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His father joined the law firm of Zitz, Kapp and Froebel. However, in 1852, he became a journalist and worked as a foreign correspondent for the Kölnische Zeitung, a newspaper in Cologne. He also contributed to The Nation.
A strong opponent of slavery he joined the Republican Party and in 1860 campaigned for Abraham Lincoln. It is claimed that except for Carl Schurz, no one did more to win German-Americans over to supporting the Union Army during the American Civil War.
In 1870, Friedrich Kapp decided to return to Germany with his twelve year-old son. The family settled in Berlin and Wolfgang was educated at the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium. He studied law at the University of Tübingen but before he graduated he married Margarete Rosenow. She came from a conservative family and he gradually left behind the radicalism of his father.
After leaving university Kapp worked in the Finance Ministry and later managed an estate in East Prussia. Kapp became the founder of the Agricultural Credit Institute which achieved great success in promoting the needs of landowners and farmers in that province.
During the First World War he developed right-wing views and was one of the leading critics of Chancellor Theobold von Bethmann-Hollweg. In 1917 he joined forces with Alfred von Tirpitz to establish the German Fatherland Party. By the summer of 1918 it had around 1,250,000 members. The party was dissolved after the German Revolution at the end of the war. The following year he was elected to the Reichstag where he campaigned for the restoration of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
In August 1919 he helped General Erich Ludendorff and Waldemar Pabst to establish the Nationale Vereinigung (National Union), which campaigned for a counter-revolution to install a form of conservative militaristic government.
In March 1920, Herman Ehrhardt, a former naval commander led a group of Freikorps soldiers to take control of Berlin. Ehrhardt was protesting against the decision by Friedrich Ebert and his government to accept the Treaty of Versailles. Kapp accepted Ehrhardt's offer to form a new government.
The Kapp Putsch failed to win support from the German Army and was brought to an end when the trade unions in Berlin called a general strike. Kapp fled to Sweden but returned to Germany in 1922 to stand trial for treason.
Wolfgang Kapp died of cancer in prison on 12th June, 1922.