Established on 6th June 1861, the German Progress Party (Deutsche Fortschrittspartei) was formed by liberal deputies in the Prussian parliament. The party’s basic principles were German national unity, an independent judiciary, increased power and expansion of the elected Lower House of the Prussian Parliament, public education, and the separation of church and state. Despite criticism of Bismarck’s rule, the party welcomed the establishment of the North German Confederation, under Prussian leadership, in August 1866 and called for the unification of all Germany.
After the unification of Germany in 1871, the Progressive Party had 45 seats in the Reichstag. On 5th March 1884 the party merged with the Liberal Union, under the leadership of Eugen Richter and Franz August von Stauffenberg.