Gustav Körner

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gustav Körner
(Lincoln Museums, Fort Wayne (Indiana))

Gustav Philipp Körner , rarely also called Gustav Peter Körner , in the USA Gustave Koerner (born  November 20, 1809 in Frankfurt am Main , †  April 9, 1896 in Belleville , Illinois ), was a German - American lawyer and judge , diplomat and statesman . Abraham Lincoln's friend was the United States Ambassador to Spain and Lieutenant Governor of the United StatesState of Illinois. His name is also closely linked to the history of the German-language press in Belleville.


Gustav as a newlywed on a painting from 1836.
Körner's wife Sophie Engelmann
(St. Clair County Historical Society, Fever River Research)

Gustav Körner was the son of the Frankfurt publisher, bookseller and art dealer Bernhard Körner (1776–1829) and his wife Maria Magdalena Kampf (1776–1847), daughter of another Frankfurt bookseller. Even when choosing his first name, a bit of politics was involved: Körner's father, a Frankfurt liberal, wanted to use the first name Gustav to pay tribute to the resistance of the Swedish King Gustav Adolf IV (1778–1837), who was deposed in the year of his son's birth, against Napoleon . Körner's middle name, on the other hand, has nothing to do with politics: it reminds of Gustav Körner's godfather Philipp Peter Raeder or Roeder from Heilbronn , a businessman friend of Bernhard Körner's. Sometimes Körner was called Philipp with his second first name, less often Peter.

Gustav Körner married on June 17, 1836 in Belleville (Illinois) Sophie Engelmann (born November 16, 1815 in Imsbach , Donnersbergkreis , Electoral Palatinate , † after 1886 in Belleville), the daughter of Friedrich Engelmann and Elisabeth Kipp and younger sister of his friend and former fellow student Theodor Engelmann (1808–1889). Körner came to the USA with the Engelmann family. He got engaged to Sophie Engelmann on the crossing there. The Körner couple had eight children.


The German revolutionary

Train to the Hambach Festival. Partly colored pen drawing from 1832. The flags show the German national colors gold-red-black, chosen at the time.

Körner studied law at the University of Jena from 1828 and was already there in the liberal and republican student movement; he became a member of the Germania Jena fraternity . When he continued his studies at the University of Munich , he was even imprisoned for four months in 1830 for his involvement in student riots. In response to these so-called Munich December riots , the University of Munich was temporarily closed for several days. In 1831 Körner moved to the University of Heidelberg , where he received his doctorate in law in 1832 , and here too he became a member of a politically active student association ( Alte Burschenschaft Franconia Heidelberg ).

At the Frankfurt Burschentag in 1831, the revolutionary-minded Körner enforced a tightening of the tendency paragraph. Now the fraternity was striving to “bring about a free and orderly state that existed in popular unity”. In May 1832, Körner took part in the Hambach Festival with a group of Heidelberg students (fraternity Frankonia) . Körner is not to be found on the list of speakers at this festival of freedom; However, he belonged to the soon-to-be-banned Fatherland Association to support the free press , which had called for participation in this festival. The Frankfurt section of the association, in which Körner was active, played a key role in the preparation of the Frankfurt Wachensturm on April 3, 1833. This overthrow was intended to transform the German Confederation ruled by princes into a German republic and enforce free elections. Frankfurt, the site of the planned coup, was the permanent meeting place for the ambassadors of the German Confederation.

Wanted poster for Gustav Peter Philipp Körner, issued by the Embarrassing Interrogation Office

While preparing for the guard storm, Körner met in Kassel with the Marburg law professor and politician Sylvester Jordan (1792–1861), who was to take on an important position in a transitional government planned by the insurgents. On the evening of April 3rd, Körner was in command of one of the three raiding parties that were supposed to move against the main guard . At around 9:30 p.m. they opened the attack on the guard, which was defended by around 50 soldiers. After a brief scuffle in which several defenders were killed, the guards surrendered. Within a short time the Frankfurt line battalion formed to counterattack. The rebels had no chance against the overwhelming power. After a short but violent firefight, the Hauptwache and the nearby Konstablerwache were recaptured. Körner, wounded by a bayonet stab, spent the night in a friend's apartment on Rossmarkt . The next morning he fled with the help of his sister Auguste via Darmstadt to Heidelberg and Karlsruhe, from there to France. The wanted lawyer in Le Havre went with friends on board the sailing ship Logan with the destination USA (see: Thirties ). In St. Louis ( Missouri ) he wanted to live in a "free community" (see: Freethinkers ).

The German American and opponent of slavery

Experienced politician: Gustav Körner
(Northern Illinois University)
The elder Gustav Körner
(Belleviller Zeitung)

But when he arrived in St. Louis, as a staunch freedom fighter, he disliked the slavery permitted in Missouri and a number of other US states , which is why Körner and the emigrant group of the Engelmann family from Palatinate, which he had joined in Le Havre, moved to St. Clair County (Illinois) moved on just a few kilometers across the Mississippi River (see: Latin Settlement ). He initially considered changing jobs and devoting himself entirely to journalism. Through his older brother, the bookseller and publisher Carl Gottfried Körner (1798–1857) in Frankfurt, he sent articles about America he had written to German newspapers. In a five-part series about an “excursion to the Missouri valley” for Cotta's newspaper Das Ausland , which appeared in February and March 1834, he condemned slavery: “No German should go to a slave state. Illinois has a great advantage over its neighboring state with its freedom. ”And he predicted the impending civil war with foresight:“ The break between the free and slave states is inevitable, and who wants to be found on the bad side as a fighter? ”The series of articles also meant Körner's first examination of the Missouri book by Gottfried Duden , published in Germany in 1829 , which attracted many emigrants to this state due to its uncritical and euphemistic perspective. Körner expanded his series to include the 62-page text describing the current state of the western states of North America , which was published in autumn 1834 by his brother Carl Gottfried in his Frankfurt publishing house. Subtitle: "A writing for the educated emigrant in a complete illumination of Duden's report on a trip to the western states of North America." This writing had the purpose of "reducing the all too brilliant views of Duden to their true value", it says in a review of Körner's life, which appeared on January 11, 1899 in the “Belleviller Zeitung”, the anniversary edition for the 50th anniversary of this paper. This is also recorded there: “How sincerely and seriously Mr. Koerner was committed to the abolition of slavery, just one example among many others: When he returned from the country from a business trip one day at that memorable time of the anti-slavery movement he gathered a great crowd in great excitement in the public square in Belleville. Inquiring about the cause of this unusual gathering of people, he learned that a slave was just being put up for sale. Mr. Körner got off his horse, went to the auction stand, bought the slave and immediately gave him freedom. "

Körner tried very hard to become a good American, therefore - in contrast to many German compatriots - immediately learned English and continued his legal studies at Transylvania University in Lexington ( Kentucky ) in 1834/35 . From 1835 he practiced as a lawyer in his own law firm in Belleville . He was horrified by the wrong image his compatriots in Germany had of America. Therefore, in 1837 he supported the project of a "North American magazine for Germany" (subtitle), which was started under the name Das Westland by George Engelmann (1809-1884), who worked as a doctor in St. Louis and, like Körner, came from Frankfurt. The three-month publication published in St. Louis and printed by an uncle Engelmann's in Heidelberg, which wanted to correct a false image of America, did not meet with the hoped-for response and had to cease publication after only three issues. Körner wrote under the abbreviation “G. K. “several articles for this magazine.

In 1838 Gustav Körner received US citizenship .

In 1842 he successfully took over the legal proceedings for the rehabilitation of Bishop Martin Stephan, who had been expelled from his community , the "Apostolic Lutheran Episcopal Church of Stephansburg", in St. Louis .

The democrat

In his new home, too, Körner was politically active and encouraged his German compatriots to do so. Already since 1837 Körner was a supporter of the democrats founded in 1828 , was even elected to high party offices, but he could no longer come to terms with the general attitude of his party to slavery. In 1856 he therefore switched to the Republicans, founded in 1854 as a party against slavery (see: Abolitionism ).

During these years, he served his home state of Illinois in a number of roles, including from 1842 to 1843 as a member of the House of Representatives , from 1845 to 1851 as a judge at the Supreme Court of Illinois. When the news of the revolution in Germany reached the USA in 1848 , the former guardsman was enthusiastic. For a while, Körner toyed with the idea of ​​traveling to his hometown and closely following Germany's path to the democratic Paulskirche constitution . Although he fell under the amnesty proclaimed by the city of Frankfurt in 1848 and the revocation of the Free City of Frankfurt's civil rights in 1835 had been reversed, his older sister Pauline (1804-1856) and his brother Carl Gottfried, both of whom were in Frankfurt, advised him lived and viewed the prospects of success of the revolution with great skepticism, in letters emphatically refrained from embarking on this journey. Korn stayed in America.

From 1853 to 1857 grains was Lieutenant Governor ("Lieutenant Governor") of Illinois under Governor Joel Aldrich Matteson . When he became president of the Chicago and Alton Railroad railroad company , Körner was to take over the office of governor, but his “foreign descent” as a German and his radical political stance against slavery made this impossible.

The newspaper maker

In order to support the election campaign of US President Martin Van Buren (1782–1862), who had been in office since 1837 , who came from the Democratic camp and was seeking his re-election, the politically ambitious lawyer Gustav Körner founded the newspaper “Der Freiheitsbote für Illinois ". It was the first German newspaper to appear in this state. However, it was printed in neighboring St. Louis. Körner himself described the paper, which appeared from May to November 1840 - most of the contributions came from his own pen - as a weekly campaign paper. Just two weeks after it was first published, there were 200 subscribers, he noted in his memoir. When the Missouri Democrats became aware of this newspaper, Körner changed the title to "Messenger of Freedom for Illinois and Missouri". However, Van Buren was unable to defend his presidency after the difficult years of recession. He won in only six states - Illinois was one of them.

Four years after Körner, his friend and brother-in-law Theodor Engelmann tried his luck as a newspaper publisher. In 1844 he founded the “Belleville Observer”. This first newspaper printed in Belleville was an early attempt to attract German immigrants to a German-language newspaper. But the paper had problems to conquer a market. This was also made more difficult by the fact that Engelmann was appointed Clerk of the St. Clair County District Court in 1844 and could no longer devote the necessary time to his newspaper. He sold the observer. The new owner, Bartholomeus Hauck, soon let the paper die and moved the printing works to Quincy , where he landed new failures with the founding of new newspapers. Since the population of Bellevillers of German descent grew considerably in the following years and his term of office at the district court also ended, Theodor Engelmann made another attempt in 1848 to establish a German-language newspaper in Belleville. He convinced Hauck, who had in the meantime tried - also without success - to gain a foothold as a publisher in St. Louis, to take part in this project and to return to Belleville with his print shop.

On January 11, 1849, the first edition of the "Belleviller Zeitung" appeared. Engelmann acted as owner and publisher, Hauck as printer. The paper, which appeared every Thursday, cost two US dollars with an annual subscription. The Germans now made up the largest proportion of the population of the city of Belleville. Therefore, the "Belleviller Zeitung" was able to hold its own against two English-language local papers. In March 1849 Engelmann let his readers know that the company was firmly established and that the newspaper could continue to appear regularly in the future. Gustav Körner played a not insignificant part in this success. For several years the editorial team was mainly in his hands. The busy lawyer devoted a large part of his free time to the paper, which was politically on the side of the Democrats - without his own financial interests, as he emphasized in his memoir. On its 50th birthday, the newspaper looked back at this time on its 50th birthday (anniversary edition of January 11, 1899 ).

Shortly before taking office as Vice Governor on January 1, 1853, Gustav Körner made a name for himself on December 23, 1852 in the “Belleviller Zeitung” - with a “declaration to the readers”: “Although the editors of the 'Belleviller Newspaper 'had never been formally taken over by me, yet I actually ran it almost from its creation, as far and as often as my other professional business permitted, and held myself responsible, as it were, for its direction and content. The position which I have to assume in a few days, as an official of the state, makes it impossible for me to maintain the previous connection with the newspaper, and so I have to take any further responsibility for the content, which an editor usually takes on reject the same. In the meantime, I will, as far as my time allows, pay my attention to the newspaper, and try to contribute at least indirectly to its prosperity. G. Körner. "

Koerner remained connected to the newspaper and from then on sent weekly reports on the political events in the capital of Illinois to Belleville. In one of his first reports for the “Submitted” column, he proudly announced that the former governor of Illinois, John Reynolds (1788–1865), who lived in Belleville and headed that state from 1831 to 1834, would be the “ Speaker of the House of Legislature ”had been elected and thus the“ chairmen ”of the State Senate (he, Körner) and of the legislature (Reynolds) were“ both Bellevillers ”.

But political competition soon arose for the Democrats, and the "Belleviller Zeitung" began to take their side: On March 16, 1854, the newspaper published the statutes of a new "Association of Free Germans". It was a forerunner of the Republican Party. This association stood up against the further spread of slavery and for its gradual abolition.

The Republican

Abraham Lincoln

The Democrat Körner was one of the founders of the Republican Party in 1856 and helped to refine its program. Körner was elected President of the Illinois Republicans that same year. In 1858 he was president of the electoral assembly that nominated Abraham Lincoln for the US Senate . Behind the scenes of two major party congresses in 1858 - first at the Illinois State Convention in Bloomington , then at the National Party Congress in Chicago - he was one of the group of influential Republican “string pullers” who pushed Lincoln through as a candidate for president. Körner played a key role in the 1860 presidential campaign as a liaison to the important German-American group and was one of Lincoln's political advisors. The fact that the German-Americans gave Lincoln the decisive vote in the 1860 election is also considered a success of the tireless campaigner Gustav Körner, who was respected throughout the Midwest as a spokesman for German-Americans. Körner was a confidante of Lincoln and was considered very influential, which was of political importance especially in relation to his German compatriots. For example, he warned Lincoln against letting Friedrich Hecker (1811-1881) speak to the Germans in his election campaign , as he was ostracized as an " antichrist " by the Catholics . Körner had once fought a duel with the Baden revolutionary Hecker at Heidelberg Student Days. In 1848, after Hecker's emigration to the USA, Körner helped him find a farm in Summerfield near Belleville.

After Lincoln's election victory (inauguration on March 4, 1861), Körner was initially denied political office, which he was very disappointed with, which became clear in several letters to Lincoln. So first of grains worked in 1861 on the establishment of the "43rd Illinois Regiment ", but prior to completion of this task in August with the rank of Colonel ( Colonel ) to the quartermaster at General John C. Frémont official appointed (Command: September 28, 1861 - February 10, 1862 / Source: Illinois Trails History and Genealogy ). In January 1862 Lincoln recommended him to General Henry Wager Halleck for employment in the rank of Brigadier General of the Union Army . However, in April 1862, Körner had to quit work for health reasons.

When Carl Schurz (1829-1906) gave up his post as ambassador to Madrid in the same year 1862 , Körner finally received his longed-for political office on June 12, 1862 with a nomination on June 6 and confirmation by the US Senate, and he was Schurz's successor . Lincoln sent him to Spain on a mission that was not easy. Its purpose was to prevent Spain from sideizing the southern states during the American Civil War. Although the "Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America" ​​(as Körner's exact title as ambassador) succeeded, Körner was dissatisfied in Spain. He asked his president several times to relieve him. An important reason: the financial endowment of this ambassadorial position was by far not sufficient to meet the enormous representative obligations at the Spanish court. Körner had to get money from his private box. At the end of 1864 he left the diplomatic service and returned to the United States. Hardly back home on May 5, 1865, he was one of the twelve pallbearers who carried the murdered Abraham Lincoln to his grave in his hometown of Springfield in the "Oak Ridge Cemetery". Only one pallbearer wasn't from Springfield: it was the Lincoln friend from Belleville.

Körner used his journey as ambassador to Madrid in 1862 to visit his hometown on the Main. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote in 1996 on the 100th anniversary of his death that this was "the first visit since his abrupt departure in 1833 and also the last". In Frankfurt, the guard tower and the insurgents were badly remembered, as the city was subsequently subjected to federal execution and occupied by a military occupation. It is clear from the writings of Körner that he paid further visits to Frankfurt both in 1863 during his time as ambassador to Spain and in 1864 on his return trip from Madrid to the USA. During his first visit in 1862, Körner met the composer Richard Wagner (1813–1883) at a banquet in Frankfurt . Körner was a great lover of classical music. But neither should have just chatted about music: both had experience as revolutionaries - one as a guardian in 1833, the other as a barricade fighter in Dresden in 1848/49.

The retiree

Gustav Körner's home around 1890
(St. Clair County Historical Society, Fever River Research)

Körner spent his retirement in Belleville until his death, but was still able to work in a number of honorary positions. So he was z. B. reelected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1870 and also became president of the first board of directors of the Illinois Railroad Commission. In 1872 he was once again a member of the electoral assembly that nominated Horace Greeley as a US presidential candidate. In the same year he ran for the office of governor of Illinois, but the election was won by the Republican Richard James Oglesby (1824–1899), who was replaced in his first year in office in 1873 by his fellow party member John Lourie Beveridge (see: List of Governors von Illinois ), later, from 1885 to 1889, but held the governorship again. Körner continued to work as a lawyer and wrote articles for a number of newspapers. On the recommendation of his friend and biographer Heinrich Rattermann (1832–1923), he began to write his memoirs in Belleville at the end of 1886. Körner did not think about publication - he put the detailed review of his life on paper as a memory for his children.

Gustav Körner died in April 1896 and was buried in his second home, Belleville, in the "Walnut Hill Cemetery" next to his wife Sophie, who died in 1888. The grave of the German entrepreneur Moritz von Dobschütz (1831–1913) is also located in this cemetery . Korner's memoirs, 13 years, were after his death and the year of his 100th birthday in two volumes in 1909 Cedar Rapids ( Iowa published) as a book. Körner's former home is now on the National Register of Historic Places . It was acquired by the City of Belleville in 2001. The St. Clair County's Historical Society ( St. Clair County Historical Society ) took the lead in the restoration and remodeling project, which began soon thereafter. The Gustave Koerner House at 200 Abend Street and the corner of Mascoutah Avenue will in future be a museum to commemorate the great German-American Gustav Körner.

German Christmas tree

Almost every year reports appear in the US media that Gustav Körner introduced the typically German custom of the illuminated and decorated Christmas tree in the USA - and this as early as 1833 near Belleville. These stories go back to the description of the first Christmas celebrations of the Engelmann family from the Palatinate, who had joined Körner, in the settlement of the so-called "Latin farmers" near Belleville. In the extremely cold winter of 1833/34, in the absence of a fir, the top of a young fennel tree ( Sassafras ), which still had a few green leaves, served as a Christmas tree substitute. The sassafras was decorated with ribbons, colored strips of paper, apples, nuts, pastries and candles. “Perhaps this was the first Christmas tree whose lights were lit on the banks of the Mississippi,” Gustav Körner later recorded in his memoirs. The fact that this sassafras - although the Christmas tree was no longer unknown in the United States in 1833 - was later hyped up as the first Christmas tree in the entire United States in media reports is hardly due to Gustav Körner's. However, a year earlier , the German-American writer Karl Follen from Hesse is said to have set up a Christmas tree in his house in Cambridge and thus introduced the custom in New England and the United States.

Attack of the "red doctor"

Körner's signature

One year after Körner's death, Ernst Schmidt (1830–1900), an American emigrant of the “forty-eight” generation and who went down in history as the “red doctor of Chicago”, violently attacked the Belleville politician. In the article “A dark letter” for “Die Fackel”, the Sunday paper of the Chicagoer Arbeiter-Zeitung, dated December 5, 1897, Schmidt accused Gustav Körner that the former Frankfurt assassin from 1833 had written to the governor of Illinois in 1887 , Richard Oglesby, appeals under no circumstances to pardon the perpetrators of the Chicago Haymarket Riot, who were sentenced to death in a controversial trial . A stranger had carried out a bomb attack at a union protest meeting on May 1st at the Heumarkt. According to Schmidt, Körner must have written the letter to Oglesby in “a dark hour” of his life. As a former Frankfurt assassin, he in particular should have “stood up for mercy” with all his influence. The accusation against Körner was repeated in 1968 by Frederick R. Schmidt in the book "He Chose" about Ernst Schmidt published in Santa Fe and can also be found in the biography of the doctor and social revolutionary Dr. Ernst Schmidt again, which was written by Axel W.-O. Schmidt comes from and bears the title: “The Red Doctor of Chicago - the fate of a German-American emigrant.” But neither Ernst Schmidt (1897) nor Frederick R. Schmidt (1968) nor Axel W.-O. Schmidt (2003) were able to reproduce the alleged Körner letter to Oglesby in full or to provide a source for this document. In the extensive Oglesby papers of the Lincoln Library and the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, no such letter from Körner has survived, although there are a number of other letters addressed to Oglesby on the court rulings of the Heumarkt affair (information from the curator for manuscripts Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Cheryl Schnirring, March 30, 2007).

The 200th birthday

Gravestone of Gustav and Sophie Körner in the Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville
(Photo: José Miguel)
The restoration and conversion to a museum is in progress: Körner's house in Belleville. He lived here for more than four decades
(Photo: José Miguel)

In 2009, Frankfurt dedicated no less than eight exhibitions to Körner's school friend Heinrich Hoffmann , the “Struwwelpeter” author and psychiatrist, on the occasion of his 200th birthday, as well as a large supporting program. In contrast, the city on the Main completely ignored the same anniversary of the German-American Gustav Körner (November 20). The Frankfurt Institute for Urban History , one of the largest German city archives, has a number of documents on Gustav Körner. Below is the profile that was published shortly after the guard storm in the course of the manhunt for the fugitive revolutionary in Frankfurt.

Körner's second home, Belleville, celebrated Körner's 200th birthday with a festive dinner. Descendants of the Körner and Engelmann families from the US states of California , Maine and Michigan also took part. The next day they planted an American white oak at Körner's grave in the "Walnut Hill" town cemetery in Belleville. The "White Oak" is the official state tree of Illinois. In Körner's former home, the guests then found out about the conversion of the brick building into a museum that is to be dedicated to the well-known German-American. This museum is also intended to shed light on Körner's friendship with Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday also marked the 200th anniversary in 2009 and was one of the most important anniversary dates of this year in the USA. Körner's descendants presented the Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert with a valuable exhibit for the planned Körner Museum at the festive dinner from family property: a heavy silver platter that Spain's Queen Isabella II had given Gustav Körner in 1864 on his departure as US ambassador to Spain.

In Frankfurt am Main there is a “Körnerstraße” in the Westend . But it is not reminiscent of Gustav Körner, but of the war of liberation poet Carl Theodor Körner (1791–1813). In books about famous people from Frankfurt you will usually look in vain for the name Gustav Körner. In 1929, on the 100th anniversary of the US Consulate General in Frankfurt, a text published by the city's magistrate noted: “The most important of the Frankfurt emigrants was Dr. Gustav Peter Körner. ”And in 1963 a documentary on the visit of US President John F. Kennedy to Frankfurt said:“ Even before, but also after the so-called Paulskirchen movement, America granted asylum to the German democrats in times of political reaction. One of the upright Frankfurt democrats who emigrated to America was Gustav Peter Körner. “The German-American Carl Schurz, who was not from Frankfurt and to whom the city on the Main even dedicated a ceremony in the Paulskirche in 1929 for his 100th birthday (keynote speaker: the former member of the Reichstag and later Federal President Theodor Heuss ), has been honored for many years with a plaque on Paulskirche. One looks in vain for the upright Frankfurt democrat Gustav Körner.

A century after the publication of Gustav Körner's two-volume memoirs (2009), there is still no complete German translation of this historically interesting work in the university and book city of Frankfurt, Körner's homeland. Only the seven student chapters of the first volume were published in 2003 by Kurt U. Bertrams in a German translation - albeit under the English-seeming title "Remembrances of the Burschenschaft" (Hilden). Subtitle: "Student memories of a German revolutionary and American politician 1829-1833".

In the year of his 200th birthday, Gustav Körner seems to have been almost forgotten in his German hometown of Frankfurt. The American emigrant himself never forgot the city he came from. In his book “From Spain” (1867), after his return from the ambassadorial post in Madrid, which led via Frankfurt, Körner wrote: “Frankfurt! Here every paving stone did not have a historical meaning for me, as was usually said in Hambach, but an individual meaning. What feelings flowed through me when I set foot on the stone path to dismount in the old-fashioned Schwanen. - The Hauptwache , one of my last memories of April 3rd. On the Roßmarkt the house in which I had spent my last night in Frankfurt, wounded. From the windows of the hotel I saw the old town avenue , where I played so often as a child, now adorned with Göthe's (far too colossal) statue . Oh how beautiful Frankfurt has become, with its wreath of splendid garden apartments. The first city that looks like America, said my children. Here is life, hustle and bustle, free movement. In general, Germany has advanced infinitely. "

"Do right and fear no one"

The Historical Society of St. Clair County, in which Belleville is located, has put its large project to transform the former home of Gustav Körner into a Koerner Museum under the slogan “Do right and fear no one”. In 2009 it was also the motto of the celebrations for Gustav Körner's 200th birthday. “Act right and do not fear anyone” was not Körner's very personal motto in life. With these words he rather described in his memoirs the “religion” of most of the fraternity members of his student years in Jena - but with these he may also have characterized his own basic attitude as an active fraternity member. The “Belleviller Zeitung” presented one of his personal leitmotifs on January 11, 1899, almost three years after Körner's death, in a biography in its anniversary edition on the 50th anniversary of its first publication: “The whole work of his long, glorious life may be one constant exposition of his favorite motto, namely: No rights without duties, no duties without rights. "


  • Illumination of Duden's report on the western states of North America, from America , Karl Körner (Ed.), Frankfurt (Main) 1834.
  • The German Element in the United States of North America 1818–1848 , Verlag Wilde, Cincinnati 1880 and New York 1885 - reprinted in: Crosscurrents: writings of German political emigrés in nineteenth-century America, Section 2: America and the Americans, Volume 3, Verlag Peter Lang, New York, Bern and Frankfurt (Main) 1986, ISBN 0-8204-0045-9 (published and with an introduction in English by Patricia A. Herminghouse). - Don Heinrich Tolzmann (Cincinnati, Ohio), author of numerous books on German-American history and culture, translated Körner's book into English, annotated it and published individual chapters in several regionally structured publications that he edited: "Missouri's German Heritage. " Milford, Ohio 2004, ISBN 1-932250-22-0 ; "Illinois' German Heritage." Milford, Ohio 2005, ISBN 1-932250-27-1 ; "The German Element in the Northeast: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey & New England." Baltimore, Maryland 2010, ISBN 978-0-8063-5498-9 ; "The German Element in the Ohio Valley. Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana." Baltimore, Maryland 2011, ISBN 978-0-8063-5507-8 .
  • Remembrances of the Burschenschaft, student memories of a German revolutionary and American politician , publisher: Kurt Ulrich Bertrams, WJK-Verlag, Hilden 2003, ISBN 3-933892-55-4
  • Memoirs of Gustav Körner, 1809–1896 , editor: Thomas J. McCormack, 2 volumes, Torch Press, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) 1909.
  • Extract from the laws of the state of Illinois or a collection of those legal provisions that are most frequently used in civil life, accompanied by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of Ver. States and the State of Illinois, as well as explanatory remarks and instructions for the German citizens of Illinois , St. Louis 1838. (This work is the first German-language book printed in St. Louis.)
  • From Spain , Frankfurt (Main) 1867.


  • Horst DippelKörner, Gustav. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 12, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-428-00193-1 , p. 383 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Heinrich Rattermann : Gustav Körner, German-American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and historian. A picture of life based on his unpublished autobiography, his writings and letters . Self-published, Cincinnati, Ohio 1902.
  • Jay Monaghan: The Man Who Elected Lincoln . Babbs Merrill Co., New York 1956.
  • Mark E. Neely Jr .: Gustave Philipp Koerner (1809-1896) . In: The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia . McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York and St. Louis 1982.
  • Bernd Häußler: From the guardsman to Abraham Lincoln's confidante. Gustav Peter Körner / leader of the “Vormärz” opposition died 100 years ago , in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on April 11, 1996.
  • Thomas O. Jewett: Gustave Koerner and the Republican Party . In: Journal of St. Clair County History . Issue 32, St. Clair County Historical Society (Ed.), Belleville, Illinois 2003.
  • Cynthia A. Fuener: A Naturalized Politician: The Life of Gustave Koerner . In: Historic Illinois! Magazines . Volume 5 / Volume 27, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Springfield (Illinois) 2005.
  • Wolfgang Stüken: Gustav Körner (1809-1896) - Belleville's famous citizen . In: Bernd Broer, Otmar Allendorf, Heinz Marxkors, Wolfgang Stüken (eds.): On to America! Volume 3. On emigration to America from the Paderborn region and on immigration from Germany to the region of Paderborn's twin town Belleville, Illinois. Paderborn 2008, pp. 145-180. The articles “Address to the German People” - Appeal from 1849 by German Americans from Belleville and the surrounding area to fight for the 'German Republic' (pp. 75–92) and “A strange piece of German life” - The Latin Settlement east of Belleville ( Pp. 181–212) by the same author also deal with Gustav Körner. ISBN 978-3-89710-408-2
  • Wolfgang Stüken: Westphalian confidante. Pauline Jordan from Höxter was listening to an explosive conversation in Kassel in 1833 . In: The waiting. Home magazine for the Paderborn and Höxter districts. 70th year, no. 142, summer 2009 (about Körner's visit to Sylvester Jordan on February 27, 1833 in the preparation phase for the Frankfurt Wachensturm).
  • Wolfgang P. Cilleßen and Jan Willem Huntebrinker (eds.): Heinrich Hoffmann - Peter Struwwel. A life in Frankfurt 1809–1894. Volume 28 of the writings of the Historisches Museum Frankfurt am Main. Petersberg 2009. ISBN 978-3-86568-474-5 . The volume accompanying an exhibition about Heinrich Hoffmann contains numerous references to his friendship with Gustav Körner and common experiences of the two Frankfurters in childhood and youth.
  • Laura Girresch: 200 Years of Koerner . In: Belleville News-Democrat , November 22, 2009.
  • Helge Dvorak: Biographical Lexicon of the German Burschenschaft. Volume I: Politicians. Volume 3: I-L. Winter, Heidelberg 1999, ISBN 3-8253-0865-0 , pp. 135-136.

Web links

Commons : Gustav Körner  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Bernd Häußler: From the guardsman to the confidante of Abraham Lincoln . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . No. 85 , April 11, 1996, pp. 46 .
  2. Harvard Gazette: The Professor who brought the Christmas Tree to Newengland
  3. Süddeutsche Zeitung: Ten Things You Didn't Know About ..
  4. Die Welt: A German brought the Christmas tree to the USA
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on May 4, 2006 .