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The struggle of parties and ideologies during the Restoration in region of Germany reflected far-reaching changes in the structure of the economy and the community. Large scale industry bloomed all over central Europe. The machines used in the textile and coal industry were adapted to other industries. Construction of railroads, steamships, bigger highways, and better canals, improved transportation. Private investors and bank began to invest heavily in industry. Skilled handicraftsmen could not compete with the factories. They slowly disappeared. Population began to shift from country to city, although a majority of the inhabitants of the German Confederation continued to live in rural communities. A new middle class whose wealth was derived primarily from industrial activity arose. Their growing economic importance encouraged them to demand for greater political influence. 
Agriculture also went through as difficult a period of reorganization and rationalization as industry. East of the Elbe aristocratic landowners owned the land. Junkers enlarged their lands by absorbing the holdings of small farmers. The nobility dominated the land in the eastern provinces of the Hohenzollern kingdom. The squirearchy entrenched in Pomerania, Brandenburg, Silesia, and East Prussia controlled agriculture, commanded the army, directed the bureaucracy, and influenced the court.

West of the Elbe the basic problem was not landlessness but overpopulation. The aristocracy along the Rhine and the Danube was willing to give the peasantry possession of land for a substantial payment. The farmer had heavy financial obligations. Many tried to escape poverty by emigrating to the New World. Those who remained often had to subdivide smallholdings until they yielded no profit. Civil discontent mounted among impoverished villagers who lacked employment in industry.

In 1834 the Zollverein, or Customs Union, including most of the states of the German Confederation, came into existence. Only Austria and the northwest coastland abstained from joining. The Hapsburg desired higher tariffs while the coastland desired lower tariffs. The Zollverein meant in effect the achievement of commercial unification without political unification. The Prussian government acquired a powerful new weapon in the struggle.

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[Overview of the Entire Industrial Revolution]






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