Miller Center

Message Regarding Unification of Germany (February 7, 1871)

Ulysses S. Grant

Transcript

To the Senate and House of Representatives:
The union of the States of Germany into a form of government similar in many respects to that of the American Union is an event that can not fail to touch deeply the sympathies of the people of the United States.
This union has been brought about by the long-continued, persistent efforts of the people, with the deliberate approval of the governments and people of twenty-four of the German States, through their regularly constituted representatives.
In it the American people see an attempt to reproduce in Europe some of the best features of our own Constitution, with such modifications as the history and condition of Germany seem to require. The local governments of the several members of the union are preserved, while the power conferred upon the chief imparts strength for the purposes of self-defense, without authority to enter upon wars of conquest and ambition.
The cherished aspiration for national unity which for ages has inspired the many millions of people speaking the same language, inhabiting a contiguous and compact territory, but unnaturally separated and divided by dynastic jealousies and the ambition of short-sighted rulers, has been attained, and Germany now contains a population of about 34,000,000, united, like our own, under one Government for its relations with other powers, but retaining in its several members the right and power of control of their local interests, habits, and institutions.
The bringing of great masses of thoughtful and free people under a single government must tend to make governments what alone they should be--the representatives of the will and the organization of the power of the people.
The adoption in Europe of the American system of union under the control and direction of a free people, educated to self-restraint, can not fail to extend popular institutions and to enlarge the peaceful influence of American ideas.
The relations of the United States with Germany are intimate and cordial. The commercial intercourse between the two countries is extensive and is increasing from year to year; and the large number of citizens and residents in the United States of German extraction and the continued flow of emigration thence to this country have produced an intimacy of personal and political intercourse approaching, if not equal to, that with the country from which the founders of our Government derived their origin.
The extent of these interests and the greatness of the German Union seem to require that in the classification of the representatives of this Government to foreign powers there should no longer be an apparent undervaluation of the importance of the German mission, such as is made in the difference between the compensation allowed by law to the minister to Germany and those to Great Britain and France. There would seem to be a great propriety in placing the representative of this Government at Berlin on the same footing with that of its representatives at London and Paris. The union of the several States of Germany under one Government and the increasing commercial and personal intercourse between the two countries will also add to the labors and the responsibilities of the legation.
I therefore recommend that the salaries of the minister and of the secretary of legation at Berlin be respectively increased to the same amounts as are allowed to those at London and Paris.