1902 Encyclopedia > Hamburg (State), German Empire

Hamburg (State), German Empire

HAMBURG, a state of the German empire, which con-sists of the city of Hamburg with its incorporated suburbs of St George's and St Paul's, the surrounding district with the sixteen suburban hamlets (Vororte), several islands in the Elbe, the five enclaves of Volksdorf, Hansdorf, &c, in Holstein, the communes of Moorburg in Lüneburg and Cuxhaven-Ritzebüttel in the north-west of the duchy of Bremen at the mouth of the Elbe, the island of Neuwerk about five miles from the coast, and the bailiwick (ami) of Bergedorf, which up to 1867 was held in common by Lübeck and Hamburg. The whole territory has an area of 15 7 o 18 square miles, exclusive of 9 9 square miles occupied by the Elbe. Of this area 124 square miles are within the limits of the German customs, but the rest continues to be practically " abroad" in relation to the com-merce of the empire. In 1871 the total population was 338,974; by 1875 it had increased to 388,618 (191,339 males and 197,279 females); by 1877 to 406,014 ; and by 1878 to 417,239. Administratively the state is divided into the city or metropolitan district, which had 239,107 inhabitants in 1871, the domain of the Geestland with 57,216 inhabitants, the domain of the Marschland with 22,982, the bailiwick of Bergedorf with 13,112, and the bailiwick of Ritzebüttel with 6557. Cuxhaven-Ritzebüttel and Bergedorf are the only towns besides the capital, and they had respectively 4102 and 3899 inhabitants in 1875. The Geestland comprises the suburban districts of Rotherbaum, Harvestehude, Eimsbüttel, Eppendorf, Hohenfelde, Uhlenhorst, Eilbeck, Barmbeck, Winterhude, Borgfelde, Harum, and Horn, which encircle the city on the north and east; and the Marschland includes various " werders,"2 such as the Billwerder Ausschlag to the east of the city, the Steinwerder and the Little Grasbrook to the south of the Elbe, the Billwerder, the Ochsenwerder, and the so-called Vierlancle or Four Districts (Corslake, Altegamme, Nauegamme, and Kirchwerder) as far east as Geesthacht. While the Geestland has in many places an almost unproductive soil, the Marschland is of extraordinary fertility, and its pastures, corn-fields, and market-gardens furnish Hamburg with large quantities of country produce.

As a state of the empire Hamburg is represented in the federal council by one plenipotentiary and in the diet by three deputies. According to the present constitution, which has been in force since September 28, 1860, the legislative power is in the hands of the senate and the general body of citizens, and the executive is committed to the senate alone. Of the 18 members of the senate no less than 9 must have studied law and finance, and of the remain-ing 9, 7 must be representatives of commerce. The members are chosen by the senate and the burgesses after a complicated process, and the burgess upon whom their choice falls is obliged to accept office for at least six years, on pain of losing his civic rights. The senate by itself has the election of the first and the second burgomaster, each of whom holds office for only a year. There are 196 burgesses, of whom 88 are chosen by ballot by the general community, 48 by and from the owners of ground within the town, and 60 by the courts and administrative bodies. They are elected for a period of six years, but as half of each class go out at the end of every three years the elections occur twice as often. Both the senate and the burgesses have the right of introducing new bills. The basis of the civil law is the Jus Hamburgicum, revised in 1603 and supplemented by the Roman law; but in some of the rural districts local customs prevail, and in Bergedorf the Lübeck rights are still partly in force. Hamburg has appeal to the common high court of the Free Cities in Lübeck. There is a special court for commercial disputes. Juries are summoned in the more important trials; and since 1869 there has been public and responsible prosecution of criminal cases. The ecclesiastical arrangements of Hamburg have undergone great modifications since the general constitution of 1860. From the Reformation to the French occupation in the beginning of this century, Hamburg was a purely Lutheran state; according to the "Recess" of 1529, re-enacted in 1603, non-Lutherans were subject to legal punishment and expulsion from the country. Exceptions were gradually made in favour of foreign resi-dents ; but it was not till 1785 that regular inhabitants were allowed to exercise the religious rites of other denominations, and it was not till after the war of freedom that they were allowed to have buildings in the style of churches. In 1860 full religious liberty was guaranteed, and the identification of church and state abolished. By the new constitution of the Lutheran Church, published at first in 1870 for the city only, but in 1876 extended to the rest of the Hamburg territory, the parishes or communes are divided into three church-districts, and the general affairs of the whole community are entrusted to a synod of 53 members and to an ecclesiastical council of 9 members which acts as an executive. A central fund for the church was formed in 1870 out of the surplus property of the convent of St John; and in some of the communes there is a church rate. According to the returns of 1871 there were 300,968 Lutherans, 5585 members of other Evangeli-cal Churches, 7771 Roman Catholics, 194 Mennonites, 2696 Christians of other sects, and 13,796 Jews, while 628 described themselves as without religion oi heathens, and 7071 gave no information as to creed. Since 1871 the ratio of Lutherans to non-Lutherans must have somewhat diminished. The German Reformed Church, the French Reformed, the English Episcopal, the English " Reformed," the Roman Catholic, and the Baptist are all recognized by the state. Civil marriages have been permissible in Hamburg since 1866, and since the introduc-tion of the imperial law in January 1876 the number of such marriages has greatly increased.

The finances of the state of Hamburg are in a generally satisfactory state ; for, although the public debt has been increasing, this is due mainly to such undertakings as railways, harbour improve-ments, and schools. In 1876 the revenue was estimated at £1,206,161 sterling, in 1877 at £1,264,585, in 1878 at £1,330,550, and in 1879 at £1,384,630 ; and the corresponding expenses were stated at £1,288,503, £1,358,915, £1,422,175, and £1,507,860. The public debt, which was £6,385,042 in the end of 1874, was reduced by 1878 to £5,325,853. Of the former sum £1,457,775 was the remains of the great conflagration loan of 1842, which originally amounted to £2,550,000.

In 1868 the old civic militia, which then consisted of 7354 men, was dissolved; all citizens and inhabitants between the ages of 20 and 45 had been obliged to serve except certain state officials, and school teachers, &c. By convention with Prussia, Hamburg furnishes two battalions to the 2d Hanseatic infantry regiment.

See Statistic des Hamburgischen Stoats, 1878; J. Nessmann, Statist. Handbuch für dm Hamb. Staat, 1874 and 1876 ; Gustav Ritter, Zehn Jahre Civilstandsamt im Hamburg, 1876.


Geest is a Platt-Deutsch word signifying '' dry," and the Geest-iand is consequently the higher and drier district, in contrast to the marsh-land. The surface of the Geestland is composed of sand and gravel, and part of it is occupied by heath.
ä Werder, Warder, or Wörth is either equivalent to the old English "holm," a river-island, or signifies a stretch of flat land between a river and a piece of standing water, or a portion of a swamp drained and devoted to tillage.

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