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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/33

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THE FREE CONSTITUTION OF 1849

districts. In the same year an act was passed to establish public funds for the relief of the poor, in order to lighten the burden resting on the customary poor relief funds. Besides these there were several municipal laws for the government of Copenhagen (1857); for the levying of taxes in Copenhagen (1861); and for the government of the provincial towns (1868).

In regard to economic legislation proper, we may mention an act of 1855 relating to charging of interest and bearing the title: 'An Act whereby the rate of interest in certain cases is made optional and the punishment for usury is changed.' A number of acts were also passed to regulate the carrying-on of certain businesses in the capital, such as brewing and baking. Of the greatest importance, however, was the comprehensive Trade Act of December 29, 1857, which redeemed the promise of the constitution that all restrictions of free and equal access to trade, which were not calculated to promote the public welfare, should be abolished. By this act, which also asserted free trade, with a short period of transition, as its leading principle, the towns were largely deprived of their monopolies, and the guilds also lost their monopolistic position. The latter were to continue as purely voluntary institutions, and the journeyman's probation work was no longer to be compulsory.

With regard to agriculture, the aim was to abolish all inequality. Thus in 1850 an act was passed concerning privileged and unprivileged Hartkorn. In the same year acts were passed abolishing the service obligation still resting on farms and houses, and in the following year came an act to abolish the right of killing game on lands where it was not connected with the right of ownership. But the work of the parliament (Rigsdag) was soon entirely concentrated on furthering the transition from leaseholds to freeholds. Various acts were passed to facilitate the sale of leaseholds belonging to the state, the university, and other public institutions. The sale of leaseholds under fiefs and entails was encouraged by