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National Liberal Party, Founding Program (June 12, 1867)

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Vivid experience has taught us that the same tools may not at all times be appropriate for the accomplishment of the same tasks. Where such significant and momentous goals are to be striven for simultaneously, as presently is the case in Germany and Prussia, it is not sufficient merely to hold firm to conventional maxims and to allow new and diverse needs to be neglected for the sake of a simple and convenient tradition. It requires arduous and cautious labor to master the various demands one encounters, to oversee the course of events, and to gain the advantage that can be wrought from an opportunity. The ultimate goals of liberalism are unchanging, but its demands and procedures are not cut off from life and are not reducible to fixed formulas. Its innermost being consists of observing the signs of the times and satisfying the demands they pose. The present speaks to us clearly with the message that in our fatherland every step toward unity on a constitutional basis is at the same time progress in the area of freedom or carries within it an impulse to that end.

We do not intend to oppose with malevolence other factions of the Liberal party, for we feel at one with them in the service of freedom. However, in the face of the great questions of the present moment and with a sense of responsibility that makes us conscious of how much depends on the proper choice of means, we shall endeavor and hope to bring the principles we have developed to bear within the party.

[There follow fifty-six signatures, including those of Rudolf von Bennigsen, Max von Forckenbeck, Eduard Lasker, Heinrich Bernhard Oppenheim, Karl Twesten, and Hans Viktor von Unruh.]

Source: National-Zeitung (Berlin), June 13, 1867, p. 1.

English translation: Eduard Lasker et al., “Founding Statement of the National Liberal Party (June 1867),” trans. Paul Silverman in Jan Goldstein and John W. Boyer, eds., University of Chicago, Readings in Western Civilization, vol. 8, Nineteenth-Century Europe: Liberalism and Its Critics. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press, 1988, pp. 428-32.

© 1988 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Original German text taken from W. Cahn, Aus Eduard Laskers Nachlaß [From the Private Papers of Eduard Lasker] (1902), vol. 1, pp. 158-63, reprinted in Felix Salomon, ed., Die deutschen Parteiprogramme [German Party Programs],, Issue 1,Vom Erwachen des politischen Lebens in Deutschland bis zur Reichsgründung 1871 [From the Awakening of Political Life in Germany to the Founding of the Reich in 1871], ed. Wilhelm Mommsen and Günther Franz, 4th ed., Leipzig and Berlin: B.G. Teubner, 1932, pp. 155-59.

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