Johann Heinrich Daniel Zschokke, a German author, born in Magdeburg, March 22, 1771, died at Biberstein, Switzerland, June 27, 1848. He escaped from the gymnasium in 1788 to join a company of strolling players, with whom he remained for some time as play writer. Afterward he went to the university of Frankfort-on-the-Oder, studied theology, history, belles-lettres, and political economy, and in 1792 became a private teacher in that city. He acquired some reputation by dramatic pieoes, among which were his Abällino, der grosse Bandit (Berlin, 1793), and Julius von Sassen (Zurich, 1796). In 1795 he applied for a professorship, but it was refused on account of his treatise against the edict of the government in respect to religion. After travelling through Germany, Switzerland, and France, he established with Tscharner a school at Reichenau in the canton of the Grisons, which became very prosperous, and Zschokke was made a citizen. In 1798 he published Geschichte des Freistaats der drei Bünde in Rhätien. In the same year his school was broken up in consequence of his advocating the union of the Grisons with the Helvetic republic.
Zschokke then went to Aarau, the seat of the Swiss government, was for some time chief of the department of education, and was sent as government commissioner to the canton of Unterwalden, where he restored peace. His authority was subsequently extended over the cantons of Uri, Schwytz, and Zug. In 1800 the central government made him commissioner, and he organized the Italian bailiwicks of Lugano and Bellinzona; and on his return he was made ruler of the canton of Basel, where the opposition to the land tax and the tithes had assumed a revolutionary character. Throwing himself into the midst of an armed multitude, he pacified them by his eloquence. When Aloys von Reding at the head of the central government had determined in 1801 to restore the old federal union, Zschokke resigned his offices, and retired to the castle of Biberstein in Aargau. On the establishment of a new federal union by Bonaparte in 1803, he was recalled to public life, and in 1804 was made a citizen of the canton of Aargau and appointed a member of the council of forests and mines.
In the latter year he started a journal called Der aufrichtige und wohlerfahrene Schweizerboten, which was widely circulated and exerted great influence, and in 1807 the Miscellen far die neueste WeWcunde, which lasted till 1813. In 1829 he resigned his inspectorship in consequence of accusations brought against him for an article in the Schweizerboten, but continued to hold several other offices. Among his historical works are Oeschichte vom Kampfe und UnUrgange der schweizerischen Berg- vnd Waldcantone (Zurich, 1801); Geschichte des baierischen Volks und seiner Fürsten (4 vols., Aarau, 1813-'18); and Des Schweizerlandes Geschichte fur das Schweizervolk (Zurich, 1822; English translation, London, 1834, and, with a continuation by Emil Zschokke to 1848, by F. G. Shaw, New York, 1855; new ed., 1875). His novels and tales are exceedingly numerous; among the best are Der Creole; Alamontade; Jonathan Frock; Oswald, oder das Goldmachersdorf; and Meister Jordan. English translations comprise "Journal of a poor Vicar, the Walpurgis Night, and other Stories " (Philadelphia, 1845); a selection from his tales by Parke Godwin (New York, 1848); and "The Lover's Stratagem and other Tales," with over 100 illustrations by Linton (London, 1848). There are editions of his Novellen und Dichtungen in 10 volumes (New York, 1859) and in 17 volumes (Aarau, 1865). His most celebrated work is Stunden der Andacht, consisting of meditative and devotional essays (first published anonymously, Aarau, 1806; latest ed., 1874). It was translated into English in 1843, and after Prince Albert's death, at the request of the queen, by Frederica Rowan ("Meditations on Death and Eternity," London, 1862). His complete works comprise 40 volumes (1854-'9). His autobiography (Selbstschau, 1842; 5th ed., 2 vols., 1853) has been translated into English (London, 1845).