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Germans and the Revolution of 1848-1849


Justine Davis Randers-Pehrson

German moderates and radicals were ill-prepared to function as a unit, carrying through their revolution of 1848 in order to produce a united constitution-based nation. Their Frankfurt Parlament has been unfairly blamed for the fiasco. Failure was rooted in the socioeconomic situation of the early nineteenth century, on the verge of the Industrial Age. Vestiges of the guild system, along with rigid class structure, official surveillance, and inappropriate education all contributed to the leaders' incomprehension of principles of political accommodation. The radicals lacked the basis of effective labor organization. German unity was threatened by chauvinism and by Austria's intervention. Hostility of various factions opened the way to the conservatives, whose vindictiveness caused many a Forty-Eighter to seek a new life in the United States.