Credit: Culture Club/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Historical Insights German Immigration in 1848

Men, women, and children all participated in the fighting during the Revolution of 1848. The dangerous situation drove many families to immigrate to the United States. March 18, 1848, Berlin, Germany. Credit: Culture Club/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

German Immigration in 1848

After the Revolutions of 1848, many Germans immigrated to the United States.

Nearly 6 million Germans came to the United States between 1820 and the onset of World War I in 1914. The largest wave arrived after the Revolutions of 1848, in which the 39 German states sought democracy and increased political freedoms. Nicknamed the “Forty-Eighters,” these immigrants were typically professionals, journalists, and politicians. They came to the United States with money—an advantage over most European immigrants of the 19th century, which gave them the option to migrate further west. While some remained on the East Coast, many chose to settle on farms in the Midwest, where they hoped to return to a more simple life. By 1900, the cities of Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and St. Louis boasted high numbers of German Americans.