Karl Abraham Zedlitz

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Karl Abraham Freiherr von Zedlitz und Leipe (born January 4, 1731 in Schwarzwaldau in Silesia; died March 18, 1793, on his estate in Silesia Kapsdorf) was a Prussian minister of education who was instrumental in establishing mandatory education in Prussia, which served as a model for the public education system in the United States.

Bust of Karl Abraham Zedlitz at the Schloss Reckahn


After his education at the Military Academy in Brandenburg an der Havel, Zedlitz took a civil service position as clerk in the Chamber Court in 1755. In 1759 he took a position in the Oberamt Government in Breslau. In 1764 he became the president of the Government of Silesia; in 1770 he became the Secretary of State and Minister of Justice. In 1771 he was in charge of the criminal department, oversaw the entire spiritual Department, and was in charge of school supplies.

A follower of Kant's philosophy, he promoted education and a free spiritual direction for people in the higher schools. In 1788 he lost the spiritual Department when Johann Christoph von Wollner was transferred. Zedlitz resigned from government service. In 1788 and 1789 he was director of the Knight's Academy in Liegnitz.


  • Carl Rethwisch: Zedlitz, Karl Abraham Freiherr von . In: General German Biography (ADB). 44th Volume Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1898, p. 744-748.