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Karl Baron vom und zum Stein, Nassau Memorandum on Administrative Reform in Prussia (June 1807)

In this memorandum, Karl vom und zum Stein (1757-1831), who served briefly (1807-08) as chief minister in the Prussian Reform Era, and whose ideas permeated reform-friendly circles, presents his signature idea that property owners from all social classes should be drawn into the work of local administration (or “self administration”), especially through a new system of representative organs (which Stein called “estates”) at the district and provincial levels. In the end, however, the Prussian government favored the landed nobility in the reformed system of local assemblies introduced in 1823.

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The essay dated 27. April 1806, Berlin, proved the necessity of abolishing the cabinet and forming a state council, or a supreme body that will work immediately below the king and be endowed with responsibility that is officially recognized and not obtained by devious means, and which will serve as the final point of unification of the various branches of the state administration.

Once the formation of such a state council has been decided upon, the question arises as to whether the individual department ministries can be preserved in their existing state; and to answer this question, one must examine and test the basis of the distribution of affairs among the various state agencies, their inner constitution, and their relationship to the provincial authorities.

In some cases, the distribution of the administrative branches among the ministerial authorities was determined on the basis of issues, in other cases on the basis of districts and provinces. [ . . . ]

The more recent ordinances, which are based on the correct principles, assign all legal matters to the Ministry of Justice and all matters regarding finance and the police to the financial and police authorities, and in my view the extension of this structure to the entire monarchy is advisable. [ . . . ]

[I regard] it as advisable to distribute the activities of the General Directory on the basis of issues, not districts. The Directory is then split into two main divisions:

I. Administration of public income,

II. Administration of the supreme state police.

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