observed and the season offers a happy oasis of fatherland memory amidst exile and alien manners.

"By the way, has it ever occurred to the masses of our American citizenry that we have among us a German population numbering more than 25,000 souls whose daily manners and customs are as totally unknown to us as those of the Tartars? Their newspapers, we believe they are three in number, are naturally sealed books to the multitude; and since the Germans generally live in their own portion of the city, have their own churches, their own recreational areas, their own societies and institutions, little commerce is conducted between the two nationalities. We would be happy if things were otherwise.

"The peculiarities of the German people afford the observant descendant of the Puritans endless sources of study and we know from a few particular experiences that not only are their customs and manners agreeable, but also that there may be found an educated power of reason, a scientific and philosophical spirit among our German neighbors which offer rich reward to those lucky enough to break through the barriers which surround them.

"There are also French and Dutch people about whom may be said the same thing but only a few, a very few of our people have the luck to become acquainted with the better classes among them.

"There are reasons for this which we need not discuss here but we would be glad to see, were it not so remote, that a heartfelt understanding existed between the various elements of our population — especially between the Americans and the Germans, who in all things conducive to sociability are as far apart as the poles."

So much for the Democracy. The remarks are certainly well-intended and for the most part all too true; however on whom rests the greatest portion of the blame?

We do not wish to dispute that the Germans, frightened off by the Puritanical business life of the Americans, are in part to blame for the slow process of assimilation into their culture but the greater burden of guilt is carried by the American himself.

For example with regard to the gymnastics festival, which gave the editor of the Democracy occasion for the above comment — all English-speaking citizens received invitation through announcements in two of the most widely-read English language newspapers and all the editors and publishers of these papers received special invitations in writing, yet in Granger's Grove with the exception of the half-German Mr. Vanderpoel we noticed not one single American.

Why is property in the German portion of the city so inexpensive? For the simple reason that the Americans fearfully avoid this portion of the city and competition with property in the American residential portions of the city has completely ceased. It would lead us too far from the point right now to describe the ways and means by which best to achieve the goals intimated by the editor of the Democracy; however we shall reserve the right to occasionally come back to this matter.