Articles by Frederick Engels for The Northern Star 1846

Violation of the Prussian Constitution [41]

Source: MECW, Volume 6, p. 52;
Written: in May 1846
First published: in The Northern Star No. 446, May 30, 1846;

There exists a law in Prussia, dated 17th of January 1820, forbidding the King to contract any State Debts without the sanction of the States-General, an assembly which it is very well known, does not yet exist in Prussia.[42] This law is the only guarantee the Prussians have for ever getting the constitution which, since 1815, has been promised to them. The fact of the existence of such a law not being generally known out of Prussia, the government succeeded in 1823 in borrowing three millions of pounds in England — first violation. After the French revolution of 1830, the Prussian government being obliged to make extensive preparations for a war which was then likely to break out, they not having any money, made the “interests for transatlantic trade”,[43] a government concern, borrow twelve millions of dollars (1,700,000), which, of course, were under the guarantee of the government, and spent by the government — second violation. Not to speak of the small violations, such as loans of a few hundred thousands of pounds by the same concern, the King of Prussia [Frederick William IV] has at this moment, committed a third great violation. The credit of this concern being as it seems exhausted, the Bank of Prussia, being just in the same way, exclusively a government concern, has been empowered by the King to issue banknotes to the amount of ten millions of dollars (1,350,000). This, deducting 3 1/3 millions as deposit and 1/3 million for the increased expenses of the establishment, amounts in reality to an “indirect loan” of six millions of dollars or nearly one million of pounds, which the government will be responsible for, as up to this time no private capitalists are partners to the Bank of Prussia. It is to be hoped that the Prussians, particularly the middle classes, who are most interested in the constitution, will not let this pass without an energetic protest.