BISMARCK, PRINCE OTTO VON

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BISMARCK, PRINCE OTTO VON - Lengthy Autograph Letter Signed by Bismarck, Germany’s First Chancellor
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BISMARCK, PRINCE OTTO VON - Lengthy Autograph Letter Signed by Bismarck, Germany’s First Chancellor

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BISMARCK, PRINCE OTTO VON. (1815-1898). Prussian statesman, and the German Empire’s first chancellor. ALS. (“v. Bismarck”). 1 2/3pp. 4to. Frankfurt, November 9, 1852. In German with translation.

 

“To begin with, I owe you my apology for the carelessness in my first reading of your kind letter of Saturday, due to which I got the wrong idea that I would have the honor of expecting your visit on Monday at 12. It was only when I heard that Your Honor came by yesterday and then re-read your letter that I realized my mistake with the deepest regret. Tomorrow at 12 the military committee will be in session, so I would humbly ask you to give me the honor of your visit at 11, if that suites Your Honor. It is very hard to predict how long this meeting will go, or else the time after would be just as convenient for me. Please allow me to assure Your Honor of my profoundest respect with which I will forever be Your Honor’s obedient…”

 

Born into a family of Prussian landed nobility, Bismarck aspired from an early age to a diplomatic career. To this end, he studied law prior to managing his family’s estates in Schönhausen. In 1847, at the young age of 32, he was elected to the new Prussian legislature, the Vereinigte Landtag, at which King Frederick William IV convened representatives of all eight Prussian provinces. There he earned a reputation for his rhetorical talents and as an outspoken royalist. The following year, as revolution swept across Europe, Prussian revolutionaries demanded a unified German state, which Bismarck opposed. In 1851, the king appointed Bismarck to represent Prussia at the Diet of the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund)in Frankfurt, where he remained for eight years and during which time he penned our letter. The Confederation had been created by the 1815 Congress of Vienna to fill the void left by the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. It was briefly dissolved after the 1848 revolutions but revived in 1850. Although nearly 40 German-speaking states were members of the Confederation, its largest and most powerful member nations were Austria and Prussia who were locked in a struggle for power. Eventually, Bismarck’s opposition to German unification dissolved and he saw in it a way for Prussia, with her allies, to match Austria’s influence.

 

Following the death of King Frederick William IV, his brother and successor, Wilhelm, appointed Bismarck Minister President and Foreign Minister in 1862, after which Bismarck was able to accelerate his calculated ascent to power. In September 1865, he was awarded the title of Count von Bismarck-Schönhausen. Using his experience in foreign affairs, Bismarck gained control of the Prussian government and drew together a conglomerate of weaker states to create the North German confederation. Prussia controlled this assembly of states and in 1871, after the Franco-Prussian War, it became the German Empire, or Second Reich. The empire’s titular head was the Prussian King, Wilhelm II, but Bismarck held the real power and made Germany into Europe’s leading military and industrial force. Despite Bismarck’s cautious strategies, his authoritarian rule led to the persecution of large groups of Germans, particularly socialists and Roman Catholics, creating a rift incompatible with his philosophy: the Second Reich survived its creator by only 20 years.

 

Neatly written on the first two pages of a folded sheet. Normal folding and very fine.

 

 

Item #20017


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