Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Edgar von Westphalen, born March 26, 1819

Edgar Julius Oscar Gerhard Ludwig von Westphalen was born March 26 1819 in Trier, Germany.  He was a son of the royal Prussian Governor, Ludwig von Westphalen, and his second wife Caroline Heubel .
Ludwig von Westphalen

His father was a friend of Heinrich Marx, the father of Karl Marx, and the children of both families became friends. 
Karl Marx as a young man
Edgar attended school with Karl in Trier.
Jenny von Westphalen

In 1836, Johanna "Jenny" von Westphalen  and Karl Marx became secretly engaged. Ludwig approved the marriage in 1837, even though some saw Marx, who was both middle class and younger than her, as well as of Jewish descent, as an inappropriate partner for the baronial daughter. 

 In 1842 Marx was present at the deathbed of Ludwig. Jenny and Karl married in 1843, a year after Ludwig's death.

Edgar von Westphalen was 42 years old when the American Civil War began.

Fighting in Germany
In 1846, Edgar von Westphalen was a member of the Brussels Communist Correspondence Committee. To escape political persecution, he fled Germany in 1848. In 1851 he took a ship to the United States of America, arriving in Galveston, Texas. 

 He lived in Sisterdale, New Braunfels. Bettina and Fredericksburg with the " free-thinkers and young communists.  Sisterdale, Texas was one of the Latin Settlements, resulting from the revolutions of 1847 in the German States. Those who came were "Forty-Eighters", intellectual liberal abolitionists who enjoyed conversing in Latin and believed in utopian ideals that guaranteed basic human rights to all.

One of the most tragic episodes in the history of Kendall County happened in 1862 after Texas joined the Confederacy. The Confederacy considered the free thinkers of Sisterdale and like communities to be a threat.  A number of Kendall County Germans became conscientious objectors to the military draft. Confederate authorities reacted by imposing martial law on Central Texas. Sixty-one conscientious objectors attempted to flee to Mexico. Confederate irregular James Duff and his partisan rangers pursued them. At the Nueces River, thirty-four were killed, and some executed after being taken prisoner. In 1866, Kendall County erected the "Treue der Union Monument"  ("Loyalty to the Union") monument dedicated to the German Texans slain at the Nueces massacre.

Karl Marx, Edgar's brother-in-law
Edgar von Westphalen was listed on the Confederate rolls in the Civil War.  Karl Marx told Friedrich Engels, "It is a most strange irony of fate that this Edgar, who never exploited anyone other than himself and was always a WORKMAN in the strictest sense of the word, went through a WAR OF AND WITH STARVATION for the slave-owners."

In 1865, Edgar von Westphalen sailed back to London and lived at the Marx home with his sister, Jenny and her family.
Ferdinand von Westphaalen
In November, 1865, he left London and spent his last years mainly in Berlin, supported by his older half-brother Ferdinand von Westphalen.  He died September 30, 1890 in Berlin, at the age of 71.

1 comment:

  1. For an in-depth look at who the Forty-Eighters in the War Between the States really were and what they really stood for, read "Lincoln's Marxists" which can be found on