Edward Raymond Turner.

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abolished in France. During the Revolutionary and
Napoleonic periods it was brought to an end by French
conquerors in the German lands along the Rhine, in Italy,
and in Spain. In 1807, when Prussia, striving to regene-
rate herself and then escape from Napoleon's overlord-
ship, was carrying through great reforms, serfdom was
abolished in her dominions. It was now at an end in
western and southern Europe, and in most of the German
countries; but it lingered on among the millions of subjects
of Austria and Russia. Then, during the Revolution of
1848 serfdom was abolished in Austria and in Hungary.
Meanwhile, there had been some idea of freeing the serfs
in Russia; but this was not attempted in earnest until the
reign of Alexander II, who brought it to an end in the years
from 1859-66. By this time slavery, a more complete
form of ser\'itude, had been abolished in the Southern
States of the American Union, so that by 1870, except in
Brazil, civil freedom was universal in every country
ruled by white men in the world.

Meanwhile, constitutional progress had gone on apace.
In 1789 no important country had a constitution defining
the powers of the government, except the new United
States with their written constitution just established, and
Great Britain with the custom, laws, and court decisions.


1830, 1848

ance of

tional prog-




in France

In Spain

which practically made an unwritten constitution. Almost
everywhere, in states great or little, the power of the
sovereign was not limited, save to some exient by general
custom and obvious propriety. Generally that which
pleased the prince was law.

In 1791 the French National Assembly drew up the first
constitution ever given to a great state on the continent
of Europe, and this was followed by others, in 1795 and
1800, all of them defining exactly the functions of the
government and limiting its power. There was now in
France above the rulers a great law which they must
observe; and while in effect such a thing had long existed
in England, there it was unwritten and defined only by the
custom and constitutional development of the English
people. \ATien Louis XVIII was restored in 1814 he
granted a Charter, or constitution, which, although it
embodied the doctrine of Divine Right, limited the author-
ity of the king and provided a definite scheme for the
government of the realm. In 1830 this Charter was
revised, and the doctrine of Divine Right omitted. After
the Revolution of 1848 a constituent assembly drafted
a new arrangement, and although Louis Napoleon
seized large power for himself, yet even when he reigned
as the Emperor Napoleon III he ruled the country under
a constitution.

Meanwhile, constitutionalism had gone forward in
countries near by. The people of Great Britain continued,
in accordance with their peculiar and admirable political
genius, to preserve their constitution large and unwritten;
but as changes took place in other countries constitutions
were written out explicitly after the manner of the French
and the American peoples. In 1812 the Spanish revolu-
tionists had proclaimed a liberal constitution, embodying
the best ideas recently developed in France, and though
this constitution was speedily overthrown, it was pro-
claimed again in Spain during the revolution there in


1820, and for some time served as a model for liberals In central
in the southern lands. In 1830, when the Belgians de- Europe
clarcd their independence of Holland, they adopted a
constitution, for some time the most liberal in Europe.
The Revolution of 1848 brought constitutions in Austria
and in Hungary, though in the following reaction they
were speedily overthrown. In the next year, however,
a new constitution was proclaimed for all of the Austrian
dominions. Meanwhile, a general assembly, knowTi as
the Frankfort Parliament, had convened to draw up a
scheme for uniting Germany. This assembly tried also
to make a liberal constitution, but in the reaction soon
under way in central Europe the rulers of the principal
states found it easy to reject its work. In Prussia in 1848
the people had risen in revolution, and a constituent
assembly was called. The king was soon able to dismiss
the members; but in 1850 a constitution was granted by
the grace of the sovereign himself. Forty years before
the Prussian king had promised to grant a "suitably
organized representation both provincial and national,"
but this promise, twice repeated at intervals of five years,
had remained unfulfilled. WTien at last, in 1867, Ger-
man unity was substantially accomplished, the new North
German Confederation was organized under a constitution,
which was the basis of that of the German Empire estab-
lished soon after. \Mien the age-long troubles of the
Austrians and Magyars were arranged in 1867, the settle-
ment was embodied in the constitutional Compromise or
Ausgleich. Farther east and south, in the dominions of
Russia and of Turkey, there continued to be no semblance,
of government by any constitution.

Meanwhile, the other great ideas of the French Revo- Liberty and
lution were spreading through Europe and changing the equality
relations of men. Liberie, Egalite, Fratcrnite were the
magnificent watchwords of Revolutionary leaders, and
far as the deeds of these men and their successors often fell



Impulse of
the French

in earlier

short, yet it was the ideal of the best men to bring them
to pass. Liberty and equaHty were more and more made
good by the work of the Revolution and Napoleon, and as
the result of a spirit increasingly enlightened and humane.
Rousseau's idea, that man was born free, was embodied
in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man
(1791), that all men are free and equal in rights. As
serfdom was abolished and civil equality made good in
France, and as these reforms were gradually extended
beyond the French borders, a great amelioration in the
condition of the masses took place. By the end of the
eighteenth century these things had been wrought in
France; during the first half of the nineteenth they were
accomplished in central Europe; during the second half
they were being worked out in the eastern part.

But while the idea of civil equality was spreading across
Europe, political equality made much slower progress.
Nowhere except among a few radical reformers was it
believed that all of the people or most of them should have
part in the government of the state. "I do not know,"
said Bishop Horsley in the British House of Lords, "what
the mass of the people in any country have to do with the
laws but to obey them." Democracy and political equal-
ity had scarcely yet been conceived of. In ancient times
there had been in the most highly developed communi-
ties, especially in some of the city states of Greece, flour-
ishing democracies, in which political power was actually
in the hands of the demos or people. But this demos
was only a part of the community, the free male citizens
of the state, living beside other men who had no share in
political privileges and supported by a far more numerous
body of slaves. In the seventeenth century the Calvin-
istic religious doctrines applied to politics presently devel-
oped the idea of the political equality of the citizens in the
government of their country, and for a while in England
(1649-60) monarchy was abolished, a republic established.



and political power given to the citizens of tlie state.
But neitlier in England, where tlie experiment endured
only for a brief space, nor in Calvinist Geneva and the
Puritan communities across the Atlantic in New England,
where the idea endured, was there any complete notion of
democracy, for always the franchise was rigidly restricted
to "God-fearing" men, the members of the Church in
power. Furthermore, the Greek democratic assemblies
of all the citizens, making their laws and deciding upon
the administration of government, could never operate
successfully for a large area. Hence self-government
could not be developed by the people in a widely extended
jurisdiction like the Roman Empire.

During the Middle Ages, in Europe an immense forward
step was taken in the gradual development of representa-
tive government, in wliich a few went from a locality to
stand for their many fellows w^ho could not go. Usually
the representatives were wanted merely to grant money
to the king, but in course of time they gained greater
power, and attended to other things also. Tliis was the
origin of the medieval estates of the realm. In England,
where they had their farthest development, they grad-
ually made the parliament of England. But generally
the idea was not that people, or all people, should be rep-
resented, and hence should choose the representatives
who went to the assembly for them, but that the members
should represent property or classes of people. As late as
1793 a British judge gravely declared: "A government
in every country should be just like a corporation; and in
this country it is made up of the landed interest, whicli
alone has a right to be represented; as for the rabble who
have nothing but personal property, what hold has the
nation upon them.''"

During the Age of Reason and while old ideas were
breaking up in the second half of the eigliteenth century,
a new, bold conception came forth. Rousseau, developing

ment of the
system of

tion of peo-




tion of all
the people

ideas once put forward by others who attracted little at-
tention, now proclaimed that according to nature all men
were equal, and that the wickedness of man and the
misfortunes of time had made the inequalities existing.
His ideas concerning this "state of nature," to which he
urged all men to return, had no historical foundation, and
probably no basis in fact, but through the wondrous
eloquence and passion of his writing he got universal at-
tention. The American Declaration of Independence in
1776 specifically embodied this doctrine, and it was pres-
ently asserted for a greater number of people in the
French Constitution of 1791. But actually it was diffi-
cult to realize. In the American communities there was
no thought whatever of including negro slaves or even free
negroes; and when the Constitution of the United States
was adopted the regulation of the franchise was left to
the several states, in which for a while only a small minor-
ity of the people might vote. Great Britain had long
had the most liberal government in Europe, but the
franchise for electing members of the House of Commons
had been fixed long before, and not one man out of ten had
the suffrage. The new French constitution immensely
extended the franchise вАФ to three fourths of all the men;
but this franchise was based upon property, being re-
stricted to those who paid a certain amount of taxes.

During the confusion of 1792 Rousseau's conception of
equality was partly realized in politics, when a National
Assembly was chosen by manhood suffrage. Among cer-
tain English radicals also the doctrine was already growing.
"Personality is the sole foundation of the right of being
represented," said John Cartwright in his pamphlet
Take Your Choice (1776), "property has, in reality, noth-
ing to do in the case." And he and others advocated
extension of the suffrage to all men. But actually such
ideas were contrary to a vast amount of prejudice and
olden custom, and in days when communication was poor,


with no wide circulation of newspapers, no ra[)i(l dis-
semination of news, and when most people could not read,
they could probably not have succeeded. In Britain the
agitation made no headway; in France reaction soon came.
In the French Constitution of the Year III (1795) the
franchise was again restricted by property qualifications,
and while in the Constitution of the Year VIII (1800)
manhood suffrage was for the first time really established,
these voters were merely to choose others who would then
choose five thousand "National Notables" from whom
the executive would choose the members of the legislative
assembly, so that the power of the ballot was not really
entrusted to the people.

Even after the Restoration and the Congress of Vienna
there was gradual and continued political progress, and
the franchise was slowly extended. In France the Charter
restricted the franchise to men of thirty years or more with
high property qualification, thus allowing the vote to
100,000 voters out of a population of 29,000,000. In
1831 an electoral law reduced the qualification and so
increased the electorate to 200,000 out of 32,000,000.
After the Revolution of 1848 a new constitution again
established manhood suffrage.

In the British Isles progress seemed slower, but more
was really being achieved. Religious disabilities w^ere
first removed from Protestant Dissenters and from Roman
Catholics, and then after a memorable agitation the
franchise was extended in 1832. By no means was the
principle of manhood or universal suffrage admitted.
"The higher and middling orders are the natural repre-
sentatives of the human race," Macaulay had said three
years before; and the suffrage was still restricted to cer-
tain classes, and limited by property qualifications. In-
deed, the principal effect of a change which seemed revolu-
tionary then was to transfer control from the upper class
to the middle class, probably more conservative and more

Extension of
the fran-
chise in

In the



In the North

In other

tenacious of its rights. None the less, the electorate
was increased from 500,000 to 1,000,000. A generation
later, in 1867, after much unrest and repeated demands,
a second electoral reform law was passed, and the fran-
chise, still limited by particular qualifications, was extended
so that 2,500,000 men could vote out of a population of
about 30,000,000. This seemed but a grudging conces-
sion in comparison with the manhood suffrage established
in France since 1848, and the manhood suffrage granted
by the constitution of the North German Confederation
(1867); but in the France of the Second Empire, as in the
Norddeutsches Bund of Bismarck, and in the German
Empire afterward established, choosing of the members
of the national legislature was of less importance because
other constitutional provisions left to these legislatures
little substantial power. In the United Kingdom, on
the other hand, while only a portion of the men might
vote for their representatives in the House of Commons,
yet the Commons really controlled the government.

In other countries where constitutional government
was erected the franchise was usually restricted by prop-
erty qualifications. By the constitution of 1831 only those
Belgians might vote who paid a considerable tax; and the
electorate was but slightly extended in 1848. In Holland,
where, as in England, there had long before been relatively
large constitutional progress, the electorate was small
and was only slightly extended in 1848. In Spain uni-
versal suffrage had been prematurely established in 1812,
but the constitution was overthrown, reestablished by a
revolution, then abrogated again. In 1848 Piedmont re-
ceived from her king a constitution according to which
the electorate was restricted to property-holders, and on
the establishment of Italian unity (1861) this constitution
with some changes was given to the Kingdom of Italy.
During the Revolution of 1848 universal manhood suf-
frage was proclaimed in Austria. In Hungary, the same



year, by the March Laws the antiquated Diet, formerly
controlled entirely by tlie nobility, was so reformed that its
members were to be elected by citizens owning a certain
amount of property. The reaction which soon followed
swx^pt all this away, and for a while after 1851 the Haps-
burg dominions, like the Russian, were ruled entirely ac-
cording to the will of the sovereign. In 18G7, when the
Ausgleich was agreed on, a narrow electorate was estab-
lished in the two parts of the Dual Monarchy. Switzer-
land in earlier times had been one of the principal strong-
holds of constitutional, even democratic, government in
the world. In 1848, when the Swiss Republic was estab-
lished, a constitution was adopted by which the members
of the National Council, the lower house of the national
legislature, were to be elected by the votes of all adult
males. In 1814 a constitution was established in Norway
by which the representatives in the national legislature
were elected by a large electorate limited by low property
qualifications. In Sweden and also in Denmark the
process was very much slower.

It is interesting to note that while in the American colo-
nies, as in England during the same period, the franchise
had been restricted to a small number of the inhabitants
by various qualifications, and that this restriction con-
tinued for some time after independence had been won,
the limitations were removed in the early part of the
nineteenth century, and by 1830, substantially, there was
manhood suffrage for the free, white, adult males of the
United States.

Fraternity, perhaps the noblest idea of the Revolution,
an old ideal of the Christian Church, proclaimed by the
gentlest and wisest souls for a thousand years, was realized
much less well. True, it was carried forward by the en-
lightenment and humanitarianism increasingly character-
istic of the nineteenth century, by the great body of the
socialists, and by a noble company of men and women who

In the



In the






ment of na-


wished to bring war to an end, make humanity better,
and do as they would be done by. But the conception of
fraternity ran counter to the spirit of nationalism, which
found new birth in Revolutionary times, and which, be-
coming constantly stronger, marked men off in national
divisions ever more sharply.

Nationalism, which may be understood as the conscious-
ness of a body of people that they are closely bound to-
gether by certain ties, and that they are in some manner
separate and distinct from others, is to a great extent a
development of the period since 1789. Of old people
were held together, for the most part, in small groups
by family ties and blood relationship, and sometimes
brought together in larger groups by interest, despotism,
or force. Athenians were keenly conscious of their solidar-
ity as citizens of Athens, and the Dorians of Sparta or the
inhabitants of Corinth had similar feeling, but never were
the Hellenes able to coalesce into one Greek nation. The
inhabitants of the broad Roman Empire were so long
united under good laws and admirable political organiza-
tion that they could not but be conscious of some com-
munity in one Roman state. During the Middle Ages,
however, much of Europe was for a while broken up in
small parts, under the "feudal system." Much of it long
remained so divided; and it was impossible to make either
a united Italy or a united Germany until long after the
middle of the nineteenth century. "Nation " had not yet
the meaning afterward given it. In ancient times it had
denoted a group of people connected by blood-relation-
ship {nati, born), and in medieval times it was used at
the great universities to denote a body of students who
had come from the same country. After a while strong
nation states well organized were built up in England,
in France, and presently in Spain. Within these states
there gradually developed among many people strong
feeling of nationality. But how incomplete the work



often remained is evident in that all through the Middle
Ages the north of England was loosely hound to the
other portions, and that Catalonia has not yet been
really united in national conseiousness with the rest of
Spain. The ideals c;herished by many of the great leaders
in the Middle Ages had been contrary to the development
of nationalism, and had tended toward establishing a
common citizenship in one great European Empire or one
great Church; and it should be noted that even in the
eighteenth century there was among the rulers and en-
lightened classes, who were relatively more important
then than now, considerable feeling of internationalism
and consciousness of common European civilization,.

Nationalism entered upon a new, a splendid, and a
terrible development in connection ^^^th the French
Revolution. In 1793 a great European coalition was
formed to overthrow the new system in France. The
people already had a strong feeling of nationality, based
on their language, their civ^ilization, and traditions, and
they had on memorable occasions before come forward to
save the patrie when pressing danger threatened. Now to
all the old feeling of oneness as a French nation were added
an ardor and an enthusiasm sprung from belief that among
them a glorious new era of the rights of man and his
greater happiness had come. Accordingly, Frenchmen
rushed forward to save the Revolution which seemed to
have brought such great gifts, France was defended, and
soon after French nationalism and Revolutionary ardor,
guided by the supreme military ability of Napoleon, con-
quered a large part of Europe.

The success of Napoleon and the French came in no
small part from the ardent spirit of French nationality
opposed to j>eoples among whom this feeling was not yet
so strong. But the conquests and oppressions of the
French awakened stronger nationalism in other countries
also. This spirit flaming forth in 1808 made Spaniards


in France

In other



during the

Revival and



willing to give up all that Spain might be free again. Such
feeling \^;:as roused among the Slavs when Napoleon en-
tered Russia in 1812. Prussia had been humbled to the
dust, but the strong feeling of nationality rising there and
spreading thence to other German countries prepared the
way for the War of Liberation and Napoleon's final down-

During the nineteenth century nationalism developed
ever more strongly. To the impulse of the French
Revolution succeeded the effects of the Industrial Revolu-
tion, improved communication, and general systems of
education. People were brought together in cities and
towns more than previously, and there they could be more
quickly and easily reached by a common feeling. As
the railroads, steamships, telegraphs, and newspapers did
their work, it is true that all the parts of Europe and in-
deed of the world were bound in union as never before; but
the effects of this unification were felt more strongly within
the boundaries of a country than through an entire con-
tinent, and tended more toward the development of
nationalism than any international spirit. Especially
did the spread of education make it possible for the old
literature and language and the national character and
consciousness embodied in them to affect more strongly
large bodies of people and bind them closely together.
Early in the nineteenth century renewed study of the
Greek classics in Greece prepared the way for revival of
nationality there and for winning independence. Dur-
ing the first half of the century growing national conscious-
ness prepared the way for a united Italy and a united
Germany at last. By 1870 almost all Italy except Rome
had been brought together in a strong nation state, and
by 1866 most of the German people had been assembled
in two great groups which would shortly be united in a
German Empire.

If nationality was bringing together groups of people




in strong unions for their happiness and advantage, it
was also dividing European society more sharply, and
threatening to break to pieces states not well united.
Under the impulse of their national feeling and interests
Frenchmen and Germans were preparing to fight out their
differences in a mortal struggle. In 1848 in the Hapsburg
dominions Germans were hoping to Teutonize the subject

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 3 of 49)