The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Raiffeisen, Friedrich Wilhelm

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RAIFFEISEN, rīf'ī-zĕn, Friedrich Wilhelm, German economist, famed as the father of the peoples' banks: b. Hamm, near Coblenz, Germany, 30 March 1818; d. 11 March 1888. He entered the army in 1835, but was compelled by ill health to withdraw and then entered the civil service. During the agricultural troubles of 1846-47 he perceived the difficulty with which the small landholder procured credit and he conceived the idea of establishing small mutual credit associations which freed the farmer from the exorbitant rates of the usurers. His first efforts were at Heddersdorf and Wyerbusch and he then proceeded to extend the operation of the plan throughout Germany. In 1866 he broke down from overwork and retired for a time from public service. In 1878 he founded the “Landwirtschaftliches Genossenschaftsblatt” at Neuwied. He lived to see his plan in successful operation in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. He wrote ‘Instruktion zur Geschäfts- und Buchführung der Darlehnskassenvereine’ (1869); ‘Kurze Anleitung zur Gründung von Darlehnskassenvereinen’ (1888), etc.