Ludwig Bamberger (1823-1899), German economist and politician, was born of Jewish parents on the 22nd of July 1823 at Mainz. After studying at Giessen, Heidelberg and Göttingen, he entered on the practice of the law. When the revolution of 1848 broke out he took an active part as one of the leaders of the republican party in his native city, both as popular orator and as editor of one of the local papers. In 1849 he took part in the republican rising in the Palatinate and Baden; on the restoration of order he was condemned to death, but he had escaped to Switzerland. The next years he spent in exile, at first in London, then in Holland; in 1852 he went to Paris, where, by means of private connexions, he received an appointment in the bank of Bischoffheim & Goldschmidt, of which he became managing director, a post which he held till 1866. During these years he saved a competence and gained a thorough acquaintance with the theory and practice of finance. This he put to account when the amnesty of 1866 enabled him to return to Germany. He was elected a member of the Reichstag, where he joined the National Liberal party, for like many other exiles he was willing to accept the results of Bismarck's work.
In 1868 he published a short life of Bismarck in French, with the object of producing a better understanding of German affairs, and in 1870, owing to his intimate acquaintance with France and with finance, he was summoned by Bismarck to Versailles to help in the discussion of terms of peace. In the German Reichstag he was the leading authority on matters of finance and economics, as well as a clear and persuasive speaker, and it was chiefly owing to him that a gold currency was adopted and that the German Imperial Bank took its present form; in his later years he wrote and spoke strongly against bimetallism. He was the leader of the free traders, and after 1878 refused to follow Bismarck in his new policy of protection, state socialism and colonial development; in a celebrated speech he declared that the day on which it was introduced was a dies nefastus for Germany. True to his free trade principles he and a number of followers left the National Liberal party and formed the so-called "Secession" in 1880. He was one of the few prominent politicians who consistently maintained the struggle against state socialism on the one hand and democratic socialism on the other.
In 1892 be retired from political life and died in 1899. Bamberger was a clear and attractive writer and was a frequent contributor on political and economic questions to the Nation and other periodicals. His most important works are those on the currency, on the French war-indemnity, his criticism of socialism and his apology for the Secession.
An edition of his collected works (including the French life of Bismarck) was published in 1894 in five volumes. After his death in 1899 appeared a volume of reminiscences, which, though it does not extend beyond 1866, gives an interesting picture of his share in the revolution of 1848, and of his life in Paris.
(J. W. He.)