Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 January 2013
In January 1871, shortly before the proclamation of the Second Reich at Versailles, the American poet Charles Goethe Baylor dedicated a poem to Germany that illustrates the prevailing sentiment in the United States toward Germany during this time. “America to Germany” begins
All hail! O Bible Land/Grand 'mid the nations stand/by God's degree/For thru the cloud that lowers/Deep 'neath the blood that pours/We see their cause as ours/Dear Germany.
In the poem's four verses, Baylor celebrated German achievements and emphasized the communality of both nations. Indeed, the years following each nation's respective struggle and quest for nationhood - the Civil War in the case of the United States and the wars of unification in the case of Germany - witnessed the high point of German-American relations.
Germany had fought for national unity against an imperial French aggressor, and it had been one of the few friends of the North during the American Civil War. German immigrants had participated, particularly in the Northern armies, in numbers disproportionate to their percentage of the total population, and in so doing had partially liberated themselves from the “foreign” stigma that American nativists attached to them before the war. In 1871 most Americans considered Germany a world leader in cultural pursuits, a land of poets, musicians, writers, philosophers, and scholars.