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(tsôl`fərīn`) [Ger.,=customs union], in German history, a customs union established to eliminate tariff barriers. Friedrich ListList, Friedrich
, 1789–1846, German economist. The first professor of economics at the Univ. of Tübingen, he was elected (1820) to the Württemberg legislature.
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 first popularized the idea of a combination to abolish the customs barriers that were inhibiting trade among the numerous states of the German ConfederationGerman Confederation,
1815–66, union of German states provided for at the Congress of Vienna to replace the old Holy Roman Empire, which had been destroyed during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It comprised 39 states in all, 35 monarchies and 4 free cities.
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. In 1818, Prussia abolished internal customs and formed a North German Zollverein, which in 1834 became the German Zollverein after merging with two similar unions, the South German Zollverein and the Central German Trade Union, both founded in 1828. Customs barriers of member states were leveled, and a uniform tariff was instituted against non-members. The customs at foreign frontiers were collected on joint account, and the proceeds were distributed in proportion to the population and resources of the member states. A rival customs union, the Steuerverein of central Germany, was also organized in 1834. A series of treaties (1851–54) joined it to the Zollverein, which then comprised nearly all the German states except Austria, the two Mecklenburgs, and the Hanseatic towns. Prussia, despite the insistence of several states, was unwilling to admit Austria to the union, but the two countries negotiated a separate tariff treaty. After the Austro-Prussian WarAustro-Prussian War
or Seven Weeks War,
June 15–Aug. 23, 1866, between Prussia, allied with Italy, and Austria, seconded by Bavaria, Württemberg, Saxony, Hanover, Baden, and several smaller German states.
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 (1866) a new agreement was reached by the members of the union. The newly formed North German ConfederationNorth German Confederation,
1867–71, alliance of 22 German states N of the Main River. Dominated by Prussia, it replaced the German Confederation and included the states that had supported Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War (1866).
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 entered the Zollverein in a body, and the other German states also negotiated customs treaties with victorious Prussia. The constitution (1867) of the new Zollverein provided for a federal council of customs (Zollbundesrat), comprised of personal representatives of the several rulers, and for an elected customs parliament (Zollparlament). In both bodies Prussia exercised predominant influence. In 1871 the laws and regulations of the Zollverein passed into the legislation of the newly created German Empire. Alsace-Lorraine entered the imperial customs area in 1872, and the Hanseatic cities joined in 1888. The Zollverein promoted the economic unification of Germany.


See studies by J. R. MacDonald (1903, repr. 1972), W. O. Henderson (2d ed. 1959), and E. N. Roussakis (1968).

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