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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Prussia to govern in Schleswig and Austria in Holstein



Even Metternich was not so heartily hated as Bismarck, when the latter continued the policy already adopted, of disregarding the will of the people, as expressed by the Prussian Assembly. Every new election for this body only increased the strength of the opposition, and with it the unpopularity of Prussia among the smaller States. The appropriations for the army were steadfastly refused, yet the government took the money and went on with the work of reorganization. Austria endeavored to profit by the confusion which ensued: after having privately consulted the other rulers, Francis Joseph summoned a Congress of German Princes to meet in Frankfort, in August, 1863, in order to accept an "Act of Reform," which substituted an Assembly of Delegates in place of the old Diet, but retained the presidency of Austria. Prussia refused to attend, declaring that the first step towards reform must be a Parliament elected by the people, and the scheme failed so completely that in another month nothing more was heard of it.

Soon afterwards, Frederick VII. of Denmark died, and his successor, Christian IX., Prince of Gluecksburg, accepted a constitution which detached Schleswig from Holstein and incorporated it with Denmark. This was in violation of the treaty made in London in 1852, and gave Germany a pretext for interference. On the 7th of December, 1863, the Diet decided to take armed possession of the Duchies: Austria

and Prussia united in January, 1864, and sent a combined army of 43,000 men under Prince Frederick Karl and Marshal Gablenz against Denmark. After several slight engagements the Danes abandoned the "Dannewerk"--the fortified line across the Peninsula,--and took up a strong position at Dueppel. Here their entrenchments were stormed and carried by the Prussians, on the 18th of April: the Austrians had also been victorious at Oeversee, and the Danes were everywhere driven back. England, France and Russia interfered, an armistice was declared, and an attempt made to settle the question. The negotiations, which were carried on in London for that purpose, failed; hostilities were resumed, and by the 1st of August, Denmark was forced to sue for peace.


On the 30th of October, the war was ended by the relinquishment of the Duchies to Prussia and Austria, not to Germany. The Prince of Augustenburg, however, who belonged to the ducal family of Holstein, claimed the territory as being his by right of descent, and took up his residence at Kiel, bringing all the apparatus of a little State Government, ready made, along with him. Prussia demanded the acceptance of her military system, the occupancy of the forts, and the harbor of Kiel for naval purposes. The Duke, encouraged by Austria, refused: a diplomatic quarrel ensued, which lasted until the 1st of August, 1865, when William I. met Francis Joseph at Gastein, a watering-place in the Austrian Alps, and both agreed on a division, Prussia to govern in Schleswig and Austria in Holstein.

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