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Germanic Confederation

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GERMANIC CONFEDERATION. The, constitution of the old German Empire is noticed under GERMANIC EM PIRE. After the first French Revolution, most of the States of Germany were joined in a Confederation under the pro tection of Napoleon. [CONFEDERATION OF THE RHINE.] The reverses of Na poleon put an end to the Confederation of the Rhine, and in its place the Ger manic Confederation, which still exists, was constituted by an act of the Congress of Vienna, dated 8th of June, 1815. It consists of thirty eight Independent States. The central point and organ of the Con federation is the Federative Diet, which sits at Frankfort on the Main. Its ses sions were opened on the 5th of Novem ber, 1816. It exercises its authority in a double form ; 1, as a general assembly, called Plenum ; and 2, as a minor coun cil, or the Federative government. The Plenum meets only whenever an organic change is to be introduced, or any affair relating to all the Confederation is to be decided. The Plenum contains seventy votes, of which Austria and the five German kingdoms, Prussia, Hanover, Saxony, Bavaria, Wirtemberg, have each four votes, and the other states, in propor tion to their importance, three, two, or one vote each. The Federative govern ment is composed of seventeen votes, out of which eleven principal states have each a single vote, and the remaining twenty. seven only six joint votes. . Austria pre sides in both the assemblies, and decides in case of equality. The Federative govern ment has the initiative, and deliberates on the projects which are presented to the Plenum, where they are not debated, but simply decided by a majority of ayes or noes. It executes the enactments of the Plenum, and despatches the current busi ness of the Confederation. It decides by a simple majority, and seven votes form a quorum. The meetings of the Federative diet are either those wherein preparatory debates take place, but no protocols are made, or those wherein affairs are finally decided.

The object of the Germanic Confede ration and the duties of the Federative Diet are—the maintenance of external security or mutual defence from a com mon enemy, and the preservation of in ternal peace among the Federative states, which must not declare war on each other, but must submit their differences to the decision of the diet. The mainte nance of internal security comprehends not only the prevention of conflicts among the Federative states, but also the suppression of any attempt by the sub jects of any of the states to subvert the existing order of things. It was in con sequence of this principle that the central commission of inquiry into revolutionary measures was established at Mainz in 1819-20. A further development of the same principle, occasioned by the revival of liberal opinions throughout Germany by the French Revolution of July, was made on the 28th June, 1832, by the pro clamation of the following articles, par ticularly directed against the constitu tional states of Germany :—Ist. The German princes are not only authorised but even obliged to reject all propositions of the states which are contrary to the fundamental principle, that all sovereign power emanates from the prince, and that he is limited by the assent of the states only in the exercise of certain rights. 2.

The stoppage of supplies by the states, in order to obtain the adoption of their pro. positions, is to be considered as sedition against which the Confederation may act. 3. The legislation of the federative states must never be in contradiction either to the object of the Federation or to the ful filment of federal duties ; and such laws (as for instance, the law of Baden, which established the liberty of the press) may be abolished by the diet. 4. A perma nent commission of federal deputies shall watch over the legislative assemblies of the federal states, in order that nothing contrary to the federal act may occur. 5. The deputies of the legislative assem blies of the federal states must be kept by the regulations of their governments within such limits that the public peace shall not be disturbed by any attacks upon the Confederation. 6. The inter pretation of the federal laws belongs exclusively to the federal diet. On the 5th July, 1833, the federal diet pro claimed a new law consisting of the fol lowing 10 articles: 1. All German works containing less than 20 sheets which ap pear in foreign countries cannot be cir culated in the federal states without the authorisation of the several governments.* 2. Every association having a political object is prohibited. 3. Political meet ings and public solemnities, except such as have been established for a long time and are authorised, cannot be held with out the permission of the several govern ments. 4. All sorts of colours, badges, &c. denoting a party are proscribed. 5. The regulations for the surveillance of the universities, proclaimed in 1819, are renewed and rendered more severe. By the remaining 5 articles the federative states pledged themselves to exercise a vigilant watch over their respective sub jects, as well as over foreigners residing in their states, in respect of revolutionary attempts ; to surrender mutually all those individuals who had been guilty of poli tical offences, with the exception of their own subjects, who are to be punished in their own country ; to give mutually mi litary assistance, in case of disturbance, and to notify to the diet all measures adopted with reference to the above mentioned objects.

On the 30th October, 1834, the meet ing of the Federative diet unanimously agreed to the proposition of Austria, to establish a tribunal of arbitration in order to decide differences which might break out in any state of the Confederation be tween the government and the chambers respecting the interpretation of the con stitution, or the encroachments on the rights of the prince by the chambers, or their refusal of subsidies. This tribunal consists of thirty-four arbitrators nomi nated by the seventeen members of the minor council, each member nominating two arbitrators. WEDERATION.]