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King Frederick William III and his Ministers Stein and Schrötter, "Ordinance for All Cities of the Prussian Monarchy" (November 19, 1808)

By this edict, urban self-government on the part of property-owning male town-dwellers assumed nineteenth-century liberal form. It broke with earlier conceptions of representation by merchant corporations and guild-bound trades, but also excluded the wage-earning, non-house-owning class, as well as women. In most cases, the central government retained control of municipal police administration. Yet the city councils formed in accordance with this ordinance became effective schools of liberal politics and self-government.

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Ordinance for All Cities of the Prussian Monarchy

We, Frederick William, through God's grace King of Prussia, etc., etc.

Declare and hereby make known:

The lack of appropriate rules regarding the urban commonwealth [Gemeinwesen] and the representation of the city districts [Stadt-Gemeine], the current division of the interests of the citizens according to classes and guilds, and the urgent necessity of an effective participation of the citizenry in the administration of the commonwealth, [all of] which have recently become especially visible, have convinced us of the need to give the cities a more autonomous and better constitution, to create legally a strong point of unity for the bourgeoisie [Bürgergemeine], to give them an active influence on the administration of the commonwealth, and through this participation to stimulate and maintain a sense of community. [ . . . ]

Title I. Regarding the Overarching Supervision of the State over the Cities.

§ 1. The overarching [oberste] supervision [Aufsicht] over the cities, their constitution, and their finances [Vermögen] remains reserved for the state and the authorities associated with it, insofar as in the present ordinance a participation in the administration is not expressly relinquished. [ . . . ]

§ 2. The state exercises this overarching supervision in that it inspects the printed extracts of the accounts [Rechnungsextrakte] or the publicly accessible accounts of the cities regarding the administration of their communal finances [Gemeinvermögens], it decides the complaints of individual citizens or entire departments [Abtheilungen] regarding the commonwealth, it confirms new statutes, and it approves the election of new members of the magistracy.

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