Library Zoom Lecture by Julius Wilm: “A German-American Revolutionary Takes Office: Carl Schurz and the Waning of African American and Indigenous Rights in 1870s America”
Carl Schurz, the democratic revolutionary from the Rhineland in Germany who became a noted abolitionist and Republican politician, is frequently remembered as a “defender of liberty and friend of human rights.” This evening, historian Julius Wilm of Leipzig University will present a more critical perspective on Schurz’s political initiatives as a U.S. Senator (1869-1875) and U.S. Secretary of the Interior (1877-1881) as they related to African American and Indigenous rights. The Rhinelander was an early voice to call for an end to the federal support of African American civil rights in the South under Reconstruction. Schurz also laid the grounds for painful forced assimilation policies toward Indigenous people, including establishing Indian boarding schools and undermining the land base of reservations. The talk recounts these frequently trivialized aspects of Schurz’s legacy and presents newly discovered testimonials by his contemporary African American and Indigenous critics.
About the presenter: Julius Wilm is a postdoctoral researcher at Leipzig University’s Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 1199 “Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition.” His current research focuses on the interplay of democratic reform and imperial spatial scripts in the U.S. West between the 1860s and 1930s. He obtained his PhD in Anglo-American History from the University of Cologne and has taught and researched at universities in Denmark, Switzerland, and the United States.