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German History in Documents and Images
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"Between Myself and My People ... " (1848)
This 1848 caricature is titled, “No Piece of Paper Will Come between Myself and My People,” a statement made by King Frederick William IV at the opening of the First United Landtag in Prussia. There, the king made it perfectly clear that he had no intention of allowing his God-given rule to be diminished by a piece of paper, namely a constitution. In this lithograph, Frederick William IV tries to shut the door on the representatives’ demands for a democratic constitution. He is supported in this by the military, which had a tradition of loyalty to the monarchy and opposition to democratic strivings. With the aid of military violence, the king managed to reject this popular demand, and the forces of reaction triumphed. In the end, however, this course of events also prompted the population to use violence to secure the “piece of paper” that would guarantee their rights. “Satyrische Zeitbilder [Cotemporary Satirical Image] No. 28 by B.S. Berendsohn of Hamburg,” colored lithograph, 1848.