Table of Contributors   Table of Contents   Return to Encyclopedia Home Page

Claims of the Slovak Nation


Claims of the Slovak Nation, the most consequential political program during revolution 1848-1849, was elaborated b y approximately 30 leading patriots at the meeting with M.M. Hodaea under the chairmanship of L. Stúr. The Claims were a testimony to maturity of the political thinking of the Stúr's generation and at the same time they gave more precise direction to the Slovak national and political movement in spring 1848.

The Claims responded to all the problems of after March development in Hungary from the posture of sincere democratism and deep humanism. They went beyond the framework of the March Laws [or April Laws] and of the political goals of Hungarian liberal nobles. The fulfillment of the Claims would have greatly diminished the influence of the liberal nobles in the public life of the country, eroding the privileges of nobles, political aristocracy, and impeding Magyarization, which in turn would have assisted the non-noble strata. The Claims demanded far-reaching political, social' and state reforms. According to them Hungary ought to be re-created as a modern federal state with a genuinely democratic regime and equal civil rights. The authors of the Claims warned that if they were not achieved the greater part of inhabitants would continue to live in degrading feudal blindness and servility. The Claims had many similar features to the federalist efforts of non-Hungarian national movements; in the political and social sphere they were close to Hungarian and Hungarian radical democrats. As a whole, however, the Claims exceeded the intent of some of their proponents, and they represented the most democratic official program in Hungary during whole revolution of 1848/1849. The representatives of the Slovak national movement wanted to introduce the radical Claims by legal and diplomatic way, not by way of confrontation. They planned to send these Claims to the king, to palatine, to the Hungarian Diet and to the government. The press law with the requirement of a high security deposit and the restriction of rallies and societies they considered as discriminatory against less affluent, democratic circles and national movements. They demanded repeal of these laws, freedom of press, assembly and societies. The Claims considered the suffrage law requiring a minimum wealth and level of education equally unfair. The restrictions on the right to vote allowed only 6% of the inhabitants of the country to cast ballots; thus the nobles could completely dominate political life. They held the view that the real civil freedom and equality could be guarantee only by the codification of a general and equal voting right for all men. The Claims considered the solution of peasant question discriminatory also. The March Laws abolished only urbarial dependency, while the other serf duties remained the same. The Claims demanded the complete abolition of serfdom, ending the all forms of serfs' dependency, and transferring the meadows, forests, pastures to the peasants.

The Claims of the Slovak nation anchored the Slovak activities on the ground of the Hungarian state and its integrity. Hungary was considered to be the homeland of the Slovaks. However, they refused the concept of unified Hungarian nation and national intolerance. Instead of these they proposed the new laws allow them to express their will to live a sovereign national life under the principles of national equality and the fraternal coexistence of all the nations of Hungary. The Claims demanded reconstruction of Hungary into a federal state of nationally autonomous peoples. The supreme body should be the imperial Diet with the representatives of the all nations of the country. The deputies should be responsible for their activities to their electors. They further proposed that the constitutional matters should be dealt with by the nations themselves via their own diets and other bodies. In autonomous Slovakia the public, official and educational language should become Slovak. The Claims demanded to create the Slovak school system including the university and college. In the higher Hungarian schools, more Slovak should be learned as a subject. National-administrative sovereignty of Slovakia ought to be symbolized by national colors, flag, and an autonomous national guard. The 14th and last point of Claims demanded social and political reforms in Halic in favor of the Poles and for the liberation of J. Krái and J. Rotarides from prison. The weakness of the Claims was their lack of precision on several important points. They did not define the borders of national territories, competencies between imperial and autonomous bodies, or executive legislation and its bearers.

The representatives of the Slovaks were anticipated that acceptance of the new political program would allow the national movement to acquire a decisive authority. However, the Claims were known only to a modest portion of the Slovak public for several reasons. M.M. Hodaea, the host for the meeting, out of fear of the severely repressive measures by authorities of Liptov comitats and the Hungarian government, alleged that the Claims were proposed and approved on May 11, at a merely private meeting of several dozen individuals from the local small gentry, burghers and peasants. Although 10,000 copies of the Claims were issued in the town of Levoça, half of them were required by authorities and the others could only be spread secretly. Consistent with its Magyarization policy, the Pest government considered the Claims not o nly inspired by the pan-Slavs, thus illegal and riotous. Several active Slovak patriots were arrested and the movement as a whole was suppressed as illegal. Stúr, Hodaea and Hurban had to flee from Hungary to escape an arrest warrant. Several other patriots went with them to Prague, where the core of the Slovak national movement was transferred. They tried to force the content of the Claims on the Slav congress in Prague and later also in September upheaval. During late fall they distance d themselves from them, but their basic principles formed a framework of the Slovak efforts to establish their own legal state.
Dusan Skvarna

Bibliography

Dejiny Slovenska Batislava 1969, II, 30-34.

Rapant, Daniel Slovensé povstanie roku 1848-49. Martin 1937, I, 291-313.

Rebro, Karol "Státoprávne poaeiadavky Slovákov v rokoch 1848-1849" in Slováci and their national development Bratislava, 1969, 184-187.

Encyklopédia Slovenska Bratislava 1982, VI, 640-41.


Table of Contributors   Table of Contents   Return to Encyclopedia Home Page

JGC revised this file (http://www.ohiou.edu/~chastain/ac/claims.htm) on September 9, 2004.

Please E-mail comments or sug gestions to chastain@www.ohiou.edu

© 1997, 2004 James Chastain.