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Treaty of Paris. He held that the elections were conclusive in the fact that a great proportion of those qualified had voted, and with a unanimity remarkable in a vote taken by classes between which there existed questions of a most painful and difficult nature, offering every chance to foment dissension. To consult the people and then to refer the question of union to the commissioners he characterized as a proceeding not only foolish, but dangerous. It was, he said, using his favorite simile, “like lighting a fire and stopping up the chimney,” and he declared that he for one would be no party to trifling with the reasonable expectations of five millions of men, and concluded with the wise forecast that if the conference at Paris should decree against union the Principalities would thereby be pushed into the arms of Russia which was supporting it. The Government, in answer, attempted to interpret the vote of the Divans as one for union only in case a foreign prince should be accorded them. To this Lord Robert Cecil answered that in the preamble to the resolutions of the Divans it was clearly stated that the most important wish was for union, which showed the foreign prince to be a subsidiary desire. In spite of these efforts of Gladstone, Russell and Cecil, the government's policy remained unchanged.
The conference for the reorganization of the Principalities met at Paris on May 22, 1858. France was represented by Count Walewski, England by Lord Cowley, Russia by Count Kissilef, Prussia by Count von Hatzfeld, Sardinia by the Marquis of Villamarina, and Turkey by Fuad Pacha, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Sultan. There was no attempt to question the authenticity of the votes of the divans. The plenipotentiaries of Russia, France, Prussia, and Sardinia all asserted their confidence in their validity, and Cowley agreed that there was no doubt but that the people had shown themselves for union. France made an initial effort to secure endorsement both for the union and for a foreign prince, but in the face of the continued opposition of England, Napoleon, his hands tied by the Osborne compromise, was forced to yield. The French plenipotentiary at the third session introduced a draft containing a qualified union and the draft was made the basis of the convention signed on August 19. The structure thus reared by the facile hand of diplomacy was a strange mixture of union and separation. The Principalities were, to be sure, henceforth to be called “united ” but the words “ of Moldavia and Wallachia were to be added, in order to deprive the new denomination of significance. Each was to have a separate hospodar, a native of either Principality, who was to be elected for life, and each was to have a separate assembly. There was, on the other hand, to be a central commission and a high court of justice set up for the two Principalities for matters of common interest and the new organization was put under their safeguard. The militia bodies, too, were to have a common organization, and might be united for manauvres, yet they were to have separate flags." New assemblies were to be elected, each to vote for the new hospodar, and for this an electoral law was drawn up by the Powers. Although vastly simpler and more liberal than the firman of 1857, this law perpetuated the voting by classes and the combination of a direct and indirect vote.
1... “The union is the wish of almost the entire population of the Principalities. That is a fact which bears greatly upon this question . . . although it is not conclusive on the question, yet I speak in the British House of Commons — I speak in that assembly to which, I will not say alone, but to which almost alone, every lover of liberty in the world has now to look for the vindication of his rights — and I implore the House of Commons to do full justice to the wishes. to the rights and interests of these peoples, if those interests be compatible with justice and the welfare of Europe." See Hansard, (3d series) 1858, vol. 150, pp. 46–80, for the speeches of Gladstone and Russell.
While the Convention of August 19 did not fulfill the hopes of the Rumanian patriots, it was nevertheless a long step towards union. Ingenuity soon contrived the next. The Convention had provided that citizens of either Moldavia or Wallachia should be eligible to the office of hospodar in either Principality. Explicit in all else, the Convention had not provided for any action in case the two assemblies should elect the same hospodar. This they at once proceeded to do, although, mindful of the other provisions of the Convention, they surrendered their desire for a foreign prince and elected a native.
For the new elections the Conference at Paris had insisted that Vogorides and Ghika be removed and replaced in each Principality by three members of the Ministry in power before 1857, but the turbulent relations and autocratic acts of these restored officials gave little evidence of their conception of the national situation. In the Moldavian assembly there were two rival candidates for the office of hospodar, and into the ensuing bitter struggle the Turkish government entered with the hope of regaining by indirect methods what it had lost through the Convention of August 19. Fearing that dissension would give aid and comfort to Turkey and Austria, the French and Russian consuls urged the rival factions to unite on a new candidate. When the name of Alexander Couza, who, as prefect of Galatz, had refused to carry out Vogorides' orders for the first Moldavian election, was at last adopted by the national party, the partisans of the two other candidates gave way, and Couza was unanimously elected on January 9, 1859.3
The Wallachian assembly had been delayed by the struggle over the electoral
1 When united for manœuvres the two flags might each have a border of the same color. 2 The text may be found in Annuaire, vol. 8, 1857–58,
931. 3 There were 49 delegates. Xénopol, vol. 2, pp. 580 et seq., gives a detailed account of the election.
law, which the consuls had finally been forced to settle. When the assembly met there was a three-cornered division between the partisans of two former hospodars and the party of union. A deadlock seemed certain when the newly named agent for Moldavia stopped at Bucharest on his way to Constantinople and advised that Wallachia also elect Couza, saying that he was the candidate supported by France, and that this was the indirect method chosen by Napoleon to impose the union on Europe. This hint, together with the appearance of a crowd of townspeople to support it, brought forth from one of the members an eloquent appeal for harmony and for a vote for Couza as another vote for union, and Couza was unanimously elected. The opponents of the union, startled by the new turn of events, wanted the election annulled, but the enthusiasm of the country showed clearly that the vote, if annulled, would be repeated. The only alternative, that of intervention by some one of the Powers, was unacceptable to the others. Faced with the dilemma, Great Britain acknowledged the fait accompli. Austria was too much engaged with affairs in Italy to oppose it. The Sultan attempted to defeat the union by refusing investiture, but was finally prevailed upon by the five Powers, in conference at Constantinople, to give his consent. Forced to submit, he gave Couza two firmans of investiture, one for each Principality, with the reservation that the union should be only during his occupation of the office and that thereafter the Convention of August 19 should be restored.2 In 1861 a further step towards union was effected with the granting of the privilege of a common assembly and ministry, again with the reservation that it should be temporary. These reservations were allowed to stand but were not endorsed by the Powers, who expressly reserved their decision until the question should again arise.
Couza did not have a peaceful reign. In his zeal for economic and political reform he contrived by successive measures and dictatorial methods to alienate the clergy, the nobles, and the peasantry. In February, 1866, he was forced to abdicate and the government at once issued a proclamation calling on the assembly already in session to elect a foreign prince. As the Porte had recognized a single hospodar for the Principalities only for the reign of Couza, and as the other Powers had reserved the right to consider the question when it should arise, the matter was again open and once more the Powers were summoned in conference at Paris to settle the question of the union of the two territories. It was obvious that the Rumanians were now determined to have not only union but a foreign prince. In this latter desire they had always had but one strong supporter, France. Russia was now so alarmed by the prospect that she withdrew her support of the union. In discussing union the matter was once more placed on the basis of the popular will. Austria and Russia, citing the recent upheaval regarding Couza as a proof of popular discontent with the existing order, now asserted that the desire of the people, especially in Moldavia, was for separation and, to ascertain this desire, they urged that the matter be again put to vote, under secure guarantees of liberty and independence. France and Sardinia opposed a vote on the ground that the vote of 1857 had been decisive. Cowley stated that the British government had no preconceived opinion either for or against union, and left it wholly to the people, “on whom she had never had the intention of imposing a state of affairs repugnant to them.” The majority of the Powers favoring another vote, the French plenipotentiary proposed that to obviate delay it should be given by the joint assembly already gathered at Bucharest. Russia argued that greater freedom would be assured if the Moldavian deputies should vote at Jassy. Russia, however, advocated a wholly fresh appeal to the people, and was supported in this by Prussia and by Great Britain, Cowley saying that he could not understand why there should be any hesitation in consulting the populations. The method of taking the vote, whether by one or two assemblies, and by new elections or not, was finally referred to the home governments. Without waiting for the decision of the Powers, however, the Provisional Government of the Principalities settled the question by dissolving the assembly already in session and convoking a new one, and by holding a plebiscite which elected the Count of Flanders. This action brought forth bitter denunciation from the conference. The consuls in the Principalities were notified by telegraph to inform the Provisional Government that a foreign prince was impossible, that as to union if the Moldavian delegates to the new assembly requested it, they should be allowed to vote separately on the matter, and that, if their vote should be adverse, the union would be dissolved. The consuls were to exercise a joint supervision over the vote.
1 Damé, p. 112, and Sturdza, La terre et la race roumaines, pp. 505–7. Xénopol makes no mention of Moldavian or French influence in the election, and credits it purely to the Wallachian assembly.
2 Cf. Martens, N. R. G., vol. 17, pt. 2, p. 82, for the protocols of the conference at Constantinople, and pp. 87-91 for the answer of the Foreign Offices of France, Russia, Great Britain, Prussia, and Italy, to the reservation of the Porte.
Judging the diplomatic situation to be inauspicious, the Count of Flanders had refused his election, but the Provisional Government had not exhausted its resources. On May 17, the President read to the Conference another dispatch from the government at Bucharest announcing a second plebiscite by which Prince Charles Louis of Hohenzollern Sigmaringen had been elected, by 685,969 votes to 224. The Rumanian agents at London and Paris had already ascertained that Prince Charles would be acceptable to both Great Britain and France. Needless to say he had also the support of Prussia. Although none of this support was voiced in the Conference, Austria and Turkey, perceiving further opposition to the union to be useless, accepted it, and, after a long and futile discussion, yielded also on the question of the foreign prince. On October 23, 1866, Prince Charles I was invested as hereditary prince over the United Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, which henceforth assumed for themselves the name of Rumania, although the name did not receive diplomatic recognition until the Principalities had gained their independence after the Russo-Turkish war in 1877, and it was not until May 22, 1881, that the coronation of Charles as King of Rumania took place at Bucharest.
1 The protocols of this Conference may be found in Martens, N. R. G., vol. 18, pp.
166 et seq.
2 Universal manhood
rage had been one of the reforms instituted by Couza.
THE IONIAN ISLANDS, 1863
The year 1863 was marked by an event unique in the annals of European diplomacy. A great empire, coveting maritime and commercial supremacy in the East, voluntarily relinquished a most commanding position, held there by undisputed right of treaty, and ceded to another nation what was thought to be one of the strongest fortresses in the world; 2 and the cession is still more noteworthy for the fact that it was made under the stipulation that the people themselves should, through their elected assembly, sanction the act. However accurately the cynical may attribute this act to complex diplomatic causes, it remains the highwater mark of the liberal era of Great Britain's foreign policy. •
Before the British Protectorate, which was instituted in the general rearrangement of Europe in 1815, the seven Ionian Islands, Corfu, Cephalonia, Ithaca, Santa Maura (Leucas), Zante, Cerigo and Paxo, scattered along the coast of Greece from Epirus to the extreme south of the Morea, had known many masters. For four centuries they had been under the harsh dominion of the Venetian Republic, when, in 1797, the overflowing current of the French Revolution caught up the Islands and carried them rapidly through kaleidoscopic changes of sovereignty; first the Directory, by the Treaty of CampoFormio in 1797 ; then a joint Russo-Turkish protectorate, under whose loosening grasp the Islands managed to obtain recognition as the Septinsular Republic, in the Treaty of Amiens in 1802; then, by the Treaty of Tilsit in 1809, back to Napoleon, under whom they remained for the brief period before they were seized by the British during the operations of the war and
1 Sturdza, Charles I, roi de Roumanie, vol. 1, p. 46.
2 George William Hamilton Fitzmaurice, Viscount Kirkwall (sixth Earl of Orkney), Four Years in the Ionian Islands - Kirkwall, writing in 1864, says that Corfu is still unrivalled as the strongest and most valuable of eastern fortresses – vol. 1, p. 48.