As a result of the Congress of Vienna, in 1815 Prussia received the Rhineland, which, at the time, wasn't thought of as a significant political gain. However, it's rich deposits of coal and iron were very important during the Prussia/German industrial revolution of the 1840's. After experiencing extreme difficulty in trading with the newly founded German Confederation following the Congress of Vienna, king Frederick William III spearheaded the formation of the Zollverein, or trade union. Sick and tired of dealing with different currencies in the various states, the Zollverein was an agreement to eliminate trade tariffs between the German states.
The Zollverein's success was essential to the German success in the industrial revolution. When Frederick William IV took the throne in 1840, using all the nifty steel made from the raw materials in the Rhineland, the Prussian were able to construct a plethora of railroads between the German states. This wouldn't have been much different from the other major countries in Europe with the exception of the Zollverein. This allowed the Prussians to have huge free trade zone in the middle of central Europe. The Prussian-controlled German Confederation now had a monopoly on trade in the most desirable trade zone on the continent.
The Prussian success in industry ran into a small setback in the late 1840's. This minor setback is otherwise known as the German Revolutions of 1848. Although the Zollverein was a success for the business men of Prussia, the common people of the German states, who had been controlled by spheres of influence other than their own, felt that they deserved basic human rights. The result was that most of the German states were granted more liberal governments. However, Frederick William IV refused to rule over a united German constitutional monarchy, and the revolution was squashed by 1849.
|Authored by: David Willis, Brent Southam, Arn� Stanfield, Tim Williams|