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Late in the autumn of 1917 I was asked by Dr. James Brown Scott, Director of the Division of International Law of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, to prepare a monograph, with a collection of documents, on the history of the doctrine of national self-determination in changes of sovereignty. The present monograph was accordingly undertaken under his supervision.
It had been hoped that the monograph could be published at an earlier date, but the study has proven to be a much heavier task than was expected. Research has disclosed many more instances of recourse to the doctrine than those which are enumerated in the treatises on international law or in the general histories, yet at the same time the collection of documents illustrating the various instances has proven to be unexpectedly copious. Careful intensive study of the history of each country treated has been necessary. Most of the cases have involved controversial questions, and thus a careful appreciation and statement of each side has been imperative.
The monograph has been scrupulously limited to the doctrine with reference to changes of sovereignty. Material regarding the numerous plebiscites to determine the form of government or the personality of the sovereign, such as the plebiscites of Napoleon III, Greece, Rumania, Belgium and Norway, has been excluded from consideration as such a study, although it might be of great interest, deals with a theme essentially different from that of separation, cession or annexation.
There has been no attempt to present data on the many territorial questions which have become acute since 1914, or of the several plebiscites which rumor has told us have taken place since then, nor did the author conceive it to be part of the scope of this study to present a plan for the settlement of such questions.
Doubtless some cases which might be considered at first thought to be germane to its purpose have been omitted. The self-determination of the United States was omitted deliberately for two reasons: one because our independence was the result of a successful war and not of a resort to ballot, which came later; the other because, if it were put in its proper chronological position in the collection, it would make the doctrine appear to be derived from our revolution, which was not the fact. The American Revolution had more of a national than international aspect, so far as it affects this question. It made no change in the application of the theory of conquest or annexation, probably because these problems did not immediately confront the leaders, and in the later annexations of Louisiana and Florida the principle was not followed — a fact attributable, perhaps, to the sparsely populated condition of those territories.
It may be thought that the case of the union of Wallachia and Moldavia into Rumania should have been omitted, and indeed the author is aware of having possibly stretched a point in including it as a change of sovereignty. The Principalities were, however, called sovereign States, although they were under Turkish suzerainty, and effected their union of two sovereignties into one by means of two appeals to popular vote. The case has been included because it presents the first, and so far the only, instance of an international commission to administer a vote.
Of the cases included, those of the French Revolution and of Italy are instances of separation and integration. Savoy and Nice in 1860, the Danish West Indies in 1867, St. Bartholomew in 1877, and Tacna and Arica, still unsettled, are instances of cession which involve separation and integration. Moldavia and Wallachia are an instance of union or, perhaps, integration. Schleswig is an instance of division and cession, a project long discussed and still unfulfilled. The last case, that of Norway, is an instance of separation of a technically sovereign State from a technically voluntary union and there. fore presents a novel problem of change of sovereignty.
The term plebiscite in its common meaning connotes universal male suffrage. In many of the cases included which obviously belong within a discussion of the doctrine of self-determination the vote was by a limited suffrage and was usually for delegates, instructed as a rule, to an assembly ad hoc. This is true of most of the votes of the French Revolution, of Moldavia and Wallachia, the Italian votes of 1859 and that of the Ionian Islands. In the Italian votes of 1848, 1860, 1866 and 1870 a plebiscite in the accepted sense was used. The electorate included practically the whole male Italian population, whether literate or not. This was also true in Savoy and Nice, and in the votes of St. Bartholomew and the islands of St. Thomas and St. John.
In all the cases where the original text of the documents has been available it has been given. Extracts have been made where space could be economized without sacrificing accuracy in presentation. The translations are, as far as possible, taken from well-known sources, such as the British Parliamentary Papers. Where there is no statement of the source of the translation it has been made especially for this monograph. Care has been used in correcting these translations and in harmonizing the translation of corresponding words in different languages, but doubtless mistakes and inconsistencies occur. Owing to the numerous citations the title of each work is cited only in the first reference. In succeeding references it is referred to by the author's name only. In each case the full title will be found in the list of authorities. The legends, names of countries, places, rivers, etc., on the accompanying maps have been left in the language used on the original maps of which they are reproductions.
I am most deeply indebted to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for making possible the publication of such an extensive work, and to the skillful advice of Dr. Scott in its original planning.
The better to interpret the numerous problems presented, I have availed myself of the kindly assistance of many people historians, international lawyers and diplomatists — to all of whom I also wish to express the warmest gratitude. As for the invaluable aid and courteous assistance given by the several librarians to whom I have taken baffling questions, no acknowledgment would be adequate.
S. W. WASHINGTON, D. C.,
March 6, 1919.