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The Prussian Finance Edict of 1810, signed by State Chancellor Hardenberg and King Frederick William III (October 27, 1810)

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Were it possible to convert our domains quickly enough into cash, the value of the same would be sufficient to meet our obligations without having to make any demands on the financial wealth of our loyal subjects.

However, as that is entirely impossible, and since this purpose cannot be fulfilled alone by loans from abroad, even though we have taken measures to utilize this source to whatever extent possible, there is no other choice, if the state is to be saved, then to procure the shortfall in cash from within the land itself.

However, we do not wish to demand this – with the exception of a one-time, very moderate tax, payable in several monthly installments, on those who support themselves by the labor of their hand and possess only very small wealth – as an impost, either on wealth or income, but merely as a loan, for the purpose of discharging the indemnity to France, from our domains and ecclesiastical holdings, designated, as already mentioned above, to free the state from its debts. This loan shall draw a proper interest rate of four percent annually, and we will secure its repayment through a special mortgaging of demesne offices and ecclesiastical estates designated for that very purpose, which, moreover, are collectively liable for it and shall carry out the interest payment. Conditions shall be attached to this, by which the volume of state bonds, a third of which will be sold at their nominal value, will be reduced and the value of the remaining ones will be increased, and the loan shall also not be paid all at once, but within two years at semi-annual intervals. [ . . . ]

We shall, moreover, direct our steady and greatest care at promoting to the greatest possible extent, by way of every necessary and beneficial regulatory and financial arrangement, the main goal that is so dear to our hearts, establishing the welfare of our loyal subjects. To that end, the next opportunity shall be taken to establish the coinage on a solid footing, just as we intend to give the nation a suitably established representation, both in the provinces and for the whole, whose council we will happily use and in which, in keeping with the our intentions as the ruler of the land, will happily give our loyal subjects the continuous belief that the condition of the state and the finances is improving, and that the sacrifices that are being made to that end are not in vain. In this way, the bond of love and trust between us and our loyal people will become ever stronger.

Source: Gesetz-Sammlung für die Königlichen Preußischen Staaten 1810 [Law Collection for the Royal Prussian States 1810M]. Berlin: Georg Decker 1810, pp. 25-28, 31.

Reprinted in Walter Demel and Uwe Puschner, eds.,Von der Französischen Revolution bis zum Wiener Kongreß 1789-1815 [From the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna 1789-1815]. Deutsche Geschichte in Quellen und Darstellung, edited by Rainer A. Müller. Volume 6. Stuttgart: P. Reclam, 1995, pp. 279-85.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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