A government official from Nassau in Germany complained in 1846 that the emigrants were infected by "delusions of freedom and fantastic ideas about the institutions of government" and that the emigration fever made the "lower classes" rebellious. A group of 160 tenant farmers in an area of intense emigration petitioned the Duke of Braunschweig in 1848, the year of the revolution, to grant them the following:

  1. Complete relief from the head tax (Personensteuer)
  2. Ending of the practice of purchasing substitutes for military service
  3. Representation in the state assembly (Landtag) and the village council
  4. Freedom from the school tax and other ecclesiastical taxes, and improvements in the common schools
  5. Ending of all unpaid road work
  6. Assignment of sufficient acreage in the divided and undivided common lands for free use
  7. Regulation of rental conditions; no more unpaid service; fixed duration and price of rentals
  8. Erection of a public institution for the care of old and invalid Heuerleute (tenant farmers)

Further statements by these dependent tenant farmers who worked tiny plots and relied on jobs such as linen weaving and migratory labor in Holland to supplement their income, clarify their aims:

"...We are obliged to pay taxes and render military service, and formerly road work, too, but are not represented in the Landtag."

Regarding military service: "Those with means can purchase a substitute, but we, the proletariat, must...bleed for the so called Fatherland."

"We are responsible for school, church, and other taxes, but are neither represented nor consulted in the village council about measures that affect our interests."

Kamphoefner in his book, The Westfalians. From Germany to Missouri, expalins what these "interests" were: "Foremost among these was the division of common lands, whereby the Heuerling (tenant farmer) lost grazing and pasture land, wood for fuel, and peat for mulching crops--rights previousy enjoyed for generations by custom but without legal base"

Return to Lesson 4

Learning About Our World: Germany
Ohio Department of Education
Last Updated: 14 April 1997, ARK