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North German Confederation
| North German Confederation |
|joined in 1871 to form the German Empire are in orange. Alsace-Lorraine, the territory annexed following the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, is in a paler orange.|
|Presidency||Prussia (William I)|
|Chancellor||Otto von Bismarck|
|- Constitution tabelled||April 16, 1866|
|- Federation formed||July 1,|
|- Elevation to empire||January 18, 1871|
The North German Confederation (German: Norddeutscher Bund), was a military alliance of 22 states of northern Germany. It started in August 1866, and the Kingdom of Prussia was the leading state. In July 1867 it became a political alliance too. The Confederation was a federal state, with a constitution which set out what the individual countries could do, and what be done by the federation.
The North German Confederation was the basis of the German Empire, which adopted most parts of the federation's constitution and its flag. It included the lands of the German Confederation north of the river Main, plus Prussia's eastern territories and the Duchy of Schleswig. Austria, and the southern states of Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden and the southern parts of the Grand Duchy of Hesse were not in the Confederation. Bismarck thought Austria was too powerful at the time and wanted to set up a state Prussia could dominate.
The federation was created after Prussia defeated Austria and the other remaining states of the German Confederation in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. Otto von Bismarck was its Chancellor, and the King of Prussia, William I was its President. The states sent representatives to the Reichsrat (Federal Council). The Federal Council had 43 members, 17 were from Prussia. seats (of which Prussia held 17). The southern states were soon allowed to sent representatives if the joined a Customs Union.
The Federation was dissolved after Prussia beat the Second French Empire in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. Bavaria, Württemberg, and Baden (together with parts of the Grand Duchy of Hesse which had not originally joined the federation), joined with the Federation to form the German Empire. William I became German Emperor he was not called the Emperor of Germany because it was thought that title could only be used if Austria was included.
The federation handled the mail and issued postage stamps, after 1 January 1868. But the federation did not issue its own money, so different stamps had to be issued. Stamps valued in groschen were used in the north, stamps in kreuzer in the Southern District. All of these stamps were marked NORDDEUTSCHER POSTBEZIRK (North German Postal Area).
A third set of stamps were printed for Hamburg. These were also marked STADTPOSTBRIEF HAMBURG.
List of member states
| Prussia (Preußen)
|Grand duchies (Großherzogtümer)|
| Hesse (Hessen)
(Only Upper Hesse, the province north of the Main River)
|Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha)||Coburg|
|Reuss, junior line||Gera|
|Reuss, senior line||Greiz|
|Free Hanseatic cities (Freie Hansestädte)|