The New International Encyclopædia/Stein, Heinrich Friedrich Karl, Baron vom

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STEIN, Heinrich Friedrich Karl, Baron vom (1757-1831). A Prussian statesman. He belonged to an old Franconian family, and was born at Nassau. He studied at Göttingen, entered the Prussian civil service, and in 1784 was at the head of the Department of Mines for Westphalia. In 1786 he visited England and made a study of its institutions, and his experiences bore fruit at a later period in his guidance of Prussian affairs. In October, 1804, he entered the Prussian Ministry as chief of indirect imposts, taxes, manufactures, and commerce. He introduced useful reforms in his department, particularly by abolishing various restrictions on the internal trade of the nation; but he was hampered in his endeavors by the spirit of Prussian conservatism. In 1807 he was dismissed from office by the King, but the Peace of Tilsit opened the eyes of the sovereign to the wisdom of Stein's policy, and he was recalled, with the approbation of Napoleon, who had as yet no idea of the deep and earnest patriotism of the Minister. Seeing clearly that, from a military point of view, Prussia was powerless for the moment, he set about developing her internal resources by initiating a series of administrative and political reforms, the principal of which were the abolition of serfdom, with indemnification to the territorial lords; the subjection of the nobles to manorial imposts; promotion in the State service by merit alone, without distinction of caste; and the establishment of a modern municipal system. While he was paving the way for German unity, the Prussian army was being reorganized by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau ( qq.v.) As the result of a letter criticising Napoleon's policy, which was brought to the knowledge of the French Emperor, Stein was obliged to resign (November 24, 1808), and retired to Austria. In danger of being surrendered by Austria to Napoleon, Stein was summoned in 1812 to Russia by the Emperor Alexander, and contributed by his counsels to the formation of the coalition of the German States against Napoleon. After the battle of Leipzig, in 1813, Stein became head of the council for the administration of the reconquered German countries, as well as of the territory which France had annexed west of the Rhine. He was a leader in all the military diplomacy of that stirring time up to the Congresses of Vienna and Aix-la-Chapelle. After his retirement from political life he devoted himself to the promotion of German science and art and formed the society for the study of early German history whose publications are celebrated as the Monumenta Germaniæ Historica. He died at Kappenberg (Westphalia) June 29, 1831. Consult: Seeley, Life and Times of Stein (London, 1879); Pertz, Leben des Freiherrn vom Stein (1885).