history.19 The first great impulse toward German history was inextricably combined with the Aryan racist theories of neo-Darwinism commonly referred to as the Teutonic origins thesis. This idea, developing first in German Romantic historiography and then picked up and amplified by British liberal historians, argued that primitive Germanic society was the source of first German, then Anglo-Saxon, and finally American political institutions and liberties. America, and especially Anglo-Saxon America, was thus the culmination of Germanic racial evolution.
Herbert Baxter Adams was the major proponent of this thesis in the
United States, although it was far from original with him. In the 1870s he had gone to Berlin to study political science with Heinrich von Treitschke, Ernst Curtius, and Hermann Grimm and then moved to Heidelberg in 1875 to study with Johann Caspar Bluntschli. He also attended lectures of Eduard A. Winkelmann on historical methodology and medieval historiography. His experience in medieval history was a secondary aspect of his studies but proved to be particularly influential to him later. In 1884 he described his experience in the Heidelberg seminaries (seminars) of Professors Bluntschli and Bernhard Erdmannsdörffer. The former was his primary professor, but the latter‘s seminar on Otto of Freising's seems to have most profoundly affected the young American. He recalled that the seminar met once a week in Erdmannsdörffer's home. Each student had a copy of the text, and each week a different member of the seminar translated and commented ―in the light of parallel citations from other authors belonging to Bishop Otto‘s time, who are to be found in the folio edition of
Pertz‘s Monumenta Germaniae Historica.‖
Herbert B. Adams,
, Johns Hopkins University Studies
in Historical and Political Science II, nos. 1–2 (Baltimore, 1884), 65–68.