Fighting for a Free Missouri by Sydney J. Norton

University of Missouri Press

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Fighting for a Free Missouri: German Immigrants, African Americans, and the Issue of Slavery by Sydney J. Norton

Missouri is well-known for its German American heritage, but the story of nineteenth-century German immigrant abolitionists is often neglected in discussions of the state’s history. This collection of ten original essays (with a foreword by renowned Missouri historian Gary Kremer), relates what unfolded when idealistic Germans, many of whom were highly educated and devoted to the ideals of freedom and democracy, left their homeland and settled in a pre-Civil War slave state. Fleeing political persecution during the 1830s and 1840s, immigrants such as Friedrich Münch, Eduard Mühl, Heinrich Boernstein, and Arnold Krekel arrived in the area now known as the Missouri German Heritage Corridor in hopes of finding a land more congenial to their democratic ideals. When they witnessed the state of enslaved Blacks, many of them became abolitionist activists and fervent supporters of Abraham Lincoln and the Union in the emerging Civil War. Editor Sydney Norton and the other contributing authors to Fighting for a Free Missouriexplore the Germans’ abolitionist mission, their relationships with African Americans, and their activity in the radical wing of the Republican Party.

About the Author


Sydney J. Norton is an independent scholar, translator, and educator in St. Louis. While teaching German at Saint Louis University, she curated "German Immigrant Abolitionists: Fighting for a Free Missouri," an exhibition that opened at the Center for Global Citizenship, and that traveled to the Deutschheim State Historic Site in Hermann. Her research for this project and her close collaboration with colleagues in related fields inspired her recently published collection of essays: Fighting for a Free Missouri: German Immigrants, African Americans, and the Issue of Slavery. Norton earned her doctorate in German literature and cultural studies from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Her publications include books and articles on contemporary German art and literature. Weimar-era performing and visual arts, and the German abolitionist movement in the United States. Norton currently teaches German at St. Louis Community College, Forest Park, and the German School Association of St. Louis. She is on the library staff at Concordia Historical Institute. 



Product Specifications

Published by University of Missouri Press, 2023. Hardback, 302 pages.