Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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ZOLLVEREIN. The German zollverein, or customs-association, was the union effected among a number of the German states, and begun by the junction of some of them with Prussia, for tariff purposes, a union by virtue of which (the Prussian tariff system being taken as a basis within the limits of the territory of the association) all tariff barriers between such states were swept away, while duties were collected at the boundary lines of the association, on their joint account, and divided among the several states, parties to the union, in proportion to their population.


—This union came into existence after the dissolution of more than one tariff alliance against Prussia, Jan. 1, 1834, and was at first intended to continue for eight years. At that date the union embraced eighteen German states. In 1835, Hessen-Homburg, Baden and Nassau entered it; in 1836, Frankfurt; in 1838, Waldeck; in 1842, Braunschweig, Lippe and Luxemburg; in 1851 and 1852, Hanover and Oldenburg. From 1854 to 1865, all the German states, with the exception of Austria, the two Mecklenburgs and the Hanseatic cities, belonged to the Zollverein. The last Zollverein treaty is dated May 16, 1865, and was to run from Jan. 1, 1866, to the end of 1877, but was set aside by the events of 1866. The zollverein, or customs-association treaty, of July 8 1867, between the North German confederation considered as a single tariff territory, on the one hand, and Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Baden and Hesse on the other, which was to continue in force for twelve years, rested on a different basis entirely.


—The Zollverein itself was brought to an end by the establishment of the German empire, inasmuch as the constitution of the empire, of April 16, 1871, art. 33, provides that Germany shall constitute one single country for tariff and commercial purposes, with Bremen and Hamburg as free ports. At present the Zollverein, therefore, has mainly an historical interest.


—The economic consequences to Germany of the Zollverein were the consequences which may be expected from every customs-union. 1. It reduced the cost of the collection and administration of the customs duties as a consequence of the removal of the tariff barriers between the associated states; 2, it rapidly developed the industry of those states by the application of the principle of free trade in their commercial intercourse; 3, it increased the customs receipts by increasing consumption, the tariff being a moderate one; 4, it rendered it possible for these states, through the union, to conclude advantageous treaties with foreign countries, which are more disposed to make concessions to a state which offers them a large market than to small, unimportant countries; 5, it increased the commerce of the customs-union with foreign countries; 6, it increased the political importance of Germany, since its political union was destined, sooner or later, as it actually did, to spring from its customs-union.*159


Notes for this chapter

Says Henri Richelot, writing in 1862: "Since the year 1832 the Zollverein, although other influences concurred with its influence, has been the principal fact in Germany; and the progress of Germany since then has been, in great part, the progress of the Zollverein. The first advance of the Zollverein consisted in its material enlargement; this it accomplished by successive incorporations which leave nothing in Germany outside of its boundaries save Austria, the Hanseatic cities and Mecklenburg. The increase of population of the Zollverein was a necessary consequence of the increase of its territory; but it has been more rapid; from twenty-three and one-half millions in 1834, the number of inhabitants of the Zollverein has risen to nearly thirty-four millions.

—The reports of the commerce of the Zollverein, containing only quantities and no values, do not enable us to give the total annual movement of its trade with non-Zollverein states and countries, and in this matter we have only more or less uncertain approximations. But the approximations warrant us in classing the Zollverein, in international commerce, immediately after England, France and the United States, although it is very far from these countries; and in assigning to it the incontestable rank of the fourth commercial power of the world, of the third in Europe, and of the second on the European continent. The manufacturing character of the Zollverein has become more and more pronounced in international commerce. The increase of its exports is apparent, not in its natural products, such as cereals and building lumber, but in manufactured commodities, in woolen, silk and cotton textile fabrics, in linen and hardware. In its imports we notice an increase in exotic articles of consumption, such as tea and coffee, an increase in the consumption of which is usually regarded as a sure index of general prosperity. The same may be said of the importation of articles used in manufacture. But so far as manufactured articles themselves are concerned, the salient point in the importation of the Zollverein is their decrease. In the vitality of the great German fairs which are still held, it is remarkable how German industry, little by little, thrusts aside its rivals in England, France and Switzerland. Lastly, in its expositions, the first of which took place in 1844 in Berlin, and the second in 1854 in Munich; and in the expositions of London and Paris in 1851 and 1855, that industry stood the test. If it had no originality or invention to boast of, all agreed that it possessed solid merit in the medium sphere which belonged to it." Its progress was still more noticeable in 1867 in Paris, and in 1873 in Vienna. The Zollverein thus seems to have advanced Germany much in the same way that the introduction of the policy of free trade promoted the wealth, well-being and industrial progress of England.—ED.

End of Notes

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