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The Importance of the Zollverein in the Movement for German Unification

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Essay title: The Importance of the Zollverein in the Movement for German Unification

Formation - the German Confederation created by the Congress of Vienna had 39 states, each having its dues and tolls on goods passim through its territory. This made goods expensive and hindered trade. For instance, Prussia had 67 different tariff areas within its border after 1815. As such, Germany was economically and commercially the most backward country in western Europe in the early years of the 19th century.

Purssia took the lead to promote free trade movement in the German Confederation. By the 1818 Tariff Reform Act, Prussia removed all customs barriers on trade within her boundaries, making the country for the first time an economic and commercial unit. At the same time, she imposed a uniform tariff on goods from other states which entered her territory.

From 1819 onwards, certain little states entirely surrounded by Prussian territory allowed themselves to be absorbed into the Prussian tariff system. Other German states formed rival schemes of their own in the 1820s, but as the resources of the Prussian union was greater, they were too forced into the Prussian system.

On January 1, 1834, the Zollverein came into being. It included 18 states with a total population of 26 million people. Its constitution was elaborate. There was to be a customs-parliament, representing all the constituent states, and no changes could be made without the unanimous consent of the members. Between state and state there was to be complete free trade; the tariff was to be uniform on all the frontiers;

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