Bismarck's Appointment and the Constitutional Conflict in Prussia
Arriving in Berlin on September 20, Bismarck saw Roon, who told him of the king's desire to abdicate. That evening the crown prince asked Bismarck for his views on the political situation. Bismarck evaded the issue, reluctant to discuss matters he thought should properly first be discussed with the king.1 Roon saw the king the following day after church, and reported his feeling that the rift in the Cabinet could not be healed; appealing to the king's sense of duty, Roon urged him not to abdicate until all possible means of solving the conflict with Parliament had been exhausted. Alluding to Bismarck, Roon reminded the king that there was still one man who had not been called into the Cabinet who was willing to take on the responsibilities of office. Wilhelm hesitated. He still distrusted Bismarck and had mentioned his misgivings to the crown prince who, though he agreed with his father, had been at a loss to suggest an alternative.2 Roon was insistent, the king evasive. "He [ Bismarck ] would not want to take over at this stage," he told Roon, "besides, he is not here and one could not discuss this with him." "He is here," Roon replied, "and will gladly follow Your Majesty's call."3 The king yielded.
Bismarck's audience with the king in the castle and gardens of Babelsberg on September 22, 1862, was as decisive for the future of the two men as it was for the fate of Prussia-Germany. The king explained that he had been unable to find a minister who could resolve the impasse with Parliament, and that he intended to abdicate rather than accede to the delegates' demands. He then asked Bismarck what