At a time when Donald Trump’s policies seem as if they are almost entirely anti-immigrant, it would be a great idea for him to stop and read his own grandfather’s letter for a moment.
Donald Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump, was an immigrant. That alone carries some small weight of irony that would probably be lost on Donald himself, but that’s not all. Harper’s has translated and published a recently unearthed letter that Grandpa Trump penned to Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, begging not to be deported from Kallstadt.
The elder Trump first moved to the US from Kallstadt (in the German empire) in 1885 at age 16 after skipping out on his mandatory military service (a pattern in the Trump family). After he made a fortune in the US running brothels and bars in the Yukon gold rush, he returned Kallstadt in the early 20th century. The letter was penned under threat of deportation over his draft-dodging past.
“Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family,” Trump writes. “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.”
The entire letter can be read below…
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,
Trump of course ended up being deported back to the US. And now his grandson is in the president of the United States.