Adams‘ original experience with the theory of Germanic origins encountered in Heidelberg was developed and expanded by his contact with the English liberal historians, who were, if anything, even more racist in their use of the Germanic origins tradition than were its original German proponents. Chief among these was the English historian Edward Augustus Freeman (1823–92), amateur historian, racial polemicist, and regius professor at Oxford. In time, Adams and his students moved away from this causative model of American origins.
The germ theory died a slow death, even after its attack by American historians such as Frederick Jackson Turner and medievalists like Harvard‘s Henry Adams.29 It continued to be espoused by Germans, including Friedrich Wilhelm Eduard Keutgen (1861–1925), a close friend of von Below and historian of urban constitutional history to whom Johns Hopkins offered a permanent position. Keutgen only spent the academic year 1904– 05 at Johns Hopkins and declined to remain in the United States. He did, however, write an article that appeared that year in the annual report of the American Historical Association, entitled ―On the Necessity in America of the Study of the Early History of Modern European Nations,‖ that proclaimed the ―vigor and importance of the Germanic race for the development of modern democracy and culture.‖ 30
Three years later, James Westfall Thompson, professor of history at the University of Chicago and the first American to devote a considerable amount of his scholarly energies to German history, quoted extensively from Keutgen‘s article on the
On Henry Adams and the germ theory, see Guggisberg,
Cited in the minutes of the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, April 10 (1905): 502.