SELECT SPEECHES OF KOSSUTH.
Condensed and abridged, with Kossuth's express sanction,
by Francis W. Newman.
PREFACE TO KOSSUTH'S SPEECHES.
Nothing appears in history similar to the enthusiasm roused by Kossuth in nations foreign to him, except perhaps the kindling for the First Crusade by the voice of Peter the Hermit. Then bishops, princes, and people alike understood the danger which overshadowed Europe from the Mohammedan powers; and by soundly directed, though fanatical instinct, all Christendom rushed eastward, till the chivalry of the Seljuk Turks was crippled on the fields of Palestine. Now also the multitudes of Europe, uncorrupted by ambition, envy, or filthy lucre, forebode the deadly struggle impending over us all from the conspiracy of crowned heads. Seeing the apathy of their own rulers, and knowing, perhaps by dim report, the deeds of Kossuth, they look to him as the Great Prophet and Leader, by whom Policy is at length to be moulded into Justice; and are ready to catch his inspiration before he has uttered a word. Kossuth undoubtedly is a mighty Orator; but no one is better aware than he, that the cogency of his arguments is due to the atrocity of our common enemies, and the enthusiasm which he kindles to the preparations of the people's heart.
His orations are a tropical forest, full of strength and majesty, tangled in luxuriance, a wilderness of self-repetition. Utterly unsuited to form a book without immense abridgment, they contain materials adapted equally for immediate political service and for permanence as a work of wisdom and of genius. To prepare them for the press is an arduous and responsible duty: the best excuse which I can give for having assumed it, is, that it has been to me a labour of love. My task I have felt to be that of a judicious reporter, who cuts short what is of temporary interest, condenses what is too amplified for his limits and for written style, severely prunes down the repetitions which are inevitable where numerous[*] audiences are addressed by the same man on the same subject, yet amid all these necessary liberties retains not only the true sentiments and arguments of the speaker, but his forms of thought and all that is characteristic of his genius. Such an operation, rightly performed, may, like a diminishing mirror, concentrate the brilliancy of diffuse orations, and assist their efficacy on minds which would faint under the effort of grasping the original.
[Footnote *: The number of speeches, great and small, spoken in his American half-year, is reckoned to be above 500.]
It is true, the exuberance of Kossuth is often too Asiatic for English taste, and that excision of words, which needful abridgment suggests, will often seem to us a gain. Moreover, remembering that he is a foreigner, and though marvellous in his mastery of our language, still naturally often unable to seize the word, or select the construction which he desired, I have not thought I should show honour to him by retaining anything verbally unskilful. To a certain cautious extent, I account myself to be a translator, as well as a reporter, and in undertaking so delicate a duty, I am happy to announce that I have received Kossuth's written approval and thanks. Mere quaintness of expression I have by no means desired entirely to remove, where it involved nothing grotesque, obscure, or monotonous. In several passages where I imperfectly understood the thought, I have had the advantage of Kossuth's personal explanations, which have enabled me to clear up the defective report, or real obscurities of his words.
Nevertheless I have to confess my conviction, that nothing can wholly compensate for the want of systematic revision by the author himself; which his great occupations have made impossible. The mistakes in the reports of the speeches are sometimes rather subtle, and have not roused my suspicion. Of this I have been, made disagreeably sensible, by several errata communicated to me by Kossuth in the first great speech at New York, here marked as No. VII. (which have been corrected in this edition.)
Nearly all the points on which attempts have been made to misrepresent in England the cause of Hungary are cleared up in these speeches. On two subjects only does it seem needful here to make any remark: first, on the Republicanism of Kossuth; secondly, on the Hungarian levies against Italy in the year 1848.
1. Kossuth is attacked by his countrymen on opposite grounds: Szemere despises him for not becoming a republican early enough, Count Casimir Bathyanyi reproves him for becoming a republican at all. The facts are these. Kossuth, like all English statesmen, was a historical royalist, not a doctrinaire. When the existing reign had become treacherous and lawless, he was willing to change the line of succession, and make the Archduke Stephen king. When the dynasty had become universally detested and actually expelled, he approved most heartily[*] the deposition of the Hapsburgs; but still held himself in suspense as to the future of the constitution. By his influence instructions were sent to his representative in England, which were equivalent to soliciting a dynasty from the British government. Meanwhile Szemere, his Home Secretary, took on himself to avow in the Diet that the government was REPUBLICAN, and no voice of protest was raised in either house. Indeed, Mr. Vucovics, who was Minister of Justice under Kossuth, states (see Appendix I.) that the government and both houses responded unanimously to the republican avowal, and that the government removed the symbol of the Crown from the public arms and seal. The press of all shades assented. After this, it was clear (I presume) to Kossuth, or at least it soon became so, that all sympathy with royal power was gone out of the nation's heart. Hungarians may settle that amongst themselves: but as for Englishmen,—when for seven or eight months together the English ministry and English peerage would not stir, or speak, or whisper, to save constitutional royalty and ancient peerage for Hungary and for Europe while it was yet possible; with what face, with what decency, can Englishmen censure Kossuth for despairing of a cause, which was abandoned to ruin by ourselves, the greatest power interested to maintain it,—which the monarchs have waded through blood and perjury to destroy,-and which the millions of Hungary will not (in his belief) peril life and fortune to restore?
[Footnote *: How unanimous was the whole country, is clear by the facts stated. How spontaneous was the movement, and free from all government intrigue, see in Appendix I. This is entirely confirmed by our envoy, Mr. Blackwell: Blue Book, March—Ap. 1848.]
2. The ministry of Louis Bathyanyi and Kossuth have been attacked on opposite grounds,—because they did, and because they did not, attempt to subdue the Italians by force of arms. The facts are rather complicated, but deserve here to be stated concisely.
When the ministry was appointed, there were already Hungarians in Italy with Radetzki, and Austrian soldiers in Hungary. The Viennese ministry promised to exchange them, as fast as could be done without encountering great expense or dislocating the regiments and making them inefficient. With this promise the Hungarian ministry was forced to content itself at the time. At a later period, when it discovered that the Austrian commanders in Hungary had secret orders not to fight against the Serbian marauders, and that the Austrian troops could not be trusted, the Hungarian ministry desired to get back their men from Italy for their own defence; which desire proved ineffectual, yet has been severely blamed by some of our monarchists. But meanwhile the Viennese ministry, as early as June, 1848, endeavoured to buy of the Hungarian ministry an increased grant of troops against Italy, by conceding a most energetic "King's Speech" against the Serbs, with which the Archduke Palatine was to open, and did open, the Diet on July 2d. A part of this speech is quoted in Appendix II., and indeed it is a loathsome exhibition of Austrian treachery. The Hungarian ministry were pressed by the arguments, that since Austria was attacked in Italy by the King of Sardinia, the war was not merely against the Lombards; and that the Pragmatic Sanction bound Hungary to defend the empire if assailed from without. This led them to acknowledge the principle, that they were bound to assist, if able; but they replied that Hungary itself must first be secured against marauders, and no troops could be spared until the Serbs were subdued. At the same time orders were sent to Radetzki from Vienna to offer independence to the Lombards, and constitutional nationality under the Austrian crown to the Venetians: hence the Hungarian ministry for a time fancied that they would not be fighting against the Italians, as they expected the terms to be accepted by them. When it was farther represented that the Italians had rejected them,—(for Radetzki, acting probably by secret orders, suppressed the despatches, and never offered independence to Lombardy, though the Austrian ministers made diplomatic capital of their liberality,)—then the Hungarian ministry began to think the Italians unreasonable; yet they did not go beyond their abstract principle, that Hungary ought to grant troops for Austrian defence in Italy, provided, 1st, that rebellion in Hungary itself were repressed; 2d, that the troops should not act against the Italians, unless the Italians had rejected the offer of national liberties and a constitution coordinate to those of Hungary, under the Austrian crown.
The protocol on this subject was drawn on July 5th; the public speech of Kossuth concerning it was not until July 22d; and in this short interval the treachery of the dynasty had been so displayed, that Kossuth could no longer speak in the same tone as a few weeks earlier. For a fuller development of this, I refer the reader to Appendix III. The real object of the Austrian ministry, was, to ruin the popularity of Bathyanyi and Kossuth, if they could induce them to sacrifice Italian freedom; or else, to accuse them to all the European diplomatists as conspirators against the integrity of the Austrian empire, if they refused to oppress the liberties of Italy.
Finally, the reader has even here proof enough how false is the statement which has been current in English newspapers, that Kossuth's visit to America was "a failure." This was an attempt to practise on our prevalent disgraceful tendency to judge of a cause by its success. However, the end is not yet seen: America has still to act decisively, if she would win the lasting glory which we have despised, of rescuing Law and Right from lawless force, and establishing the future of Europe.
1. Secrecy of Diplomacy London, Oct. 30th, 1851.
2. Monarchy and Republicanism Copenhagen House, London, Nov. 3d.
3. Communism and the Sibylline Books Manchester, Nov. 12th.
4. Legitimacy of Hungarian Independence Staten Island, Dec. 5th, 1851. Declaration of Independence by the Hungarian Nation
5. Statement of Principles and Aims New York, Dec. 6th.
6. Reply to the Baltimore Address Dec. 10th.
7. Hereditary Policy of America New York, to the Corporation, Dec. 11th.
8. On Nationalities New York, to the Press.
9. On Military Institutions New York, to the Militia, Dec. 16th.
10. Conditions essential for Democracy and Peace New York, Tammany Hall, Dec. 17th.
11. Hungary and Austria in Religious Contrast In a Brooklyn Church, New York, Dec. 18th.
12. Public Piracy of Russia New York, to the Bar, Dec. 19th.
13. Claims of Hungary on the Female Sex New York, to the Ladies, Dec. 21st.
14. Results of the Overthrow of the French Republic Philadelphia, Dec. 26th.
15. Interest of America in Hungarian liberty Baltimore, Dec. 27th.
16. Novelties in American Republicanism Washington, Legislative Banquet, Jan. 15th, 1852.
17. On the Merits of Turkey
18. Aspects of America toward England Washington, Jan. 8th, day of battle of New Orleans.
19. Meaning of Recognizing Hungarian Independence Washington, last speech.
20. Contrast of the American to the Hungarian Crisis Annapolis, Maryland, Jan. 13th, to the Senate.
21. Thanks for his great Success Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Jan. 14th, to the Legislature.
22. On the present Weakness of Despotism Harrisburg, Legislative Banquet.
23. Agencies of Russian Ascendancy and Supremacy Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Jan. 26th.
24. Reply to the Pittsburg Clergy Jan. 26th.
25. Hungarian Loan Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 3d. Address to Kossuth from the State Committee of Ohio
26. Panegyric of Ohio Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 5th.
27. Democracy the Spirit of the Age Columbus, Feb. 6th, to the Legislature.
28. The Miseries and the Strength of Hungary Columbus, Feb. 7th.
29. Ohio and France Contrasted as Republics Cincinnati, Ohio.
30. War a Providential Necessity against Oppression Cincinnati.
31. On Washington's Policy Cincinnati, Washington's Birthday, Feb. 24th.
32. Kossuth's Credentials Cincinnati, Feb. 25th.
33. Harmony of the Executive and of the People in America Indianapolis, at the State House, Feb 27th.
34. Importance of Foreign Policy and of strengthening England Louisville, March 6th, at the Court House.
35. Catholicism versus Jesuitism St. Louis, Missouri.
36. The Ides of March St. Louis, March 15th.
37. History of Kossuth's Liberation Jackson, Mississippi, April 1st, address to the Governor.
38. Pronouncement of the South Mobile, Alabama, April 3d.
39. Kossuth's Defence against certain Mean Imputations Jersey City, April 20th.
40. The Brotherhood of Nations Newark, New Jersey, April 22d.
41. The History and Heart of Massachusetts Worcester, Massachusetts, April 25th.
42. Panegyric of Massachusetts Faneuil Hall, Boston, April 29th.
43. Self-Government of Hungary Faneuil Hall, Legislative Banquet. April 30th.
44. Russia the Antagonist of the U. S. Salem, May 6th.
45. The Martyrs of the American Revolution Lexington, May 11th.
46. Condition of Europe Faneuil Hall, Boston, May 14th.
47. Pronouncement of all the States Albany, May 20th.
48. Sound and Unsound Commerce Buffalo, May 27th.
49. Russia and the Balance of Power Syracuse, June 4th.
50. Retrospect and Prospect Utica, June 9th.
51. The Triple Bond New York, June 22d.
52. The Future of Nations New York.
[The speeches of Kossuth in England, though masterly in themselves, are in great measure superseded by those which he delivered in America, where the same subjects were treated at far greater length, and viewed from many different aspects. From the speeches in England I here present only three topics, in a rather fragmentary form.]
I.—SECRECY OF DIPLOMACY.
[First Extract: from Kossuth's Speech at the Guildhall, London, Oct. 30th, 1851.]
The time draws near, when a radical change must take place for the whole world in the management of diplomacy. Its basis has been secrecy: therein is the triumph of absolutism, and the misfortune of a free people. This has won its way not in England only, but throughout the whole world, even where not a penny of the national property can be disposed of without public consent. It surely is dangerous to the interests of the country and to constitutional liberty, to allow such a secrecy, that the people not only should not know how its interests are being dealt with, but that after the crisis is passed, the minister should inform them: "The dinner has been prepared,—and eaten; and the people has nothing to do, but digest the consequences." What is the principle of all evil in Europe? The encroaching spirit of Russia.—And by what power has Russia become so mighty? By its arms?—No: the arms of Russia are below those of many Powers. It has become almost omnipotent,—at least very dangerous to liberty,—by diplomatic intrigues. Now against the secret intrigues of diplomacy there is no surer safeguard, or more powerful counteraction, than public discussion. This must be opposed to intrigues, and intrigues are then of no weight in the destinies of humanity.
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[Second Extract from a Short Speech in London, May 25th, 1858.]
I must ask leave to make a remark on the system pursued by your Government in their Foreign relations. You consider yourselves a constitutional nation: I fear that in some respects you are not so. There is a Latin proverb [current in Hungary], Nil de nobis sine nobis,—"nothing that concerns us, without us." This in many things you make your maxim. You say that none of your money shall be spent without your knowledge and approval; and in your internal affairs you carry this out; but I think that the secrecy in which the transactions of your diplomacy are involved is hardly constitutional. Of that most important portion of your affairs which concerns your country in its relations with the rest of Europe, what knowledge have you? If any interpellation is made about any affair not yet concluded, my Lord the Secretary of the Foreign Office will reply that he cannot give any answer, for the negotiations are still pending. A little later he will be able to answer, that as all is now concluded, all comment will be superfluous.
One little fact I will just mention. By the last treaty with Denmark, to which you became a party, the crown of that kingdom was so settled that only three lives stand between it and the Czar of Russia. Three lives! but a fragile barrier, when high political aims are concerned. It is therefore an allowed fact, that the country which commands entrance to the Baltic, and which, in the hands of an unfriendly power, would effectually exclude your commerce from that sea, may pass into the hands of Russia, whose pretensions in the south of Europe you take so much pains to check. This your government have done quietly. How many are there of your people that know and approve it? I hope you will not be offended, if I say, that I cannot understand how yours can be called in this respect a constitutional country.
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II.—MONARCHY AND REPUBLICANISM.
[From Kossuth's Speech at Copenhagen House, Nov. 3d, 1851.]
In my opinion, the form of Government may be different in different countries, according to their circumstances, their wishes, their wants. England loves her Queen, and has full motive to do so. England feels great, glorious and free, and has full reason to feel so. But the fact of England being a monarchy cannot be sufficient reason for her to hate and discredit republican forms of government in other countries differing in circumstances, in wishes, and in wants. On the other side, to the United States of America, which under republican government are likewise great, glorious, and free, their republicanism gives no sufficient reason to hate and discredit monarchical government in England. It entirely belongs to the right of every nation to dispose of its domestic concerns. Therefore I claim for my own country also, that England, seeing from our past that our cause is just, should profess the sovereign right of every nation to dispose of itself, and should allow no power whatever to interfere with our domestic matters. Since I thus regard the internal affairs of every nation to be its own separate concern, I did not think it became me here in England to speak about the future organization of our country.
But my behavior has not been everywhere appreciated as I hoped. I have met in certain quarters the remark that I "am slippery, and evade the question." Now on the point of sincerity I am particularly susceptible. I have the sentiment of being a straightforward man, and I would not be charged with having stolen into the sympathies of England without displaying my true colours. Therefore I must clearly state, that in our past struggle it was NOT we who made a revolution. We began peacefully and legislatively to transform the monarchico-aristocratical constitution of Hungary into a monarchico-democratical constitution. We preserved our municipal institutions, as our most valuable treasure; but to them, as well as to the legislative power, we gave, as basis, the common liberty of the people, instead of the class-privileges of old. Moreover, in place of the old Board of Council,—which, being a corporate body, was of course a mockery in regard to that responsibility of the Executive, which was our chartered right on paper,—we established the real and personal responsibility of ministers. In this, we merely[*] upheld what was due to us by constitution, by treaties, by the coronation-oath of every king,—the right to be "governed as a self-consistent, independent country, by our native institutions, according to our own laws." This and all our other reforms we effected peacefully by careful legislation, which the King sanctioned and swore to maintain.
[Footnote *: Many Englishmen have unjustly accused the Hungarians as having by the laws of March, 1848, effected a SEPARATION of Hungary from Austria. Even if this were true, it could not justify the cause of the Hapsburgs. The dynasty yielded, under the pressure of circumstances (as alone will dynasties ever yield), while Hungary did but petition legally, and was in fact unarmed. The dynasty swore to the new laws; and then conspired with Croatians, Serbians, and Russians to overthrow the laws by marauding and force of arms. In fact, if in January, 1849, Austria would have negotiated, instead of arresting all Hungarian ambassadors, Hungary would have consented to modify the laws of March: but the Austrians had already in October ordered the overthrow of the whole Hungarian constitution, and had no wish to do anything by legal methods.
At the same time, the original objection is fundamentally false. No separation of the two countries was effected by the laws of March, 1848; for no legal union ever existed. Only the crowns were united, not the countries. Kossuth rightly compares the union to that which was between England and Hanover. At any time in the past, Hungary might have made peace with a power with which Austria was at war, if the Kings had not falsified their oath by not assembling the Diet: for the Diet always had the lawful right of War and Peace. Any mode whatsoever of enforcing the Coronation oath, might, according to this logic, be condemned as a "separating" of Austria and Hungary.]
Nevertheless, this very dynasty, in the most perjurious manner, attacked these laws, this freedom, this constitution, by arms. We defended ourselves by arms victoriously. When upon this the perjurious dynasty called in the Russian armies to beat us down, we of course declared the Hapsburgs to be no longer our sovereigns. We avowed ourselves to be a free and independent nation, but fixed as yet no definite form of government,—neither monarchical nor republican. These are plain facts. Hungary is not now under lawful government, but is being trampled down by a foreign intruder who is not King of Hungary, being neither acknowledged by the nation, nor sanctioned by law. Hungary is, in a word, in a state of WAR against the Hapsburg dynasty, a war of legitimate defence, by which alone it can ever regain independence and freedom. By such war alone has any nation ever won its freedom from oppressors; as you see in Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, France, Sweden, Norway, Greece, the United States, and England itself.
I can state it, as known to me, with the certainty of matter of fact, that Hungary will never accept the Hapsburgs as legitimate sovereigns in the future, nor ever enter into any new moral relations with that perjurious family. Nor only so; but their perjury has so entirely plucked out of my nation's heart all faith in monarchy and all attachment to it, that there is no power on earth to knit the broken tie again: and therefore Hungary wishes and wills to be a free and independent republic,—a republic founded on the rule of law, securing social order, guaranteeing person, property, the moral development as well as material welfare of the people,—in a word, a republic like that of the United States, founded on institutions inherited from England itself. This is the conviction of my people, which I share in the very heart of my heart.
* * * * *
III.—COMMUNISM AND THE SIBYLLINE BOOKS.
[From Kossuth's Second Speech at Manchester, Nov. 12th, 1851.]
I can understand Communism, but not Socialism. I have read many books on the subject, I have consulted many doctors; but they differ so much that I never could understand what they really mean. However, the only sense which I can see in socialism, is inconsistent with social order and the security of property.
Now since France has three times in sixty years failed to obtain practical results from Political revolutions, all Europe is apt to press forward into new Social doctrine to regulate the future. Believing then, that,—not from my merit, but from the state of my country,—I may be able somewhat to influence the course of the next European revolution, I think it right plainly to declare beforehand my allegiance to the great principle of security for personal property. Nevertheless, to give success to my endeavours in this direction, the rational expectations of the nations of Europe must speedily be fulfilled; else neither I, nor more important men, can avail to stay revolutionary movement. The danger of the case may be illustrated by the ancient story of the Sibylline books.
Take Hungary as an instance. Three years ago we should have been extremely well contented with the laws as made by our parliament in 1848, which laws did not break the tie between us and the house of Hapsburg. But then Austria assailed us with arms, and it became impossible for us to go on with that constitution; indeed she herself proclaimed it to be dissolved. We defeated her, and next she called in the Russian armies. Hungary was then under the necessity of casting off the Hapsburg monarchy; and only the third Sibylline book remained. Yet Hungary did not even then renounce monarchy, but gave instructions to her representative in England to say to the Government of this country, that if they wished to see monarchy established in Hungary, we would accept any dynasty they proposed: but it was not-listened to. Then came the horrors of Arad,[*] and destroyed all our faith in monarchy. So the last of the three books was burned.
[Footnote *: In Arad the Hungarian Generals, who surrendered by Goergy's persuasion, were hanged or shot; and simultaneously Bathyanyi, who had been arrested when he came as an ambassador of peace, was judged anew and murdered by a second court-martial.]
And so, wherever men's reasonable expectations are not fulfilled, it cannot be known where their fluctuations will end. Every man who is anxious for the preservation of person and property should help the world in obtaining rational freedom: if it be not obtained, mankind will search after other forms of action, totally subversive of all existing social order; and where the excitement will subside, I do not know. Men like me, who merely wish to establish political freedom, will in such circumstances lose all their influence, and others will get influence who may become dangerous to all established interests whatsoever.
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IV.—LEGITIMACY OF HUNGARIAN INDEPENDENCE.
[When Kossuth had landed at Staten Island, thus for the first time setting his foot on American soil, he was met by a deputation, which made an address to him. He replied as follows (Dec. 5th, 1851)]:—
Ladies and gentlemen: The twelve hours that I have had the happiness to stand on your shores, give me augury that, during my stay in the United States, I shall have a pleasant duty to perform, in answering the generous spirit of your people. I hope, however, that you will consider that I am in the first moments of a hard task,—to address your intelligent people in a tongue foreign to me. You will not expect from me an elaborate speech, but will be contented with a few warmly-felt words. Citizens, accept my fervent thanks for your generous welcome, and my blessing upon your sanction of my hopes. You have most truly stated what they are, when you announce the destiny of your glorious country, and tell me that from it the spirit of liberty will go forth and achieve the freedom of the world.
Yes, citizens, these are the hopes which have induced me, in a most eventful period, to cross the Atlantic. I confidently hope, that as you have anticipated my wishes by the expression of your generous sentiments, so you will agree with me, that the spirit of liberty has to go forth, not only spiritually, but materially, from your glorious country. That spirit is a power for deeds, but is yet no deed in itself. Despotism and oppression never yet were beaten except by heroic resistance. That is a sad necessity,—but it is a necessity nevertheless. I have so learned it out of the great book of history. I hope the people of the United States will remember, that in the hour of their nation's struggle, it received from Europe more than kind wishes. It received material aid from others in times past, and it will, doubtless, now impart its mighty agency to achieve the liberty of other lands.
Citizens, I thank you for having addressed me, not in the language of party, but in the language of liberty, which is that of the United States. I come hither, in the name of Hungary, to entreat, not from any party among you, but from your whole nation, a generous protection for my country. And for that very reason, neither will I intermeddle with any of your party questions. In England I often avowed this principle; inasmuch as the very mission on which I come, is to ask that the right of every nation to arrange its domestic concerns may be respected. Notwithstanding this, I am sorry to see, that, before my arrival, I have been charged with intermeddling with your presidential election, because in one of my addresses in England I mentioned the name of your fellow-citizen, Mr. Walker, as one of the candidates for the Presidency. I confess with warm gratitude, that Mr. Walker uttered such sentiments in England, as, if happily they are also those of the United States, will enable me to declare, that Hungary and Europe are free. Therefore I feel deeply indebted to him. But in no respect did I mix myself up with your elections. I consider no man honest who does not observe towards other nations the principles which he desires to be observed towards his own: and therefore I will not interfere in your domestic questions.
Allow me, citizens, to advert to one expression of your kind address, personal to myself. You named me "Kossuth, Governor of Hungary."
My nomination to be Governor was not to gratify ambition. Never, perhaps, did I feel sadder, than at the moment when that title was conferred upon me; for I compared my feeble faculties and its high responsibilities. It is therefore not from ambition that I thank you for the title, but because the title rests upon our Declaration of Independence; and by acknowledging it as mine, you recognize the rightfulness and validity of that Declaration. And, gentlemen I frankly declare that your whole people are bound in honour and duty to recognize it. At this moment there is no other legitimate existing law in Hungary. It was not the proclamation of a man or of a party. It was the solemn declaration of the whole nation in Congress assembled. It was sanctioned by every village, and by every municipality. No counter-proclamation has gone forth from Hungary. It has been overturned solely by the invasion of an ambitious foreign power, the Czar of Russia; who can no more legitimately make or unmake a governor of Hungary, than General Santa Anna, if in your late war he had forced his way to Washington, could have unmade President Taylor. None of you will admit that violence can destroy righteousness: it can but establish unlawful, unrightful fact. If so,—if your own people, and not foreign invaders, are the source of rightful law to you,—you must in consistency recognize our Independence as legitimate, and its declaration as our still rightful law.
As to the praises which you were so kind as to bestow upon me, it is no affectation in me when I declare that I am not conscious of having any other merit than that of being a plain, straightforward man, a faithful friend of freedom, a good patriot. And these qualities, gentlemen, are so natural to every honest man, that it is scarcely worth while to speak of them; for I cannot conceive how a man with understanding and with a sound heart, can be anything else than a good patriot and a lover of freedom.
Yet my humble capacity has not preserved me from calumnies. Scarcely had I arrived here, when I learned that I had been charged in the United States with being an irreligious man. So long as despots exist, and have the means to pay, they will find men to calumniate those who are opposed to tyranny. But, suppose I were the most dishonest creature in the world; in the name of all that is sacred, what would that matter in respect to the cause of Hungary? Would that cause become less just, less righteous, less worthy of your sympathy, because I, for instance, am a bad man? No! I believe you. It is not a question in regard to any individual here. It is a question with regard to a just cause, the cause of a country worthy to take its place in the great family of the free nations of the world. Until I learn that you refuse to recognize nations, whenever their governors fall short of religious perfection, I need not care much about attacks on my mere personality. But one thing I can scarcely comprehend,—that the PRESS—that mighty vehicle of justice and champion of human rights—could have found an organ, and that, in the United States, which (to say nothing of personal calumnies) should degrade itself to assert that it was not the people of Hungary, it was not myself and my coadjutors, that contended for liberty; but it was the Emperor of Austria who was the champion of liberty. Do not give it groans, gentlemen, but rather thank it; for there can be no better service to any cause, than for its opponents to manifest that they have nothing to say but what is ridiculous. That must have been a sacred and just cause, whose detractors need to assert that the Emperor of Austria is the champion of freedom throughout his own dominions and throughout the European continent.
I thank you that you have given me full proof that all these calumnies have affected neither your judgment nor your heart. As this will be the place whence I shall start back for Europe, I shall once more have the happiness of addressing you publicly and bidding you an affectionate adieu:—hoping then to be able to thank you for acts, as I now thank you for sentiments.
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DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE BY THE HUNGARIAN NATION.
[The reader may be glad to possess the most important portions of this celebrated document. The opponents of Kossuth have of late pretended, that the deposition of the Hapsburgs caused the overthrow of Hungary. But the deposition was not carried until Austria was thoroughly beaten, and Russia had engaged to give her utmost aid. This finally united all Hungary. At no earlier period would Hungary have acted with full unanimity in so decisive a step. To have delayed it longer would not have averted Russian invasion, and would have caused deep discontent in Hungary. Nothing but the wilful disobedience of Goergey, who wasted a month at Buda at this very crisis, saved the Hapsburgs from being conquered in Vienna, before the Russian armies could possibly come up.]
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 appurtenances and dependencies, to occupy the position of an Independent European state; that the house of Lorraine-Hapsburg, 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 not taken this step 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 one hundred and ten thousand 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 Lorraine-Hapsburg. It would have sufficed, to do nothing to 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 constitutional 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 towards 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 sink of slavery. Foiled in this effort by the untiring vigilance of the nation, it directed its endeavour 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 despite of this systematized tyranny, has been obliged to take up arms in self-defence. 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 king's plighted word, that it has ever laid down arms as soon as the king, by new compacts and fresh oaths, has guaranteed the duration of its rights and liberty. But every new compact was as futile as those which preceded it; 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 unaltered 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; 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, since the history of the government of that dynasty in Hungary presents but an unbroken series of perjured deeds 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 Lorraine-Hapsburg 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:
1. When the dynasty forms alliances with the enemies of the country, with robbers, or partizan chieftains to oppress the nation: 2. When it attempts to annihilate the Independence of the country and its Constitution, supported on oaths, by attacking with an armed force the people who have committed no act of revolt: 3. When the integrity of a country, which the sovereign has sworn to maintain, is violated, and its resources cut away: 4. 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.***
In former times, a governing COUNCIL, under the name of the Royal Hungarian Stadtholdership, 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 disposed at will of the money and blood of the people for foreign purposes, postponing our commercial 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 resolve on involving 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 kingdom, and to blot out the name of Hungary from the list of independent nations, and unite its plundered and bleeding limbs with the Austrian monarchy.
[Footnote *: The change was solemnly enacted in the Parliamentary Laws of March, 1848, which King Ferdinand V. sanctioned by his public oath in April, 1848.]
The beginning of this course was, (after a Ministry had been called into existence), by ordering an Austrian general [Jellachich] to rise in rebellion against the laws of the country and nominating him Ban of Croatia, a kingdom belonging to the kingdom of Hungary.***
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 Slavonia 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 alleged 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 while publishing this edict, the Ban and his accomplices were covered with favours 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 further entrusted to the rebel leaders of the Croatians.
During this rebellion of the Hungarian Servians, scenes of cruelty were witnessed at which the heart shudders; the peaceable inhabitants were tortured with a cruelty which makes the hair stand on end. 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.***
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 fulfilment 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 these 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 into Styria for the defence of Fiume; but this whole force received orders to march into Italy.***
The rebel force occupied Fiume, and disunited it from the kingdom of Hungary, and this hateful deception 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. Finally, instructions were issued to the effect that, until special orders were given, the army and the commanders of fortresses were not to follow the orders of the Hungarian ministers, but were to execute those of the Austrian cabinet.***
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.***
Even then 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 assent to the bills submitted for approval respecting 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 safety 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 Styria, Austria, Moravia, Silesia, Galicia, and Transylvania.
[Footnote *: The Palatine was a high officer elected by the Diet, as its organ, and the defender of its Constitution. In fact, they always elected a prince of the blood royal. He was virtually a Viceroy.]
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.
This 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 extinction, sparing neither women, children, nor aged men; murdering and torturing the defenceless Hungarian inhabitants; burning the most flourishing villages and towns, among which, Nagy-Igmand, 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 armaments, and drove them out of the country.***
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 of, and under the unlimited authority of, a rebel, the honour, 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 the unjustifiable violation of oaths taken by its head.
The rebellious Ban was taken under the protection of the troops stationed near Vienna, and commanded by Prince Windischgraetz. 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 defence 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 Olmuetz. 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 can by any family compact dispose of the constitutional throne without the Hungarian nation.
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 the people.
He, however, refusing to perform an act so sacred in the eyes of God and man, and in strange contrast to the innocence natural to youthful breasts, declared in his first words his intention of conquering Hungary, (which he dared to call a rebellious country, whereas it was he himself that 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.***
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. This house in its blind self-confidence, refused to enter into any negotiation, and dared to demand an unconditional submission from the nation. The deputation was further detained, and one of the number, the former President[*] of the Ministry, was even thrown into prison. Our deserted capital was occupied, and was turned into a place of execution; a part of the prisoners of war were there consigned to the axe, another part were thrown into dungeons, while the remainder were exposed to fearful sufferings from hunger, and were thus forced to enter the ranks of the army in Italy.
[Footnote *: Louis Bathyanyi. See Note to p. 6.]
[**]Finally, to reap the fruit of so much perfidy, the Emperor Francis Joseph dared to call himself King of Hungary, in the manifesto of the 9th of March , wherein he openly declares that he erases the Hungarian nation from the list of the independent nations of Europe, and that he divides its territory into five parts, cutting off Transylvania, Croatia, Slavonia, and Fiume from Hungary, creating at the same time a principality (vayvodeschaft) for the Servian rebels, and, having paralyzed the political existence of the country, declares it incorporated into the Austrian monarchy.
[Footnote **: This paragraph, omitted above, is inserted here, where the reader will better understand it.]
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 to the endangering of the balance of power in Europe, caused the Russian troops, stationed at Wallachia, to be led into Transylvania, for the destruction of the Hungarian nation.
[Footnote *: The Russian army entered Transylvania on January 3d, 1849; this is the army which was driven out again. But the main Russian armies were only on the move in April, and took two months longer to enter Hungary. These were applied for late in March.]
Three months ago we were driven back upon the Theiss; our just arms have already recovered all Transylvania; Klausenburg, Hermanstadt, and Kronstadt are taken; one portion of the troops of Austria is driven into Bukowina; another, together with the Russian force sent to aid them, is totally defeated, and to the last man obliged to evacuate Transylvania, and to flee into Wallachia. Upper Hungary is cleared of foes.
The Servian rebellion is further suppressed; the forts of St. Thomas and the Roman intrenchment have been taken by storm, and the whole country between the Danube and the Theiss, including the country of Bacs, has been recovered for the nation.
The commander-in-chief of the perjured house of Austria has himself been defeated in five consecutive battles, and has with his whole army been driven back upon and even over the Danube.
Founding a line of conduct upon all these occurrences, and confiding in the justice of an eternal God, we in the face of the civilized world, in reliance upon the natural rights of the Hungarian nation, and upon 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 regally represented by us, the following:—
1st. Hungary, with Transylvania, as legally united with it, and the possessions and 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, Slavonia, 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, for ever excluded from the throne of the united states of Hungary and Transylvania, and all their possessions and dependencies, and are 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 for ever from the united countries and their dependencies and possessions. They are therefore declared to be deposed, degraded, and banished for ever 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 neighbourly 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 point shall be decided, on the basis of the foregoing 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 ours we proclaim for the knowledge of all 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, their possessions and 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; 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.
* * * * *
V.—STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES AND AIMS.
[Castle Garden, New York, Dec. 6th.]
After apologies for his weakness through the effects of the sea, Kossuth continued:—
Citizens! much as I want some hours of rest, much as I need to become acquainted with my ground, before I enter publicly on matters of business, I yet took it for a duty of honour to respond at once to your generous welcome. I have to thank the People, the Congress, and the Government of the United States for my liberation. I must not try to express what I felt, when I,—a wanderer,—but not the less the legitimate official chief of Hungary,—first saw the glorious flag of the stripes and stars fluttering over my head—when I saw around me the gallant officers and the crew of the Mississippi frigate—most of them worthy representatives of true American principles, American greatness, American generosity. It was not a mere chance which cast the star-spangled banner around me; it was your protecting will. The United States of America, conscious of their glorious calling as well as of their power, declared by this unparalleled act their resolve to become the protectors of human rights. To see a powerful vessel of America, coming to far Asia, in order to break the chains by which the mightiest despots of Europe fettered the activity of an exiled Magyar, whose name disturbed their sleep—to be restored by such a protection to freedom and activity—you may well conceive, was intensely felt by me; as indeed I still feel it. Others spoke—you acted; and I was free! You acted; and at this act of yours tyrants trembled; humanity shouted out with joy; the Magyar nation, crushed, but not broken, raised its head with resolution and with hope; and the brilliancy of your stars was greeted by Europe's oppressed millions as the morning star of liberty. Now, gentlemen, you must be aware how great my gratitude must be. You have restored me to life—in restoring me to activity; and should my life, by the blessing of the Almighty, still prove useful to my fatherland and to humanity, it will be your merit—it will be your work. May you and your country be blessed for it!
Your generous part in my liberation is taken by the world for the revelation of the fact, that the United States are resolved not to allow the despots of the world to trample on oppressed humanity. That is why my liberation was cheered from Sweden to Portugal as a ray of hope. Even those nations which most desire my presence in Europe now, have said to me, "Hasten on, hasten on, to the great, free, rich, and powerful people of the United States, and bring over its brotherly aid to the cause of your country, so intimately connected with European liberty;" and here I stand to plead the cause of common human rights before your great Republic. Humble as I am, God the Almighty has selected me to represent the cause of humanity before you. My warrant hereto is written in the sympathy and confidence of all who are oppressed, and of all who, as your elder sister the British nation, sympathize with the oppressed. It is written in the hopes and expectations you have entitled the world to entertain, by liberating me out of my prison. But it has pleased the Almighty to make out of my humble self yet another opportunity for a thing which may prove a happy turning-point in the destinies of the world. I bring you a brotherly greeting from the people of Great Britain. I speak not in an official character, imparted by diplomacy whose secrecy is the curse of the world, but I am the harbinger of the public spirit of the people, which I witnessed pronouncing itself in the most decided manner, openly—that the people of England, united to you with enlightened brotherly love, as it is united in blood—conscious of your strength as it is conscious of its own, has for ever abandoned every sentiment of irritation and rivalry, and desires the brotherly alliance of the United States to secure to every nation the sovereign right to dispose of itself, and to protect that right against encroaching arrogance. It desires to league with you against the league of despots, and with you to stand sponsor at the approaching baptism of European liberty.
Now, gentlemen, I have stated my position. I am a straightforward man. I am a republican. I have avowed it openly in monarchical but free England; and am happy to state that I have lost nothing by this avowal there. I hope I shall not lose here, in republican America, by that frankness, which must be one of the chief qualities of every republican. So I beg leave openly to state the following points: FIRST that I take it to be duty of honour and principle not to meddle with any party-question of your own domestic affairs. SECONDLY, I profess my admiration for the glorious principle of union, on which stands the mighty pyramid of your greatness. Taking my ground on this constitutional fact, it is not to a party, but to your united people that I will confidently address my humble requests. Within the limits of your laws I will use every honest exertion to gain your effectual sympathy, and your financial material and political aid for my country's freedom and independence, and entreat the realization of the hopes which your generosity has raised. And, therefore, THIRDLY, I frankly state that my aim is to restore my fatherland to the full enjoyment of her own independence, which has been legitimately declared, and cannot have lost its rightfulness by the violent invasion of foreign Russian arms. What can be opposed to it? The frown of Mr. Hulsemann—the anger of that satellite of the Czar, called Francis-Joseph of Austria! and the immense danger (with which some European and American papers threaten you), lest your minister at Vienna receive his passports, and Mr. Hulsemann leave Washington, should I be received in my official capacity? Now, as to your Minister at Vienna, how you can reconcile the letting him stay there with your opinion of the cause of Hungary, I do not know; for the present absolutist atmosphere of Europe is not very propitious to American principles. But as to Mr. Hulsemann, do not believe that he would be so ready to leave Washington. He has extremely well digested the caustic words which Mr. Webster has administered to him so gloriously. I know that your public spirit would never allow any responsible depository of the executive power to be regulated in its policy by all the Hulsemanns or all the Francis-Josephs in the world. But it is also my agreeable conviction that the highminded Government of the United States shares warmly the sentiments of the people. It has proved it by executing in a ready and dignified manner the resolution of Congress on behalf of my liberation. It has proved it by calling on the Congress to consider how I shall be received, and even this morning I was honoured by the express order of the Government with an official salute from the batteries of the United States, in a manner in which, according to the military rules, only a high official personage can be greeted.
I came not to your glorious shores to enjoy a happy rest—I came not to gather triumphs of personal distinction, but as a humble petitioner, in my country's name, as its freely chosen constitutional leader, to entreat your generous aid. I have no other claims than those which the oppressed principle of freedom has to the aid of victorious liberty. If you consider these claims not sufficient for your active and effectual sympathy, then let me know at once that the hopes have failed, with which Europe has looked to your great, mighty, and glorious Republic—let me know it at once that I may hasten back and say to the oppressed nations, "Let us fight, forsaken and single-handed, the battle of Leonidas; let us trust to God, to our right, and to our good sword; for we have no other help on earth." But if your generous Republican hearts are animated by the high principle of freedom and of the community in human destinies,—if you have the will, as undoubtedly you have the power, to support the cause of freedom against the sacrilegious league of despotism, then give me some days of calm reflection, to become acquainted with the ground upon which I stand—let me take kind advice as to my course—let me learn whether any steps have been already taken in favour of that cause which I have the honour to represent; and then let me have a new opportunity to expound before you my humble request in a practical way.
I confidently hope, Mr. Mayor, the Corporation and Citizens of THE EMPIRE CITY will grant me a second opportunity. If this be your generous will, then let me take this for a boon of happier days; and let me add, with a sigh of thanksgiving to the Almighty God, that Providence has selected your glorious country to be the pillar of freedom, as it is already the asylum to oppressed humanity.
I am told that I shall have the high honour to review your patriotic militia. My heart throbs at the idea of seeing this gallant army enlisted on the side of freedom against despotism. The world would then soon be free, and you the saviours of humanity. Citizens of New York, it is under your protection that I place the sacred cause of freedom and the independence of Hungary.
* * * * *
VI.—REPLY TO THE BALTIMORE ADDRESS.
[Dec. 10th, 1851.]
Mr. Henry P. Brooks, Chairman of the Committee of the Baltimore City Council, came forward, and after congratulating Kossuth upon his release from peril, and arrival in America, he presented the following resolutions of the Council written on parchment:—
IN CITY COUNCIL.
Whereas it is understood that Louis Kossuth, the illustrious Hungarian patriot and exile, is about seeking an asylum upon our shores; and whereas it is believed that the city of Baltimore, in common with the whole people of the United States, feel a deep and abiding interest in the cause of freedom wherever it is assailed, and entertain the most sincere regret for the unfortunate condition of Hungary; and whereas, in the reception of Kossuth, an opportunity is offered of expressing our sympathy for the cause of Hungarian independence—of recording our detestation of the unholy coalition by which that gallant people have been crushed, and of evincing our admiration of the noble conduct of the Turkish Sultan in refusing to deliver to the despots of Europe that illustrious exile and patriot whom it is about to be our privilege and pride to receive, as it befits the chosen people of liberty to receive one who has so nobly battled and suffered in that sacred cause; therefore—
Resolved, By the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, that we look to the arrival of Kossuth upon our shores with mingled feelings of satisfaction and regret—satisfaction that we are enabled to afford a safe asylum to an illustrious patriot—regret that the cause of liberty should give birth to such necessity.
Resolved, That we sympathize fully with the Hungarians in their important struggles for Independence, but mindful of that Providence which crowned our own efforts for liberty with success, trust yet to behold that glorious future which their noble leader so eloquently predicts for his beloved country.
Resolved, That we regard the alliance with Russia and Austria for the purpose of crushing the spirit of liberty in Hungary as a fit accompaniment in the annals of time for the infamous partition of unfortunate Poland by the same tyrannical powers, each alike worthy of the execration of the civilized world.
Resolved, That we cordially welcome Kossuth and his exiled companions to the full enjoyment of American liberty and an asylum beyond the reach of European despotism.
Resolved, further, That a Joint Committee of five from each branch of the City Council be appointed, whose duty it shall be, in conjunction with the Mayor, in the event of their arrival in our city, to tender to them appropriate public tokens of our esteem and admiration for their gallant conduct, as well as of our sympathy for their sufferings and their cause.
Committee under the last resolution—First Branch: Henry P. Brooke, John Dukehart, J. Hanson Thomas, David Blanford, John Thomas Morris.
Second Branch: Jacob J. Cohen, W. B. Morris, Hugh A. Cooper, James C. Ninde, Geo. A. Lovering.
JOHN H. J. JEROME, Mayor. JOHN S. BROWN, President of First Branch. HUGH BOLTON, President of Second Branch. City of Baltimore, State of Maryland, United States of America, Oct. 28, A.D. 1851.
[After hearing several other—complimentary addresses, Kossuth in a few minutes replied. He began with apologies, and then proceeded]:—
Permit me to say, that in my opinion the word "glory" should be blotted out from the Dictionary in respect to individuals, and only left for use in respect to nations. Whatever a man can do for his country, even though he should live a long life, and have the strongest faculties, would not be too much: for he ought to use his utmost exertions, and his utmost powers, in return for the gifts he receives. Whatever a man can do on behalf of his country and of humanity, would never be so much as his duty calls upon him to do, still less so much as to merit the use of the word "glory" in regard to himself. Once more, I say, that duty belongs to the man and glory to the nation. When an honest man does his duty to his own country, and becomes a patriot, he acts for all humanity, and does his duty to mankind.
You have bestowed great attention upon the cause of Hungary, and the subject is here well understood generally, which is a benefit to me. I declare to you all, that I find more exact knowledge of the Hungarian cause here, than in any other place I have been. Yet I am astonished to see in a report of the proceedings of the United States Senate, that a member rose and said that we were not struggling for the principle of Freedom and of Liberty, but rather for the support of our ancient Charter. This, gentlemen, is a misrepresentation of our cause. There is a truth in the assertion that we were struggling for our ancient rights, for the right of self-government is an ancient right. The right of self-government was ours a thousand years ago, and has been guaranteed to us by the coronation oaths of more than thirty of our kings. I say that this right was guaranteed to us, yet it had become a dead letter in the course of time. Before the Revolution of 1848 we were long struggling to enforce our notorious but often invaded rights; but the whole people were not interested in them: for although they were constitutional rights, they were restricted in ancient times, not to a particular race, but to a particular class, called Nobles. These did not belong to the Magyars alone, but to all the races that settled in the country, to the Sclaves, to the Wallachians, the Serbs, and to others, whatever their race or their extraction. Yet none but the Nobles were privileged. We saw that for one class only to be interested in these rights was not enough, and we wished to make them a benefit to every man in the country, and to replace the old Constitution by one which should give a common and universal right to all men to vote, without regard to the tongue they speak or the Church at which they pray. I need not enter further into the subject than to say, that we established a system of practically universal suffrage, of equality in representation, a just share in taxation for the support of the State, and equality in the benefits of public education, and in all those blessings which are derived from the freedom of a free people.
It has been asked by some, why I allowed a treacherous general to ruin our cause. I have always been anxious not to assume any duty for which I might be unsuited. If I had undertaken the practical direction of military operations, and anything went amiss, I feared that my conscience would torture me, as guilty of the fall of my country, as I had not been familiar with military tactics. I therefore entrusted my country's cause, thus far, into other hands; and I weep for the result. In exile, I have tried to profit by the past and prepare for the future. I believe that the confidence of Hungary in me is not shaken by misfortune nor broken by my calumniators. I have had all in my own hands once; and if ever I am in the same position again, I will act. I will not become a Napoleon nor an Alexander, and labour for my own ambition; but I will labour for freedom and for the moral well-being of man. I do but ask you to enforce your own great constitutional principles, and not permit Russia to interfere.
* * * * *
VII.—HEREDITARY POLICY OF AMERICA.
[Speech at the Corporation Dinner, New York, Dec. 11th, 1851.]
The Mayor having made an address to Kossuth, closed by proposing the following toast:—
"Hungary—Betrayed but not subdued. Her call for help is but the echo of our appeal against the tread of the oppressor."
Kossuth rose to reply. The enthusiasm with which he was greeted was unparalleled. It shook the building, and the chandeliers and candelabras trembled before it. Every one present rose to his feet, and appeared excited to frenzy. The ladies participated in honouring the Hungarian hero. At length the storm of applause subsided, and then ensued a silence most intense. Every eye was fixed on Kossuth, and when he commenced his speech, the noise caused by the dropping of a pin could be heard throughout the large and capacious room.
Sir,—In returning you my most humble thanks for the honour you did me by your toast, and by coupling my name with that cause which is the sacred aim of my life, I am so overwhelmed with emotion by all it has been my strange lot to experience since I am on your glorious shores, that I am unable to find words; and knowing that all the honour I meet with has the higher meaning of principles, I beg leave at once to fall back on my duties, which are the lasting topics of my reflections, my sorrows, and my hopes. I take the present for a highly important opportunity, which may decide the success or failure of my visit. I must therefore implore your indulgence for a pretty long and plain development of my views concerning that cause which the citizens of New York, and you particularly, gentlemen, honour with generous interest.
When I perceive that the sympathy of your people with Hungary is almost universal, and that they pronounce their feelings in its favour with a resolution such as denotes noble and great deeds about to follow; I might feel inclined to take for granted, at least in principle, that we shall have your generous aid for restoring to our land its sovereign independence. Nothing but details of negotiation would seem to be left for me, were not my confidence checked, by being told, that, according to many of your most distinguished Statesmen, it is a ruling principle of your public policy never to interfere in European affairs.
I highly respect the source of this conviction, gentlemen. This source is your religious attachment to the doctrines of those who bequeathed to you the immortal constitution which, aided by the unparalleled benefits of nature, has raised you, in seventy-five years, from an infant people to a mighty nation. The wisdom of the founders of your great republic you see in its happy results. What would be the consequences of departing from that wisdom, you are not sure. You therefore instinctively fear to touch, even with improving hands, the dear legacy of those great men. And as to your glorious constitution, all humanity can only wish that you and your posterity may long preserve this religious attachment to its fundamental principles, which by no means exclude development and progress: and that every citizen of your great union, thankfully acknowledging its immense benefits, may never forget to love it more than momentary passion or selfish and immediate interest. May every citizen of your glorious country for ever remember that a partial discomfort of a corner in a large, sure, and comfortable house, may be well amended without breaking the foundation; and that amongst all possible means of getting rid of that partial discomfort, the worst would be to burn down the house with his own hands.