Deciding to leave the home country and to go abroad in order to escape from political harassment is a choice that has faced many people in many different situations and at many different times in history. It was a choice that faced many people in Germany in the early nineteenth century as the emergence of liberalism came into conflict with the forces of reactionary conservatism after 1815.
These political emigrants were part of a wider mass migration of Germans to the New World, a migration motivated by many complex social and economic factors. They were very influential, however, and had an important impact upon both the United States and upon Germany. One early and significant example of German political emigration was Theodor Erasmus Hilgard.