Hermann Eduard von Holst

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Hermann Eduard von Holst
File:Portrait of Hermann Eduard von Holst.jpg
Born 19 June 1841
Viljandi, present-day Estonia
Died 20 January 1904
Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
Nationality Baltic German
Fields History

Hermann Eduard von Holst (June 19, 1841 – January 20, 1904) was a German-American historian.


Holst was a Baltic German born at Fellin (Viljandi) in Russian Livonia. He was the seventh of ten children of a Lutheran minister. His father died while he was in the gymnasium and von Holst only managed to stay in school by teaching and frugal living.[1]

He studied history at the universities of Dorpat (Tartu) and Heidelberg, receiving his doctor's degree from the latter in 1865. In 1866, he settled in St. Petersburg, but in consequence of a pamphlet on an attempt on the life of the emperor, which he published at Leipzig while travelling abroad, his return to Russia was forbidden.

He decided to emigrate to the United States in July of the same year, 1867.[1] He settled in New York City, where he taught modern languages for a time in a small private school and made a number of political speeches in the Presidential campaign of 1868.[2] In the autumn of 1869, he became assistant editor, under Alexander J. Schem, of the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Conversations-Lexicon. His German work on Louis XIV, Federzeichnung aus der Geschichte des Despotismus,[1] appeared in Leipzig soon after he arrived in the United States. He subsequently became a contributor to several American journals.[3]

On April 23, 1872 in Manhattan, New York, he married Annie Isabelle Hatt, the daughter of the Rev. Josiah Hatt (1821–1857), pastor of the Baptist Church in Hoboken, New Jersey, and his wife, Mary Thomas. Their son Hermann V. von Holst, the future architect, was born in Freiburg in 1874.

A call to a professorship of history in the newly reorganized University of Strasbourg brought him back to Germany in 1872.[2] In 1874, he was given the chair of modern history at University of Freiburg in Baden where he stayed until 1892. For ten years he was a member of the Baden Herrenhaus, and vice-president for four. He revisited the United States in 1878-79 and in 1884, and in 1892 he became head of the department of history at the University of Chicago. Retiring on account of ill-health in 1900, he returned to Germany and died at Freiburg in January 1904.

Von Holst's works are almost all on American topics.[2] Both through his books and through his lectures at the University of Chicago, he exerted a powerful influence in encouraging American students to follow more closely the German methods of historical research.


  • Verfassung und Demokratie der Vereinigten Staaten or Constitutional and Political History of the United States (German ed., 5 vols., 1873–91; English trans. by Lalor and Mason, 8 vols., 1877–92) This is his principal work. It covers the period from 1783 to 1861, though more than half of it is devoted to the decade 1850-60. It is written from a strongly anti-slavery point of view.
  • Das Staatrecht der Vereinigten Staaten or The Constitutional Law of the United States of America (German ed., 1885; English trans., 1887)
  • John C. Calhoun (1882), in the American Statesmen Series
  • John Brown (1888)
  • The French Revolution Tested by Mirabeau's Career (1894) The topic of this book was the subject of a series of twelve lectures he gave for the Lowell Institute's 1893-94 season.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ferdinand Schevill (1932). "Holst, Hermann Eduard von". Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FThe_New_International_Encyclop%C3%A6dia%2FHolst%2C_Hermann_Eduard_von "Holst, Hermann Eduard von" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1892). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FAppletons%27_Cyclop%C3%A6dia_of_American_Biography%2FHolst%2C_Hermann_Eduard_von "Holst, Hermann Eduard von" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Harriet Knight Smith, The history of the Lowell Institute, Boston: Lamson, Wolffe and Co., 1898.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2F1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica%2FVon_Holst%2C_Hermann_Eduard "Von Holst, Hermann Eduard" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> This work in turn cites:
    • Obituary in Political Science Quarterly, vol. v, pp. 677-78.
    • Obituary in Nation (New York), vol. lxxviii. pp. 65–67.

External links

  • Charles Dudley Warner, ed. (1897). "Hermann Eduard von Holst". Library of the world's best literature, ancient and modern. 19. p. 7496.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • New York Times Obituary
  • New York Times on University of Chicago appointment
  • Eric F. Goldman (March 1937). "Hermann Eduard von Holst: Plumed Knight of American Historiography". The Mississippi Valley Historical Review. 23 (4): 511–532. JSTOR 1886150.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  •  [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FCollier%27s_New_Encyclopedia_%281921%29%2FHolst%2C_Hermann_Eduard_von "Holst, Hermann Eduard von" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>