Montag, 12. Dezember 2016

USA-Austria: A Lecture From The New World To The Old World

In December 1850, the American Secretary of State, Daniel Webster, felt it was time to give one of the large European powers a lecture in liberty. He wrote a 6-page letter the the Austrian Ambassador to the US, Johann von Hülsemann (also known as the "Hulsemann Letter"). Below is an excerpt:

"The power of this Republic at the present moment is spread over a region, one of the richest and most fertile on the Globe, and of an extent in comparison with which the possessions of the House of Hapsburg are but as a patch on the earth’s surface... Nothing will deter, either the Government or the people of the United States, from exercising, at their own discretion, the rights belonging to them as an independent nation, and of forming and expressing their own opinions, freely and at times, upon the great political events which may transpire among the civilized nations of the Earth... The President has perceived with great satisfaction, that in the Constitution recently introduced into the Austrian Empire, many of these great principles are recognized and applied, and he cherishes a sincere wish that they may produce the same happy effects throughout His Austrian Majesty’s extensive dominions, that they have done in the United States.“

What had happened?

Beginning ion 1848, the Hungarians revolted against the Habsburg Monarchy. A new revolutionary government was set up. In June 1849, US President Zachary Taylor appointed A. Dudley Mann, a Virginian working with the U.S. Legation in Paris, as a special and confidential agent of the United States to the Government of Hungary. Mann was to travel to Hungary and present a letter of introduction. He was authorized to recognize the new government if Hungary appeared „able to maintain the independence she had declared.” Mann had gotten no farther than Vienna when Austrian and Russian armies defeated the Hungarians in the Battle of Temesvár on August 9, and the Hungarian forces surrendered at Világos on August 13.

Subsequently, Johann von Hülsemann complained bitterly to the US government for having meddled in Hungarian affairs which prompted the 6-page response by Daniel Webster.

The letter is a somewhat arrogant lecture from the New World to the Old World but it certainly makes for interesting reading.

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