|"Flourishing Tomahawk," by N.C. Wyeth (1925)|
What struck me most was Goethe's positive view of America. Already in the late 18th century, America was viewed unfavorably by most of his contemporaries. I posted earlier about Ellis Shookman's article "Attitudes to North America in Wieland's Teutscher Merkur." Germans had many aspirations for the new republic, but as soon as it came into being the carping began, with the usual suspects decrying Americans' commercialism and lack of culture. Goethe seems to have been more influenced by the account of Prince Bernhard, the second son of Carl August, who traveled for a year in the U.S., from July 1825 to June 1826. It goes without saying that most of the people Prince Bernhard encountered were of high rank, including the second President Adams. The prince's portrayal of America charmed Goethe so much that he began reading Fenimore Cooper's novels, six of them in English, at the age of 76!
Prince Bernhard's travel account also included his visit to a Moravian settlement on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, where the prince was overjoyed at hearing German spoken all day long. Thus, Goethe sent his band of emigrants to seek their fortune in America. While so many have come here to make their fortune, to pursue dreams that could not be realized in their homeland, others sought to build utopia here.
Picture credit: Bluegrass Special