Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
—The preceding lines characterize the four congresses which took place from 1818 to 1822. The object of that of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1818, was to deliver France from military occupation, which had been imposed on it in 1815, and to receive it into the agreement of the five powers. The contribution to be paid by France was reduced from 700 to 265 million francs, and its readmission into the European Areopagus was confirmed by protocol of 15th of November. Those of Troppau and Laybach, in 1820 and 1821, had for their object the establishment of an understanding between Austria, Russia and Prussia, as to the means necessary to put down the Italian revolution at Naples and Turin. England and France were represented at these congresses by ministers plenipotentiary. It was during the congress of Laybach that Great Britain, by a circular note of Jan. 19, 1821, raised the first protest against the system of intervention of the holy alliance. The congress of Verona, in 1822, undertook to continue the war against the revolution in Spain; the Spanish constitution was overthrown by the army of the duke of Angoulême. England's protest was more energetic than in 1821, and Canning's note of Sept. 27, 1822, against the Spanish war, was one of the most important historic monuments of the period, though it was unable to prevent the restoration of Ferdinand VII. by a foreign army. The attitude of England contributed greatly to put an end to the use of congresses under the restoration. The advantages gained in France by the liberal opposition aided also in preventing their renewal. Although frequent interviews between sovereigns have taken place since then, we can only mention the meeting at Warsaw, Oct. 20, 1860, between the emperor of Russia, the emperor of Austria and the prince regent of Prussia, or that of Sept. 6, 1872, between the same sovereigns, the prince regent of Prussia having become the emperor William of Germany, as having any analogies with the sovereign assemblies of the restoration. This resemblance is remote, however, for the congresses of 1818 and 1822 rested on an evident principle, and had a definite object, while in 1860 the interview had an accidental character, which it continued to retain, since it had no consequences and resulted in no system of alliance, while the interview of 1872, if not accidental, had no avowed political object.
—Mention should perhaps be made here of the congress of German princes which met at Frankfort in 1863, under the presidency of Austria, to reform the Germanic confederation, but which failed because Prussia refused to assist.
—The congress of 1856, which put an end to the Crimean war, is celebrated on account of its declarations regarding neutrality.
—As a general rule, every state has the right to bring about the meeting of a congress, and it is proper to receive the representatives of all the states interested in any way in the questions to be debated at such congress; but the initiative belongs to the great powers, and those of the second order interested are not always received. In order that a congress may take place it is essential that the parties should agree on the principles by which the negotiations are to be guided. Consequently, there should be a general preliminary understanding between the powers as to the method of solving the questions. The congress which was to regulate the affairs of Italy at the end of 1859, was not able, as we know, to assemble, on account of inability to reconcile opposing interests. The method pursued by congresses in their work is not uniform, and depends upon the more or less general character of the meeting, the number of states represented, and their reciprocal relations. The congress of Paris in 1856, did not embrace, in the decisions it had to take, the total of European politics, as did the congress of Vienna. Therefore it did not follow the same course. At the congress of Paris only seven states were represented, and the number of questions to be solved were limited. Questions, therefore, were not subdivided among different committees, whose sole work was to report to the assembly of the great powers. At Vienna all Europe was assembled, and everything had to be remodeled. To facilitate the transaction of business the work was divided among a number of special commissions, which reported to the great powers. The latter accorded or withheld their assent. Most frequently the decision was made in advance, in consequence of a preliminary exchange of notes. This method of action was favorable to the influence and the independence of the middling and small states.
—The choice of the city where the congress is to meet is not without importance, for it is essential that no one of the interested parties should be able to exercise a predominant influence on the members of the congress. Therefore the custom of choosing cities in neutral, or at least disinterested, states, such as Belgium or Switzerland, is a good one. In case of failure to agree in this respect, the place in which the congress is held is declared neutral during its deliberations. Since, generally speaking, a congress is only convened for important purposes, each state chooses as its representative its ablest negotiators, and its officials of highest rank. When the sovereign does not appear in person at the congress, he sends his minister of foreign affairs, or at least an important person enjoying his special confidence. He takes care, besides, that his representatives at the congress be in possession of the necessary qualities and learning to succeed; and, as it rarely happens that these qualities and this learning are in the possession of a single man, the chief of the state constitutes the embassy of as many persons as are necessary for a full representation. He sends one with a talent for winning men, with insinuating manners, a great name, accustomed to great state entertainments; another, with a knowledge of history and international law, to act as a support to arguments; the third, a ready writer; and so on to the end of the chapter. It is the more necessary to provide beforehand, for everything, even for the unforeseen, since difficult questions may suddenly arise, and since problems for solution are numerous, and the time between sessions is occupied in preparing a favorable basis for future discussions. Questions of etiquette do not delay business as formerly. The congress of Utrecht is famous in this regard, as is well known. For the last 50 years questions of form have been simplified, and an unforeseen difficulty is avoided in one way or another. After the congress has met, the representatives of the different powers begin by making the customary visits; then the congress proceeds to the choice of a president. If the meeting takes place under the mediation of a neutral state, or on the territory of a great power interested in the negotiations, it is customary to elect as president the representative of the mediating state, or that of the interested power on whose territory the negotiations take place. This custom is purely one of courtesy, and in no way deprives the plenipotentiaries of their right of selection. This operation is followed by an exchange of credentials and fixing the order of the day. Questions of secondary importance are usually decided by an absolute majority of votes; those of prime importance, unanimously. We must not omit to state that unanimity is the rule, for each state is sovereign and free in its decision. The decisions of other states can not be imposed on it against its will. An exact report of each session (called a protocol) is drawn up, which is submitted to the plenipotentiaries for approval, and signed by them. If one of them finds that his views have not been correctly or completely reported, he may have his vote recorded in the protocol. Each minister gives an account of the deliberations and decisions of the congress to his government; and, thanks to the telegraph, he can at present be in continual communication with his chief. The electric telegraph tends more and more to modify ancient usages, and very naturally, to restrain the power of diplomates, since each report of a session may be immediately followed by new instructions.*63
Notes for this chapter
Attention should be here called to the congress of Berlin, held July 13, 1878. The treaty of Berlin contains the following stipulations: The principalities of Roumania (proclaimed a kingdom in 1881), Servia and Montenegro, to become independent states, Roumania to cede to Russia Bessarabia, and receive the Dobrudscha in return. Servia obtained Nish, Tirot, and almost the entire northern territory of the Morava. Montenegro received Nikschitz, Podgorizza and Antivari. Austria-Hungary was to occupy Bosnia and the Herzegovina. Russia obtained the largest part of Armenia, with Ordahan, Kars and Batum. The land between the Danube and the Balkan to be constituted into a Christian principality, Bulgaria, which, however, remains under the suzerainty of the porte. South of the Balkans a province of Roumelia, under a Christian governor, is to be formed. Turkey was thus left with 4,800,000 inhabitants, and a territory of about 170,000 kilomètres in Europe: while in Asia it retained 1,890,000 square kilomètres, with 17,000,000 inhabitants.
End of Notes
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