The Revolutions of 1848

A number of social transformations coalesced to create the dramatic events of 1848, known as the Springtime of the Peoples. The upsurge of nationalism that had emerged with the American, French, and Haitian revolutions at the end of the 18th century, the spread of democratic principles, the burgeoning of socialist and communist ideas, and widespread dissatisfaction with the traditional monarchical power structure in Europe had all been stewing for several decades throughout Europe and parts of the Americas. Industrialization continued to bring the rural poor into cities looking for work, where they typically found more dire living conditions and less employment opportunity than expected. Widespread crop failures in the mid-1840s fed the flames of discontent among the peasant and working classes of Europe. The European aristocracy had been feeling the pressure of  peasant discontent since the French Revolution; by mid-century they were organized, terrified, and ready to fight back. The revolutionary spirit erupted Italy in January, in France in February, and by March had spread to Germany, Denmark, Hungary, and most of the Hapsburg Empire. Ultimately, 50 countries in Europe and Latin America experienced uprisings in 1848 and 1849, although there was no sense of unity or coordination among the revolutionaries. The revolutions brought very little structural change, the most notable exception being the end of serfdom in the Austro-Hungarian empire. For the most part, European aristocrats were able to maintain and even strengthen their power. The 1848 revolutions would have a lasting impact, however. The ideological shift that underpinned the uprisings could not be unmade: the ancien regime could not be sustained for much longer, and government by the people and for the people would become the new political standard in the next century.

1848

Nationalism, democratization, industrialization, and urbanization were just some of the many factors that led to the wave of popular revolution that swept Europe and parts of Latin America in 1848.


Proclamation of the Provisional Government upon the overthrow of Louis Philippe, 24 February 1848

Proclamation on Barricade Placard, 1848

Lamartine’s Manifesto to Europe, 4 March 1848

The Palatine’s Letter to the Emperor, 24 March 1848

Imperial Manifesto Announcing that Jellacic is Suspended From all his Dignities and Offices, 10 June 1848

Louis Kossuth’s Speech of the 11th of July, 1848

Proclamation of the Emperor of Austria to his Hungarian Army, 25 September 1848

Address of the Emperor of Austria to the Hungarian Diet, 3 October 1848

Manifesto of the Prague Slav Congress, 1848

Declaration of Independence by the Hungarian Nation, 14 April 1849


Proclamation of the Provisional Government upon the overthrow of Louis Philippe, 24 February 1848 Top

Source: J.H. Robinson. 1906. Readings in European History. Vol. 2, pp. 559-562. Boston: Ginn.

In the name of the French people:

A reactionary and oligarchical government has just been overthrown by the heroism of the people of Paris. That government has fled, leaving behind it a trail of blood that forbids it ever to retrace its steps.

The blood of the people has flowed as in July; but this time this noble people shall not be deceived. It has won a national and popular government in accord with the rights, the progress, and the will of this great and generous nation.

A provisional government, the result of pressing necessity and ratified by the voice of the people and of the deputies of the departments, in the session of February 24, is for the moment invested with the task of assuring and organizing the national victory. It is composed of Messieurs Dupont (de l’Eure), Lamartine, Cremieux, Arago (of the Institute), Ledru-Rollin, Garnier-Pages, Marie, Armand Marrast, Louis Blanc, Ferdinand Flocon, and Albert (a workingman).

These citizens have not hesitated a moment to accept the patriotic commission which is imposed upon them by the pressure of necessity. With the capital of France on fire, the justification for the present provisional government must be sought in the public safety. All France will understand this and will lend it the support of its patriotism. Under the popular government which the provisional government proclaims, every citizen is a magistrate.

Frenchmen, it is for you to give to the world the example which Paris has given to France; prepare yourselves by order and by confidence in your destiny for the firm institutions which you are about to be called upon to establish.

The provisional government wishes to establish a republic,–subject, however, to ratification by the people, who shall be immediately consulted.

The unity of the nation (formed henceforth of all the classes of citizens who compose it); the government of the nation by itself; liberty, equality, and fraternity, for fundamental principles, and “the people” for our emblem and watchword: these constitute the democratic government which France owes to itself, and which our efforts shall secure for it.


Proclamation on Barricade Placard, 1848 Top

Source: Roger Price, ed. 1996. Documents of the French Revolution of 1848. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Citizens!

For three days the people have been shamefully sacrificed by the authorities. As in 1830, it is victorious. But this time it will not lay down its arms. The authorities would only cheat it once more. Only the people is sovereign. It alone can provide itself with a fitting government.


Lamartine’s Manifesto to Europe, 4 March 1848 Top

Source: Alphone De Lamartine. 1849. History of the French Revolution of 1848. Translated by Francis A. Durivage and William S. Chase. Boston, Phillips, Sampson & company.

You know the events of Paris – the victory of the people; their heroism, moderation, and tranquillity; the re-establishment of order by the co-operation of the citizens at large, as if, during this interregnum of the visible powers, public reason was, of itself alone, the Government of France.

The French revolution has thus entered upon its definitive period. France is a republic. The French republic does not require to be acknowledged in order to exist. It is based alike on natural and national law. It is the will of a great people, who demand the privilege only for themselves. But the French republic, being desirous of entering into the family of established governments, as a regular power, and not as a phenomenon destructive of European order, it is expedient that you should promptly make known to the Government to which you are accredited, the principles and tendencies which will henceforth guide the foreign policy of the French Government.

The proclamation of the French republic is not an act of aggression against any form of government in the world. Forms of government have diversities as legitimate as the diversities of character – of geographical situation – of intellectual, moral, and material development among nations. Nations, like individuals, have different ages; and the principles which rule them have successive phases. The monarchical, the aristocratic, the constitutional, and the republican forms of government, are the expression of the different degrees of maturity in the genius of nations. They require more liberty in proportion as they feel equality, and democracy in proportion as they are inspired with a greater share of justice and love for the people over whom they rule. It is merely a question of time. A nation ruins itself by anticipating the hour of that maturity; as it dishonours itself by allowing it to pass away without seizing it. Monarchy and republicanism are not, in the eyes of wise statesmen, absolute principles, arrayed in deadly conflict against each other; they are facts which contrast one with another, and, which may exist face to face by mutually understanding and respecting each other.

War, therefore, is not now the principle of the French republic, as it was the fatal and glorious necessity of the republic of 1792. Half a century separates 1792 from 1848. To return, after the lapse of half a century, to the principle of 1792, or to the principle of conquest pursued during the empire, would not be to advance, but to regress. The revolution of yesterday is a step forward, not backward. The world and ourselves are desirous of advancing to fraternity and peace.

If the situation of the French republic in 1792 explained the necessity of war, the differences existing between that period of our history and the present time explain the necessity of peace. Endeavour to understand these differences and to make them understood by those around you.

In 1792 the nation was not united. It may be said that two nations existed on the same soil. A terrible conflict was kept up between the classes who were deprived of their privileges and the classes who had just conquered equality and liberty. They dispossessed classes coalesced with captive royalty and jealous foreign powers, to deny France her right to revolution, and by invasion to force back upon her monarchy, aristocracy, and theocracy. At the present time, there are no distinct and unequal classes. Liberty has enfranchised all. Equality in the eye of the law has levelled all; fraternity, whose implementation we proclaim, and whose blessings the National Assembly will administer, will unite all. There is not a single citizen in France, whatsoever may be his opinion, who does not rally round the principle of the Fatherland before every other consideration, and by that very unity France is rendered invulnerable to attempts and alarms of invasion.

In 1792 it was not the whole body of the people who made themselves masters of the Government; it was the middle class alone that wished to exercise liberty, and to enjoy it. The triumph of the middle class was therefore selfish, like the triumph of every oligarchy. The middle class wished to secure to itself alone the privileges acquired by all. Accordingly it was found necessary to create a powerful diversion against the advent of popular supremacy, by urging the people to the field of battle, and hereby preventing them from taking part in their own government. This diversion was war. War was the ardent wish of the monarchists and the Girondins; but it was not desired by the more enlightened democrats, who, like ourselves, were anxious for the genuine, complete, and regular reign of the people themselves; comprising under that denomination all classes, without exclusion or preference, which compose the nation.

In 1792 the people were made the instrument of the revolution, but they were not its beneficiaries. The present revolution has been achieved by them and for them. The people and the revolution are one and the same. When they entered upon the revolution, the people brought with them their new wants of labour, industry, instruction, agriculture, commerce, morality, welfare, property, cheap living, navigation, and civilisation. All these are the wants of peace. The people and peace are but one word.

In 1792 the ideas of France and Europe were not prepared to conceive and to accept the great harmony of nations among themselves for the benefit of the human race. The views of the century, then drawing to its close, were confined to the heads of a few philosophers. But at the present day philosophy is popular. Fifty years of the freedom of thought, speech, and writing, have produced their results. Books, journals, and tribunes, have accomplished the apostolic mission of European intelligence. Reason, dawning everywhere over the frontiers of nations, has given birth to that great intellectual commonwealth, which will be the achievement of the French revolution, and the constitution of international fraternity throughout the globe.

Finally, in 1792, liberty was a novelty, equality a scandal, and the republic a problem. The very name of the people, only just then revived by Fénelon, Montesquieu, and Rousseau, had been so far forgotten, buried, profaned by old feudal, dynastic, and ecclesiastical traditions, that even the most lawful intervention of the people in their own affairs appeared a monstrosity in the eyes of statesmen of the old school. Democracy at once spread terror among thrones, and shook the foundation of society. But now, on the contrary, both kings and people are accustomed to the name, to the forms, and to the regular agitations of that freedom which exists in various degrees in almost all states, even those subject to monarchical rule. They will become accustomed to republicanism, which is public liberty in its most perfect form, among the more mature nations. They will acknowledge that there is a conservative freedom; they will acknowledge that there may exist in a republic not only greater order, but that there may even be a more genuine order in the government of all for the .sake of all, than in the government of the few for the sake of the few.

But independently of these disinterested considerations, interest alone for the consolidation and duration of the republic would inspire the statesmen of France with a desire for peace. It is not the country, but liberty, which is exposed to the greatest danger in time of war. War is almost invariably a dictatorship. Soldiers pay more regard to men than to institutions. Thrones tempt the ambitious; glory dazzles patriotism. The prestige of a victorious name veils the design against national sovereignty. The republic doubtless desires glory, but she desires it for herself, and not for Caesars and Napoleons.

But let no misapprehension exist. These ideas, which the Provisional Government charges you to convey to the powers as the pledge of European security, must not be understood as suing for pardon to the republic for having presumed to rise into being; still less must they be regarded as humbly soliciting that a great right and a great people may hold their place in Europe. They have a more noble object in view, which is to make sovereigns and people reflect, and to prevent them from being deceived respecting the character of our revolution; to place the event in its true light, and in its proper character; finally, to give pledges to humanity before giving them to our rights and our honour, should they be disavowed or menaced.

The French republic, therefore, will not commence war against any state; it is unnecessary to add, that it will accept war should conditions incompatible with peace be offered to the French people. The conviction of the men who govern France at the present moment is this: it will be fortunate for France should war be declared against her and should she be thus constrained to augment her power and her glory, in spite of her moderation; but terrible will be the responsibility of France should the republic itself declare war without being provoked thereto! In the first case, the martial genius of France, her impatience for action, her strength accumulated during many years of peace, would render her invincible on her own territory, and perhaps redoubtable beyond her frontiers: in the second case she would turn to her own disadvantage the recollections of her former conquests, which give offence to the national feelings of other countries; and she would compromise herself with her first and most universal allies, the good-will of nations and the genius of civilisation.

According to these principles, Sir, which are the principles coolly and deliberately adopted by France and which she avows without fear and without defiance, to her friends and to her enemies, you will impress upon your mind the following declarations.

The treaties of 1815 have no longer any lawful existence in the eyes of the French republic; nevertheless, the territorial limits circumscribed by those treaties are facts which the republic admits as a basis, and as a starting-point, in her relations with foreign nations.

But if the treaties of 1815 have no existence – save as facts to be modified by common consent – and if the republic openly declares that her right and mission are to arrive regularly and pacifically at those modifications – the good sense, the moderation, the conscience, the prudence of the republic do exist, and they afford Europe a surer and more honourable guarantee than the words of those treaties, which have so frequently been violated or modified by Europe itself.

Endeavour, Sir, to make this emancipation of the republic from the treaties of 1815, understood and honestly admitted, and to show that such an admission is in no way irreconcilable with the repose of Europe.

Thus we declare without reserve, that if the hour for the reconstruction of any of the oppressed nations of Europe, or other parts of the world, should seem to have arrived, according to the decrees of Providence; if Switzerland, our faithful ally from the time of Francis I, should be restrained or menaced in the progressive movement she is carrying out, and which will impart new strength to the faces of democratic governments; if the independent states of Italy should be invaded; if limits or obstacles should be imposed on their internal changes; if there should be any armed interference with their right of allying themselves together for the purpose of consolidating an Italian nation, – the French republic would think itself entitled to take up arms in defence of these legitimate movements towards the improvement and nationhood of states.

The republic, as you perceive, has passed over at one step the era of proscriptions and dictatorship. It is determined never to veil liberty at home; and it is equally determined never to veil its democratic principle abroad. It will not suffer anything to intervene between the peaceful dawn of its own liberty and the eyes of nations. It proclaims itself the intellectual and cordial ally of popular rights and progress, and of every legitimate development of institutions among nations who may be desirous of maintaining the same principles as her own. It will not pursue underhand or incendiary propagandism among neighbouring states. It is aware that there is no real liberty for nations except that which springs from themselves, and takes its birth on their own soil. But by the light of its intelligence, and the spectacle of order and peace which it hopes to present to the world, the republic will exercise the only honourable proselytism, the proselytism of esteem and sympathy. This is not war, it is nature; it is not the agitation of Europe, it is the life of nations; it is not kindling a conflagration in the world, it is shining in our own place on the horizon of nations, and is at once to anticipate and to direct them.

We wish, for the sake of humanity, that peace may be preserved; we also expect that it will. There was a war agitation a year ago between France and England; the agitation did not come from republican France, but from the dynasty. The dynasty has carried away with it that danger of war which it created for Europe by the exclusively personal ambition of its family alliances in Spain. That domestic policy of the fallen dynasty, which for the space of seventeen years has been a dead weight on our national dignity, has also, by its pretensions to a crown in Madrid, operated as an obstacle to our liberal alliances, and to peace. The republic has no ambition; the republic has no nepotism, and it inherits no family pretensions. Let Spain govern herself; let Spain be independent and free. For the consolidation of this natural alliance, France relies more on conformity of principles than on the succession of the house of Bourbon.

Such, Sir, is the spirit of the councils of the republic; such will invariably be the character of the frank, firm, and moderate policy which you will have to represent.
The republic pronounced at its birth, and in the midst of a conflict not provoked by the people, three words, which have revealed its soul, and which will call down on its cradle the blessing of God and man: liberty, equality, fraternity. It gave on the following day, in the abolition of the punishment of death for political offences, the true commentary on those three words, as far as regards the domestic policy of France; it is for you to give them their true commentary abroad. The meaning of these three words, as applied to our foreign policy, is this: the emancipation of France from the chains which have fettered her principles and her dignity; her reinstatement in the rank she is entitled to occupy among the great powers of Europe; in short, the declaration of alliance and friendship to all nations. If France be conscious of the part she has to perform in the liberal and civilising mission of the age, there is not one of those words which signifies war. If Europe be prudent and just, there is not one of those words which does not signify peace.


The Palatine’s Letter to the Emperor, 24 March 1848 Top

Source: William H. Stiles. 1852. Austria in 1848-49: Being a History of the Late Political Movements in Vienna, Milan, Venice, and Prague. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers.

Your Majesty, – The state of Hungary is at this moment so critical that the most violent outbreak is to be expected daily. Anarchy reigns in Pesth. The authorities are displaced from their sphere of action by a Committee of Public Safety; and while the Council of the Lieutenancy, under the strong guidance of Count Zichy, maintains, at least outwardly, its consideration, the Hofkammer (Exchequer) is almost a nullity. The nobles also have risen in masses to secure rights de facto.

In this anomalous and critical state of things, every one expects preservation by the immediate formation of a responsible ministry.

Even if we consider this plan as a calamity, yet the question must be put in this shape, “Which is the least calamity?”

I shall at present attempt, in a few words, to bring forward the three measures by which alone I hope to be able to attain any result in Hungary. The first measure would be to withdraw the whole armed force from the country, and to leave it a prey to total devastation; to look passively upon the disorders and fire-raisings, and also the struggle between nobles and peasants, etc.

The second measure would be to recall the Palatine and send a royal commissary to Pressburg, invested with extraordinary power, and accompanied by a considerable military force, who, after dissolving the Diet there, should proceed to Pesth, and carry on the government there with an iron hand, as long as circumstances should permit.

From the first measure, I openly confess, I myself shrink. It is immoral, and it is, perhaps, not becoming in a government utterly to desert subjects, of whom a part, at least, are well disposed, and ot allow them to fall a sacrifice to all the cruelties of an insurrection. Besides, this would have a most prejudicial effect in the other provinces, from the example given by it to the ungovernable, uncultivated masses.

The second measure, on the contrary, is a good one; and although it has, at the first moment, the appearance of a separation, it is nevertheless, for the present period, the only measure to preserve this province, supposing always that the gentlemen now to be appointed are able to exercise full influence upon the interior defense, which certainly can not be asserted with full confidence beforehand. With the arrival of a more favorable time, much can be arranged otherwise, which at present might seem to occasion a separation.

I do not know whether something might be gained by negotiation with Battyanyi and Deak, but I know that the negotiation can be carried only through them, for if things come to a debate at Pressburg, every thing is to be apprehended. Relative to this, however, as a faithful official of the state, I take the liberty to call your majesty’s attention to a highly important circumstance. What will happen if Count Batthyanyi, in case of the negotiations not coming to a successful termination, should be ready to risk every thing, and resign his office? here i consider it to be my duty, without exaggeration, but only in conformity with truth, to observe that we ought to be prepared, in such an event, with an armed force along the Danube, and on the road leading from Pressburgh to Pesth, to oppose a demonstration likely to be called forth by the young men of Pressburg, and by part of the nobles. In this case, the third measure would remain.

Supposing that the means are not wanting for its execution, this third measure would have to be carried into execution with great haste.

But here arise some questions.
(a) Is there not a want of sufficient money? Consequently, is it not impossible to send to Hungary a large military force, by which I understand at least forty or fifty thousand men?
(b) Is this force at hand, and ready to be employed quickly?
Is there, further,
(c) A commissary to be found who is willing and qualified to undertake this employment? But, lastly,
(d) Is there no doubt as to whether this measure would be sufficient to obtain the wished-for end? Will there not be a necessity for a great force in Galicia or Italy?

If a favourable answer can be given to these questions, which, in my position, I am unable to answer myself – such an answer that the execution is possible without delusion, and without calculations which may afterward prove inaccurate – I have no further remarks to the former observations; supposing that compromise is attempted with Count Batthyani, and that, moreover, the opinion is taken of the great officers of the realm, who, in any case, are to be summoned to Vienna.

I confess openly that, in the present state of affairs, I should pronounce myself in favor of the second measure; and I doubt not that all the great dignitaries (although I have not yet consulted them) would be of the same opinion. I have only certainty as to the views of the Judez Curiae (Chief Justice) Mailath.

If, however, your majesty, according to your wise insight, should consider the first or third measure more suitable, your majesty will doubtless issue your commands in conformity with the existing laws and the usage hitherto observed, and give me notice whether I am at present to remain in Vienna, or whether I may set off in any other direction.

Stephen.
March 24, 1848.


Imperial Manifesto Announcing that Jellacic is Suspended From all his Dignities and Offices, 10 June 1848 Top

Source: William H. Stiles. 1852. Austria in 1848-49: Being a History of the Late Political Movements in Vienna, Milan, Venice, and Prague. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers.

We, Fredinand I., Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, the Fifth of that name, etc., assure you, inhabitants of our kingdoms Croatia and Slavonia, of our sovereign grace, and issue the following manifesto, viz.:

Croatians and Slavonians!

Our paternal heart found great satisfaction in the hope that, while complying with the wishes of our faithful nations, we extended the benefits of constitutional freedom to all our subjects, we thus bound the nations which Providence intrusted to our care, in gratitude to ourselves and our throne. We trusted, at the same time, that an equalization of rights and liberties would urge our people to brotherly union in the effort for a general improvement, for which we had opened the widest field. Relying as we did on these our intentions, we were painfully struck by the sad discovery that by you, in particular, our expectations were frustrated.

You, Croatians and Slavonians! who, united to the crown of Hungary for eight centuries, shared all the fates of this country; you, Croatians and Slavonians! who owe to this very union the constitutional freedom which alone among all Slavonic nations you have been enabled to preserve; you disappointed our hopes – you, who not only have shared in all the rights and liberties of the Hungarian Constitution, but who besides – in just recompense of your loyalty, until now stainlessly preserved – were lawfully endowed with peculiar rights, privileges, and liberties, by the grace of our illustrious ancestors, and who, therefore, possess greater privileges than any of the subjects of our sacred Hungarian crown. You disappointed our hopes, to whom the last Diet of the kingdom of Hungary and its dependencies, according to our own sovereign will, granted full part in all the benefits of the enlarged constitutional liberties, and equality of rights. The legislation of the crown of Hungary has abolished feudal servitude in Croatia as well as in Hungary; and those among you who were subjected to roboth, have, without any sacrifice on their part, become free proprietors. The landed proprietors receive for their loss an indemnification, which your own means could never provide. That indemnification will be entailed on our Hungarian crown estates with our sovereign ratification, and without any charge to you.

The right also of constitutional representation was extended to the people in your case no less than in Hungary; in consequence of which no longer the nobility alone, but likewise other inhabitants and the military frontier, take part by their representatives in the legislation common to all, as much as in the municipal congregations. Thus you may improve your welfare by your immediate co-operation. Until now, the nobility contributed but little to the public expenses; henceforward the proportional repartition of the taxes among all inhabitants is lawfully established, whereby you have been delivered from a great burden. Your nationality and municipal rights, relative to which vain and malicious reports have been spread, with the aim of exciting your distrust, are by no means in danger. On the contrary, both your nationality and your municipal rights are enlarged, and secured against all encroachments; not only is the use of your native language lawfully guaranteed to you forever in your schools and churches, but it is likewise introduced in the public assemblies, where the Latin language has been until now in use.

Calumniators sought to make you believe that the Hungarian nation desired to suppress your language, or at least to prevent its further development. We ourselves assure that such reports are totally false, and that we see with pleasure that you exert yourselves to develop and establish your own mother tongue, in preference to the dead Latin language. The Legislature is willing to support you in your efforts, by providing livings for your priests, to whom the spiritual care of the soul and the education of your children is intrusted. For eight centuries you have been united to Hungary. During the whole of that time the Legislature has always had due regard for your nationality. How could you, therefore, believe that the Legislature, which has guarded your mother tongue for eight centuries, should now be opposed to it?

And notwithstanding all this, whereas the guarantee of your nationality, and the enlargement of your constitutional liberties, ought to have been greeted with ready acknowledgment, persons have been found among you who, instead of the thankfulness, love, and loyalty which they owe to ourselves, have hoisted the standard of fanatical distrust; who represent the Hungarians as your enemies, and who use every means to sever the two nations, namely, the very same who persecuted your fellow-citizens, and by intimidation which endangered personal safety forced them to leave their country, because they had attempted to enlighten you as the to the real truth. Our deep concern respecting these troubles was heightened by our anxiety, lest perhaps the very man had given up himself to this criminal sedition whom we have overwhelmed with tokens of our royal bounty, and whom we appointed as guardian of the law and security in your country. Our deep concern was heightened by the apprehension lest this man, abusing the position to which our bounty raised him, had not corrected the notions of the falsely-informed citizens, as he ought to have done; but, animated by party hatred, had still more inflamed their fanaticism; yes, less, unmindful of his oath as a subject, he dared to conspire against the union of Croatia with Hungary, and hereby against the integrity of our holy crown and our royal dignity.

Formerly, in Hungary and its dependencies, we administered the executive powers by our Hungarian Chancery and Home Office, and in military concerns by our Council of War. To the orders issued in this way, the Bans of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia were obedient, just as they were bound, in more remote times, to obey the orders of our Hungarian authorities, issued in a different manner and in different forms, according to the mode of administering our executive power arranged by the Parliament with our ratification.

In consequence of the request addressed to us by our faithful states, and guided by our own free will, in the last Hungarian Parliament we graciously sanctioned a law, according to which our beloved cousin, His Imperial Highness the Archduke Stephen, Palatine of Hungary, was, during our absence from Hungary, declared our royal lieutenant, who, as such, had to administer the executive power by the hands of our Hungarian ministers, whom we simultaneously appointed, intrusting them with all authority, which before was vested in the Royal Chancery, the Home Office, the Treasury, and the Council of War.

In spite of this, Baron Joseph Jellacic, whom we graciously favored with the appointment of Ban of our kingdoms of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia, is accused of having the temerity to refuse this due obedience.

We, the King of Hungary, Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia, we, whose person is sacred to you, we tell you, Croatians and Slavonians, the law too is sacred and must be considered so! We have sworn to the Eternal King of all Kings, that we ourselves will preserve the integrity of our Hungarian crown, and of our Constitution, and that we will no less ourselves obey the law than we will have it obeyed by others.

We will keep our royal oath. We are gracious to our loyal subjects, forbearing to the guilty who repent, but inexorably severe toward obstinate traitors. And we mean to give over to avenging justice those who presume to trifle with our royal oath. He who revolts against the law revolts against our royal throne, which rests upon the law, and Baron Jellacic is accused, with his notorious adherents,of not only opposing the law, but of persisting in his disobedience, regardless of the paternal exhortations which we have addressed to him.

The first care of our beloved cousin, the Archduke Palatine, and of our Hungarian ministry, was, to call upon baron Jellacic to explain himself in respect to your nationality, your rights, and your liberties; so that, as soon as possible-besides other measures-the Croatian Congress might be assembled, and those laws might thus be published, whose blessings we never intended to withhold from you, and that after this the Ban should be publicly invested with his dignity; since before this installation, he could not be considered as a legitimate dignitary.

Notwithstanding our repeated orders, the baron is accused of having disobeyed, and of having by this disobedience exposed you to the dangers of anarchy. But as though it were not enough that the Ban himself did not obey, he is accused of having seduced the lawful authorities to the same disobedience, and of having forced them, no less than the people themselves, by violent means, to hostile demonstrations against Hungary.

All of you must have witnessed the acts of which he is accused; all of you must have seen whether he persecuted those who wished to preserve the union of Croatia with Hungary, whether he deposed them arbitrarily from their offices, whether he bought a trial by court-martial upon all those who refused to do homage to his political views, and by this means compelled many to flight and emigration; all of you must have seen whether the Ban prevented the legally-appointed lord lieutenants from entering upon their duties; whether he violently seized the funds belonging to the treasury, and even employed our own troops to perpetrate such arbitrary actions.

You must know whether he arbitrarily charged you with new taxes, and without any authority forced the people to take up arms – an act which we ourselves can not authorize without the consent of the legislative power. You must be able to bear witness too, if he allowed, that his notorious adherents incited the populace by false reports relative to the Hungarians, as if they threatened your nationality; if he allowed, that sedition was preached in illegal assemblies; that arbitrary appointments were made; and that in consequence of the excitement occasioned by these proceedings, bloody conflicts, and plunder, and murder have taken place in Hungary. You know the personal affront which has been offered, under the very eyes of the Ban, to an illustrious member of our royal house, viz., our lord lieutenant, the Archduke Palatine, in the public square of Agram, a town which of late has repeatedly been the scene of riots. You must know it, if the Ban punished the perpetrators of such deeds. It can not be unknown to you, if he really refused obedience to your royal commissioner, Baron Hrabowszky, our privy counselor and field-marshal lieutenant, who has been appointed to re-establish public order and security.

Moved by paternal care for the welfare of our perhaps misled subjects, we tried the last means-to grant opportunity of personal defense to the accused, before we listened to the complaints against him. We summoned Baron Jellacic to dissolve the Croatian Congress, which, without our sanction, and therefore in defiance of the law, he illegally convened for the 5th of June of this year; and we ordered him to appear personally before us, in order to effect the conciliation which is needed for re-establishing order in Croatia.

But Jellacic has as little obeyed this our present command as our former regulations, and has neither dissolved the Congress, nor has he appeared before us at the appointed time. Thus, obstinate contempt for our own sovereign command was added to so many complaints against Baron Jellacic. No other means was left, to protect our royal authority against the injury of such conduct, and to uphold the laws, than to send our faithful privy counselor, L.F.M. Hrabowszky, as our royal commissioner, to inquire into those unlawful proceedings, and to indict the Baron Jellacic and his accomplices; and, lastly, to deprive the Baron Jellacic of his dignity as Ban, and of all his military offices. I sternly exhort you to renounce all participation in editions, which aim at a separation from our Hungarian crown; and under the same penalty, I command all authorities to break off immediately all intercourse with Baron Jellacic, and those who may be implicated in the accusations against him, and to comply unconditionally with the orders of our royal commissioner.

Croatians and Slavonians! We guarantee you nationality and your liberties, and the fulfillment of your just requests, with our royal word; do not, therefore, credit any seducing insinuations, by which your country is to be given up to oppression and infinite misery.

Listen to the voice of your king addressing you, as many as still are his faithful Croats and Slavonians.

Herewith we summon every one to publish and spread this manifesto, according to his loyalty to our sovereign authority.

Given in our town of Insspruck this day, the 10th of June, 1848.

Ferdinand.


Louis Kossuth’s Speech of the 11th of July, 1848 Top

Source: William H. Stiles. 1852. Austria in 1848-49: Being a History of the Late Political Movements in Vienna, Milan, Venice, and Prague. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers.

Gentlemen, – In ascending the tribune to demand of you to save our country, the greatness of the moment weighs oppressively on my soul. I feel as if God had placed into my hands the trumpet to arouse the dead, that – if still sinners and weak – they may not relapse into death! but that they may wake for eternity, if any vigor of life be yet in them. Thus, at this moment, stands the fate of the nation! Gentlemen, with the decision on my motion, God has confided to your hands the decision affecting the life or the death of our people. But it is because this moment is most important, that I am determined not to have recourse to the weapons of rhetoric; for, however opinions in this house may differ, I find it impossible not to believe – impossible not to feel the conviction – that the sacred love of our country, and such a feeling for her honor, independence, and liberty, as to render this assembly ready to sacrifice its last drop of blood, are common to us all in an equal degree. But where such a feeling is common, there no stimulus is required: cool reason alone has to choose among the remedies. Gentlemen, the country is in danger! Perhaps it would suffice to say thus much; for, with the dawn of liberty, the dark veil has dropped from the nation. You know what the condition of our country is; you know that besides the troops of the line, a militia of about twelve thousand men has been organized; you know that the authorities have been empowered o place corps of the National Guard on a war footing, in order to establish an effective force to defend the country, and to punish sedition, which is rife on our frontiers. This command found an echo in the nation. How could this have been, unless the nation felt that there is a danger? This in itself is an evident proof that the presentiment of danger is general. Nevertheless, gentlemen, I think I ought to give you a general, if not a detailed sketch of the state of our country.

At the dissolution of the last Parliament, and when the first responsible cabinet entered on its functions with an empty exchequer – without arms, without means of defense – it was impossible not to see, and to grieve in seeing, the terrible neglect which the interests of the country had suffered. I myself was one of the many who for years have called upon the executive power and the nation to be just at length to the people, for the day would come when it would be too late for justice. The feeling for justice, of patriotism perhaps, and general enthusiasm, may yet avert from our heads the full force of the fatal word, “Too late!” Thus much is certain, and the nation and the executive power have retarded justice; and that by this very delay, the moment when first they became just to the people caused the overthrow of all existing institutions.

Under such circumstances, we took the reins of government, menaced by treachery, rebellion, reactionary movements, and by all those passions which the policy of Metternich leagued to us as a cursed inheritance. Scarcely had we assumed the government – nay, not all of us had even assembled – when we already received the most authentic information that the Pansclavonic agitation had no other object than to excite the whole of the upper provinces to open rebellion, and that even the day had been fixed when the outbreak should take place in Schemnitz. But I would only furnish outlines – I desis therefore, and will only add, that for the present the upper province is tranquil. This quiet, however, is by no means a safe tranquility; it is a fire that smoulders under the ashes. In the heart of the country, even among the Hungarian race itself – which on the banks of the Drave, and in the vicinity of the O-Ke’rer camp, gives proofs of its vitality with such soul-elating readiness for sacrifices – it was by no means an easy task, after so long a slavery, to familiarize the people with the idea of liberty, and to lay down its first principles; for agitators were not sparing in their efforts to excite the people’s fears concerning those – I can not find words – gifts, but rights, which the last Parliament had granted them. Nine weeks have since elapsed. In the interior prevails quiet, and the Hungarian race is prepared for sacrifice, and voluntarily – not from compulsion – it carries its life where it is needed.

Croatia is in open rebellion! Many years have elapsed, gentlemen, when not only one or the other, but numbers, called the attention of the government to the fact that in encouraging – I say not forgiving, but encouraging – the Illyric agitation, it would nourish a serpent in its bosom which would compass the ruin of the dynasty. And since the revolutionary state in which we find Europe shaking on her foundations, the gentlemen in those parts fancied they might with impunity break out in open rebellion. Had Hungary given any cause whatever for this rebellion, she would, without considering the fact that there is a revolution, ask you to be just to Croatia, and to subdue the revolt, not with the force of arms, but with the sacred name of justice.

Entertaining as I do such sentiments, I am obliged to throw a transient glance on the relations between Hungary and Croatia. Gentlemen, you are aware that the nation has granted all its rights and privileges to Croatia, and that already at a time when it only conferred its own rights on the most favored nationalities. Since Arpad, Hungary possessed no right whatever in which Croatia, from the date of her alliance with us, did not participate. But besides having shared with us every right, Croatia obtained in addition, and at our expense too, particular privileges. I find in history, that the large parts of great empires have reserved for themselves certain rights – that Ireland, for instance, possesses less than England; but that the greater part of a whole nation should deny itself rights in favor of a small minority, is a fact which stands isolated, but not less glorious, in the relations of Hungary with Croatia. Where is a reason to be found that, even if we take up arms to quell the disturbance, we should feel in our own hearts the conviction of having ourselves provoked the disturbance? In the past no such reason exists; nor has, perhaps, the last Parliament, which opened a new epoch in the life of the nation, caused any change whatever in the alter and so particularly favorable circumstances of Croatia. I say, no! The rights we have acquired for ourselves, we have likewise acquired for Croatia; the liberty that was granted to the people, was likewise granted to the Croats; we extended the indemnity allowed by us to our nobility, at our own expense, to Croatia – for that country is too small and powerless to raise herself the indemnity….

In a word, we have not neglected any thing whatever which, within the limits of integrity, of liberty, and of the rights of the people, we could do to pacify their minds. We, gentlemen, can not, therefore, admit that on the part of the cabinet the slightest cause has been given to provoke the Croatian rebellion.

If a people think the liberty they possess too limited, and take up arms to conquer more, they certainly play a doubtful game – for a sword has two edges. Still I can understand it. But if a people say, Your liberty is too much for us, we will not have it if you give it us, but we will go and bow under the old yoke of Absolutism – that is a thing which I endeavour in vain to understand.

The case, however, stands nearly thus: In the so-called petition which was sent to his majesty by the Conventicle of Agram, they pray that they may be allowed to separate form Hungary – not to be a self-consistent, independent nation, but to submit to the Austrian ministry. This, gentlemen, is the part of the old Vende’e, which no terrorism on our side has provoked, and which, under the mask of sham loyalty, spins reactionary intrigues. Or is it loyalty, I ask, that they refuse to belong to the Hungarian crown, which, as the symbol of the people of these realms, is not only the most powerful, but also the sole reliance of his majesty and the dynasty? Or is it a proof of fidelity, not to obey the Hungarian, but the Austrian ministry, which receives its commands from the whims of the Aula, and which possessed not even the power to protect its lord and king, who was compelled to flee from the house of his ancestors? Or do they, perhaps, give proof of greater fidelity by expressing the will of depending of the Viennese ministry, which, if it were a ministry (for at present it is no such thing), and if ti were to be asked “Who is your master- whose orders do you obey? – the emperor’s the Aula’s, the Diet’s at Vienna, or the regent’s at Frankfort?” would be unable to make a reply; a ministry which not even knows whether its prince will be subject to the Frankfort Assembly, whether Austria will be drowned in great Germany, or whether the small Vienna will swallow Germany? But they allege that from sentiment of loyalty they oppose King Ferdinand V.! I do not, indeed, ascribe to the sentiment of freedom so great an influence on the masses, as not to be persuaded that even this sham loyalty, in its awkward affectation, is but an empty pretext under whihc other purposes are concealed. On the part of the leaders it covers the reactionary tendency; but on the other hand, this idea is connected with the plan of erecting an Austro-Slavonian monarchy. They say: “Let us send deputies to Vienna; let us procure the majority for the Slavonian element, and Austria will cease to be a German empire; and what with the Bohemians, and our people down here, a new Slavonian empire will rise.” This is a rather hazardous game, and Europe will probably soon decide on the question; for if we should not master these affairs, they will become a European question. Thus much is certain, that this combination (if of any consequence at all) will doubtless involve the ruin of the Austrian dynasty. There can be no doubt about it.

His highness the Archduke John, named Regent of Germany, took h is departure for Germany the day before yesterday. In a few days he returns, and then we shall see whether there is any hope of an arrangement. That insane demand, however, of the Croats, that, on the part of Hungary, if an arrangement is contemplated, all preparations for war shall cease, we have “indignato pectore” rejected; and we have considered it to be our duty to declare that the Hungarians, come what may, will arm! that the government will concentrate all its power, and has, therefore, convoked the Parliament, to be enabled to make more mighty preparations. It would not be advisable, and you will not, indeed, demand that I should demonstrate by figures those forces which are concentrated on the Drave by the energy of our commissioner, Cza’zyi. But thus much I can say, that of the importance of those forces sufficient proof is afforded by the circumstance that up to this moment the Croats, though long since desirous of the bread and the wine of our beautiful Hungarian land, have not dared to enter our territory; they could not have attempted it without being repulsed, although they were prepared, while we had to make our preparations….

Finally, gentlemen, I must allude to our relations with Austria. I will be just, and therefore I find it but natural that the government of Vienna feels aggrieved at its inability further to dispose over Hungary. But even if natural, grief is nevertheless not always just; still less does it follow, that from sympathy with grief, the nation should incline to permit any of its rights to be alienated (Cheers).

Yes, gentlemen, most undoubtedly such movements take place, which have for their objects to restore the Viennese government, if not all, at least the departments of War and Finance; the rest will soon follow. If, then, they once have the power of the purse and sword, they will soon have power over the whole nation. The Croatian movement is evidently connected with this scheme, for Jellacic has declared that he cares not for liberty, and that it is all the same to him whether or not the government at Vienna again obtains possession of the departments of War and Finance. And in the last days the vail of these public secrets has been lifted without reserve. The Viennese ministers have thought proper, in the name of the Austrian emperor, to declare to the cabinet of the King of Hungary, that, unless we make peace with the Croats at any price, they will act in opposition to us. This is as much as to say, that the Austrian emperor declares war to the King of Hungary, or to his own self. Whatever opinion you, gentlemen, may have formed of the cabinet, I believe you may so far rely on our patriotic feelings and on our honor, as to render it superfluous on my part to tell you that we have replied to this menace in a manner becoming the dignity of the nation. But just when our reply was on its way, a second note arrive, which clearly stated what a horrible man the Minister of Finance must be to refuse a grant of money to the rebel Jellacic; for, since Croatia has broken out into open rebellion, I have of course suspended the remittance of money to the commander-general at Agram. I should not be worthy to breathe the free air of heaven – nay, the nation ought to spit me in the face – had I given money to our enemy. But the gentlemen of Vienna hold a different opinion; they considered my refusal as a disgusting desire to undermine the monarchy. They have put their shoulders to the wheel and transmitted to the dear rebel one hundred thousand, so they say, but in reality, one hundred and fifty thousand florins in silver. This act, gentlemen, might incite the whole House to an angry spirit – to national indignation; but be not indignant, gentlemen, for the ministry, which by adopting such a miserable policy believed for a time to prolong its precarious existence, exists no longer. The Aula has crushed it. And I hope, whoever the men may be that compose the next ministry, they will understand that, without breaking their oath of allegiance to the Austrian emperor, who is likewise King of Hungary, and without siding with the rebels against their lord and master, they can not in future adopt that policy without bidding also defiance to Hungary, which, in that case, would throw the broken alliance at the feet of Austria, which feeds rebellion in our own country, and that we would look for friends in other quarters!

Gentlemen, I have no cause to complain of the Austrian nation; I wish they had power and a leader, both of which have hitherto been wanting. What I have said refers to the Austrian ministry. I hope that my words have also been heard at Vienna, and that they will exert some influence on the policy of the new ministers.

The Austrian relations, the affairs of the countries on the Lower Danube, the Servian disturbances, the Croatian rebellion, Pansclavonian agitators, and the reactionary movements – all these circumstances, taken together, cause me to say the nation is in danger, or rather, that it will be in danger unless our resolution be firm! And in this danger, where and with whom are we to look for protection? Are we to look for foreign alliances? I will not from too low an estimate of the importance of relations with foreign countries, and I think that the cabinet would be guilty of a dereliction of duty, if, in this respect, we were not to exert ourselves to the utmost of our power…..

The danger, therefore, is great, or rather, a danger threatening to become great gathers on the horizon of our country, and we ought, above all, to find in ourselves the strength for its removal. That nation alone will live which in itself has sufficient vital power; that which knows not to save itself by its own strength, but only by the aid of others, has no future. I therefore demand of you, gentlemen, a great resolution. Proclaim that, in just appreciation of the extraordinary circumstances on account of which the Parliament has assembled, the nation is determined to bring the greatest sacrifices for the defense of its crown, of its liberty, and of its independence, and that, in this respect, it will at no price enter with any one into a transaction which even in the least might injure the national independence and liberty, but that it will be always ready to grant all reasonable wishes of every one. But in order to realize this important resolution, either by mediating, if possible, an honorable peace, or by fighting a victorious battle, the government is to be authorized by the nation to raise the effective strength of the army to two hundred thousand men, and for this purpose to equip immediately forty thousand men, and the rest as the protection of the country and the honor of the nation may demand. The expense of raising an army of two hundred thousand men, its armament, and its support for one year, will amount to forty-two millions of florins; but that of raising forty thousand men from eight to ten millions of florins. Gentlemen, if you assent to my motion, I propose within a few days to lay before the House a detailed financial plan; but I here mention beforehand, that nothing is further from my thoughts than to ask of the nation a taxation of forty-two millions of florins; on the contrary, my plan is that every one shall contribute according to his means, and if that will not cover the expense, we shall be obliged to let our credit make up the deficiency. I rejoice at being able to declare that the plan which I mean to propose is based upon an estimate which agrees with the rates of taxation, as fixed a century ago by Maria Theresa for Transylvania, and which in reality is much more moderate. Should my plan be adopted, and should the House make an especial proviso that the readiness for the sacrifice on the part of the representatives of the nation shall not dwindle away without result, the nation will be able to bear the burden, and to save the country. In case the imposed taxation should not suffice for the establishment of a military power, such as circumstances urgently demand, I claim the power for the executive to open a credit to any amount which the representatives may deem necessary. This credit shall supply the deficiency either as a loan, or by the issue of paper money, or by some other financial operation.

These are my proposals. (Cheers). Gentlemen, I am of opinion that the future of the nation depends on the resolution of the House on my motion; and not alone on that resolution, but in a great measure on the manner in which we form it. And this is the reason, gentlemen, why I refrained from mixing this question with the debate on the address. I believe, if a nation is threatened on every side, and if it feels in itself the will and the power to repel the danger, that the question of the preservation of the country ought not to be tacked to any other question.

This day we are ministers of the nation; tomorrow, others may take our place: no matter! The cabinet may change, but thou, O my country! thou must forever remain, and the nation, with this or any other cabinet, must save the country. But in order that this or any other set of men may be able to save it, the nation must develop its strength. To avoid all misunderstanding, I declare solemnly and expressly, that I demand of the House two hundred thousand soldiers, and the necessary pecuniary grants. (Cheers).


Proclamation of the Emperor of Austria to his Hungarian Army, 25 September 1848 Top

Source: William H. Stiles. 1852. Austria in 1848-49: Being a History of the Late Political Movements in Vienna, Milan, Venice, and Prague. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers.

As I determined to suffer, under no circumstances, a conflict between my troops under the command of the Hungarian ministry, and those commanded by the Ban of Croatia, I have ordered my F.M.L. Count von Lamberg, in the quality of an imperial plenipotentiary commissioner, to repair without delay to the headquarters of the Hungarian army-corps, and to stop all hostilities, which order I sent at the same time to the Ban. I expect from the commanders of both forces, as also from the troops commanded by the former, that they will obey immediately my royal orders, and conclude this unnatural contest between troops who have sworn allegiance to the same flag, and who have to fight only for a mutual purpose, that is, the defense of the fatherland. I hope, at the same time, that those soldiers who have been seduced to desert their standards, will follow my royal call and return to them, to fulfill, under their lawful officers, in accordance with their oath, their duties to their king and country. Given at my capital, Vienna, 25th of September, 1848.


Address of the Emperor of Austria to the Hungarian Diet, 3 October 1848 Top

Source: William H. Stiles. 1852. Austria in 1848-49: Being a History of the Late Political Movements in Vienna, Milan, Venice, and Prague. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers.

Ferdinand I., constituted Emperor of Austria, salutation to the representatives and magnates of Hungary, Transylvania, etc., etc., assembled in the Diet at Pesth. To our profound grief and indignation, the Chamber of Representatives has allowed itself to be led by Louis Kossuth and his partisans into great illegalities; it has even put into execution, against our royal will, several illegal resolutions, and very recently has adopted, against the mission of our royal commissioner, Count von Lamberg, charged to restore peace, and before he had even shown his full powers, a resolution of the 27th ult., in consequence of which our royal commissioner was attacked by a furious populace, and assassinated in the most cruel manner. Under these circumstances our royal duty forces us to adopt the following measures for the maintenance and security of the laws: 1. We dissolve the Diet. In consequence, as soon as our royal rescript shall have been published, it is to close its sittings. 2. We declare illegal and without effect, all the resolutions and decrees of the present Diet, which have not been sanctioned by us. 3. We submit all the troops and armed corps in Hungary, in the annexed countries, and in Transylvania, t the command in chief of our Ban of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia, the Lieutenant Field-marshal Baron Jellacic. 4. Until tranquility and order shall be established in the country, the kingdom of Hungary is subjected to the law of war, and in consequence the authorities can not convoke assemblies of comitats, towns, and districts. 5. Our Ban of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia, Baron de Jellacic, is sent, by the present decree, as commissioner plenipotentiary of our royal majesty. In consequence of these full powers, we declare that all that the Ban of Croatia may order, decree, or resolve, must be considered as having been ordered and resolved in virtue of our royal power. For that reason, we order all civil and military authorities of our kingdom of Hungary and Transylvania, and the annexed countries, to obey all the orders of the Baron de Jellacic, our royal commissioner, as they are bound to obey ourselves. 6. We particularly recommend our royal commissary to see that the aggressors and murders of our royal commissary, Count Lamberg, and the authors and accomplices of that revolting act of cowardice shall be punished, in conformity with the laws. 7. The other current affairs of the civil administration shall be treated in conformity with the laws of the employés of the different ministries. Representatives of all parts shall deliberate and settle, in a legal way, how the unity of conversation and direction of the common interests of all the monarchy, and the guarantee of all nationalities, shall be re-established in a lasting manner, and to fix on that basis the relation of all countries and nations united under our crown. Given at Schonbrunn, 3d of October, 1848.


Manifesto of the Prague Slav Congress, 1848 Top

Source: William H. Stiles. 1852. Austria in 1848-49: Being a History of the Late Political Movements in Vienna, Milan, Venice, and Prague. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers.

The Slavic Congress in Prague is something unheard of, in Europe as well as among the Slavs themselves. For the first time since our appearance in history, we, the scattered members of a great race, have gathered in great numbers from distant lands in order to become reacquainted as brothers and to deliberate our affairs peacefully. We have understood one another not only through our beautiful language, spoken by eighty millions, but also through the consonance of our hearts and the similarity of our spiritual qualities. The truth and sincerity that have guided all our deliberations have persuaded us to make our demands known before God and the world.

The Latin and Germanic peoples, formerly famous in Europe as powerful conquerors, have for millennia guaranteed their independence by their swords and have satisfied their lust for power in many ways. Their statecraft, based mainly upon the right of greater strength, gave freedom to the upper classes alone, who ruled with the help of privilege while only imposing duties upon the people. Only recently, owing to the strong influence of public opinion, which like the spirit of God has suddenly spread throughout all lands, has it been possible to break the fetters of feudalism and to return to the individual, everywhere, the eternal and inalienable rights of man.

The Slavs, on the other hand, who in the past loved freedom most fervently when it was least attended by a lust for power and a thirst for conquest, and in whom the longing for independence always hindered the creation of a higher central authority, fell one after another to domination. As a result of a policy that the world had for a long time judged to be appropriate, our noble brothers, the heroic race of the Poles, were also robbed of their state; it appeared that the whole, great Slavic world had fallen forever into slavery and that its compliant subjects did not hesitate to surrender even their capacity for freedom. . . .

We Slavs therefore reject and abhor every domination by mere force that tramples upon these claims; we condemn all privileges and special rights, as well as all political class distinctions; we demand, without exception, equality before the law and equal rights and responsibilities for everyone. Wherever one person among millions is born into oppression, there true freedom is still unknown. Yes, liberty, equality, and fraternity for all who live in the state is our watchword today, as it was a thousand years ago.

It is not only in behalf of the individual within the state that we raise our voices and make known our demands. The nation, with all its intellectual merit, is as sacred to us as are the rights of an individual under natural law. Even if history allows men to develop more fully in some nations than in others, it always shows that the capability of development of those other nations is in no way limited. Nature, which knows neither noble nor ignoble nations, has not called upon any of them to dominate another, nor has it appointed any nation to serve another in attaining its particular goals. The same rights of all to attain the optimum development is a law of God, which no nation may transgress without punishment. It is a sin, however, when such a law is neither recognized nor, as would seem proper, observed by the most advanced nations of our times.

That which they have already willingly renounced, namely authority and guardianship vis-à-vis individual persons, they still claim vis-à-vis individual nations: They indiscriminately claim the right to dominate in the name of freedom. Thus, the Briton refuses to recognize the Irishman as being of equal birth; thus, the German threatens the Slavic nations with force if they should refuse to contribute to the political might of Germany; thus, the Magyar claims for himself the exclusive right to nationality in Hungary. We Slavs condemn absolutely all such claims and refuse them the more emphatically, the more unjustifiably the freedoms are disguised. We remain faithful to our nature; we do not wish revenge for past injustices, and we extend our hand to all neighboring peoples who are prepared with us to recognize and to protect the complete equality of all nationalities, without regard to their political power or their size. . . .

In the belief that the powerful spiritual stream of today demands new political forms and that the state must be reestablished upon altered principles, if not within new boundaries, we have suggested to the Austrian Emperor, under whose constitutional government we, the majority, live, that he transform his imperial state into a union of equal nations, which would accommodate these demands no less fully than would a unitary monarchy.

We see in such a union not only salvation for ourselves but also freedom, culture, and humanity for all, and we are confident that the nations of Europe will assist in the realization of this union. In any case, we resolve, by all available means, to win for our nationality the complete recognition of the same political rights that the German and Hungarian peoples already enjoy in Austria. The enemies of our nationality have succeeded in frightening Europe with the specter of political Pan-Slavism . . . but we no know the magic word that alone can exorcise this specter and promote freedom, culture and humanity. . . .The word is justice! Justice for the Slavic peoples in general and for its oppressed peoples in particular.

The German boasts that he is superior to the other races and that he is qualified to judge the particular characteristics of other nations fairly. We hope that he won’t be caught in a lie when talking about the Slavs. We raise our voices vigorously in behalf of our brothers, the Poles, who were robbed of their national identity by insidious force. We call upon the governments to rectify this curse and these old onerous and hereditary sins in their administrative policy, and we trust in the compassion of all Europe. We further protest against the arbitrary division of a country, especially as this applies today in Poznania. We expect the Prussian and Saxon governments to desist from pursuing their systematic denationalization of the Slavs in Lusatia, Poznania, and East and West Prussia. We demand that the Hungarian Ministry abolish without delay the use of inhuman and coercive means toward the Slavic races in Hungary, namely, the Serbs, Croats, Slovaks, and Ruthenians, and that they promptly be completely assured of their national rights. Finally, we hope that the inconsiderate policies of the Porte will no longer hinder our Slavic brothers in Turkey from strongly claiming their nationality and developing it in a natural way. . . .

As the youngest, but in no way the weakest, we enter again into the political arena of Europe and suggest that we summon a peoples’ congress of all European nations for the purpose of advising on international questions. We are convinced that free peoples can agree more easily than paid diplomats. May this suggestion be considered, lest the reactionary policy of individual courts again provoke the anger and hatred of nations to the point where they will destroy one another.

In the name of the liberty, equality, and fraternity of all people!


Declaration of Independence by the Hungarian Nation Top

Source: William H. Stiles. 1852. Austria in 1848-49: Being a History of the Late Political Movements in Vienna, Milan, Venice, and Prague. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers.

WE, the legally constituted representatives of the Hungarian nation, assembled in Diet, do by these presents solemnly proclaim, in maintenance of the inalienable natural rights of Hungary, with all its dependencies, to occupy the position of an independent European State — that the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine, as perjured in the sight of God and man, has forfeited its right to the Hungarian throne. At the same time we feel ourselves bound in duty to make known the motives and reasons which have impelled us to this decision, that the civilized world may learn we have taken this step not out of overweening confidence in our own wisdom, or out of revolutionary excitement, but that it is an act of the last necessity, adopted to preserve from utter destruction a nation persecuted to the limit of the most enduring patience.

Three hundred years have passed since the Hungarian nation, by free election, placed the house of Austria upon its throne, in accordance with stipulations made on both sides, and ratified by treaty. These three hundred years have been, for the country, a period of uninterrupted suffering. The Creator has blessed this country with all the elements of wealth and happiness. Its area of 100,000 square miles presents in varied profusion innumerable sources of prosperity. Its population, numbering nearly fifteen millions, feels the glow of youthful strength within its veins, and has shown temper and docility which warrant its proving at once the main organ of civilization in eastern Europe, and the guardian of that civilization when attacked. Never was a more grateful task appointed to a reigning dynasty by the dispensation of Providence, than that which devolved upon the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine. It would have sufficed to do nothing that could impede the development of the country. Had this been the rule observed Hungary would now rank among the most prosperous nations. It was only necessary that it should not envy the Hungarians the moderate share of constitution liberty which they timidly maintained during the difficulties of a thousand years with rare fidelity to their sovereigns, and the house of Hapsburg might long have counted this nation among the most faithful adherents of the throne.

This dynasty, however, which can at no epoch point to a ruler who based his power on the freedom of the people, adopted a course toward this nation from father to son, which deserves the appellation of perjury.

The house of Austria has publicly used every effort to deprive the country of its legitimate independence and constitution, designing to reduce it to a level with the other provinces long since deprived of all freedom, and to unite all in a common link of slavery. Foiled in this effort by the untiring vigilance of the people, it directed its endeavor to lame the power, to check the progress of Hungary, causing it to minister to the gain of the provinces of Austria, but only to the extent which enabled those provinces to bear the load of taxation with which the prodigality of the imperial house weighed them down; having first deprived those provinces of all constitutional means of remonstrating against a policy which was not based upon the welfare of the subject, but solely tended to maintain despotism and crush liberty in every country of Europe.

It has frequently happened that the Hungarian nation, in spite of this systemized [sic] tyranny, has been obliged to take up arms in self-defense. Although constantly victorious in these constitutional struggles, yet so moderate has the nation ever been in its use of the victory, so strongly has it confided in the plighted word of the king, that it has ever laid down arms as soon as the king by new compact and fresh oaths has guaranteed the duration of its rights and liberty. But every new compact was as futile as those which preceded. Each oath which fell from the royal lips was but a renewal of previous perjuries. The policy of the house of Austria, which aimed at destroying the independence of Hungary as a state, has been pursued without alteration for three hundred years.

It was in vain that the Hungarian nation shed its blood for the deliverance of Austria whenever it was in danger; in vain were all the sacrifices which it made to serve the interests of the reigning house ; in vain did it, on the renewal of the royal promises, forget the wounds which the past had inflicted ; vain was the fidelity cherished by the Hungarians for their king, and which, in moments of danger, assumed a character of devotion ; — they were in vain, because the history of the government of that dynasty in Hungary presents but an unbroken series of perjured acts from generation to generation.

In spite of such treatment, the Hungarian nation has all along respected the tie by which it was united to this dynasty ; and in now decreeing its expulsion from the throne, it acts under the natural law of self-preservation, being driven to pronounce this sentence by the full conviction that the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine is compassing the destruction of Hungary as an independent state ; so that this dynasty has been the first to tear the bands by which it was united to the Hungarian nation, and to confess that it had torn them in the face of Europe. For many causes a nation is justified, before God and man, in expelling a reigning dynasty. Among such are the following:

When it forms alliances with the enemies of the country, with robbers, or partisan chieftains, to oppress the nation ; when it attempts to annihilate the independence of the country and its constitution, solemnly sanctioned by oaths, attacking with an armed force the people who have committed no act of revolt; when the integrity of a country, which the sovereign has sworn to maintain, is violated, and its power diminished ; when foreign armies are employed to murder the people, and to oppress their liberties.

Each of the grounds here enumerated would justify the exclusion of a dynasty from the throne. But the House of Lorraine-Hapsburg is unexampled in the compass of its perjuries, and has committed every one of these crimes against the nation; and its determination to extinguish the independence of Hungary has been accompanied with a succession of criminal acts, comprising robbery, destruction of property by fire, murder, maiming, and personal ill-treatment of all kinds, besides setting the laws of the country at defiance, so that humanity will shudder when reading this disgraceful page of history.

The main impulse to this recent unjustifiable course was the passing of the laws adopted in the spring of 1848, for the better protection of the constitution of the country. These laws provided reforms in the internal government of the country, by which the commutation of servile services and of the tithe were decreed ; a fair representation guaranteed to the people in the Diet, the constitution of which was, before that, exclusively aristocratical ; equality before the law proclaimed; the privilege of exemption from taxation abolished ; freedom of the press pronounced ; and, to stem the torrent of abuses, trial by jury established, with other improvements. Notwithstanding that troubles broke out in every province of the Austrian empire, as a consequence of the French February Revolution, and the reigning dynasty was left without support, the Hungarian nation was too generous at such a moment to demand more privileges, and contented itself with enforcing the administration of its old rights upon a system of ministerial responsibility, and with maintaining them and the independence of the country against the often renewed and perjured attempts of the crown. These rights, and the independence sought to be maintained, were, however, no new acquisition, but were what the king, by his oath, and according to law, was bound to keep up, and which had not in the slightest degree been affected by the relation in which Hungary stood to the provinces of the empire.

In point of fact, Hungary and Transylvania, with all their possessions and dependencies, never were incorporated into the Austrian empire, but formed a separate, independent kingdom, even after the adoption of the pragmatic sanction by which the same law of succession was adopted for Hungary which obtained in the other countries and provinces.

The clearest proof of this legal fact is furnished by the law incorporated into the act of the pragmatic sanction, and which stipulates that the territory of Hungary and its dependencies, as well as its independence, self-government, constitution, and privileges, shall remain inviolate and specially guaranteed.

Another proof is contained in the stipulation of the pragmatic sanction, according to which the heir of the crown only becomes legally king of Hungary upon the conclusion of a coronation treaty with the nation, and upon his swearing to maintain the constitution and the laws of the country, whereupon he is to be crowned with the crown of St. Stephen. The act signed at the coronation contains the stipulation that all laws, privileges, and the entire constitution, shall be observed, together with the order of succession. Only one sovereign since the adoption of the pragmatic sanction refused to enter into the coronation compact, and swear to the constitution. This was Joseph II, who died without being crowned, but for that reason his name is not recorded among the kings of Hungary, and all his acts are considered illegal, null and void. His successor, Leopold II., was obliged, before ascending the Hungarian throne, to enter into the coronation compact, to take the oath, and to let himself be crowned. On this occasion it was distinctly declared in Art. IC, 1790, sanctioned upon oath by the king, that Hungary was a free and independent country with regard to its government, and not subordinate to any other state or people whatever, consequently that it was to be governed by its own customs and laws.

The same oath was taken by Francis I., who came to the throne in the year 1792. On the extinction of the imperial dignity in Germany, and the foundation of the Austrian empire, this emperor, who allowed himself to violate the law in innumerable instances, had still sufficient respect for his oath, publicly to avow that Hungary formed no portion of the Austrian empire. For this reason Hungary was separated from the rest of the Austrian states by a chain of custom guards along the whole frontier, which still continues.

The same oath was taken on his accession to the throne by Ferdinand V., who, at the Diet held at Pressburg last year, of his own free-will, sanctioned the laws that were passed, but who, soon after, breaking that oath, entered into a conspiracy with the other members of his family with the intent of erasing Hungary from the list of independent nations.

Still the Hungarian nation preserved with useless piety its loyalty to its perjured sovereign, and during March last year, while the empire was on the brink of destruction, while its armies in Italy suffered one defeat after another, and he in his imperial palace bad to fear at any moment that he, might be driven from it; Hungary did not take advantage of so favorable a moment to make increased demands ; it only asked that its constitution might be guaranteed, and abuses rectified — a constitution, to maintain which fourteen kings of the Austrian dynasty had sworn a solemn oath, which every one of them had broken.

When the king undertook to guarantee those ancient rights, and gave his sanction to the establishment of a responsible ministry, the Hungarian nation flew enthusiastically to his support, and rallied its might around his tottering throne. At that eventful crisis, as at so many others, the house of Austria was saved by the fidelity of the Hungarians.

Scarcely, however, had this oath fallen from his lips when he conspired anew with his family, the accomplices of his crime, to compass the destruction of the Hungarian nation. This conspiracy did not take place on the ground that any new privileges were conceded by the recent laws which diminished the royal authority. From what has been said, it is clear that no such demands were made. The conspiracy was founded to get rid of the responsible ministry, which made it impossible for the Vienna cabinet to treat the Hungarian constitution any longer as a nullity.

In former times a governing council, under the name of the Royal Hungarian Stadtholdership, (Consilium Locumtenentiale Hungaricum,) the president of which was the Palatine, held its seat at Buda, whose sacred duty it was to watch over the integrity of the state, the inviolability of the constitution, and the sanctity of the laws ; but this collegiate authority not presenting any element of personal responsibility, the Vienna cabinet gradually degraded this council to the position of an administrative organ of court absolutism. In this manner, while Hungary had ostensibly an independent government, the despotic Vienna cabinet dis posed at will of the money and blood of the people for foreign purposes, postponing its trading interests to the success of courtly, cabals, injurious to the welfare of the people, so that we were excluded from all connection with the other countries of the world, and were degraded to the position of a colony. The mode of governing by a ministry was intended to put a stop to these proceedings, which caused the rights of the country to moulder uselessly in its parchments ; by the change, these rights and the royal oath were both to become a reality. It was the apprehension of this, and especially the fear of losing its control over the money and blood of the country, which caused the house of Austria to determine to involve Hungary, by the foulest intrigues, in the horrors of fire and slaughter, that, having plunged the country in a civil war, it might seize the opportunity to dismember the lands, and blot out the name of Hungary from the list of independent nations, and unite its plundered and bleeding limbs with the Austrian monarchy.
The beginning of this course was by issuing orders during the existence of the ministry, directing an Austrian general to rise in rebellion against the laws of the country, and by nominating the same general Ban of Croatia, a kingdom belonging to the kingdom of Hungary. Croatia and Sclavonia were chosen as the seat of military operations in this rebellion, because the military organization of a portion of these countries promised to present the greatest number of disposable troops ; it was also thought, that since a portion of those countries had for centuries been excluded from the enjoyment of constitutional rights, and subjected to a military organization in the name of the emperor, they would easily be induced to rise at his bidding.

Croatia and Sclavonia were chosen to begin this rebellion, because, in those countries, the inhuman policy of Prince Metternich had, with a view to the weakening of all parties, for years cherished hatred against the Hungarian nation. By exciting, in every possible manner, the most unfounded national jealousies, and by employing the most disgraceful means, he had succeeded in inflaming a party with rage, although the Hungarians, far from desiring to oppress the Croatians, allowed the most unrestrained development to the provincial institutions of Croatia, and shared with their Croatian and Sclavonian brethren their political rights; even going the length of sacrificing some of their own rights, by acknowledging special privileges and immunities in those dependencies.

The ban revolted, therefore, in the name of the emperor. and rebelled, openly, against the king of Hungary, who is, however, one and the same person; and he went so far as to decree the separation of Croatia and Sclavonia from Hungary, with which they had been united for eight hundred years, as well as to incorporate them with the Austrian empire. Public opinion, and undoubted facts threw the blame of these proceedings on the Archduke Louis, uncle to the emperor; on his brother, the Archduke Francis Charles, and especially on the consort of the last-named prince, the Archduchess Sophia; and, since the ban, in this act of rebellion, openly alledged [sic] that he acted as a faithful subject of the emperor, the ministry of Hungary requested their sovereign, by a public declaration, to wipe off the stigma which these proceedings threw upon the family. At that moment affairs were not prosperous for Austria in Italy ; the emperor, therefore, did proclaim that the ban and his associates were guilty of high treason, and of exciting to rebellion. But, at the same time that this edict was published, the ban and his accomplices were covered with favors at court, and supplied, for their enterprise, with money, arms, and ammunition. The Hungarians, confiding in the royal proclamation, and not wishing to provoke a civil conflict, did not hunt out those proscribed traitors in their lair, and only adopted measures for checking any extension of the rebellion. But soon afterward, the inhabitants of South Hungary, of Servian race, were excited to rebellion by precisely the same means.

These were also declared, by the king, to be rebels, but were, nevertheless, like the others, supplied with money, arms, and ammunition. The king’s commissioned officers and civil servants enlisted bands of robbers, in the principality of Servia, to strengthen the rebels, and aid them in massacring the, peaceable Hungarian and German inhabitants of the Banat. The command of these rebellious bodies was farther intrusted to the rebel leaders of the Croatians. During this rebellion of the Hungarian Servians, scenes of cruelty were witnessed at which the heart shudders. Whole towns and villages, once flourishing, were laid waste ; Hungarians, fleeing before these murderers, were reduced to the condition of vagrants and beggars in their own country ; the most lovely districts were converted into a wilderness.

Thus were the Hungarians driven to self-defense; but the Austrian cabinet had dispatched, some time previously, the bravest portion of the national troops to Italy, to oppress the kingdoms of Lombardy and Venice ; notwithstanding that our country was, at home, bleeding from a thousand wounds, still she had allowed them to leave for the defense of Austria. The greater part of the Hungarian regiments were, according to the old system of government, scattered through the other provinces of the empire. In Hungary itself the troops quartered were mostly Austrian, and they afforded more protection to the rebels than to the laws, or to the internal peace of the country.

The withdrawal of these troops, and the return of the national militia was demanded of the government, but was either refused or its fulfillment delayed ; and when our brave comrades, on hearing the distress of the country, returned in masses, they were persecuted, and such as were obliged to yield to superior force were disarmed and sentenced to death, for having defended their country against rebels.

The Hungarian ministry begged the king earnestly to issue orders to all troops and commanders of fortresses in Hungary, enjoining fidelity to the constitution, and obedience to the ministers of Hungary. Such a proclamation was sent to the Palatine, the Viceroy of Hungary, Archduke Stephen, at Buda. The necessary letters were written and sent to the post-office. But this nephew of the king, the Archduke Palatine, shamelessly caused the letters to be smuggled back from the post-office, although they had been countersigned by the responsible ministers, and they were afterward found among his papers, when he treacherously departed from the country.

The rebel ban menaced the Hungarian coast with an attack, and the government, with the king’s consent, ordered an armed corps to march through Styria for the defense of Fiume ; but this whole force received orders to march into Italy. Yet such glaring treachery was not disavowed by the Vienna cabinet.

The rebel force occupied Fiume, and disunited it from the kingdom of Hungary, and this irruption was disavowed by the Vienna cabinet, as having been a misunderstanding the furnishing of arms, ammunition, and money to the rebels of Croatia was also declared to have been a misunderstanding. Instructions were issued to the effect that, unless special orders were given, the army and commanders of fortresses were not to follow the orders of the Hungarian ministers, but were to execute the orders of the Austrian cabinet.

Finally, to reap the fruit of so much perfidy, the Emperor Francis Joseph dared to call himself King of Hungary in the manifesto of 9th March, wherein he openly declares that he erases the Hungarian nation from the list of the independent nations of Europe, and that he divided its territory into five parts, dividing Transylvania, Croatia, Selavonia, and Fiume from Hungary, creating at the same time a principality for the Servian rebels (the Koirodina,) [sic; i.e. Voivodina–ed.] and having paralyzed the political existence of the country, declared it incorporated into the Austrian monarchy.

Never was so disgraceful a line of policy followed toward a nation. Hungary, unprepared with money, arms and troops, and not expecting to be called on to make resistance, was entangled in a net of treachery, and was obliged to defend itself against the threatened annihilation with the aid of volunteers, national guards, and an undisciplined unarmed levy, “en masse,” aided by the few regular troops which remained. in the country. In open battles the Hungarians have, however, been successful, but they could not rapidly enough put down the Servian rebels, and those of the military frontier, who were led by officers devoted to Austria, and were enabled to take refuge behind entrenched positions.

It was necessary to provide a new armed force. The king, still pretending to yield to. the undeniably lawful demands of the nation, had summoned a new Diet for the 2d of July, 1848, and had called upon the representatives of the nation to provide soldiers and money for the suppression of the Servian and Croatian rebellion, and the re-establishment of public peace. He at the same time issued a solemn proclamation in his own name, and in that of his family, condemning and denouncing the Croatian, and Servian rebellion. The necessary steps were taken by the Diet. A levy of 200,000 men, and a subsidy of 40,000,000 of florins were voted as the necessary force, and the bills were laid before the king for the royal sanction. At the same moment the Hungarians gave an unexampled proof of their loyalty, by inviting the king, who had fled to Innspruck, to go to Pesth, and by his presence tranquilize the people, trusting to the loyalty of the Hungarians, who had shown themselves at all times the best supports of the throne.

This request was proffered in vain, for Radetzky had in the mean time been victorious in Italy. The house of Hapsburg-Lorraine, restored to confidence by that victory, thought the time come to take off the mask and to involve Hungary, still bleeding from previous wounds, in the horrors of a flesh war of oppression. The king from that moment began to address the man whom he himself had branded as a rebel, as dear and loyal, (Lieber Getreuer ; ) he praised him for having revolted, and encouraged him to proceed in the path he had entered upon.

He expressed a like sympathy for the Servian rebels, whose hands yet reeked from the massacres they had perpetrated. It was under this command that the ban of Croatia, after being proclaimed as a rebel, assembled an army, and announced his commission from the king to carry fire and sword into Hungary, upon which the Austrian troops stationed in the country united with him. The commanders of the fortresses, Temeswar. Esseg and Karlsburg, and the commanders of the forces in the Banat and in Transylvania, breaking their oaths taken to the country, treacherously surrendered their trusts ; a Slovack clergyman, with the commission of colonel, who had fraternized at Vienna with the revolted Czechs, broke into Hungary, and the rebel Croat leader advanced with confidence, through an unprepared country, to occupy, its capital, expecting that the army in Hungary would not oppose him.

Even the Diet did not give up all confidence in the power of the royal oath, and the king was once more requested to order the rebels to quit the country. The answer given was a reference to a manifesto of the Austrian ministry, declaring it to be their determination to deprive the Hungarian nation of the independent management of their financial, commercial and war affairs. The king at the same time refused his as sent to the laws submitted for approval respecting the troops and the subsidy for covering the expenditure.

Upon this the Hungarian ministers resigned, but the names submitted by the president of the council, at the demand of the king, were not approved of for successors. The Diet then, bound by its duty to secure the interests of the country, voted the supplies, and ordered the troops to be levied. The nation obeyed the summons with readiness.

The representatives of the people then summoned the nephew of the emperor to join the camp, and as palatine, to lead the troops against the rebels. He not only obeyed the summons, but made public professions of his devotion to the cause. As soon, however, as an engagement threatened, he fled secretly from the camp and the country, like a coward traitor. Among his papers a plan formed by him some time previously was found, according to which Hungary was to be simultaneously attacked on nine sides at once from Austria, Moravia, Silesia, Gallicia, Transylvania and Stiria.

From a correspondence with the minister of war, seized at the same time, it was discovered that the commanding generals in the military frontier and the Austrian provinces adjoining Hungary, had received orders to enter Hungary and support the rebels with their united forces.

The attack from nine points at once really began. The most painful aggression took place in Transylvania, for the traitorous commander in that district did not content himself with the practices considered lawful in war by disciplined troops. He stirred up the Wallachian peasants to take up arms against their own constitutional rights, and, aided by the rebellious Servian hordes, commenced a course of Vandalism and extraction, sparing neither women, children, nor aged men ; murdering and torturing the defenseless Hungarian inhabitants ; burning the most flourishing villages and towns, among which Nagy-Enyed, the seat of learning for Transylvania, was reduced to a heap of ruins. But the Hungarian nation, although taken by surprise, unarmed and unprepared, did not abandon its future prospects in any agony of despair.

Measures were immediately taken to increase the small standing army by volunteers and the levy of the people. These troops, supplying the want of experience by the enthusiasm arising from the feeling that they had right on their side, defeated the Croatian armies and drove them out of the country. The defeated army fled toward Vienna. One of their leaders appealed, after an unsuccessful flight, to the generosity of the Hungarians for a truce, which he used to escape by night and surreptitiously, with his beaten troops; the other corps, of more than ten thousand men, was surrounded and taken prisoners, from the general to the last private.

The defeated army fled in the direction of Vienna, where the emperor continued his demoralizing policy, and nominated the beaten and flying rebel as his plenipotentiary and substitute in Hungary, suspending by this act the constitution and institutions of the country, all its authorities, courts of justice and tribunals, laying the kingdom under martial law, and placing in the hand and under the unlimited authority of a rebel, the honor, the property, and the lives of the people in the hand of a man who, with armed bands, had braved the laws, and attacked the constitution of the country.

But the house of Austria was not contented with this unjustifiable violation of oaths taken by its head. The rebellious ban was placed under the protection of the troops stationed near Vienna, and commanded by Prince Windischgratz. These troops, after taking Vienna by storm, were led as an Imperial Austrian army to conquer Hungary. But the Hungarian nation, persisting in its loyalty, sent an envoy to the advancing enemy. This envoy, coming under a flag of truce, was treated as a prisoner and thrown into prison. No heed was paid to the remonstrances and the demands of the Hungarian nation for justice. The threat of the gallows was, on the contrary, thundered against all who had taken arms in defense of a wretched and oppressed country. But before the army had time to enter Hungary, a family revolution in the tyrannical reigning house was perpetrated at Olmutz. Ferdinand V. was forced to resign a throne which had been polluted with so much blood and perjury, and the son of Francis Charles, who also abdicated his claim to the inheritance, the youthful Archduke Francis Joseph, caused himself to be proclaimed Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. But no one but the Hungarian nation can, by compacts, dispose of the constitutional throne of Hungary.

At this critical moment the Hungarian nation demanded nothing more than the maintenance of its laws and institutions, and peace guaranteed by their integrity. Had the assent of the nation to this change in the occupant of the throne been asked in a legal manner, and the young Prince offered to take the customary oath that he would preserve the Constitution, the Hungarian nation would not have refused to elect him King,, in accordance with the treaties extant, and to crown him with St. Stephen’s crown before he had dipped his hand in the blood of his people.

He, however, refusing to perform an act so sacred in the eyes of God and man, and in strange contrast to innocence natural to youthful breasts, declared in his first words, his intention of conquering Hungary, which he dared to call a rebellious country, although he himself had raised rebellion there, and of depriving it of that independence which it had maintained for a thousand years, to incorporate it into the Austrian monarchy.

And he has but too well labored to keep his word. He ordered the army under Windischgratz to enter Hungary, and at the same time, directed several corps of troops to attack this country from Gallicia and Styria. Hungary resisted the projected invasion, but being unable to make head against so many armies at once, on account of the devastation carried on in several parts of the interior by the excited rebels, and being thus prevented from displaying its whole power of defense, the troops were at first obliged to retire. To save the capital from the horrors of a storm like that to which Prague and Vienna had mercilessly been exposed, and not to stake the fortunes of a nation – which deserved a better fate — on the chances of a pitched battle, for which there had not been sufficient preparation, the capital was abandoned, and the Parliament and national government removed, in January last, to Debreczin, trusting to the help of a just God, and to the energies of the nation, to prevent the cause from being lost, even when it should be seen that the capital was given up. Thanks be to Heaven, the cause was not lost!

But even then an attempt was made to bring about a peaceful arrangement, and a deputation was sent to the generals of the perjured dynasty. That dynasty, in its blind self-confidence, refused to enter into any negotiation, and dared to demand an unconditional submission from the nation. The deputation was detained, and one of the number, the former president of the ministry,* was thrown into prison. The deserted capital was occupied, and turned into a place of execution ; apart of the prisoners of war were there consigned to the scaffold, another part were thrown into dungeons, while the remainder were forced to enter the ranks of the army in Italy.

The measure of the crimes of the Austrian house was, however, filled up, when — after its defeat — it applied for help to the Emperor of Russia ; and, in spite of the remonstrances and protestations of the porte, and of the consuls of the European powers at Bucharest, in defiance of international rights, and with signal danger to the balance of power in Europe, caused the Russian troops stationed in Wallachia to be led into Transylvania, for the destruction of the Hungarian nation.

Three months ago we were driven back upon the Theiss; our arms have already recovered all Transylvania; Clausenburg, Hermanstadt, and Cronstadt are taken; one portion of the troops of Austria is driven into the Bukovina ; another, together with the Russian force sent to aid them, is totally defeated, and to the last man obliged to evacuate Transylvania, and to fly into Wallachia. Upper Hungary is cleared of foes.

The Serbian rebellion is suppressed; the forts of St. Tama’s and the Rornan intrenchment [sic] have been taken by storm, and the whole country between the Danube and the Theiss, including the county of Bacs, has been recovered for the nation. The general of the perjured house of Austria has been defeated in five battles, and with his whole army be has been driven back upon and even across the Danube. Framing our conduct according to these events, and confiding in the justice of Eternal God, we, before the world, and reveling on the natural rights of the Hungarian nation, and on the power it has developed to maintain them, further impelled by that sense of duty which urges every nation to defend its existence, do hereby declare and proclaim in the name of the nation legally represented by us, the following:

1st. Hungary, with Transylvania, as legally united with it, and its dependencies, are hereby declared to constitute a free, independent, sovereign state. The territorial unity of this state is declared to be inviolable, and its territory to be indivisible.
2d. The house of Hapsburg-Lorraine — having, by treachery, perjury, and levying of war against the Hungarian nation, as well as by its outrageous violation of all compacts, in breaking up the integral territory of the kingdom, in the separation of Transylvania, Croatia, Sclavonia, Fiume, and its districts from Hungary — further, by compassing the destruction of the independence of the country by arms, and by calling in the disciplined army of a foreign power, for the purpose of annihilating its nationality, by violation both of the Pragmatic Sanction and of treaties concluded between Austria and Hungary, on which the alliance between the two countries depended — is, as treacherous and perjured, forever excluded from the throne of the united states of Hungary and Transylvania, and, all their possessions and dependencies, and is hereby deprived of the style and title, as well as of the armorial bearings belonging to the crown of Hungary, and declared to be banished forever from the united countries and their dependencies and possessions. They are therefore declared to be deposed, degraded, and banished from the Hungarian territory.
3d. The Hungarian nation, in the exercise of its rights and sovereign will, being determined to assume the position of a free and independent state among the nations of Europe, declares it to be its intention to establish and maintain friendly and neighborly relations with those states with which it was formerly united under the same sovereign, as well as to contract alliances with all other nations.
4th. The form of government to be adopted for the future will be fixed by the Diet of the nation.

But until this shall be decided, on the basis of the ancient and received principles which have been recognized for ages, the government of the united countries, their possessions and dependencies, shall be conducted on personal responsibility, and under the obligation to render an account of all acts, by Louis Kossuth, who has by acclamation, and with the unanimous approbation of the Diet of the nation, been named Governing President, (Gubernator,) and the ministers whom he shall appoint.

And this resolution of oars we shall proclaim and make known to all the nations of the civilized world, with the conviction that the Hungarian nation will be received by them among the free and independent nations of the world, with the same friendship and free acknowledgment of its rights which the Hungarians proffer to other countries.

We also hereby proclaim and make known to all the inhabitants of the united states of Hungary and Transylvania, and their dependencies, that all authorities, communes, towns, and the civil officers both in the counties and cities, are completely set free and released from all the obligations under which they stood, by oath or otherwise, to the said house of Hapsburg-Lorraine, and that any individual daring to contravene this decree, and by word or deed in any way to aid or abet any one violating it, shall be treated and punished as guilty of high treason. And by the publication of this decree, we hereby bind and oblige all the inhabitants of these countries to obedience to the government now instituted formally, and endowed with all necessary legal powers.

DEBRECZIN, April 14, 1849.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s