Friedrich Heinrich Geffcken

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Friedrich Heinrich Geffcken
Friedrich Heinrich Geffcken 1888.png
Friedrich Heinrich Geffcken
Born (1830-12-09)December 9, 1830
Died May 1, 1896(1896-05-01) (aged 65)

Friedrich Heinrich Geffcken (December 9, 1830 – May 1, 1896) was a German diplomatist and jurist, born in Hamburg, of which city his father was senator.

After studying law at Bonn, Göttingen and Berlin, he was attached In 1854 to the Prussian legation at Paris. For ten years (1856-1866) he served as Hanseatic diplomat to the Prussian court Berlin, first as chargé d'affaires, and afterwards as minister-resident, being afterwards transferred in a like capacity to London.

Appointed in 1872 professor of constitutional history and public law in the reorganized University of Strassburg, Geffcken became in 1880 a member of the council of state of Alsace-Lorraine. Of too nervous a temperament to withstand the strain of the responsibilities of his position, he retired from public service in 1882, and lived henceforth mostly at Munich, where he died, suffocated by an accidental escape of gas into his bedchamber, in 1896.

Geffcken was a man of great erudition and wide knowledge and of remarkable legal acumen, and from these qualities proceeded the personal influence he possessed. He was moreover a dear writer and made his mark as an essayist. He was one of the most trusted advisers of the Prussian crown prince, Frederick William (afterwards the emperor Frederick), and it was he (it is said, at Bismarck's suggestion) who drew up the draft of the New German federal constitution, which was submitted to the, crown prince's headquarters at Versailles during the Franco-Prussian War. It was also Geffcken who assisted in framing the famous document which the emperor Frederick, on his accession to the throne in 1888, addressed to the chancellor. This memorandum gave umbrage, and on the publication by Geffcken in the Deutsche Rundschau (Oct. 1888) of extracts from the emperor Frederick's private diary during the Franco-Prussian war, he was, at Bismarck's insistence, prosecuted for high treason. The Reichsgericht (supreme court), however, quashed the indictment, and Geffcken was liberated after being under arrest for three months.

Publications of various kinds proceeded from his pen. Among these are Zur Geschichte des orientalischen Krieges 1853-1856 (Berlin, i88i); Frankreich, Russland und der Dreibund (Berlin, 1894); and Staat und Kirche (1875), English translation by E. F. Fairfax (1877). His writings on English history have been translated by S. J. Macmullan and published as The British Empire, with essays on Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Palmerston, Beaconsfield, Gladstone, and reform of the House of Lords (1889).

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  1. ^ The London gazette: the appointed organ for all announcements of the Executive, August 4, 1863 p. 3899 Google Books

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Geffcken, Friedrich Heinrich". Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 549. 

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