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and to pretend that in the midst of agitation and war a vote can have the same regularity as at a time of public quiet, is to pretend the impossible. Yet though the charges of irregularity are numerous no one goes so far as to assert that the result was not satisfactory to the great majority of the people. The truth appears to be that the conservatives wished the fusion in order to avoid a socialist republic, and the mass of the republicans, impressed with the need of unity and reassured by the liberal institutions of Piedmont, were willing to sacrifice the republican form for the sake of union, provided it be under an absolutely democratic constitution.
At a solemn meeting, in the presence of the archbishop and the civil and military officials, the provisional government announced the official figures. The result was hailed with joy by the populace. A few days later a solemn deputation presented the vote to Carlo Alberto, who received them, attended by the Duke of Genoa, the ministers of state and the officers of the army. He accepted the vote as a promise of unity and success in the struggle for Italian freedom. It was unfortunate that the reds still cherished a feeling of having been betrayed by the hastening of the vote. Patriots though they were, the resulting jealousy and political dissension prevented the full support which they might have given to the Sardinian campaign.
On the outbreak of the revolt in Venice, on March 22, the provisional government had immediately proclaimed a republic, with Manin as president, and had summoned delegates to draw up a constitution. Manin exerted every effort to carry out the republican plan of delay. The cities of the Venetian mainland, however, were unwilling to surrender their hope of a union of Venetia with Lombardy. They had joined in the commission to draw up a plan for an assembly; they now followed Lombardy's lead in opening registers for a popular vote. The cities of the Venetian mainland were incorporated in the Sardinian kingdom by the same decree which incorporated Lombardy. Alarmed at the threatened isolation and made conscious of the need of concerted action by the approach of the Austrian forces, Manin and the Venetian government on June 3 issued a decree convoking a representative assembly on the basis of universal suffrage. A later decree of the Consulta provided that the public should be given information as to the financial, military and commercial situation in order that their votes might be the more intelligent.?
The assembly met on July 3. On the following day, Manin in a noble and patriotic speech withdrew his opposition in face of the almost universal sentiment for immediate union with Sardinia. 1 Union was promptly voted by 128 to 6 on the same conditions as those stipulated by Lombardy.
1 The women too, though not included in the plebiscite, did not remain silent as to their wishes. See “Address to the Women of the Sardinian States." Documents, post, p. 393. Unfortunately the number of signatures is not stated.
2 For address of deputation and the answer of the king see Documents, post, pp. 391 and 392. 3 Documents, post, p. 406.
Plebiscites had already been held in the duchies of Parma, Piacenza, Modena, and Guastalla, with overwhelming majorities for union. All these votes were by manhood suffrage for all over twenty-one with no literacy test. In all of these plebiscites the lists were open over a considerable period of time, in one case for a period of three weeks. In each case the chief election official was the parish priest. In Parma the signing of the lists was to be in the presence of the mayor and the priest. In Reggio a special commission of eight and a subsidiary committee of twelve were appointed to collect the signatures, working in conjunction with the priest. In Modena a commission of four was appointed to assist the priest. In Parma and Piacenza each voter was allowed to cast his vote for the solution most pleasing to him, and to surround it with any conditions desired. In Parma some voted for the former ruler, some for union with Tuscany, some for the Pontifical States. In Piacenza there was a similar scattering. In both, however, the great majority voted for Sardinia. This vote was in each case accompanied by a series of conditions relating to the future status of the chief city, the disposal of the state funds, protection for the university, and similar provisions.
The percentage of the votes cast by those qualified was very high. In Reggio, out of 36,814 qualified voters, 29,851 voted for Sardinia alone. In Piacenza out of a population of 206,566, there were 37,089 votes for Piedmont, the scattering votes amounting to 496. The figures for Modena are not given in the official report. The Sardinian Parliament incorporated each province with the same formula. The union thus decreed was a short-lived one, however; the Austrian forces soon returned with the petty sovereigns in their train. The peace of 1849, based on the defeat of the Piedmontese forces at Novara and Custozza, returned Lombardy and Venetia to Austrian rule,4 and restored the dukes to the throne from which their subjects had so formally banished them. Another decade was to pass before unity could be achieved.
1 The British Consul General at Venice in a dispatch of June 4 wrote to Viscount Palmerston: “There is no doubt that the majority of the inhabitants of Venice, comprising by far the greatest part of the upper and middle classes, and the whole of the marine, a very influential body, are in favor of a junction with Piedmont, rather than a continuation of a Republican Government, even supposing the Venetian Republic could exist, confined as it would be to Venice and the islands of the Lagunes by the separation from it of the provinces of the mainland. Indeed, of the members of the existing Provisional Government, it is understood that the President, Signor Manin, is the only one who is desirous that the Republic, reduced to the dimensions above mentioned, should be carried on.” ... Parliamentary Papers (1108],
2 Other votes are not mentioned in the result.
3 The decrees proclaiming the plebiscites, the formal statements of the results, and the laws of the Sardinian Parliament incorporating the duchies in the kingdom, basing the union on the plebiscites, will be found in Documents, post, pp. 411 to 441.
4 After the withdrawal of Piedmont, the republic had been again set up in Venice, but the city was forced to capitulate shortly.
THE ITALIAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES OF 1859
However permanent the Powers may have considered the restoration of the petty princes to their Italian thrones in 1849, it was obvious that the inhabitants of the duchies regarded the arrangement as purely temporary. By 1859, there was but one party in Northern Italy, that for union with Sardinia. Republican prestige had greatly increased after the defeat of Sardinia in 1849, only to fall again through the subsequent ill-conceived revolutionary attempts in Genoa, Milan and Leghorn. It was, too, becoming increasingly evident that union could come only by the aid of France and the complacency of Europe and that neither France nor Europe looked with favor on the proposal of a republic in the Italian peninsula. Thinking union more important than form, many of the republican leaders, among them Manin, and thousands of their followers, had gone over to the Sardinian party. La Farina, Manin and Pallavicino, three former republicans, founded the Società nazionale with the motto “Unity, Independence and Victor Emanuel,” which made great headway, especially in the provinces under Austria. The party for federation under the Pope, the plan so eloquently urged by Gioberti, had long since been abandoned by its leader and was of small importance in Italy, though, having found a lodgment in the brain of Napoleon, it was to cause endless difficulty. The Sardinian party had no rivals save in Tuscany, where there was a party for autonomy, of uncertain strength, and in Rome and Naples where the liberals still wished for constitutional government rather than for union.
Napoleon's aid against Austria had been promised to Cavour at Plombières in 1858. By the bargain made there, the Austrians were to be expelled, from the Alps to the Adriatic, Venetia and Lombardy were to be annexed to Sardinia, Central Italy was to form a separate kingdom under a Bonapartist prince, Naples was to be a third under Lucien Murat, and the whole was to form an Italian confederation under the presidency of the Pope. In return for this, Savoy and Nice, which had formed part of France after the plebiscites in 1792, and had been returned to Sardinia in 1815, were to be given back to France.
The war which had been planned at Plombières by Cavour and Napoleon broke out on April 29, 1859. The petty princes ruling over Tuscany, Parma, and Modena, and their dependencies, were completely under Austrian domination. When the invitation of Sardinia to join in the war of liberation was received, each in turn refused. The refusal was followed by a bloodless and orderly revolution in each duchy; the liberals rose, assumed power, and established a provisional government, which, in each province, announced the deposition of the reigning house." Tuscany and the Romagna,” to which the union of 1848 had not extended, joined in the general revolt, proclaimed Victor Emanuel dictator, and sent envoys to Sardinia to offer allegiance. Lombardy, Parma and Modena, which had voted union in 1848, at once proclaimed the union to be again effective. Fearful of awakening the apprehension of the Powers at this early date, Cavour, the King and the Emperor thought it impolitic to accept these offers. Yet, as unity of action was essential for military success, a royal commissioner was appointed to each province to represent the King and the cause of Italian liberation, it being carefully stated that this was in no way to prejudice the question of union, a question which both Napoleon and Victor Emanuel had promised should be settled by a vote of the people themselves. 3
1 Cf. ante, pp. 41, 43.
The events of the war need not be given here, nor the many explanations of the unexpected peace concluded between Napoleon and Francis Joseph at Villafranca. By the agreement there drawn up Venetia was to remain with Austria, while Lombardy was ceded to Napoleon, to be in turn ceded by him to Victor Emanuel. It is said that Napoleon made every effort to write into this article a stipulation of a vote of the Lombard people before the final cession. Francis Joseph utterly refused to give recognition to such a revolutionary doctrine. The only vote in 1859 in Lombardy was that of the municipal congregation of Milan renewing the compact of 1848, a vote ratified in turn by the communal council."
The cession of Lombardy was the sole concession made at Villafranca to Italian national aspiration. Venetia was to be retained by Austria, the dukes were to be restored to Tuscany and Modena, and the papal legates to Romagna. Parma alone was left unmentioned.
Napoleon, on leaving Italy, had promised that there should be no armed intervention to effect the restoration and that votes legimately expressed should be carefully considered. Deprived by Napoleon's defection of the hope of success through force, the Italians were compelled to take the hint dropped by the Emperor and to rely on their own political resources. The problem was no longer one of how to win a majority to the cause of unity, but how to make the will of the majority triumph in the face of foreign opposition. The Powers were soon to gather at Zurich to complete the Preliminaries of Villafranca and the parcelling out of the Italians. To defeat the ancient methods of diplomacy, the Italians determined to resort once more to the doctrine of national self-determination. Cavour resigned from the ministry the better to work for the union, which must be now done unofficially, and, on the insistence of Napoleon, the Sardinian commissioners were recalled.
1 The provisional government of Florence was appointed by the municipality on April 27.
2 The Romagna was a part of the papal territory and was administered by papal legates.
3 Napoleon, on June 8, after the battle of Magenta, said, in a proclamation to the Italian people, “I do not come among you with a preconceived system, to dispossess sovereigns or to impose my will; my army will busy itself with only two things, to fight your enemies and to maintain international order; it will oppose no obstacle to the free manifestation of your legitimate desires.” Translation. For original text see Luigi Zini, Storia d'Italia dal 1850 al 1866, vol. 2, part 2, document no. 189 B.
* Cf. ante, p. 13.
6 This stipulation is not contained in the Preliminaries. It was the result of subsequent diplomatic exchanges.
England and the English Cabinet, with Palmerston as Prime Minister, Lord John Russell as Foreign Secretary and Gladstone as Chancellor of the Exchequer, then took Napoleon's place as guardian of the Italian cause. Whereas Queen Victoria, the Prince Consort, and the Tories were consistently averse to the expulsion of Austria from the Italian peninsula, the Cabinet and the Liberals were the devoted friends of Italian freedom. Russell had indignantly opposed and repulsed the invitation to join in the two Emperors' plans.
We are asked to propose a partition of the peoples of Italy,” he exclaimed, “as if we had the right to dispose of them.” 2 In this attitude, policy harmonized with conviction. The Cabinet was determined on preserving the peace of Europe while Villafranca, by ignoring national aspirations, gave promise of future war. Such a war, moreover, would certainly result either in the end of the liberal movement in Italy or, equally fearful to believers in constitutional monarchy, it would end by setting up an Italian republic. The latter fear was one which Cavour found a most effective weapon. • In support of the policy of the Cabinet Russell made direct appeal to the doctrine of self-determination. The Cabinet, said Russell, was wholly opposed to the restoration of the dukes by force, which would be, in its opinion, unjustifiable; should such restoration be by the consent of the people, Great Britain would not object. The unbiased opinion of the people must, however, be clearly ascertained, and to establish the wishes of Tuscany, Russell supported the holding of a national assembly, elected in a fair and orderly fashion.3
1 Documents, post, p. 444. Cf. also address of Ricasoli to the Tuscan Assembly at the opening session. Le assemblee del risorgimento, vol. 3, p. 660. To Cavour Napoleon had said that he would plead the people's cause before the European Congress and that, meanwhile, they had simply to keep the tyrants from returning. Cavour to La Marmora, July 16, 1859, Chiala, vol. 3, p. 111. To the representatives of Parma who waited on him in Paris after his return he said to tell the people that their armies would not force the issue, but that their votes would. Giacometti, La question italienne, p. 353.
2 Stuart J. Reid, Lord John Russell, p. 304. 3 Russell, on July 19, wrote to Corbett, the British representative at Florence, who was