Entries in Politics

Herrmann, August
Between the end of the Gilded Age and the beginning of the Progressive Era, the name August “Garry” Herrmann was known throughout the United States. Herrmann was a man who had a humble beginning; he made millions of dollars during his lifetime through his political involvement and partial ownership of the Cincinnati Reds. As a local politician he served as the right-hand man to one of the most powerful political bosses of his era, George B. Cox of Cincinnati. As president of the Cincinnati Reds and chairman of baseball’s National Commission, he helped to usher in the modern World Series and is one of the most important early major league baseball executives. Continue Reading »
Keppele, John Henry
John Henry Keppele was a successful, respected, and well-known butcher, innkeeper, merchant, ship owner, and real estate entrepreneur. Continue Reading »
Lasker, Albert
As president of Lord & Thomas, Albert Lasker not only pioneered new advertising and branding techniques for leading companies such as Sunkist oranges, Wrigley’s Gum, and American Tobacco’s Lucky Strike cigarettes but showed how advertising could also break down social barriers, sharpen political campaigns, and promote philanthropic causes. Continue Reading »
Pfister, Charles F
Thought extraordinarily successful, Charles Pfister was in many ways typical for a second generation German-American immigrant entrepreneur in the period between the gilded age and the progressive era: He managed technological and organizational innovations, continued in old branches and developed new ones, had to face the challenges of a political mass market and found himself in a contested situation by a general public, which celebrated successful entrepreneurs as titans and accused them as selfish and heartless forces of wealth. Continue Reading »
Progressive Reform in a Transatlantic Age
This essay describes the main political, socioeconomic, and cultural dimensions of progressivism and, on this basis, explores the imprint of the Progressive Era on the modern United States. It pays particular attention to the transatlantic dimension of progressivism, suggesting that the reformers’ perceptions and translations of European social reform provided both inspiration and resources for the formulation of a new politics, economics, and culture in turn-of-the-century America, and arguing that the contributions of some German immigrant entrepreneurs need to be seen in this context. At the same time, the essay contends that the international dimension of progressivism highlighted the fissures, fault lines, and blind spots within the movement and within American culture and society as a whole. Continue Reading »
Prohibition
The long-term effect of Prohibition for the Americans at large was a degeneration of beer culture which has only cautiously been reversed since the first microbreweries opened in the 1980s. The Germans were among the immigrant groups that suffered most from the onslaught of the temperance movement and from the enactment of National Prohibition. Although the role of brewers of German descent in the self-inflicted saloon crises was considerable and their attempts to defend themselves clumsy and self-defeating, they had to sustain severe losses when the beer trade became illegal, driving a part of the brewery owners to the brink of illegality themselves—or beyond. Continue Reading »
Ridder, Herman
Herman Ridder, the eldest son of German immigrants to New York. Largely self-educated, he entered the field of journalism as a young man, founding first a German-language Catholic newspaper and then the English-language Catholic News. In 1890 he bought into the New Yorker Staatszeitung, a distinguished daily of national – as well as local – renown. Influenced by the paper’s owner and editor, Oswald Ottendorfer, he became an entrepreneur in business, politics, and print technology. Continue Reading »
Straus, Isidor
Isidor Straus is best known as an owner and manager of the R.H. Macy department store in New York City. During his lifetime he was equally well known as an owner and manager of the Straus family’s large china and glassware importing business, L. Straus & Sons, also located in New York City. Continue Reading »
Sutro, Adolph
Adolph Sutro, full name Adolph Heinrich Joseph Sutro, was a German merchant, entrepreneur, and politician who emigrated from Aachen, Germany to San Francisco with a ferocious ambition to attain success in the “New World.” Rarely lacking doubt in his own capabilities, Sutro pursued a variety of businesses in pursuit of both financial success and public renown, including the construction of the Sutro Tunnel as part of the development of the Comstock Lode silver mine in Nevada and the development of a large real estate portfolio in his adopted hometown of San Francisco. Continue Reading »