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He studied philosophy and philology at Heidelberg, Munich and Göttingen, became a convert to Protestantism and took the name of Neumann. From 1822 to 1825 he was a teacher at Speyer; then he learned Armenian in Venice and visited Paris and London.
In 1829 he went to China, where he studied the language and amassed a large library of valuable books and manuscripts. These, about 12,000 in number, he presented to the royal library at Munich. Returning to Germany in 1831 Neumann was made professor of Armenian and Chinese in the university of Munich. He held this position until 1852, when, owing to his pronounced revolutionary opinions, he was removed from his chair. Ten years later he settled in Berlin, where he remained till his death.
Neumann's leisure time after his enforced retirement was occupied in historical studies, and besides his Geschichte des englischen Reichs in Asien (Leipzig, 1851), he wrote a history of the United States of America, Geschichte der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika (Berlin, 1863-1866).
His other works include:
He also issued some translations from Chinese and Armenian:
The journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (London, 1871) contains a full list of his works.