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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Who insisted that Austria should be included


There

was great rejoicing in Germany over these measures. The people were full of hope and confidence; the men who were chosen as candidates and elected by suffrage, were almost without exception persons of character and intelligence, and when they came together, six hundred in number, and opened the first National Parliament of Germany, in the church of St. Paul, in Frankfort, on the 18th of May, 1848, there were few patriots who did not believe in a speedy and complete regeneration of their country. In the meantime, however, Hecker and Struve, who had organized a great number of republican clubs throughout Baden, rose in arms against the government. After maintaining themselves for two weeks in Freiburg and the Black Forest, they were defeated and forced to take refuge in Switzerland. Hecker went to America, and Struve, making a second attempt shortly afterwards, was taken prisoner.

[Sidenote: 1848.]

The lack of practical political experience among the members soon disturbed the Parliament. The most of them were governed by theories, and insisted on carrying out certain principles, instead of trying to adapt them to the existing circumstances. With all their honesty and genuine patriotism, they relied too much on the sudden enthusiasm of the people, and undervalued the actual strength of the governing classes, because the latter had so easily yielded to the first surprise. The republican party was in a decided minority;

and the remainder soon became divided between the "Small-Germans," who favored the union of all the States, except Austria, under a constitutional monarchy, and the "Great-Germans," who insisted that Austria should be included. After a great deal of discussion, the former Diet was declared abolished on the 28th of June; a Provisional Central Government was appointed, and the Archduke John of Austria--an amiable, popular and inoffensive old man--was elected "Vicar-General of the Empire." This action was accepted by all the States except Austria and Prussia, which delayed to commit themselves until they were strong enough to oppose the whole scheme.

The history of 1848 is divided into so many detached episodes, that it cannot be given in a connected form. The revolt which broke out in Schleswig-Holstein early in March, was supported by enthusiastic German volunteers, and then by a Prussian army, which drove the Danes back into Jutland. Great rejoicing was occasioned by the destruction of the Danish frigate _Christian VIII._ and the capture of the _Gefion_, at Eckernfoerde, by a battery commanded by Duke Ernest II. of Coburg-Gotha. But England and Russia threatened armed intervention; Prussia was forced to suspend hostilities and make a truce with Denmark, on terms which looked very much like an abandonment of the cause of Schleswig-Holstein.

This action was accepted by a majority of the Parliament at Frankfort,--a course which aroused the deepest indignation of the democratic minority and their sympathizers everywhere throughout Germany. On the 18th of September barricades were thrown up in the streets of Frankfort, and an armed mob stormed the church where the Parliament was in session, but was driven back by Prussian and Hessian troops. Two members, General Auerswald and Prince Lichnowsky, were barbarously murdered in attempting to escape from the city. This lawless and bloody event was a great damage to the national cause: the two leading States, Prussia and Austria, instantly adopted a sterner policy, and there were soon signs of a general reaction against the Revolution.


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