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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Schleswig Holstein and the City of Frankfort added nearly 5



The next day the news came that Austria had made over Venetia to France. This seemed like a direct bid for alliance, and the need of rapid action was greater than ever. Within two weeks the Prussians had reached the Danube, and Vienna was an easy prey. In the meantime, the Bavarians and other allies of Austria had been driven beyond the river Main, Frankfort was in the hands of the Prussians, and a struggle, which could only have ended in the defeat of the former, commenced at Wuerzburg. Then Austria gave way: an armistice, embracing the preliminaries of peace, was concluded at Nikolsburg on the 27th of July, and the SEVEN WEEKS' WAR came to an end. The treaty of peace, which was signed at Prague on the 23d of August, placed Austria in the background and gave the leadership of Germany to Prussia.

It was now seen that the possession of Schleswig-Holstein was not the main object of the war. When Austria was compelled to recognize the formation of a North-German Confederation, which excluded her and her southern allies, but left the latter free to treat separately with the new power, the extent of Bismarck's plans became evident. "Blood and steel" had been used, but only to destroy the old constitution of Germany, and render possible a firmer national Union, the guiding influence of which was to be Prussian and Protestant, instead of Austrian and Catholic.

[Sidenote: 1867.


An overwhelming revulsion of feeling took place. The proud, conservative, feudal party sank almost out of sight, in the enthusiastic support which the nationals and liberals gave to William I. and Bismarck. It is not likely that the latter had changed in character: personally, his haughty aristocratic impulses were no doubt as strong as ever; but, as a statesman, he had learned the great and permanent strength of the opposition, and clearly saw what immense advantages Prussia would acquire by a liberal policy. The German people, in their indescribable relief from the anxieties of the past four years--in their gratitude for victory and the dawn of a better future--soon came to believe that he had always been on their side. Before the year 1866 came to an end, the Prussian Assembly accepted all the past acts of the Government which it had resisted, and complete harmony was reestablished.

The annexation of Hannover, Hesse-Cassel, Nassau, Schleswig-Holstein and the City of Frankfort added nearly 5,000,000 more to the population of Prussia. The Constitution of the "North-German Union," as the new Confederation was called, was submitted to the other States in December, and accepted by all on the 9th of February, 1867. Its parliament, elected by the people, met in Berlin immediately afterwards to discuss the articles of union, which were finally adopted on the 16th of April, when the new Power commenced its existence. It included all the German States except Bavaria, Wuertemberg and Baden, twenty-two in number, and comprising a population of more than thirty millions, united under one military, postal, diplomatic and financial system, like the States of the American Union. The king of Prussia was President of the whole, and Bismarck was elected Chancellor. About the same time Bavaria, Wuertemberg and Baden entered into a secret offensive and defensive alliance with Prussia, and the policy of their governments, thenceforth, was so conciliatory towards the North-German Union, that the people almost instantly forgot the hostility created by the war.

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