Transplanted Ideas & Values in America’s Past and Present

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Who was America's most remarkable and unique immigrant group? Surprisingly, many historians feel it was a small group of a few thousand revolutionary refugees from Europe who arrived in the United States between 1847 and 1856. Although unsuccessful in their struggle for freedom in Europe, these "Forty-Eighters" provided an intellectual transfusion that had a pronounced effect on the political and social history of America during one of its most critical periods.



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Many of these Forty-Eighters chose Iowa as their adopted home. There, some of the best and brightest began using their finely honed journalistic skills to argue in favor of the freedoms and liberties so dear to them. Ironically, the patriotism of these recent immigrants was grounded more in the bedrock beliefs of America's founding fathers than in many of the attitudes having currency in the United States at the time.


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The legacy of this extraordinary European immigrant group, although far-reaching and profound, is little understood by most Americans today, many of whom are three or four generations removed from their own immigrant ancestors. The overarching purpose of the Legacy of 1848 Conference is to identify and come to grips with the important, timeless legacy left to all of us by the Forty-Eighters.