In November of 2016, a German tabloid discovered a 1905 letter from Donald Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump, begging German authorities to not deport him and his family. The handwritten letter was translated and published in the March 2017 issue of Harper’s and has been used as a tool to appeal to the president’s morality and humanity regarding his stance on immigration (it hasn’t worked, obviously).
16-year-old Friedrich Trump lost his citizenship in 1885 after he bailed on mandatory military service (SOUND FAMILIAR?) and emigrated to the US from the Bavarian town of Kallstadt in the German Empire. In 1905 he returned to Germany with his wife and daughter, but German authorities denied him repatriation. Instead, the elder Trump and his family were given eight weeks to leave, prompting the patriarch to write what must have been a painful letter to the prince regent of Bavaria begging not to deport him.
According to Bloomberg, whilst in the United States, Friedrich Trump made a fortune running restaurants, bars, and brothels during the gold rush. Despite his heartfelt letter, he was not permitted to stay in Bavaria and ended up settling in New York with his family.
In other words, thanks for nothing, Prince Luitpold.
Here’s the entire letter, courtesy of Harper’s:
Most Serene, Most Powerful Prince Regent! Most Gracious Regent and Lord!
I was born in Kallstadt on March 14, 1869. My parents were honest, plain, pious vineyard workers. They strictly held me to everything good — to diligence and piety, to regular attendance in school and church, to absolute obedience toward the high authority.
After my confirmation, in 1882, I apprenticed to become a barber. I emigrated in 1885, in my sixteenth year. In America I carried on my business with diligence, discretion, and prudence. God’s blessing was with me, and I became rich. I obtained American citizenship in 1892. In 1902 I met my current wife. Sadly, she could not tolerate the climate in New York, and I went with my dear family back to Kallstadt.
The town was glad to have received a capable and productive citizen. My old mother was happy to see her son, her dear daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter around her; she knows now that I will take care of her in her old age.
But we were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick.
Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur. I would like to become a Bavarian citizen again.
In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.
Your most humble and obedient,