Friedrich Franz Karl Hecker
Friedrich Franz Karl Hecker (September 28, 1811 - March 24, 1881), German revolutionary, was born at Eichtersheim in the Palatinate, his father being a revenue official.
He studied law with the intention of becoming an advocate, but soon became absorbed in politics. On entering the Second Chamber of Baden in 1842, he at once began to take part in the opposition against the government, which assumed a more and more openly radical character, and in the course of which his talents as an agitator and his personal charm won him wide popularity and influence.
But did he use this influence for good or for evil?
After the death of his more moderate-minded friend Adolf Sander (March 9, 1845), Hecker's tone towards the government became more and more bitter. In spite of the shallowness and (sic?) his culture and his extremely weak character, he enjoyed an ever-increasing popularity. Even before the outbreak of the revolution he included socialist claims in his programme.
The 9th to the 11th of April was secretly spent in preliminaries. On April 12 Hecker and Struve sent a proclamation to the inhabitants of the Seekreis and of the Black Forest to summon the people who could bear arms to Donaueschingen at mid-day on the 14th, with arms, ammunition and provisions for six days. They expected 70,000 men, but only a few thousand appeared.
The grand-ducal government of the Seekreis was dissolved, and Hecker gradually gained reinforcements. But friendly advisers also joined him, pointing out the risks of his undertaking. Hecker, however, was not at all ready to listen to them. On the contrary, he added to violence an absurd defiance, and offered an amnesty to the German princes on condition of their retiring within fourteen days into private life. The troops of Baden and Hesse marched against him, under the command of General Friedrich von Gagern, and on April 20 they met near Kandern, where, although Gagern was killed, Hecker was completely defeated.
Like so many other disillusioned Germans who left Germany in 1848 (to the great benefit of the United States), Hecker found better luck across the Atlantic:
[H]e won some distinction during the Civil War as colonel of a regiment which he had himself raised on the Federal side in 1861 and 1864. It was with great joy that he heard of the union of Germany brought about by the victory over France in 1870/71. It was then that he gave his famous address at St Louis, in which he gave animated expression to the enthusiasm of the German Americans for their newly-united fatherland. He received a less favourable impression when he visited Germany in 1873. He died at St Louis on the 24th of March 1881.
The failed revolutions of 1848 were a pivotal turning point in 19th century history. While Wikipedia has several good articles devoted to the revolutions, there are also several books that might be of interest: Priscilla Robertson's Revolutions of 1848 and Jonathan Sperber's The European Revolutions, 1848-1851 both focus on the revolutions themselves, while the indefatigable historian A.J.P. Taylor's The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848-1918 traces the aftermath through the end of World War I. All seem worthwhile.