Sunday, November 8, 2009

Goodfriend on Baer, Trial of Frederick Eberle

H-SHEAR has published Ethnicity and Language in the Early Republic, a review by Joyce Goodfriend, University of Denver, of Friederike Baer, The Trial of Frederick Eberle: Language, Patriotism and Citizenship in Philadelphia's German Community, 1790 to 1830 (New York University Press, 2008). The review commences:
This small book tackles a very large subject, nothing less than what it meant to be an American in the early Republic. It does so through a minute examination of a language dispute in Philadelphia’s German Lutheran Church that spilled over into the courtroom. If initially one has doubts whether such an obscure congregational matter could lend itself to an exploration of the crucial question of national identity, Friederike Baer’s incisive analysis of the episode and its larger significance sets them to rest. Thoroughly in command of the details of the escalating conflict that embroiled the local German community for several decades, she marshals a surprisingly rich cache of evidence to elucidate the social composition and political leanings of the competing parties; differentiate the positions of clergy, lay leaders, and rank-and-file church members; and craft illuminating biographies of key figures in the drama.

Hat tip: H-Law