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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/30

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DENMARK

horizon. Also a number of technical schools, agricultural schools, and trade schools were eventually established, and these, too, contributed a great deal toward raising the intellectual level of the population.

The Free Constitution which Denmark established on June 5, 1849, further contributed to this result. This constitution was preceded by the estates general, provincial consultative meetings which had prepared the population for the great transition from absolutism to political freedom. The Free Constitution stood its test through all the ensuing changes and was a powerful means of elevating the Danish people by giving all classes a part in political life.

In the first part of the nineteenth century, there was in Denmark, as in almost all countries, a period of economic stagnation. The Wars of Liberation had led to a general derangement of business, which lasted well into the thirties and caused much distress throughout the country. The prosperity which had prevailed at the close of the eighteenth century, and which had contributed to the great development of agriculture after the introduction of the agricultural reforms, was now brought to an end by a lowering of the prices of agricultural products, which fell with great severity upon the farmers. The protective policy of England exerted a highly unfavourable influence, in that it hampered our agricultural exports and further depressed our prices. Taxes were exceedingly heavy, and in spite of arrangements that were made for facilitating their payment many farmers were obliged to give up their farms. All over the country poverty and scarcity reigned to an extent now difficult to appreciate. But the people bore the stress of circumstances with hopeful resignation, and after 1830 conditions improved somewhat. Then followed a period of prosperity for Danish agriculture. But in other respects there were many adversities to be endured; the first years of the thirties, for example, were characterized by great epidemics, the year 1831 being the only year of the nineteenth century in which there were more deaths than births.