Friedrich Trump – Donald Trump’s paternal grandfather – first traveled to the United States at age 16. Having made his fortune, he married and returned to his native Bavaria. In 1905, he was stripped of his citizenship and deported back to the United States, on the charges that he had emigrated to avoid mandatory military service in his native kingdom.
The following letter was written to the Prince Regent of Bavaria, Luitpold, begging for a royal grant of mercy. Snopes reports that the letter was found in a German archive and first published in the German newspaper Bild on November 21, 2016. The Associated Press confirmed the story. On March 1, 2017, Harper’s magazine published a translation of the letter pleading for the prince regent to reconsider his family’s deportation.
This request was denied, and the paternal grandfather of the 45th President of the United States was forced to resettle his family in New York City. At the time, his wife was pregnant with the future president’s father.
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,
(Modified from a photo of Donald Trump’s grandfather Friedrich Trump featured in a New Yorker profile, “An Immigrant Named Trump,” published on October 1, 2016.)