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Karl August Baron von Hardenberg, "On the Reorganization of the Prussian State" (September 12, 1807)

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d) With the goal of attaining freedom from dues, various important observations arise. Here, too, complete equality should exist for many reasons. [ . . . ]

2. The citizens’ estate.

The citizens’ estate gains from the opening up of access to all posts, trades, and jobs, and in turn it must, for its part, also relinquish everything that previously excluded other estates.

3. The farming estate.

The most numerous and most important estate in the state, though one that has hitherto been most neglected and oppressed, the farming estate, must necessarily become a preeminent object of the state’s attention. The abolition of hereditary bondage must be carried out thoroughly and immediately by law. Likewise, the laws according to which the peasant is prevented from leaving the peasants’ estate should be repealed. The military constitution will not suffer from this, provided that the right regulations are adopted in it. In addition, it should be easier for the peasant to obtain property, whether this pertains to new acquisitions or the purchase of the rights of the manorial lord. It is not necessary to abolish the system of villeinage. Oftentimes it is not only not a burden, but actually more favorable to the person subject to service than a monetary payment, depending on the local circumstances. Changes therein should be left to voluntary agreement, and they should only be promoted by laws, in that one should stipulate the principles under which the dues in kind can be bought off. [ . . . ]

4. Creation of the connection between the nation and the state administration.

It is, however, salutary and necessary to bring the nation into closer relationship with the state administration, to make it more familiar with the same and interested in it. The idea of a national representation, as Herr von Altenstein articulated, without abolition of the monarchical constitution, is lovely and useful. The label of a dangerous national assembly does not apply to it. By amalgamating the representatives with the individual administrative agencies, it will provide the usefulness without the disadvantage. It should not form a special constitutive body, no administration of its own [ . . . ].

5. Creation of the freest possible use of the powers of the subjects of all classes.

[ . . . ] The exercise of personal powers for every trade or craft shall become free, and the impost on the same shall be the same in the cities and the countryside. The abolition of the guilds and taxes, if not all at once then gradually, as Herr von Altenstein indicates, would have to be stipulated, as would the possible elimination of all older monopolies.
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