Hans Reimer Claussen: A Man Of Essay, Research Paper
Hans Reimer Claussen: a Man of Nationalism,
Democracy, and Liberalism
Hans Reimer Claussen remains an important historical figure in our lives today. His actions epitomize an ideal democratic and politically centered citizen. He stood up for what he believed in, he expected the same for others even if they had a differing opinion. He once said, I wish my political enemies the same freedom to express their opinions that I claim myself It is my opinion that freedom to express one s own opinions must be pushed as far as possible. (Pg. 31 La Vern J. Rippley). Claussen also detested sightless accommodating of authority, “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” (Albert Einstein). Claussen s reasons for leaving Germany stemmed on the fact that he did not believe a man s money, power, and breeding made him a superior leader. Claussen worked actively for reforms in politics and the legal system, and was an active pioneer of democracy for nine years before he came to the United States. Preceding his immigration to America he was one of the leaders of the failed Schleswig-Holstein revolution in 1848. In this country he served as a judge, an attorney, a state senator, and also a business owner. Claussen demonstrated his feelings of nationalism, his love of democracy, and his liberal attitude.
Nationalism was based of an awareness of being part of a community that has common institutions, traditions, language, and customs. (Pg. 620 Spielvogel). Uniting
Germany became a major goal of The Frankfurt Assembly, and of Claussen s. In a speech at the Frankfurt Assembly, he demanded a liberal democratic central authority for the whole of Germany, For it is not a constitutional monarchy that we want to create rather, it is a republic I have not lost love for my Danish Prince Fredrich VIII, none at all, not the slightest bit. (Pg. 23 Rippley). He told the Assembly that the problem
stemmed not from a particular leader but from the form of government itself. The Assembly wanted a freer, more democratic united Germany.
After the Frankfurt Assembly s failed attempt at creating a unified Germany the Danish king restored his dominion over the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein he issued a general amnesty; from which among nineteen others Claussen was excluded. By this time Claussen had already decided to immigrate to America. He and his family settled in Davenport Iowa, the capital of Schleswig-Holstein immigration. Although their attempt to create a more democratic free state in Germany did not work, a chance for that dream still existed in America. He was know to say after coming here, Nowhere are artificial barriers and inhibitions forged here as they are in Europe, be they by law or custom. (Pg. 27 Rippley). Freedom of the press was also a large issue to Claussen, he remarked that it penetrates all recesses, draws forth everything that is of interest to the people, into the courtroom of public opinion. (Pg. 27 Rippley).
Like Claussen many of the immigrants from Schleswig-Holstein began to feel at home in America, soon they began to give up the archaic ideals of the old world and engage in a comprehensive new way of life . Claussen also played a role in presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln s victory in Iowa, without the liberal principles that despised
slavery; another candidate might have taken the state. During his term as a Senator Claussen battled bills like the penalty for breaking the Sabbath law, he was know to say,
The laws against the sale of alcoholic drinks, rigidity in up holding the laws and customs concerning the Sabbath, there and other conditions of a puritanical character are sometimes burdensome to the Germans. (Pg. 31 Rippley). He also said, Apart from
Christian or Jewish notions, there is nothing in the seventh revolution of the earth around it s axis, which can make fishing, hunting, dancing, working, selling and buying, immoral or criminal. (Pg 47 Rippley). Claussen said this not because he had no respect for a higher power, but for the fact the law was not based in reason, and its justification found solely in the Bible. His feelings on women s suffrage remain something that does not follow Claussen s typical enlightened views. On March 29th, 1872, Claussen made a major speech in the Senate opposing women s suffrage. Women suffrage was unnecessary, Claussen argued, because male lawmakers would, prevent any legislation which is injurious to the female sex. Claussen thought that women had no knowledge or interest in public affairs. He also believed that women s qualities made them excellent wives and mothers, but the female mind is not productive of great original ideals . . No woman had ever proposed a philosophical system or written a classical scientific work. (Pg. 51 Rippley). Although Claussen had many original and liberal ideas, he shared the misconception of women as inferior citizens. There were many brilliant and talented women in Claussen s time but most of them had to publish under male names to have their work taken seriously.
Hans Reimer Claussen fought for nationalism, democracy, and liberalism in Germany and in America. Without him and his contemporaries the world might have been very different place. Considering what events could have been altered during the
World War I and World War II time periods in Germany had it become a place more like America. Our forefathers formed America s mold and they have made their mark on the ways we think, and how we operate our government. America has traditionally acted as a leader of an enlightened and democratic government. Our social welfare programs and democratic elections in our federal and state governments, demonstrate the thinking of men like Hans Reimer Claussen. Hans Reimer Claussen may not be a figure in history everyone is familiar with, but in the words of Robert Francis Kennedy, “Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.”
Rippley, La Vern J. Hans Reimer Claussen: A Sketch of His Life. Service Press: 1994. Davenport, Iowa.
Spielvogel, Jackson J. Western Civilization VII Since 1550. Wadsworth:; 2000. Belmont, California.