Dahlmann, Friedrich Christoph

Dahlmann, Friedrich Christoph Image 1

Friedrich Dahlmann
Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann, born in Wismar in 1785, died in Bonn in 1860. He was a German historian and politician. His father, who was burgomaster of Wismar, then controlled by the Swedes, intended him to study theology, but he preferred to study classical philology in Copenhagen, Halle and again Copenhagen.
After finishing his studies, he translated some of the Greek tragic poets, and The Clouds of Aristophanes. But he was also interested in modern literature and philosophy; and the troubles of the times, of which he had personal experience, aroused in him a strong feeling of German patriotism, though throughout his life he was always proud of his connection with Scandinavia.
He took a doctor's degree in Wittenberg in 1810, then qualified at Copenhagen in 1811, with an essay on the origins of the ancient theatre, as a lecturer on ancient literature and history, on which he delivered lectures in Latin, and was summoned to the University of Kiel as professor of history in 1812. In the inevitable conflict with the Danish crown his upright point of view and his German patriotism were further confirmed.
After transferring to Göttingen around 1829 he had the opportunity of working in the same spirit. As confidant of the duke of Cambridge, he was allowed to take a share in framing the Hanoverian constitution of 1833, which remodelled the old aristocratic government in a direction which had become inevitable since the July revolution in Paris; and when in 1837 the new king Ernst August declared the constitution invalid, Dahlmann inspired the famous protest of the seven professors of Göttingen. Though deprived of his position and banished, he had the satisfaction of knowing that German national feeling received a boost from his courageous action, while public subscriptions saved him from poverty.
After several years in Leipzig and Jena, King Frederick William IV of Prussia appointed him in October 1842 to a professorship at the University of Bonn.
His Politik (1835) had already made him a name as a writer; he now published his Dänische Geschichte (1840–1843), a historical work of the first rank; and this was soon followed by histories of the English and French revolutions,
When the revolution of 1848 broke out, the "father of German nationality," found himself the centre of universal interest. Naturally he was elected to the national assembly at Frankfurt, and took a leading part in the constitutional committees appointed first by the diet, then by the parliament. His objective was to make Germany as far as possible a united constitutional monarchy, with the exclusion of the whole of Austria, or at least, of its non-German parts.