Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Bismarck, Otto Edward Leopold, Prince Von, belongs to an old and distinguished Prussian family settled in Pomerania and Brandenburg, and was born at Schonhausen in 1815. From 1835 to 1830 he held subordinate positions in the Civil Service. In 1847 he married Julia von Puttkamer, and entered the Prussian Landtag. He adopted Conservative views, which were strengthened by the events of 1848, and in 1849, as a member of the new Parliament, he stood forward as one of the most powerful opponents of revolutionary ideas, and in 1851 he became the recognised leader of his party. Bismarck's programme, framed at this period, has been carried out with but little variation in detail until the present day. His aim was to sever the north German States from any dependence on Austria or any interference from foreign powers, and to weld them into a free, united nation with Prussia at its head. Thinking lightly of constitutions, parliaments, and other contrivances for stifling action in talk, he wished the central power to be in the hands of a monarch, wise, vigorous, patriotic, such as the house of the Hohenzollern could supply. His policy must be supported both at home and abroad by sufficient military strength; must aim at perfect justice and complete administrative efficiency; and must create and appeal to a popular sense of religion, loyalty, and military discipline. From 1851 to 1862 Bismarck was employed as envoy or ambassador at the Frankfort Diet, St, Petersburg, Vienna, and Paris, acquiring valuable experience. At last William I. summoned him home to act as minister, president, and chief adviser of the Crown at a moment when a Liberal majority in the Landtag and the schemes of France and Austria threatened to postpone indefinitely the realisation of his hopes. His arbitrary methods made him unpopular at first, but his successful conduct of the Danish war and the consequent annexation of Schleswig-Holstein soon restored public confidence. A struggle with Austria then became imminent, and all Bismarck's skill was exerted to prevent Napoleon III. from taking part in the fray. At this moment (May, 1866) he narrowly escaped death at the hands of a fanatical assassin, Lionel Cohen. Then followed the Seven Weeks' war, which saw Austria so speedily humbled at Koniggratz, The statesman rode by the king's side over the field of battle, and completed the work of the needle-gun by skilfully negotiating the treaty of Prague. The Bund was broken up, and in its place stood the North German Confederation with Prussia at its head, Hanover, Schleswig-Holstein, Hesse, and part of Saxony being added to the Prussian kingdom. In 1867 Bismarck, now the idol of his nation, became chancellor of the Confederation. Napoleon III., bitterly disappointed at the issue of the war of 1866, sought various opportunities for beginning the strife on such terms as would secure the alliance of Austria and the South German States, if not of other powers, Bismarck adroitly contrived to make a deliberate insult to his sovereign the casus belli rather than the alleged candidature of Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern for the Spanish throne, and at the same time he published a proposal from France by which Belgium was to become French territory. War was declared on July 19th, 1870, and Bismarck with the king was present at many of the battles, and on September 2 received in person the surrender of Napoleon, with whom he arranged for the capitulation of Sedan. In October he took up his quarters at Versailles, and it was there on January 18, 1871, that he saw the dream of his life fulfilled, when William I. was proclaimed Emperor of Germany by the assembled princes of the Confederated States. He himself received the appointment of Chancellor of the Empire, and in that capacity a few days later arranged the terms of peace with France. For twenty years the "honest broker" was now supreme at Berlin, and it might almost be said throughout Europe. At home he skilfully took advantage of the divisions of parties in the Reichstag to free himself practically from parliamentary control. Abroad he strove earnestly for peace, and attained his ends by playing off one power against another with cynical dexterity, He must be credited with having circumscribed the Russo-Turkish quarrel of 1877, and with having patched up the peace of Berlin, He drew himself closer to Austria in 1879 as a hint to Russia, and presently showed signs of cordiality to the Czar. He sided apparently with Franoe in deprecating the British occupation of Egypt, and in various ways tried to lull into quiescence the keen spirit of revenge. In 1884 he began to take great interest in German colonisation, and this new departure brought him into collision with England as regards Africa and with Spain in the matter of the Caroline Isles. The dangers arising from this source were happily smoothed down, for a time at least, by diplomacy. In 1885 his seventieth birthday was kept with universal rejoicing, and in 1887 the twenty-fifth anniversary of his accession to power was celebrated with equal fervour. In this latter year the unsettled state of France during the Boulanger episode and the open sympathy shown by Russia to French Chauvinistes led Bismark to seek alliance with Italy, and negotiations with Sig. Crispi resulted in an understanding which has never been fully disclosed, but it was followed by a large increase in the German army. The death in 1888 of his old master, William I., led to no immediate diminution of the chancellor's Influence, though it was expected that the well-known Liberal sympathies of the new kaiser's wife would ruffle the relations between the court and the minister. These anticipations were multiplied by the hopeless illness and speedy decease of Frederick; but in the person of his son and successor rose up a fresh source of danger. William II., a young and vigorous man, had learned only too well Bismarck's own doctrine of absolutism, and he resolved from the first to be the real head of the state. In March, 1890, an open rupture occurred on the question as to whether the sovereign should communicate with his ministers directly or through the Intermediary of the chancellor. Bismarck resigned, and his resignation was accepted in a way that was humiliating to himself, whilst his own conduct was not wholly free from insolence and want of patriotism, His fall provoked no storm in the empire, and for some months he retired into private life. His discontent with the new order of things was chiefly expressed, for some time after his fall, in unsigned but inspired articles in a Hamburg and Munich paper. In 1894 a reconciliation was effected between Bismark and the Kaiser, and since that time he has practically retired into private life.