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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

The Diet at Frankfort had caught the alarm

style="text-align: justify;"> CHAPTER XXXVIII.



The Revolution of 1848. --Events in Berlin. --Alarm of the Diet. --The Provisional Assembly. --First National Parliament. --Divisions among the Members. --Revolt in Schleswig-Holstein. --Its End. --Insurrection in Frankfort. --Condition of Austria. --Vienna taken. --The War in Hungary. --Surrender of Goergey. --Uprising of Lombardy and Venice. --Abdication of Ferdinand I. --Frederick William IV. offered the Imperial Crown of Germany. --New Outbreaks. --Dissolution of the Parliament. --Austria renews the old Diet. --Despotic Reaction everywhere. --Evil Days. --Lessons of 1848. --William I. becomes Regent in Prussia. --New Hopes. --Italian Unity. --William I. King.

[Sidenote: 1848.]

The sudden breaking out of the Revolution of February, 1848, in Paris, the flight of Louis Philippe and his family, and the proclamation of the Republic, acted in Germany like a spark dropped upon powder. All the disappointments of thirty years, the smouldering impatience and sense of outrage, the powerful aspiration for political freedom among the people, broke out in sudden flame. There was instantly an outcry for freedom of speech and of the press, the right of suffrage, and a constitutional

form of government, in every State. Baden, where Struve and Hecker were already prominent as leaders of the opposition, took the lead: then, on the 13th of March the people of Vienna rose, and after a bloody fight with the troops compelled Metternich to give up his office as Minister, and seek safety in exile.

In Berlin, Frederick William IV. yielded to the pressure on the 18th of March, but, either by accident or rashness, a fight was brought on between the soldiers and the people, and a number of the latter were slain. Their bodies, lifted on planks, with all the bloody wounds exposed, were carried before the royal palace and the king was compelled to come to the window and look upon them. All the demands of the revolutionary party were thereupon instantly granted. The next day Frederick William rode through the streets, preceded by the ancient Imperial banner of black, red and gold, swore to grant the rights which were demanded, and, with the concurrence of the other princes, to put himself at the head of a movement for German Unity. A proclamation was published which closed with the words: "From this day forward, Prussia becomes merged in Germany." The soldiers were removed from Berlin, and the popular excitement gradually subsided.


Before these outbreaks occurred, the Diet at Frankfort had caught the alarm, and hastened to take a step which seemed to yield something to the general demand. On the 1st of March, it invited the separate States to send special delegates to Frankfort, empowered to draw up a new form of union for Germany. Four days afterwards, a meeting which included many of the prominent men of Southern Germany was held at Heidelberg, and it was decided to hold a Provisional Assembly at Frankfort, as a movement preliminary to the greater changes which were anticipated. This proposal received a hearty response: on the 31st of March quite a large and respectable body, from all the German States, came together in Frankfort. The demand of the party headed by Hecker that a Republic should be proclaimed, was rejected; but the principle of "the sovereignty of the people" was adopted, Schleswig and Holstein, which had risen in revolt against the Danish rule, were declared to be a part of Germany, and a Committee of Fifty was appointed, to cooperate with the old Diet in calling a National Parliament.

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