In 1871, after waging three wars in seven years, Prussia beneath the management of Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarck, succeeded in unifying the loosely confederated states of northern and southern Germany and the formation of the German Empire.
The emperor of Germany
19 January, 1871
A proclamation of the King of Prussia to the German folks has been forwarded to the Upper and Lower Donau of the Prussian Diet. It runs as follows:
“We, William, by God’s grace King of Prussia, hereby announce that the German princes and free towns have addressed to us a unanimous call to renew and undertake, with the re-establishment of the German empire, the dignity of Emperor, which now for 60 years has been in abeyance; and the requisite provisions having been inserted in the constitution of the German Confederation, we regard it as a duty we owe to the entire Fatherland to comply with this call of the united German princes and free towns, and to accept the dignity of Emperor. Accordingly, we and our successors to the crown of Prussia henceforth shall use the imperial title in all our relations and the affairs of the German empire; and we hope to God that it may be vouchsafed to the German nation to lead the Fatherland on to a blessed future under the auspices of its ancient splendour.
We undertake the imperial dignity conscious of the duty to protect with German loyalty the rights of the empire and its members, to preserve peace, to maintain the independence of Germany, and to strengthen the power of the people. We accept it in the hope that it will be granted to the German people to enjoy, in lasting peace, the rewards of its arduous and heroic straggle, within boundaries which will give to the Fatherland that security against renewed French attacks which it has lacked for centuries.
May God grant to us and our successors to the imperial crown that we may be the defenders of the German empire at all times, not in martial conquests, but in works of peace, in the sphere of national prosperity, freedom, and civilisation.”
Striking scene at Versailles
21 January 1871
There was a putting scene at Versailles on Tuesday – a scene on which the long run historian will dwell as some of the memorable of those memorable instances.