Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Hecker, Friedrich Karl Franz

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HECKER, Friedrich Karl Franz, German revolutionist, b. in Eichtersheim, Baden, 28 Sept., 1811; d. in St. Louis, Mo., 24 March, 1881. He went to school in Mannheim, and studied law at Heidelberg. He began practice as an advocate at Mannheim in 1838, entered politics, and was elected to the Baden assembly in 1842. His expulsion from the Prussian dominions, while upon a visit to Berlin with Itzstein in 1845, made his name known in all German lands. In 1846-’7 he was the leader of the extreme left in the Baden diet. His energy and eloquence made him popular, and he was carried by the drift of the age toward Republicanism, until he took ground with Struve as a Republican and Socialist-Democrat when the arrangements for a German parliament were under discussion. His political plans having been rejected by the majority of the constituent assembly, he appealed to the masses. Appearing at the head of columns of working-men, he unfolded the banner of the social republic, and advanced into the highlands of Baden from Constance. He was beaten by the Baden soldiery at Kandern, 20 May, 1848, and retreated into Switzerland. There he learned that the national assembly, which had met meanwhile at Frankfort, had denounced him as a traitor. His hopes of a revolution having been dashed, with the prospect of a felon's death before him if he remained, he fled to the United States in September. The following year, at the news of the May revolution, he returned to Germany, but arrived after the rising had been suppressed. Hecker recrossed the Atlantic, became a citizen of the United States, and settled as a farmer in Belleville, Ill. Like others of the German revolutionists, he took part in American politics, but did not make a new career for himself. He refused brilliant diplomatic positions, feeling an honorable reluctance to accept a personal gain in requital for the services he performed for the party to which he attached himself. The anti-slavery cause awakened the enthusiasm of his nature, and to the end of his life he was a powerful speaker on the Republican side. He joined the Republican party on its formation, and in the civil war led a regiment of volunteers in Fremont's division of the National army. He resigned his colonelcy in 1864, and devoted himself thenceforth to agricultural occupations. During the Franco-German war he uttered words of hope and sympathy for the German cause, but, after visiting Germany in 1873, he expressed disappointment at the actual political condition.