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GERMAN HISTORICAL INSTITUTE WASHNGTON, D.C. ANNUAL LECTURE SERIES No. 8 - page 27 / 46

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27 / 46

25

second page of his medieval historical works:

, a bibliography of

Vulgarly described as barbarians though you find them, they possessed cultural conceptions of their own and institutions of the strongest vitality, allowing of the richest further evolution. They implanted in the Roman soil political institutions which were their very own. They brought with them primitive but elastic systems of civil and criminal law and of legal procedure, and likewise an economic system, novel methods of land tenure and agriculture. Their constitutional and legal systems, moreover, were based on conceptions or convictions fundamentally distinct from anything Roman, but furnishing the main root out of which the most modern democratic institutions have sprung.31

Only World War I could effectively end the open espousal of the germ

theory. The 1923 edition of

indicates the

shift in American attitudes toward the Germans that had taken place in the intervening fourteen years. Although Thompson did not abandon the citation from Keutgen, in the second edition of his book it had been moved to page xxv of the introduction and was preceded by a quotation from the great French scholar Rénan, in a notable protest against the aridity of German rationalism.32 The subsection on Barbarian Races of Europehad entirely disappeared and was replaced with the less controversial The Barbarian World.Germany apparently was no longer the unambiguous source of democracy.

But if, in the aftermath of World War I, one did not study German history in order to recognize the main root out of which the most modern democratic institutions have sprung,

31

James Westfall Thompson, 1914), 2.

(Chicago, 1907; 2d ed.

32

James Westfall Thompson, (Chicago, 192324), pt. 1, xxv.

, rev and enl. ed.

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