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Introduction

This book examines the first half-century of German-American relations: the period between the independence of the United States and the onset of the great German migrations to America. In 1785 the United States concluded its first treaty with a German state. Fifty years later, in 1835, the United States opened its embassy in the Prussian capital of Berlin, thus establishing the first full-time, normalized diplomatic relations with a German government. The previous year (1834) marked the triumph of the Prussian Zollverein (customs union) across nearly all of Germany, signaling the arrival of a new era of German economic activity, the end of the free-trade that had characterized nearly all of the German-American commercial relationship, and the beginnings of Prussian hegemony in Central Europe. This half-century between American independence and the Prussian Zollverein was a period characterized by frequent turmoil and rapid change. In the midst of this era, spanning the North Atlantic and connecting two societies, a new relationship took shape.