Friedrich Hecker, Officialdom Doth Drive Me from these Climes (1849)


In this lyric poem, composed in 1849, the author describes one reason for emigration from the German territories: the power of local officials to arbitrarily harass the population.


Officialdom doth drive me from these climes

Fare thee well, dear country of my birth,
Officialdom doth drive me from these climes.
America, my chosen patch of earth,
For there alone the sun of freedom shines.
There no tyrant’s chains shall bear upon me.
There they know life’s value to be dear.
And he who seeks to save himself from slavery
Should follow, for ‘tis there he’ll be revered.

There no prideful princes’ lackeys squander
The sour sweat of their countrymen.
There one reaps the fruits of his own labor
And enjoys the blessings of the rights of man.
Beyond the cruel torments of titled idlers,
Upon whom princely favor has pinned stars,
Servile words like “Lord”, “Lady” and “Master”
Have from the local dialect been barred.

To this land let us go, my German brethren.
If you love and honor freedom, follow me.
For all of us, a new life there will blossom,
And thy desires God will grant to thee.
Soon shall strike the long-awaited hour;
The day of our leave-taking is at hand,
And soon we all shall shout with new-found power:
How good, how good life is in this new land!

Source: Friedrich Hecker, 1849; Music: Michael Zachcial. Center for Popular Culture und Music, Freiburg.

Translation: Deborah Cohen

Caricature: Reasons for Emigration (c. 1849)

Source: Lithography by W. Steck, c. 1849. In: Herman von Freeden und Georg Smolka, Auswanderer: Bilder und Skizzen aus der Geschichte der deutschen Auswanderung (Leipzig 1937). Thanks to Dr. Helmut Schmahl, University of Mainz, for the reference.

Friedrich Hecker, Officialdom Doth Drive Me from these Climes (1849), published in: German History Intersections, <> [November 30, 2023].