Independence celebrations in Philadelphia, 1819

Revolutions (1781-1852)

Part 2 takes place at the time of Napoleon and the following years of bitter oppression. Back home on the Rhine, the Bergmann brothers had been subjects of their sovereign, now they were citizens of the USA.

Napoleonic Era

Napoleon at the borders

[Rhineland, 1794]  While at the Potomac the new capital came into being, no stone remained unturned in Europe. The French Revolution shattered Europe’s monarchies, soon war broke out.

Fort McHenry, Baltimore

British-American War

[America, 1812] Napoleonic wars in Europe. Although the United States were neutral, again and again American vessels were captured by British ships and Americans were forcibly recruited.

Russian campaign 1812, defeated Grande Armée at Beresina

Napoleon’s defeat

[Europe, 1812] Napoleon’s “Grande Armée”, reinforced by troops from Prussia, Austria and the Confederation of the Rhine, set out to invade Russia. The Bergmann brothers Heinrich and Niklas were among them.

Bergmann brothers, at home

The Bergmanns leave

[Rhineland, around 1815] After 20 years of war, life in the countryside was very hard. Many soils were ruined, there was too little to live on, almost no medical care and infant mortality was very high.

Bergmann brothers, Castle Garden

Transatlantic Cousins

[America, around 1815] A few months later, Hedy Bergmann and her sons had left their home in the Duchy of Berg, to build a new life for themselves in America. Yet, parting had been hard.

Mountain Men vineyard, 1821

Bergmann and Mountain Men

[America, 1821] The entire Bergmann family was in Washington. President James Monroe, on whose ship Emmett, John and Laurie had sailed to Europe about twenty years ago, was sworn in for his second term.

Niklas and Jenny, Merry Dragon

No time for books

[America and Europe, around 1830/1840] For some years now Niklas and Heinrich Bergmann had been living in America. It was a good life, they had worked hard and could live in financial security.

Bodmer, Indian village

The “frontier”

[America, around 1830/40]  The United States pushed their border, the “frontier”, further and ever further westwards. More and more Indians were displaced from their traditional lands and forced into reservations.

Heine's Wintermärchen on the way from the Rhineland to America

Germany. A Winter’s Tale

[America, around 1845] Niklas Bergmann received a book that his German relative Jean had smuggled across the border and sent to him. It was Heinrichs Heine’s “Germany. A Winter’s Tale”, banned in Prussia.

A revolutionary wearing black-red-gold

Revolution fails

[America and Germany, 1848/49] Good news come from Germany: the March revolution, a country united and the National Assembly. But eventually, revolution fails, and Lorenz Bergmann must flee.


Castle Garden

[America, 1850] Niklas and Heinrich Bergmann, now seasoned gentleman, stood on the pier in New York and waited for Lorenz. He had had just enough time in London to telegraph the name of his ship to the USA.