Mr. John C. Wright to Mr. Seward.

No. 21.]

Sir:* * * * *

The Prussian Ghanibers were opened on the 29th ultimo by his Majesty in person. Enclosed will be found his speech in German and a translation of the same. The Chambers are only called together to accept the constitution. They will likely pass it en bloc and adjourn for three weeks, as an interval of twenty-one days is required before the second reading can take place.

* * * * * *

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.


Illustrious, noble, and honorable gentlemen of both houses of the Diet:

A constitution of the North German confederation, by which the united and vigorous development of the nation appears secure, has issued from the deliberations of the parliament to which the Prussian people sent its representatives in conformity with the law approved by you. I have summoned you around my throne to submit this constitution to your decision. The task of national unity which the government commenced, with your co-operation, is now to be concluded by your assent.

Upon this basis the protection of federal territory, the care of common rights, and the prosperity of the people will henceforth be guaranteed by the collective populations of northern Germany and their governments in firm community. By the introduction of the federal constitution, the privileges of the representatives oí individual states will be subject to unavoidable restrictions in all those departments which will be, in future, subordinate to the general development. But the people itself will not have to forfeit any of the rights it has hitherto possessed. It will merely transfer their maintenance to its representatives in the more extended commonwealth. The consent of the freely elected deputies of the entire people will still be requisite to every law in the North German confederation. Provision has been made by the federal constitution in all respects that those rights, the exercise of which the various representations abandon in favor of the new community of states, shall be transferred in the same extent to the general parliament. The secure foundation of national independence, power, and prosperity shall go hand in hand with the development of German rights and constitutional institutions.

My government entertains the assurance that both houses of the Diet, correctly appreciating the urgent national necessity of speedily settling the task before us, will readily afford their assistance to its completion.

Gentlemen, the newly formed confederation at present only includes the states of North Germany, but an intimate national community will always unite them with the South German states. The firm relations my government concluded for offensive and defensive purposes with those states as early as last autumn, will have to be transferred to the enlarged North German commonwealth by special treaties.

[Page 582]

The vivid consciousness of the South German governments and populations of the dangers of German dissension, and the necessity of firm national union which constantly finds more decided expression throughout the whole of Germany, will assist to hasten the solution of that important task.

The united strength of the nation will be entitled and be competent to guarantee to Germany the blessings of peace and effectual protection of her rights and her interests. With this assurance my government will devote itself to averting any interruption to European peace by every means compatible with the honor and the interest of the fatherland.

The German people, however strong its unity, will be able calmly to face the vicissitudes of the future, if you, gentlemen, will aid in completing the great work of national union with that patriotism which has always been displayed in Prussia in serious times.