Texas 1840

Origin and Current State of the New, Independent State of Texas: A Contribution to the History / Statistics and Geography of this Century Collected in the Country Itself

Anyone who is as fascinated about the era surrounding the establishment of the Republic of Texas as I am, will understand my excitement on discovering this book in German written in 1840. G.A. Scherpf was a German who had been living for some time in New York and decided to undertake an expedition to see with his own eyes which of the conflicting reports about Texas were true. He became so enamored with the country that he decided to settle there himself. As an economist and a highly educated person, he has taken painstaking trouble to collect all the data which would be relevant to anyone considering emigration from Germany.

This was a time when conditions in Prussia and Germany as a whole were anything less than comfortable. It was marked with wars and deprivation. Many, especially of the lower working classes, were living under oppressive domination in what was still basically a feudal system, with no hope of bettering themselves. At that time, land was the number one priority if one wanted to gain some independence and a minimum of prosperity. The chances of attaining that were just about zero as most land was in the hands of an inflexible and self-sufficing aristocracy. A bureaucratic state and a military culture were further hindrances to any kind of progress. The offer of land up for grabs, even in a far away country, was extremely tempting and if one could raise the capital for the arduous sea journey, possibly the only alternative to a miserable life on the edge of starvation. So the stories of the opportunities of Texas abounded and many wrote pamphlets and books, often colored and biased to encourage emigration. Scherpf tries to bring clarity amongst all of this and claims to paint an unbiased picture. However, he had obviously fallen completely in love with Texas and his bias often shines through his attempted objectivity at times. He also obviously strictly abhors the use of alcoholic drinks (liquor) and uses every opportunity to convince the reader of the necessity for abstinence. It certainly did play a negative role among the early colonists and it is understandable that he would want to warn his readers of the dangers of its abuse. As well as a detailed description of the country’s historical, political and economic situation, he offers detailed records of the climate at the time. Here, the potential emigrant of 1840 would have had a handbook at his fingertips which would give him all the necessary information to make the life-changing decision of going to Texas. Thus it provides today’s reader with a fascinating insight into the world of the Republic of Texas in 1840. Readers of German in today’s Texas have become rare and emigration to Texas for Germans is no longer an issue. It is for that reason that I decided to translate this enormously important work into English to give the opportunity of sharing this discovery to those who would like to better understand the world of their ancestors.

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