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Andreas Joseph Hofmann (July 14, 1752 – September 6, 1849[1]) was a German philosopher and revolutionary active in the Republic of Mainz. As Chairman of the Rhenish-German National Convention, the earliest parliament in Germany based on the principle of popular sovereignty, he proclaimed the first republican state in Germany, the Rhenish-German Free State, on March 18, 1793.[1] A strong supporter of the French Revolution, he argued for an accession of all German territory west of the Rhine to France and served in the administration of the department Mont-Tonnerre under the French Directory and the French Consulate.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Hofmann was born in Zell am Main near Würzburg as son of a .[2] After the early death of his parents, he was educated by his uncle Franz Xaver Fahrmann, professor of moral theology at the University of Würzburg. After a year at a Jesuit seminary, Hofmann studied law at the University of Mainz and at the University of Würzburg.[3]

Revolutionary in Mainz[edit | edit source]

The Deutschhaus building in Mainz, where Hofmann proclaimed the republic

After some years at the Reichshofrat in Vienna, Hofmann was forced to leave due to his critical publications and returned to Mainz in 1784, where he was hired at the University during the progressive reforms by Elector Friedrich Karl von Erthal. He taught History of Philosophy until 1791, when he became chair of natural justice. Hofmann was a liberal and progressive thinker (for instance, he supported the use of German instead of Latin in University lectures[1] and in church[4]). However, he became disillusioned with the pace of the reforms in Mainz[5] and welcomed the French Revolution from the start. As he declared his support openly in his lectures, he was soon spied on by the Mainz authorities.[6] However, before the investigation of his activities had progressed beyond the questioning of his students, the archbishop and his court fled from the advancing French troops under General Custine, who arrived in Mainz on October 21, 1792.[7]

Two days later, Hofmann helped found the Mainz Jacobin club and became one of its most active members. A popular and powerful orator, he criticised both the old regime of the Elector and the French military government in his speeches, which were especially supported by the more radical students.[8] Hofmann lectured in the rural areas of the French occupied territory,[9] calling for support of the general elections in February and March 1793 which he helped organize.[10] He was elected into the Rhenish-German National Convention as a representative of Mainz[9] and became its president. On March 18, 1793, Hofmann declared the Rhenish-German Free State from the balcony of the Deutschhaus.[1]

French government official[edit | edit source]

Map of the département Mont-Tonnerre

When the republic ended after the Siege of Mainz, Hofmann was able to leave the city with the retreating French troops and went into exile in Paris, where he headed a society of exiled Mainz republicans, the Societé des Refugiés Mayençais.[10] After a short period in the military, he was sent to London on a military espionage mission. However, he was recognized and reported to the authorities by his former student Klemens Wenzel von Metternich.[1] After his flight and subsequent return to Paris, he was made chief of the bureau des étrangers by the French Directory. In his 1795 essay Sur les nouvelles limites de la republique française, he argued for the Rhine as natural Eastern border of France.[9] When the incorporation of areas west of the Rhine into France had become a reality with the Treaty of Campo Formio, Hofmann became part of the government of the new département Mont-Tonnerre and worked as its superior tax officer from 1797-1803.[11]

After Napoleon's defeat and the return of Mainz to German control, Hofmann moved to his wife's estates in Winkel, where he spent the rest of his life until his death in September 1849.[1]

Works[edit | edit source]

  • Der Aristokraten-Katechismus. Ein wunderschönes Büchlein, Mainz 1792

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Schweigard, Jörg (22/2002). "Ein Leben für die Republik" (in German). Die Zeit ISSN 0044-2070. http://www.zeit.de/2002/22/200222_a-hofman_xml. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  2. Schweigard, Jörg (2005) (in German). Die Liebe zur Freiheit ruft uns an den Rhein. Gernsbach: Casimir Katz Verlag. pp. 147. ISBN 3-925825-89-4. 
  3. Schweigard, Die Liebe zur Freiheit, p. 146
  4. May, Georg (1987) (in German). Das Recht des Gottesdienstes in der Diözese Mainz zur Zeit von Bischof Joseph Ludwig Colmar (1802-1818). John Benjamins. pp. 517–518. ISBN 90-6032-289-4. 
  5. Rowe, Michael (2003). From Reich to State: The Rhineland in the Revolutionary Age, 1780-1830. Cambridge University Press. pp. 61. ISBN 0-521-82443-5. 
  6. Schweigard, Die Liebe zur Freiheit, p. 148
  7. Blanning, T. C. W. (1974). Reform and Revolution in Mainz 1743-1803. London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 275. ISBN 0-521-20418-6. 
  8. Schweigard, Die Liebe zur Freiheit, p. 254
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Leser, Emanuel. "Hofmann, Andreas Joseph". Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. 12. pp. 625–626. http://mdz.bib-bvb.de/digbib/lexika/adb/images/adb012/@ebt-link?target=idmatch(entityref,adb0120627). Retrieved 2007-01-17.  (German)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Schweigard, Die Liebe zur Freiheit, p. 151
  11. Schweigard, Die Liebe zur Freiheit, p. 153

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