The U.S. Government's Investigation of E.B. Stahlman as an Enemy Alien: A Case Study of Nativism in Nashville

Robert O'Brien, Western Kentucky University


As a railroad executive for the Louisville and Nashville and then publisher for the Nashville Banner, Edward Bushrod Stahlman, a German immigrant, made many enemies. Stahlman's constant feuding with Luke Lea, who owned the rival Nashville Tennessean, led to an investigation of his citizenship during World War I. Hatred of Germans was at a fever pitch and not only did the Department of Justice examine Stahlman, who actually had been naturalized as a child, but the Tennessean also accused him of being a German propagandist. This thesis serves as an example of the scrutiny German-Americans underwent during the war. Organizations such as the American Protective League harassed him, too. Based primarily on Department of Justice files and newspaper accounts, the thesis also gives a brief biography of Stahlman and survey of Nashville and Tennessee politics during the first twenty years of the twentieth century.