The Austin Atheists Meetup Group Message Board › Texas German Freethinkers Part 3
One of the favorite activities of both the 'Greys and 'Greens' was singing in all male singing groups. Their only differences were; the 'Greens' would often sing revolutionary songs and the 'Greys' would not. The first open split between them occurred at the Festival of Singing Groups or Saengerfest held in San Antonio in 1854. This Saengerfest had been planned to function, simultaneously, as a political convention. A period of time had been set aside for this purpose. Delegates from Austin, La Grange, New Braunfels, Sisterdale and San Antonio were sent to vote in the convention (Tiling, 40). The Sisterdale radicals succeeded in having the platform they had proposed adopted by the delegates to the convention, much to the dismay of the 'Greys' (Biesele, 197--Tiling, 140).
Among the resolutions were demands for the end of slavery, capital punishment and speculation in land values. A resolution calling for the establishment of income and inheritance taxes was also adopted (Tiling, 140). A translation of this platform was published in the Western Texan, which was an Anglo newspaper in San Antonio (Biesele, 199).
The pro-slavery and anti-immigrant whites were further outraged by editorials written in English by Adolph Douai, a supporter of the Sisterdale radicals, who had moved to San Antonio in 1853 and had founded a primarily German language newspaper named the San Antonio Zeitung, (Fischer, 82).
The Anglo community, learning of the abolitionist sentiments of some of the Germans, began to attack them in their newspapers. Anglo vigilantes threatened to lynch Adolph Douai and destroyed the offices of his newspaper. He was forced by vigilantes to flee Texas in 1856 (Wittke, 194)
When Texas became a part of the Confederacy, state officials demanded that all German Texan males swear an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy and register for the Confederate Army. Many of the 'Greys' complied. Many of the 'Greens'. however, did not. Some attempted to flee Texas to avoid being drafted. A group of these resisters were hunted down by the Texas Rangers and murdered (Rutherford, I0-32). In Comfort, Texas, a statue commemorating the murdered men is located at their common grave site on N. High St. The inscription reads, "Treue Der Union", (True to the Union) (Perry, 134). During this period over 150 other German immigrant resisters were hung (Rutherford, 21).
In 1866, German immigrant Edward Degener, an elected official of the Reconstruction Government from San Antonio was the only official to advocate Negro suffrage ( Dubois, 555 ) .
The 'Greens' influence in Texas declined after this period because of a split in the Republican Party in 1872; the Germans favored another candidate for the Presidency over Grant. This split destroyed the Texas Republican Party (Baggett, 186-187). The Germans immigrants to Texas after the Civil War were conservative and supporters of Bismarck, the Chancellor of Germany (Wittke, 352). The progressive influence of German immigrants in Texas was, effectively, over.
Much of the information written about the political attitudes of the German immigrants in Texas was written by historians sympathetic to the Confederacy. Their legacy has been maligned.
I hope to have honored the memory of these brave people and uncovered, if only partially, their hidden history.