1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hamburg (state)
HAMBURG, a state of the German empire, on the lower Elbe, bounded by the Prussian provinces of Schleswig-Holstein and Hanover. The whole territory has an area of 160 sq. m., and consists of the city of Hamburg with its incorporated suburbs and the surrounding district, including several islands in the Elbe, five small enclaves in Holstein; the communes of Moorburg in the Luneburg district of the Prussian province of Hanover and Cuxhaven-Ritzebüttel at the mouth of the Elbe, the island of Neuwerk about 5 m. from the coast, and the bailiwick (amt) of Bergedorf, which down to 1867 was held in common by Lübeck and Hamburg. Administratively the state is divided into the city, or metropolitan district, and four rural domains (or Landherrenschaften), each under a senator as praeses, viz. the domain of the Geestlande, of the Marschlande, of Bergedorf and of Ritzebüttel with Cuxhaven. Cuxhaven-Ritzebüttel and Bergedorf are the only towns besides the capital. The Geestlande comprise the suburban districts encircling the city on the north and west; the Marschlande includes various islands in the Elbe and the fertile tract of land lying between the northern and southern arms of the Elbe, and with its pastures and market gardens supplying Hamburg with large quantities of country produce. In the Bergedorf district lies the Vierlande, or Four Districts (Neuengamme, Kirchwärder, Altengamme and Curslack), celebrated for its fruit gardens and the picturesque dress of the inhabitants. Ritzebüttel with Cuxhaven, also a watering-place, have mostly a seafaring population. Two rivers, the Alster and the Bille, flow through the city of Hamburg into the Elbe, the mouth of which, at Cuxhaven, is 75 m. below the city.
Government. — As a state of the empire, Hamburg is represented in the federal council (Bundesrat) by one plenipotentiary, and in the imperial diet (Reichstag) by three deputies. Its present constitution came into force on the 1st of January 1861, and was revised in 1879 and again in 1906. According to this Hamburg is a republic, the government (Staatsgewalt) residing in two chambers, the Senate and the House of Burgesses. The Senate, which exercises the greater part of the executive power, is composed of eighteen members, one half of whom must have studied law or finance, while at least seven of the remainder must belong to the class of merchants. The members of the Senate are elected for life by the House of Burgesses; but a senator is free to retire from office at the expiry of six years. A chief (ober-) and second (zweiter-) burgomaster, the first of whom bears the title of “Magnificence,” chosen annually in secret ballot, preside over the meetings of the Senate, and are usually jurists. No burgomaster can be in office for longer than two years consecutively, and no member of the Senate may hold any other public office. The House of Burgesses consists of 160 members, of whom 80 are elected in secret ballot by the direct suffrages of all tax-paying citizens, 40 by the owners of house-property within the city (also by ballot), and the remaining 40, by ballot also, by the so-called “notables,” i.e. active and former members of the law courts and administrative boards. They are elected for a period of six years, but as half of each class retire at the end of three years, new elections for one half the number take place at the end of that time. The House of Burgesses is represented by a Bürgerausschuss (committee of the house) of twenty deputies whose duty it is to watch over the proceedings of the Senate and the constitution generally. The Senate can interpose a veto in all matters of legislation, saving taxation, and where there is a collision between the two bodies, provision is made for reference to a court of arbitration, consisting of members of both houses in equal numbers, and also to the supreme court of the empire (Reichsgericht) sitting at Leipzig. The law administered is that of the civil and penal codes of the German empire, and the court of appeal for all three Hanse towns is the common Oberlandesgericht, which has its seat in Hamburg. There is also a special court of arbitration in commercial disputes and another for such as arise under accident insurance.
Religion. — The church in Hamburg is completely separated from the state and manages its affairs independently. The ecclesiastical arrangements of Hamburg have undergone great modifications since the general constitution of 1860. From the Reformation to the French occupation in the beginning of the 19th century, Hamburg was a purely Lutheran state; according to the “Recess” of 1529, re-enacted in 1603, non-Lutherans were subject to legal punishment and expulsion from the country. Exceptions were gradually made in favour of foreign residents; but it was not till 1785 that regular inhabitants were allowed to exercise the religious rites of other denominations, and it was not till after the war of freedom that they were allowed to have buildings in the style of churches. In 1860 full religious liberty was guaranteed, and the identification of church and state abolished. By the new constitution of the Lutheran Church, published at first in 1870 for the city only, but in 1876 extended to the rest of the Hamburg territory, the parishes or communes are divided into three church-districts, and the general affairs of the whole community are entrusted to a synod of 53 members and to an ecclesiastical council of 9 members which acts as an executive. Since 1887 a church rate has been levied on the Evangelical-Lutheran communities, and since 1904 upon the Roman Catholics also. The German Reformed Church, the French Reformed, the English Episcopal, the English Reformed, the Roman Catholic, and the Baptist are all recognized by the state. Civil marriages have been permissible in Hamburg since 1866, and since the introduction of the imperial law in January 1876 the number of such marriages has greatly increased.
Finance. — The jurisdiction of the Free Port was on the 1st of January 1882 restricted to the city and port by the extension of the Zollverein to the lower Elbe, and in 1888 the whole of the state of Hamburg, with the exception of the so-called “Free Harbour” (which comprises the port proper and some large warehouses, set apart for goods in bond), was taken into the Zollverein.
Population. — The population increased from 453,000 in 1880 to 622,530 in 1890, and in 1905 amounted to 874,878. The population of the country districts (exclusive of the city of Hamburg) was 72,085 in 1905. The crops raised in the country districts are principally vegetables and fruit, potatoes, hay, oats, rye and wheat. For manufactures and trade statistics see Hamburg (city).
The military organization of Hamburg was arranged by convention with Prussia. The state furnishes three battalions of the 2nd Hanseatic regiment, under Prussian officers. The soldiers swear the oath of allegiance to the senate.