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dation or emotion. Cavour, who had resumed office as Prime Minister of Sardinia, had been inclined towards an assembly elected by qualified franchise as in Sardinia, but at once perceived the value of basing the vote on the broadest sanction possible and gladly acquiesced in Napoleon's views.? On February 24, he wrote to La Farina, his chief coadjutor in the work for annexation, recommending that he propose universal suffrage as his own idea, and “ show at the same time that it would not have all the drawbacks generally feared.” 3
The chief objection to holding the new vote came from Ricasoli, the head of the Tuscan government. Ricasoli asserted that the first election had been legal and decisive. To hold another election would, in his opinion, serve to strengthen the argument against the former one. Russell answered with a warning that any reluctance would, on the contrary, amount to admission that the allegations against the first vote were true.
While this discussion was going on, Napoleon, repenting of his assent, again proposed a plan of federation under the presidency of the Pope, the Grand Duke to be restored as ruler of Tuscany, Romagna to be a vicariat under Piedmont, and Austria to act as suzerain over Venetia. The French note ended with a veiled threat in case this arrangement was not adopted, a threat doubtless used to introduce a new mention of Savoy and Nice as compensation for such union as was granted by the scheme of federation. Cavour consented to communicate the proposition of the federation to the several States, but with the comment that although Sardinia would do its utmost to meet the views of Napoleon “it could not, even at the risk of being abandoned by France, deny the principle of popular will on which the Italian throne reposes.” The people of Tuscany and of Emilia, into which the former duchies of Parma, Modena and Romagna had united, must decide for themselves; whatever their decision, Cavour promised, it should be respected.
1 Russell wrote to Hudson on February 6, “So far as Her Majesty's Government is concerned, our views would be satisfied if the actual law or practice of Tuscany, Modena, Parma and Romagna were observed. We have never adopted universal suffrage for ourselves ... if that suffrage is proposed by France we should leave the different states and provinces to decide for themselves, both as to who should be electors and as to the mode of election. We have chiefly in view an election not carried by intimidation nor partaking of the excitement of the first outburst of the national feeling for independence.” Ibid., p. 36.
2 On February 19 Cavour had written “We believe the better way of arriving at the true sentiment of the Tuscan people would be to convoke an assembly elected by classes which represent wealth, intelligence, and property. But if the Emperor is unwilling to recognize any authority save that of universal suffrage, we would also agree without hesitation, since, after all, we do not wish to have Tuscany united to us, if the majority of all classes, rich and poor, rural and urban, do not definitely wish it.” Cavour to Arese. Translation. For original text see Chiala, vol. 3,
3 Translation. For original text see Zini, vol. 2, part 2, document no. 260. February 29, Cavour wrote to Nigra “ they will, perhaps, adopt the means of universal and direct suffrage as the one of which the result may be least contested.” Translation from Parliamentary Papers (2636), p. 31.
To block any further diplomatic manauvres of Napoleon, preparations for the vote were now hurried. The elections were called in both Tuscany and Emilia for March 11 and 12. The preamble of the Tuscan decree of convocation recites that although the Tuscan Assembly had, on August 20, voted unanimously for union, it was found expedient to consult the Tuscan people directly, with full legal forms, and in this way dissipate the doubt in Europe as to the complete freedom of the former vote and the firmness of the national will. Absolute manhood suffrage for all over twenty-one, whether literate or not, who were in enjoyment of civil rights and had resided in the commune for six months, was established.
The voting, as in 1859, was to be by secret ballot, cast in the comizi.? The polls were to be opened in the chief town of each district for the two days, from 8 A. M. to 6 P. M. The mayors and aldermen were put in charge of the drawing up of the electoral lists, which were to be based on the parish registers but were to include those non-Catholics who should go in person to register themselves. The voting was to be presided over by five common councillors, two of whom were always to be present. The formulas for the vote, to be written or printed on the ballots, were “Union with the Constitutional Monarchy of King Victor Emanuel ” and “Separate Kingdom.” There was only one ballot-box or urn." The vote appears to have been meant to be secret, but it is probable that the voter had to select his ballot from one of two receptacles, as was the custom of the time, and thus the secrecy was somewhat impaired. Soldiers were to vote at their stations. The sealed ballot-boxes and formal minutes of the vote, drawn up by the election officials and transmitted through the several administrative officials to the Supreme Court of Cassation at Florence, were to be received by the court and the final vote announced in formal public session in the presence of the Ministry.
The provisions in Emilia were practically identical. Farini had objected to submitting the alternative of a vicariat in Romagna to popular suffrage, on the ground that it was a question at the same time complicated and unnecessary, as nothing would induce the people of Romagna to vote for a return of the papal legates. The formula of the question submitted in all parts of Emilia was the same as that used in Tuscany.
On March 2, the day after the decree had been promulgated, Boncompagni, who had been acting as governor-general of Tuscany, again resigned office. There was, however, no doubt of the result. It was obvious that the vote would be merely a reiteration of an unquestioned desire. In both provinces the balloting took place in perfect tranquillity. The votes of Tuscany were counted formally in public audience and the result embodied in a report signed by all the ministers and made public by the Supreme Court of Cassation. The court announced that of the 386,443 votes cast, there were 366,571 for union, 14,925 for a separate kingdom, and 4,949 were void. In Emilia, where 89 per centum of those qualified had voted, the vote for union was even more decisive.? Rival dignity led the two deputations carrying the official result of the vote to present themselves to the King on different days. Farini led the deputation from Emilia. They were received by the King standing on the throne, surrounded by the nobles, the state councillors, the high officials of the crown and of the army, and the whole magistracy. The sumptuous ceremony was repeated for the Tuscan deputation. The votes were accepted and by two royal decrees, issued on the same day, the provinces were declared to be an integral part of the kingdom “in view of the result of the universal vote held in the province of Emilia (of Tuscany) the result of which was a general vote of the population to unite with our State.”
1 Documents, post, p. 508. 2 These appear to be the equivalent of our electoral districts. 3 Zini, vol. 2, part 2, documents nos. 259 D and E.
Savoy and Nice, 1860
Having failed to free Venetia, Napoleon had been forced to relinquish his claim to Savoy and Nice. The refusal of the people to carry out the terms agreed on by the two Emperors at Villafranca, and the movement for union in Tuscany and Emilia, gave him an opportunity to exact the old promise as the price of his acquiescence, on the ground that the two provinces were the equivalent of Venetia. Cavour was forced to yield the matter and the treaty of cession was signed at Turin on March 24.3
The treaty, however, did not provide for unconditional cession. Cavour had already comprehended the full value of the plebiscitary method of Napoleon. He had resorted to it to circumvent Napoleon in Italy. He now again invoked it to legitimate in the eyes of Europe, a transaction sure to be repugnant to it as well as to protect himself against the certain attack of Italian patriots against a cession of Sardinian soil. On Cavour's insistence, Article 1 of the treaty provided that the annexation should be effected without any constraint of the wishes of the populations.
1 Documents, post, p. 529. The population of Tuscany, according to the census of 1861, was 1,826,334. Statistica del Regno d'Italia, Popolazione, Censimento generale, vol. 1, p. xxii.
The authenticity of the returns did not escape attack from the papal historians. De Bcauffort in L'Histoire de l'invasion des états pontificaux, p. 396, quotes Curletti, a former secretary of Cavour and an official of the Piedmontese police at the time, as saying that in the Tuscan elections the officials, who had been carefully chosen for the purpose, had seen to it that affirmative votes were thrown into the urns to cover the abstentions, as well as a judicious number of negative votes in order to lend plausibility to the result.
2 Documents, post, p. 533. The census of 1861 gives the population of Emilia by provinces. The population of Parma and Piacenza was 474,598, that of Modena, Reggio, and Massa was 631,378, and that of Romagna 1,040,591.
3 Documents, post, p. 566. There is no doubt that the idea of a cession of Savoy in return for foreign assistance was an old one. In 1883, it is said, the Mazzinian society of La Giovine Italia offered Savoy to France and the Sicilian ports to England in return for aid. Cf. Chiala, vol. 4, p. xii, note, who refers the assertion to C. Cantu, Croni-storia dell' independenza italiana, vol. 3, p. 401.
As the ensuing plebiscites are at the same time the most familiar instances of a territorial cession subordinated to a popular vote, and the ones most bitterly attacked, it is advisable to give in some detail the previous history of the territories.
The two territories being contiguous, and the cession having been provided for in the same treaty and under the same stipulations, the custom of considering the two regions as identical and the plebiscites in them as one is perhaps natural. This collective treatment is, however, quite inaccurate. The two regions, different physically and racially, had had a widely differing history and, to contemporaries, the result of the votes which in the one instance aroused such widespread wonder and incredulity, in the other caused little surprise.
Savoy, though in history as often a part of Piedmont as of France, lies on the western slopes of the Alps. It is a mountainous region, the valleys opening on France and Switzerland. The duchy was composed of two divisions, Chambéry and Annecy. Each division had for its capital a city of the same name. Of the three provinces of Annecy, two, Chablais and Faucigny, bordering on Lake Geneva, had been included in the neutrality of Switzerland when, in 1815, Savoy had been given back to Piedmont. The chief commercial ties of these provinces were with Geneva, whereas the commercial ties of southern Savoy were with France. The people were French in race, however, as were those of the rest of the duchy. The devotion of the Savoyards to the church and its hierarchy was one of the chief characteristics of the duchy. It is said that there were more priests and monastic orders in Savoy than in the rest of Italy put together.
Savoy was thus divided from Piedmont by language, customs and economic interests, and by the intensity of its devotion to the church, but a more vital element of difference than race, religion or language, was the conviction of the Savoyards that they were governed according to the political exigencies of the cabinet at Turin, rather than according to their own desires, needs and traditions. The Savoyards resented the fact that the administrative officials were Piedmontese, no Savoyard being allowed to rise to positions of importance, and that almost one half of the taxes were spent outside of the duchy. The “question of Savoy” was agitated in contemporary discussion as that of “another Ireland.” This feeling naturally strengthened the sympathy with France in whose history the people of Savoy had played their part. There had always been a dormant French party in Savoy. The nationalist movement of 1848 had galvanized it into activity. At that time, the liberals, however, had been quieted by the concession of French as the official language and the conservatives had been restrained by distrust of republican France. The movement for annexation had again subsided until 1856, when events in France gave new life to the French party. The Savoyard conservatives were reassured by the change from republic to empire and had been estranged from Sardinia by Cavour's acts of 1850 when he caused the suppression of ecclesiastical privileges and closed the convents. All the journals, democratic and conservative, supported the movement, as did the great colonies of Savoyard expatriates in Paris, Lyons and Marseilles.
1 Whether this neutralization was in order to benefit Switzerland or Piedmont was in 1860 a matter of bitter controversy. The British government supported the Swiss claim that the neutralization was to protect Switzerland only. The French and Italian view was that the neutralization was at the request of Sardinia, and as a recompense by the Powers for the cession of a part of her territory to Geneva. The neutralization was desired because these two provinces were crossed by the Simplon and Great St. Bernard and had no means of military communication with Turin, which was thus without the means of defending from French aggression these two routes across her territory. By the provision of 1815 no armed troops of any Power were to be allowed to traverse the region. In case of Piedmont being involved in war, her troops were to withdraw and the Swiss troops were to police and defend the neutralized territory.
The events of 1859 by which Piedmont was expanded into the kingdom of Northern Italy intensified the feeling of isolation. Savoy, not being Italian, was reluctant to enter on a war for Italian nationality. The consequence to Savoy was the subject of constant discussion. Even the addition of Lombardy alarmed them. In July, 1859, after Villafranca, a petition was drawn up and sent to Victor Emanuel asking what was to be the future of Savoy in this Italian national kingdom. The address became the starting point for propaganda which was strenuously opposed by the Sardinian
1 Saint Genis, vol. 3, p. 338; also Trésal, p. 330.
2 Francisque Grivaz, “Le plébiscite d'annexion de 1860 en Savoie et dans le comté de Nice," Revue générale de droit international public, vol. 3, p. 573.
3 On February 9, 1859, Marquis Léon Costa, a deputy from Savoy, speaking in the Sardinian Chamber had said: “Cette province sacrifie ses ressources pour annuler son influence déjà si minime dans l'Etat.” Trésal, p. 136, quoting from Atti del parlamento subalpino, vie légis. 2nd session, p. 332. The Roman exile, Mamiani, said that Savoy felt abandoned as Ariadne on the cliffs of Naxos. Saint Genis, vol. 3, p. 339.
4“ Sire ... les actes émanés de votre gouvernment, les bases de la paix qui a été signée, proclament la fondation d'une nationalité italienne, nettement dessinée par les Alpes ainsi que par le langage, les meurs et la race de ceux qui doivent en faire partie.— Ces désignations, Sire, excluent la Savoie. La Savoie n'est pas italienne, elle ne peut pas l'être, quel est donc l'avenir qui lui est reservée?” Bourgeois, “L'Annexion de la Savoie à la France," Revue générale de droit international public, vol. 3, p. 680; Trésal, p. 155; Saint Genis, p. 342.