Adam Heinrich Müller

Portrait of Adam Heinrich Müller

Adam Heinrich Müller was an Austrian philosopher, literary critic, and political economist. He was born on 30th June 1779 in Berlin, Brandenburg, Germany and died on 17th January 1829 aged 49. 

Major Works

Vorlesungen über die Deutsche Wissenschaft und Literatur” (1806)
Die Elemente der Staatskunst: Öffentliche Vorlesungen” (1809)
Die Theorie der Staatshaushaltung und ihre Fortschritte in Deutschland und England seit Adam Smith” (1812)
Versuche einer Neuen Theorie des Geldes mit Besonderer Rücksicht auf Grossbrittannien” (1816)

Biography Timeline

Adam Heinrich Müller was born on 30th June 1779 in Berlin, Germany. 

1798: His family wished him to study Protestant Theology but he goes to the University of Gottingen to study law, philosophy, and natural science instead. He is a pupil of Gustav Hugo. At the end of his course the Austrian Diplomat and friend Friedrich von Gentz persuades him to return to Berlin to study political science.

1804: He publishes “Die Lehre vom Gegensatz” (The Doctrine of Contrasts).

1805: Müller goes to work as a legal administrator in the Kurmärkische Kammer in Berlin although employment within the Prussian government is not open to him due to his relations with the Junker Party and his opposition to Karl August von Hardenberg’s political reforms. His travels take him to Sweden, Denmark and Poland and finally to Vienna, Austria where he converts to Catholicism in April.

1806: Gentz introduces him to the statesman Klemens von Metternich and he helps with the production of state papers. He gives lectures in Dresden on German science and declares himself to be a follower of Friedrich Schlegel. He lives in Dresden until 1809. 

1807: He publishes “Vorlesungen über die Deutsche Wissenschaft und Literatur” (Lectures on German Science and Literature).

1808: He edits the periodical “Phoebus” with Heinrich von Kleist. He delivers lectures to Prince Berhard of Saxe-Weimar and other prominent politicians during the winter.

1809: He marries Sophie von Haza-Radlitz and returns to Berlin where he publishes “Elemente der Staatskunst“ (Elements of Statecraft) in which he formulates the basic ideas of Political Romanticism. He opposes contract theory preferring the idea of the organically grown state and a strict social bond of property. He is also vehemently opposed to the works of the economist Adam Smith. His other main lecture is “Von der Idee der Schönheit (On the Idea of Beauty).

1810: He publishes articles in the Berliner Abenblatt evening newspaper and tries to engender a public discussion about the reform policy by publishing. “Übe Konig Freidrich the Second, und die Natur, Würde und Bestimmung der Preußischen Monarchie” (On King Frederick the Second and the Nature, Dignity and Purpose of the Prussian Monarchy)

1811: He acts as adviser to Friedrich August Ludwig von der Marwitz until he is imprisoned by Hardenberg and he is moved to Vienna as a diplomatic reporter where he lives in the residence of Archduke Maximillian of Austria-Este. He becomes friendly with the priest Clemens Maria Hofbauer. He returns to Berlin due to war and drafts a bill of indictment against Chancellor von Hardenberg on behalf of the Kurbrandenburgische Ritterschaft.

1812: He publishes “Die Theorie der Staatshaushaltung und ihre Forschritte in Deutschland und England seit Adam Smith” (The Theory of State Budgeting and its progress in Germany and England since Adam Smith).

1813: He enters the Austrian Civil Service and is appointed imperial commissioner and a Major of the Rifle Corps in the Tyrol region. He takes part in the wars of liberation.

1815: He is called back to Vienna and then Paris with the imperial staff. At the outbreak of peace after the Battle of Waterloo and exile of Napoleon Bonaparte he becomes Austrian Consul-General for Saxony based in Leipzig.

1816: He edits the periodicals “Deutscher Staatsanzeiger” and “Unparteiischer Literatur-und Kirchenkorrespondent”. He publishes the book “Versuch einer neuen Theorie des Geldes, mit Besonderer Rücksicht auf Großbritannien  “ (Attempt at a New Theory of Money with Special Consideration to Great Britain) where he defends paper money over metal coins.

1817: He publishes “Vermischte Schriften über Staat, Philosophie und Kunst” (Miscellaneous pages about State, Philosophy and Art), “Zwölf Reden über die Beredsamkeit und deren Verfall in Deutschland” (Twelve speeches on Eloquence and its Decline in Germany) and “Die Fortschritte der Nationalökonomischen Wissenschaft in England (The Progress of National Economic Science in England). He also writes the critical pamphlet “Etwas, das Goethe Gesagt Hat”. (Something that Goethe Had Said).

1819: He attends the conferences at Carslbad and Vienna and takes part in the framing of the Carlsbad Decrees which ban nationalist fraternities and removes liberal university professors.

1820: He publishes “Von der Notwendigkeit einer Theologischen Grundlage der Gesamten Staatswissenschaften“ (On the Necessity of a Comprehensive Theological Foundation for Political Science) where he rejects the distinction between constitutional and common law. His idea is of a medieval feudalism on which he says modern political institutions should be modelled. 

1824: He publishes “Die Gewerbe-Polizei in Beziehung auf den Landbau” (The Commercial Police in Relation to Agriculture).

1826: He is ennobled by Metternich and thereafter known as Ritter von Nittersdorf.

1827: He is recalled to Vienna and is employed by the Chancellery.

1829: He publishes “Vorschlag zu Einem Historischen Ferien-Cursus” (Suggestion for a Historical Vacation Course).

Adam Heinrich Müller died on 17th January 1829 in Vienna, Austria and was buried in the city.