Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 1 >> Isculapius to Or School Alexandrian Age >> Marriox Wilcox

Marriox Wilcox

german, alsace, miles, french, lorraine, pop and alsace-lorraine


al-sis-16-ran' (Ger man, Elsass-Lothringen), a district occupy ing the extreme southwest corner of Germany, bounded west by France, east by Baden and south by Switzerland. Its length from north to south is 123 miles; its breadth varies from 22 to 105 miles; and its area is 5,580 square miles, of which 1,353 belong to Upper Alsace (in the south), 1,844 to Lower Alsace (north east) and 2,383 to Lorraine (northwest). Pop. (1910) 1,874,014, of which 1,428,343 are Roman Catholics, and more than 80 per cent speak German — mainly the vernacular Alsatian, a dialect of Alemannian. The most populous districts in their order are Lower Alsace, Lor raine and Upper Alsace. The French-speaking population is mainly in the larger towns and in Lorraine. The Rhine flows 115 miles north by east, along all the eastern border, and re ceives, below Strasburg, the Ill from Alsace, 127 miles long. Other rivers are the Moselle, flowing through Lorraine past Metz, and its affluent, the Saar. Along the Rhine is a strip of level country, 9 to 17 miles broad and de clining from 800 to 450 feet above sea-level. Westward of this rise the Vosges Mountains, culminating at a height of 4,677 feet; while Lorraine, rather hilly than mountainous, rarely attains 1,300 feet. About 48.5 per cent of the entire area is arable, 11.6 meadow and pasture and 30.8 under wood. Alsace-Lorraine pro duces much wine, grain and tobacco; it is rich in mines, iron and coal; and manufactures iron, cotton, wool, silks, chemicals, glass and paper. It contains the important cities of Strassburg (pop. ,• Metz (pop. 1910, ; (pop. 1910, 43,808). As a French prov ince, Alsace was divided into the departments of Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin. Lorraine fell into the departments of Meuse, Moselle, Meurthe and Vosges (parts of all which still remain French). The lieutenant-governor (Statthalter), representing the imperial govern ment, resides at Strasburg, and is assisted by a ministry of five departments and a council of state.

From the 10th century Alsace-Lorraine formed part of the German empire till a part of it was ceded to France at the Peace of West phalia (1648). and by the Peace of Ryswick

(1697) the cession of the whole was ratified. German never ceased to be the chief language of the people, and all newspapers were, during the whole period of the French possession, printed in both languages. In 1871, after the Franco-Prussian war, Alsace and German Lor raine were, by the Treaty of Frankfort, incor porated in the new German empire. The great mass of the population was strongly against the change, and 160,000 elected to be French, though only 50,000 went into actual exile, refusing to become German subjects. Since the era of the Revolution Alsace in sentiment was wholly French. To France she gave the bravest of her sons — Kellerman, Kleber and many another hero. Strasburg first heard the 'Marseillaise' ; and MM. Erckmann-Chatrian, Lorrainers both, have faithfully represented their country men's love of La Patrie in the days of the second as of the first Napoleon. Of late it is claimed by the Germans that, through the emigration of the irreconcilables and the immi gration of German settlers, the tendency of the old natives to accept the inevitable, and the ris ing up of a new generation, to whom the French connection is a tradition, the situation has slowly but steadily changed in favor of Germany and the existing firm but fair admin istration. The irritating passport system, a special grievance not in force elsewhere in Ger many, was withdrawn in 1873. On 9 May 1902, Emperor William directed that a bill be laid before the Federal Council abolishing para graph 10 in the imperial constitution, which im posed practically a dictatorship on the reich sland of Alsace-Lorraine. In December 1913, however, occurred the °Zabere incident, in which as a result of an assault committed by an officer on a civilian cripple violent anti Prussian riots broke out. Bitter feeling had not subsided when the war broke out. Consult Hazen, C. D., 'Alsace-Lorraine under German Rule' (New York 1917) ; Jordan, D. S., 'Al sace-Lorraine' (1916).