Liberalism, 10

Spread of liberalism

Abolitionist and suffrage movements spread, along with representative and democratic ideals. France established an enduring republic in the 1870s, and wars in the United States ensured the formation of a nation and the abolition of slavery in the south. Meanwhile, a mixture of liberal and nationalist sentiment in Italy and Germany brought about the unification of the two countries in the late 19th century. Liberal agitation in Latin America led to independence from the imperial power of Spain and Portugal.

In France, the July Revolution of 1830, orchestrated by liberal politicians and journalists, removed the Bourbon monarchy and inspired similar uprisings elsewhere in Europe. Frustration with the pace of political progress in the early 19th century sparked even more gigantic revolutions in 1848. Revolutions spread throughout the Austrian Empire, the German states, and the Italian states. Governments fell rapidly. Liberal nationalists demanded written constitutions, representative assemblies, greater suffrage rights, and freedom of the press. A second republic was proclaimed in France. Serfdom was abolished in Prussia, Galicia, Bohemia, and Hungary. The indomitable Metternich, the Austrian builder of the reigning conservative order, shocked Europe when he resigned and fled to Britain in panic and disguise.

eugne-delacroix

(The iconic painting Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix, a tableau of the July Revolution of 1830.)
 
Eventually, however, the success of the revolutionaries petered out. Without French help, the Italians were easily defeated by the Austrians. With some luck and skill, Austria also managed to contain the bubbling nationalist sentiments in Germany and Hungary, helped along by the failure of the Frankfurt Assembly to unify the German states into a single nation. Two decades later, however, the Italians and the Germans fulfilled their dreams for unification and independence.

The Sardinian Prime Minister, Camillo di Cavour, was a shrewd liberal who understood that the only effective way for the Italians to gain independence was if the French were on their side. Napoleon III agreed to Cavour’s request for assistance and France defeated Austria in the Franco-Austrian War of 1859, setting the stage for Italian independence.

German unification transpired under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck, who decimated the enemies of Prussia in war after war, finally triumphing against France in 1871 and proclaiming the German Empire in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, ending another saga in the drive for nationalization. The French proclaimed a third republic after their loss in the war.

Published in: on September 13, 2015 at 11:18 am  Leave a Comment  

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