Bentheim County from the Beginning to the Present : The Prussian Constitution of Districts and Agencies from September 12 1867 in the Province of Hannover 

"The contrast between the Hannoverian constitution of agencies and the administrative organization of the lowlands in Prussia couldn't have been greater", pronounced E. von Meier. Whereas in Hannover (until 1852) Justice and Administration in relatively small districts were consolidated by the department superintendent, in Prussia justice fell originally to the domain tenant, later the state judicial authority, and the administration only knew the institutions of the District constitution. In the Prussian assembly building, Georg v. Vincek compared both systems and questioned whether the Hannoverian constitution of agencies was an organization for a great European state.

In the meantime, the Prussian government respected the Hannoverian parliament members, as the newly gained territory was reorganized according to its needs directed towards a streamlined military and fiscal constitution, and Wilhelm I., König von Preussen decreed the enactment regarding the Constitution of Districts and Agencies in the province of Hannover on September 12, 1867. It maintained the powers of the administrative districts, but appointed as their supervisor an administrator, to whom auxiliary officers could be assigned. Districts were developed for further administrative purposes through the consolidation of administrative districts and independent cities, 36 in number, over whom for the time being was to preside a district captain. Military and fiscal affairs fell under his responsibility.

A new development however introduced the provision : each district constituted a district professions collective. It was to be endowed with the rights of a corporation, whose organ was the district professions, to which particular land owners and representatives of the cities and rural communities belonged. They convened under the chairmanship of the district captain in regional councils. The district budget, administration of institutions belonging to the district, justice, the levying of contributions to charitable objectives of the local inhabitants, as well as the appointment of public officials for the district.

A clear separation of responsabilities between the district and the agencies was lacking, even if the authority was given to the district councillors through a district bylaw to individually regulate the particular articles of their district charter. Nevertheless, the district corporations in the province of Hannover attained little significance, as the Prussian interior minister could still observe in 1881.

The register of the districts in the province of Hannover appended to the decree of 1867 named under number 34 the district of Lingen, which was to be made up of the Bentheim, Neuenhaus, Lingen and Lingen city departments. For the elections to the Prussian parliament, which occurred after the Prussian three-class franchise, this district formed one constituency. In contrast to the case of elections to the Northern German Federation (from 1871 for the Reichstag) for which the universal, direct and secret suffrage applied, the Grafschaft ranked third from among approximately 19 voting districts in the province of Hannover, which was comprised of Meppen, Aschendorf-Hümmling (excluding Papenburg), Lingen and Bentheim. Because this referendum concerned pure candidate centered elections, in 1867, it was possible for the Catholic and Guelph Ludwig Windthorst to be nominated during an assembly in Nordhorn, where more than an 80% share of the population was protestant; it was not a surprise that he also won the election, given the confessional structure in the rest of districts within the electoral district, in which the Catholics had the majority.

The apportionment of the districts while retaining the administrative districts proved inexpedient; the districts (Aemter) were too small for the envisaged tasks, the existing districts (Kreise)on the other hand were too large. A reform for the optimization of the administrative structure was still needed.

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