Being a part of the Russian Empire the Grand Duchy of Finland enjoyed unique political status. It was autonomous in its domestic policy. The country had its own government system headed by the Governor-General appointed by the Russian Tsar and its own elected Parliament. Finland was allowed to create its own laws through its parliament. Many Finnish laws were adopted without central government supervising. The status of Russian language was insignificant. The Russians who were Orthodox did not have the right to teach at schools or practice medicine in Finland. Nicholas II started the process of Finland’s integration into the Russian Empire in order to solve these problems and consider the issues of autonomy without the local legislative bodies consent. The new domestic policy of Unification found a great resistance both in Finland and in other European countries. Subsequently first the Finns and then progressive public representatives from different European countries started to send the petitions to the Tsar in order to protest against Finland’s autonomy reduction. Petitions were sent from France, Britain, Sweden, Holland, Italy, Demark, Norway, Hungary, Austria, Belgium and other European countries. The international deputation made their way to St. Petersburg in order to present those petitions to Nicholas II. The Report of the International Deputation comprises the description of those events.
The purpose of this article is to examine the European public response towards the Unification policy in Finland through the analysis of the Report of the International Deputation of 1899. In order to attain this purpose we must consider several tasks: 1) to identify the reasons for the delegates’ arrival at St. Petersburg; 2) display the delegates’ social background; 3) explore the Deputation Report writing history; 4) determine the delegation aims and results.
Discussing the reasons for the deputation arrival we must say a few words about the Unification policy measures which caused the Finns and European public negative response.
A first step of the Unification policy was «The Gracious Manifesto of the Imperial Majesty of February 3 (15), 1899», which historians call the February Manifesto. The February Manifesto formulated the main purpose of the new domestic policy – «the closest union»  or further integration of Finland into the Russian Empire.
The Finns launched a protest campaign in defence of their autonomy. They regarded February Manifesto as the flagrant violation of their Constitution. After an unsuccessful attempt to influence the Tsar’s decision a widespread campaign, mainly in Europe, was launched in favour of Finnish protests against the February Manifesto. Finnish journalists as well as representatives of science and art appealed to their foreign colleagues and acquaintances for help and support. As a result intellectual elite representatives from various states of Europe started to send their petitions to Nicholas II in order to support Finns’ rights and privileges [2, 127].
A deputation from different European countries tried to submit 12 petitions supporting Finland's campaign to preserve its assured constitutional rights to the Tsar on the 20th of June in 1899. Initially it was planned to send a delegation consisting of representatives from all European states having sent petitions, but at the last minute it turned out that not all of them could go to St. Petersburg [3, 48]. Thus an international deputation was made up of 6 outstanding persons only.
The delegation consisted of Senator L. Trarieux (France), Baron A. E. Nordenskiöld (Sweden), Professor E. Brusa (Italy), Professor W. C. Brogger (Norway), Professor W. Van der Vlugt (The Netherlands) and Doctor C. M. Norman-Hansen (Denmark).
Lui Trarieux was a famous French Senator, former Minister of Justice and as well the head of delegation. Baron A. E. Nordenskiöld was the professor of Stockholm University; Emilio Bruce was a Dean of the Faculty of Jurisprudence in Turin and former President of the International Institute of Law. Professor Brogger gave lectures at the Christiania University (Oslo), and Van der Vlugt was a law professor at the Leiden University (The Netherlands). And Norman-Hansen was a Doctor of Medicine (M. D.) and Director of the Ophthalmological Polyclinic in Copenhagen [7, IV].
As to the origin of the Deputation Report we must say that it was drawn up on the 20th of June and issued on the 23rd of June in 1899 in Stockholm. The Report was the mutual work product of the delegates. The deputies were commissioned by petitions signers to go to Saint Petersburg and submit proposals about «Finnish question» to the Emperor. That diplomatic document contained the deputation’s attitude towards Unification policy in Finland.
The text of the document was not published in Russian. The full original text of the Report in French is represented in the book «Pro Finlandia» [7, IV]. The book «Pro Finlandia» is an album of printed petitions in support of Finnish autonomy to Nicholas II from various European countries. In our research work we have used the translation of the Report from the French language. We also must point out that the document has been already translated into Russian. Therefore we should pay much attention to the historical context of those events. The genuine book «Pro Finlandia» was presented to the public library at The Hague by Professor W. Van der Vlugt and kept there until it was presented to Finland’s National Archives in 1921.
Now let us consider the content of the Report.
On the 14th of June, 1899 the delegation arrived in St. Petersburg, but it did not achieve any results: Nicholas II did not receive them. Nevertheless, in Stockholm on the 23rd of June (5th of July), 1899 the delegation members wrote a report about their experiences in St. Petersburg. We will try to define the Western political and intellectual elite attitude towards Unification policy through the Report analysis.
The fact that twelve petitions had been signed by 1,050 most outstanding representatives of literature, science, politics, and art in France, England, Germany, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, Holland, and Belgium [7, IV] proved the public concern of the issue.
The delegates of Deputation wrote about their respect and gratitude to the Emperor for his initiative of convening the Peace Conference at The Hague in 1899. The authors of the Report were inspired by that event.
«We have performed our charge in the spirit by which it was inspired, without forgetting for a moment the feelings of reverence due to the great Monarch who has recently given such a wonderful proof of a noble and enlightened mind, by taking the initiative of the meeting of the Peace Conference at the Hague» [7, IV].
This international conference regarded different issues such as the preservation of peace and order in countries around the world, importance of international diplomacy, a third party mediation in the resolution of conflicts, arms reduction etc.
The delegates expressed their opinion that the permanence of peace and order was based on the respect of the fundamental rights and laws, regardless of the political government form of a particular state.
«The permanence of peace to rest on the respect of the fundamental laws of right and righteousness, no matter what the political forms of government of the respective states may be» [7, IV].
No doubt that this statement stance coincided with the delegates’ position in regard to the «Finnish question» as well. The delegates were totally convinced that the Monarch should not reduce Finnish people rights in order to preserve peace.
Still more clearly we can judge about the position of the delegates from the following sentence:
«…an address from various States in Europe in favour of the Protest of the Finns against the Imperial Manifesto of February 3/15, 1899, which seems to imply a violation of their fundamental rights» [7, IV].
The members of the deputation were of the opinion that international petitions had been sent in support of the Finnish protest against the February Manifesto, which was considered as the Emperor’s disregard of Finland’s Constitution. This fact proves previous conclusions that European community was alarmed by the new domestic policy of the Russian Empire.
On the 15th (27) June 1899 the members of the deputation asked for an audience of Baron V. B. Frederiks, Imperial Household Minister, to present 12 petitions to the Emperor. However, the Minister redirected them to I. L. Goremykin, Minister of Home Affairs, who also refused to accept such responsibility. According to his opinion the delegates should have to write the Emperor by post or apply to some of his adjutants. Following I. L. Goremykin’s advice the delegates went to Peterhof on the 19th of June (1st of July). They wanted to be presented to General Hesse, the Commandant of the Palace, but as they were informed he was in St. Petersburg in that time, and no one could be received in his absence. Next day, on Sunday, the delegates were invited to dinner in his private residence by I. L. Goremykin who notified them of the new instructions from the Emperor.
I. L. Goremykin informed the delegates that the Monarch knew about the deputation arrival, but he could not find it possible to grant them an audience:
«His Majesty, the Emperor, who, knowing all about our different attempts to receive an audience, had charged him to inform us that he did not find it possible to receive us» [7, IV].
Minister explained the Emperor's refusal by the fact that the Emperor did not think he should consider any petitions the on the issues concerning the home government presented by foreigners without admitting the principally authoritative character of such an interference. Thus the delegates with a feeling of personal resentment replied to the Minister that they just wanted to present their proposals to the Emperor about «Finnish question», besides they said that these opinion expressions might be of special interest for his Majesty [7, IV].
As a result of that conversation Mr. Goremykin allowed them to ask General Hesse by telephone, if he would consent to receive the petitions to be laid before His Majesty the Emperor. Telephone conversation with Peterhof did nothing but confirm the instructions given before. General Hesse answered that he was not permitted to ask for fresh instructions [7, IV]. Therefore the International Deputation was forced to depart without any results. There was the second widespread public attempt of collective protest to influence the Sovereign’s decision which was failed [3, 48].
After those events the deputation went to Stockholm where the delegates wrote their report. They also remembered about Mr. Goremykin’s advice and they sent 12 petitions to Baron V. B. Frederiks by post who subsequently returned it, and then the delegates sent petitions to I. L. Goremykin who kept it.
«It may be of interest to mention that during the course of our transactions, a copy of the twelve addresses was delivered first to Baron Freedericksz who returned it and then to Mr. Goremykin, who, having taken notice of its contents, kept it» [7, IV].
To summarize everything we can say that the reason for the petitions compilation as well as for the arrival of the European delegates, who should have to submit these petitions to Nicholas II personally, was the fact that the policy of Finland Unification caused unprecedented concern among the Finns. These feelings of apprehension were expressed in the «Great Petition». Further failure of Finnish deputation in St. Petersburg and other incidents caused widespread European campaign in support of the Finns’ protests against the February Manifesto. European countries commissioned the International Deputation to represent its petitions to the Russian Tsar. The deputation consisted of 6 prominent men: Senator L. Trarieux (France), Baron A. E. Nordenskiöld (Sweden), Professor E. Brusa (Italy), Professor W. C. Brogger (Norway), Professor W. Van der Vlugt (The Netherlands) and Doctor C. M. Norman-Hansen (Denmark). However, this attempt to influence the Russian domestic policy also turned out to be unsuccessful. The attitude of the European community to the Unification policy is clearly seen from the Report of the International Deputation. Western political and intellectual elite regarded the domestic policy of the Emperor, as the disregard and violation of the Finnish Constitution. The position of the government in this issue was unambiguous. Nicholas II refused to receive the deputation, and the Minister Goremykin explained to the delegates that their actions were the interference with the internal affairs of the Russian Empire. However, it should be noted that, despite this enormous pressure from the European community, the Emperor did not refuse to implement Unification policy and, moreover, he decided to carry on its implementation in the future. So the deputation and petitions had very little impact on the policy of the Russian Empire. The time was not ripe yet. At that time public petitions left indifferent Queen Victoria and other enlightened and progressive monarchs and presidents. But the very fact of petitions sending to the head of the state, even though he was a monarch having absolute power, is rather significant, because it put the beginning to European public opinion formation and civilized attempts to influence the political course followed by them.
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