Claim: A proposal to make German the official language of the United States of America was defeated in Congress by one vote.
Origins: Legend has it that in 1795 a bill to establish German as the official language of the fledgling United States of America was defeated in Congress by a single vote. There never was such a vote; indeed, there wasn’t any such bill, either. A proposal
before Congress in 1795 merely recommended the printing of federal laws in German as well as English, and no bill was ever actually voted upon.
This most famous of language legends began when a group of German-Americans from Augusta, Virginia, petitioned Congress, and in response to their petition a House committee recommended publishing three thousand sets of laws in German and distributing them to the states (with copies of statutes printed in English as well). The House debated this proposal on
The House debated translating federal statutes into German again on
Last updated: 9 July 2007