Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Migration is a decidedly human condition that has influenced the development of all nations. Yet the cultural and demographic impacts upon the United States during the long nineteenth century brought about by the mass movements of peoples from Africa, Europe, and beyond were especially pronounced. Immigrants to North America brought with them more than linguistic and cultural artifacts, however; propelled by intellectual currents in their countries of origin, they often carried with them a sensibility of revolution, radical republican politics, and a moral suasion that they employed as they navigated the political and social realities in their new countries. Many immigrants would come to view America and the New World generally through a prism of their own making, and thus see opportunity to dismantle and remake the world – economically, socially, culturally, and politically – when conditions at home had failed them.
Two fundamental events shaped this trans-Atlantic consciousness situated toward revolution during the nineteenth century: the European Revolutions of 1848-51, and an increasingly radical anti-slavery and abolitionist movement in the United States during the lead-up to sectional conflict and the Civil War. Both events sought to upend the established order through political, social, and cultural revolution, and both came to reinforce one another intellectually and strategically. Both revolutions sought to attack the existing systems – monarchy, capital, and the legal institutions that upheld slavery – and replace them, in the spirit of revolutions prior, with more egalitarian and liberal structures. Immigrants were often the main vehicles of this transnational cooperation. When it became clear to freedom fighters on both sides of the Atlantic that moral and political gradualism toward parliamentary, democratic systems of governance, or toward anti-slavery and abolitionist movements, were to be ineffective, they would turn to markedly more radical approaches, and sometimes to violence to enact the changes they sought.
This paper investigates these broad trends through the individuals who personally lived them. One such figure, August (Anshl) Mendel Bondi, was a German-speaking, Hungarian Jew who participated in the revolutionary events in Vienna. Upon the restoration of the Hapsburg Monarchy, Bondi would be forced to flee with his family to the United States. Forging a new life in his new home, he would variously spend time in Louisiana and Texas, and work as a waterman on the Mississippi River. Eventually he would settle in Kansas Territory, where he became radicalized and joined Free Soilers in their fight against pro-slavery forces and Missouri border ruffians. Riding with John Brown during the Bleeding Kansas episode would inspire Bondi to a lifetime of freedom fighting; he and his eventual wife, Henrietta Einstein, another German-speaking immigrant from Bavaria, would be pivotal in establishing stops along the Underground Railroad.
Long, Matthew Christopher, ""Enthusiastic Jew and Lover of Humanity": August Bondi and the Roots of Transnational Freedom during the Long Nineteenth Century" (2021). All Theses. 3559.