Supporters of Nationalism

Middle classes

The educated middle class became important to German society. They were the businessmen, merchants, craftsmen and professionals who helped make the German states prosperous.

The middle classes were aware of their contribution to the growing success of German states. Across all 39 states, they wanted more rights and powers to reflect this. They wanted freedom of speech and an elected parliament that would represent their interests. In particular they wanted:

  • access to political power
  • reduction of taxes
  • removal of trade restrictions

The reformers recognised that these ideals would best be realised and protected in a united Germany with a new constitution.

Businessmen in particular saw the economic advantages of unification. Removal of borders and taxes between states was a way to increase profits and allow more effective competition with foreign countries.


French occupation of the Confederation of the Rhine had brought reform, political moderisation and undermined the old regime of rule by monarchies.

Liberals sought increasing involvement and representation in how they were governed. Their aims included:

  • establishment of state constitutions
  • civil equality
  • increased individual freedom
  • direct suffrage

Their aims were in conflict with the rule of individual German states by individual monarchs or royal families. Nationalism and the unification of states presented a way to overcome these absolute monarchs.