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committee was all-powerful. Not only were its decisions to be final, but the unusual provision was included that the committee should, without waiting for applications, transfer from the old lists the names of any who were known to have the right to the vote in this election, whereas others were to present themselves before the committee. This provision naturally gave rise to charges of partisanship which were probably well merited, for it was in this way made only too easy for the committee to inscribe French sympathizers without application and to insist that the anti-annexationists must register in person.
The French government had sent a commissioner to Nice, as well as one to Savoy, to watch over the preliminary arrangements and to see that the interests of France were protected, a measure which though surely legitimate, has also been made a subject of reproach.
The vote was held in Nice and the district on the days appointed. The official figures are 25,743 affirmative votes, 160 negative, and 30 void. The results were overwhelmingly for France. Even the soldier vote had gone for France by a large majority. There is small wonder that there has been scepticism as to the returns, and, indeed, they must have been tampered with, if the assertion is correct that, in Levenzo, 74 more votes were cast than there were voters, an assertion made in the Italian Chamber on May 25 by LaurentiRabaudi, and not denied. The official returns naturally do not show this discrepancy. This is the only specific accusation of the kind, however, nor is it necessary to consider it as proved, although Fusinato, in writing of the plebiscite, repeats the statement as to Leyenzo and admits that the charges made by Laurenti-Rabaudi and the other opponents were for the most part true. But, he adds, on the other hand, it is necessary to agree that in the face of such a unanimity of votes it is not possible to admit that those illicit schemes alone were powerful. "If it were so," he says, “ those populations were so utterly corrupted as to make us almost glad that they were torn away from our nation."
The points made in defence of the vote of Nice by Cavour as President of the Council in his several speeches before the Sardinian parliament are of varying conclusiveness. His picture of Nice as a French city he afterwards admitted to have been contrary to his own convictions. The impropriety of the acts of Lubonis he acknowledged from the first. The argument that what
1 The figures given out on April 28 gave 1200 for union and only 186 against. Documents, post, p. 597. According to the census of 1858 the total population of the city and county of Nice numbered 246,731. Of these 122,421 were male. Statistica del Regno d'Italia, Popolazione, Censimento degli antichi stati Sardi, January 1, 1858.
2 Documents, post, p. 614 and table on pp. 423-5.
ever pressure the civilians were under in Nice, the soldiers, who were not in one organization but were scattered throughout the Italian forces, had been under precisely the opposite influence, namely, that of their Italian companions, merely suggests that their officers had exercised pressure. The opportunity to lessen their term of service with the army from the eleven years required by Sardinia to the seven required by France, must, however, have played a great part in their decision. Aside from the vote of Levenzo the reproaches most often heard are that Lubonis and the bishop exerted all their eloquence, the bishop asserting that it was the will of God that they vote for union, and Lubonis insisting that it was also the desire of the King. With a loyal and Catholic community these arguments may have had great weight, but can scarcely be regarded as rendering a vote by secret ballot valueless. There is probability that the French offers of development of the city as a pleasure ground and the prospect of other benefits from annexation played their part — and a legitimate part. The assertion that there were French troops in the district at the time of the vote seems unfounded. In view of the apparent content of the population of Nice with their fate, and the scarcity of proof to support the assertions so hotly made, it is arguable that these have been exaggerated by the several Powers and parties whose interests were involved and too easily credited by those who distrust universal suffrage and the doctrine of national self-determination.
The vote of Savoy was held a week later than that of Nice. The provisional governor of Chambéry, in a circular of rather more seemly unneutrality than those of Lubonis, had announced on April 7 that the polls of Savoy would be open on Sunday, the 22nd, from 8 A. M. to 7 P. M. for a vote on the question: “Does Savoy wish to be united to France?” The suffrage was given to all citizens over twenty-one, born in Savoy, or of Savoyard parents out of Savoy, who were in enjoyment of civil rights and had lived in the commune for over six months. The registration lists based on the census and tax lists were to be drawn up by communal committees composed of the syndic and the four senior members of the giunta, and were to be posted by April 15, at latest.? On the 9th this proclamation was supplemented by one wholly unneutral in tone, addressed to the syndics of the district of Chambéry, urging them to explain to their subordinates that the choice was no longer between France and Sardinia, but between France and an unknown fate. The Intendent Regent of Faucigny issued a similar circular pointing out that there was no question of union with Switzerland involved in this vote and that a negative vote would not advance such a desire. The various
1 Cf. Documents, post, p. 585.
2 By a later proclamation, it was provided that agents should visit all houses of the commune in order to enter the names of all the inhabitants not on the census and tax lists.
Sardinian officials still left in Savoy used their influence also for annexation, if one may judge by the action of Graglia, the royal commissioner of education, who wrote to the governor regent of Annecy begging him to instruct the people to give an enthusiastic endorsement to the union. It is said that the circular issued by the governor of Annecy, in order to reconcile the electors of Chablais and Faucigny, permitted them to substitute France et zone for the simple affirmative. Most of these circulars were intended to carry some suggestion that the vote was a mere form and the cession a foregone conclusion and yet they warned against staying from the polls on that account.
The conservatives, through their deputation to Napoleon, had protested against a popular vote of any kind. When the proclamation reached them they were aghast at the news of the proposed adoption of manhood suffrage, and protested to Napoleon that they had not the time to work with the masses, that the syndics and the reds, who were well organized, would easily offset the new administration of Savoyard conservatives who would be without funds, arms, or time, and who lacked leaders of experience in directing propaganda. They returned at once from Paris and set about forming committees throughout Savoy to prepare for the vote. On April 12 the central committees which they had formed at Chambéry and Annecy sent circulars to all the syndics offering help in seconding the governor's efforts for a big vote for annexation and promised in particular to send French flags to all the communes where wanted, and urged union of all parties in support of annexation. Following this advice, in some places, notably in Tarentaise and Maurienne, the two parties fused and worked together for annexation. Not all the radicals were willing to give up their desire for the liberal Italian rule, how
The red newspaper, the Gazette de La Savoie, raged. The great doubt was as to Chablais and Faucigny. The conservatives said it was necessary to place these provinces in a position where material interests would not be harmed by annexation to France. Though the Emperor had assured the Savoyard deputies that a zone would be granted, the Swiss agents were busily sowing doubts in the minds of the peasants as to the value of Napoleon's word, which was not yet embodied in official documents. In answer to the conservatives' plea to send an agent to counteract this, Napoleon sent Senator Laity to explain the French intentions as to the zone.
1 Grivas, op. cit., p. 582, gives the text.
2 Trésal, p. 258. Grivaz makes the same statement giving the article. No text of the original can be found. The Circular of the Intendent Regent of Faucigny, q. v. in Documents, post, p. 591, does not mention France et zone as a possible form of vote, though it gives assurance that the zone is included in the vote for France. This was unnecessary as the promise of the zone had been made previously to the vote.
3 Trésal, p. 251. 4 Ibid., 260.
He ar1 Trésal, p. 264.
rived on April 4 and with his suite travelled through Savoy until April 28, giving particular attention to Chablais and Faucigny. Everywhere he was received with the greatest enthusiasm. He was accompanied by a group of engineers to inspect the needs of the country, of which the Savoyard deputation to Paris had spoken, and to draw up projects on a grand scale for tunnelling the mountain passes as they had desired. This mission, with the many inducements which it offered for union with France, went far to counteract the Swiss propaganda, in spite of the Swiss money which was reported to be plentiful in the northern provinces.
The vote took place on the 22nd and 23rd of April. Contrary to the assertion commonly made, it appears that though French troops had been stationed in both Nice and Savoy, and had been constantly passing through on their way from Italy, where they had been kept some time after peace had been signed, the authorities had taken care to remove them before the voting.3 The vote is said to have taken place with enthusiasm. The electors of the country districts marched in procession, the syndic at the head, carrying French flags blessed by the priests, the procession beating drums and crying, “Vive la France. Vive l'Empereur." 4 In the towns they marched by trades and fraternities. The women, too, made known as well as they could, their desire for the union. Trésal, commenting on the accounts in the journals of the day, says it is obvious that the vote was a tremendous ovation for France and that it was a religious as well as a patriotic vote. The Swiss party in the northern provinces made no sign. At Bonneville, a centre of Swiss agitation, the vote was without disturbance and particularly solemn.
On April 29 the Court of Appeal of Chambéry, whose duty it was to verify the votes of the whole of Savoy and to add them together, published the official result of the vote.5 130,533 had voted for union with France and only 235 against. 71 ballots were void. The soldier vote, counted separately, resulted in 6,033 votes for France, 282 against the change in sovereignty and 34 void.? The anti-annexation party claimed that all abstentions should be counted as negative. It appears, however, that each commune kept a careful list of the reasons for abstention, whether through illness, absence, or unwillingness to vote.1
2 For the arguments used by the French mission, see Cavour's speech before the Sardinian Chamber. Documents, post, pp. 440 et seq.
3 Saint Genis and Trésal agree than the Piedmontese soldiers were no longer in the country, and the Savoyard militia were alone charged with the keeping of order.
4 Trésal, p. 274.
6 The total population of Savoy in 1858 was 543,098. Of these 265,775 were males. Statistica del Regno d'Italia.
? Trésal, p. 276. According to Saint Genis, this soldier vote was reported later and should be added to the official result.
There is no case of a plebiscite more energetically attacked by writers than these votes of Savoy and Nice. The main indictment advanced against the votes of Savoy and Nice is the same, namely, that the vote was a mere form, the cession having been already determined on and the treaty signed. Grivaz, one of those attacking it at length, says that to say the cession depended on the vote is ridiculous for the treaty was signed on March 24 and all the journals spoke of the cession as inevitable. Pradier-Fodéré asks whether the two monarchs would have torn up the treaty had the vote been negative, and answers No. Stoerk says it is evident that the cession was not conditional on the plebiscite from the reasons given by the Emperor for the cession, namely, that it was because of the necessity of safeguarding the frontiers and of maintaining equilibrium. Grivaz insists that there must have been a party against annexation for the country was noted for its loyalty and there was at least a respectable minority in March. How could they have disappeared by April, unless it was because they felt the hopelessness of any opposition, and that the choice was between a France which wanted them, and a Piedmont which wanted them no longer? Grivaz asserts that Cavour did what he could politically to bring it about by both appointments and influence. Rouard de Card, Bourgeois, Trésal, Saint Genis and Heimweh all defend the vote of Savoy, the latter saying, however, that it is to no purpose to undertake a proof “which will not change the opinion of the gallophobes of the Triple Alliance.”
The arguments of the opposition are no doubt true in part. Certainly the officials had done all in their power to give an appearance of the inevitable to the cession. As for the treaty, it was especially provided that it should not be valid until ratified by parliament, and it was not ratified until after the vote. Napoleon, Victor Emanuel and Cavour all gave repeated assurances that they would abide by the plebiscite. What their course would actually have been had the vote been adverse is a matter for speculation, not decision.
1 Saint Genis, p. 364, and Trésal, p. 276, put the voluntary abstentions at 647. Saint Genis gives the following analysis :
647 voluntary, -out of which 157 were from one commune, half of which was in Switzerland.
2 Grivaz, Revue générale de droit international public, vol. 3, p. 445; Pradier-Fodéré, vol. -3, § 857; Felix Stoerk, p. 130, cited by Grivaz.