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Radical Passion

Ottilie Assing's Reports from America and Letters to Frederick Douglass


Christoph Lohmann

Radical Passion examines eighty essays and reports on the United States (1852-1865) by the German-American journalist Ottilie Assing (1819-1884) along with twenty-seven extant letters from Assing to Frederick Douglass during the years 1870-1879. A keen and critical observer of the American scene before and during the Civil War, Assing was passionately committed to her personal freedom and to political and social equality for African Americans. She believed in radical social movements, backed the German Revolution of 1848, and became an enthusiastic supporter of radical abolitionism, women's emancipation, and civil rights for black Americans. For almost three decades, she and Frederick Douglass were close intellectual collaborators and lovers. The reports and essays, originally written in German, are presented in their first English translation; an introduction provides biographical background and historical context.