Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
EMANCIPATION, Political and Religious. To emancipate a class of persons is to deliver them from the inferior condition in which they were held and give them the equal rights of citizens. Equality is a natural right. Civil society was established for the purpose of acquiring and preserving it, by putting an end to the abuses of force, the cause of inequality. It is, therefore, a violation of the principle on which society is based to establish or recognize in a state different orders of persons, some of whom enjoy the full rights of citizenship, while others are reduced to a state of subjection. So long as they bear the same burdens, and perform the same duties, all should enjoy the same rights and political advantages.
—This truth is not a new one in the world. Christianity laid down the principle that every man, by the fact alone of his being a man, had the same dignity and the same right to justice and liberty. But how many ages were needed for the ideas introduced into the world by Christianity to germinate and bear fruit! For fully nineteen centuries, difference of religion, of class, color and nationality, continued to serve as pretexts to oppress and deprive of legal protection a more or less considerable part of the population of every country. Freedom of the individual, of conscience and civil equality, are of very recent date.
—It is not a hundred years since Rousseau could justly reproach Frenchmen with assuming the title of citizens without even knowing the meaning of the term, and remind them that the name of subjects was far better suited to most of them. In England the Catholics have enjoyed civil equality only since 1829. The Jews won the right to sit in parliament only in 1859. In France the traces of hate and prejudice of which they were victims have disappeared only since 1830, and the emancipation of Protestants in that country dates only from the revolution. There were serfs in France in 1789, and it required a second or rather a third revolution (1848) to solve the question of slavery. In another order much time was required to put the principles of liberty and social equality into practice with regard to French colonies, for France admitted them to the enjoyment of political rights only in 1870, and she still imposes restrictions on their commerce (though less than formerly), the results of which are injurious to them as they are of doubtful utility to the mother country;—The causes of civil inequality lie in the ignorance of misunderstanding of the natural rights of man. It was when it might be said that the human race had found its true title deeds that these causes lost their influence. The honor of this belongs to the philosophy of the eighteenth century. By preparing the triumph of philosophic reason over religious fanaticism and the final destruction of the feudal system, it became the most active agent of emancipation.
—But, as has been frequently remarked, the ideals of the eighteenth century have been surpassed in our time. As always happens, beyond the progress made, there were still other kinds of progress whose possibility was not at first suspected. Thus Voltaire did not even dream of putting Protestants in France, and still less the Jews, on the same footing with Catholics. He admitted that public offices and employments might be refused them. He found in this monstrous inequality merely a necessary fact, a condition inherent in the social state. In France, in his time, non-Catholics themselves did not dare to lay claim to a share in political life. When the constituent assembly declared, Aug. 21, 1789, that all citizens, being equal in its eyes, were equally eligible to all public places, employments and dignities, non-Catholics were implicitly excluded from the equality thus proclaimed, so that it was necessary, a few months later, to issue a special decree providing that non-Catholics were eligible for all civil and military employments as well as other citizens. The preamble announced, in addition, that the assembly did not decide anything relative to the Jews, the consideration of whose case it reserved. (Decree of Dec. 24, 1789.) So that in laying down the principle of absolute equality, it limited its action to freeing the non-Catholics from persecution.
—This inconsistency is explained easily enough. The chief object of the philosophical controversies of the eighteenth century had been freedom of conscience; but the question had not yet been considered from the purely political point of view. There still existed a state religion in France, and the majority of the constituent assembly wished to maintain it. But the existence of a dominant religion naturally excludes dissidents from offices and public employments.
—The French revolution, which, more than anything else, had the unity of the country in view, was not slow in comprehending that this unity, the source of national power, could not be effectually acquired unless civil equality were granted to all; and by according full and complete equality to dissidents it performed not merely an act of justice, but took a wise political measure.
—Historians have told us what the revocation of the edict of Nantes cost France; but no one, so far as we know, has calculated the material and moral gain to regenerated France, from its proclaiming the equality of religions before the law.
—English statesmen were not mistaken here. The duke of Wellington and the tories associated with him in power in 1829, were not inclined to yield exclusively to the influence of philosophical ideas. When, notwithstanding their antecedents and their personal dislikes, they decided to propose Catholic emancipation, it was because they felt that this was the price of the moral unity of Great Britain, that the sentiment of common liberty and civil equality was the only one in which Ireland could sympathize with England, and the agitation and continual strife would cease only through one of two means; the extermination of emancipation of Catholics. Subsequent events have shown that they were right. England, freed from one cause of internal dissension, regained a liberty of action which contributed to insure her preponderance in Europe, during the years which followed 1830.
—From this experiment and many others we may deduce the principle, that a nation grows in power, in activity, in fruitfulness, in proportion as the same law is in force for all in the broadest and most liberal manner. In France national power has increased in direct ratio to the progress of civil equality; the history of its growth is identical with that of the emancipation of the third estate and the abolition of serfdom. Here, again, humanity and policy were at one. Humanity demonstrated that serfdom—that is to say, to have men attached to the soil, identified with it, looked upon as feudal property, unable to dispose of their goods, unable to leave to their own children the fruit of their labor—was unworthy of a generous nation; and policy showed "that such arrangements are only fitted to enfeeble industry and deprive society of the effects of that energy in labour which the feeling of property is alone capable of inspiring."—These motives, by which Turgot, in 1779, justified the abolition of serfdom in the domains of the king, are the same which were destined to lead to the emancipation of slaves. England had preceded France in this work of emancipation. After Aug. 1, 1838, there were no slaves in the English Antilles, when the provisional government in France decreed immediate and complete emancipation. Every one, beyond a doubt, was agreed on the principle; but on the eve of the resolution of February, the idea of gradual abolition still prevailed, and unconditional abolitionists, who placed humanity and justice before all things, were in a minority.
—EMANCIPATION OFCATHOLICS. In Great Britain. The term Catholic emancipation was given to the act by which the Catholics of the United Kingdom were freed from the political disabilities which excluded them from parliament and all high offices of state; but this act itself was only the completion and consequence of a series of measures intended to restore to the Catholics of England and Ireland the rights of property and individual liberty of which they had been deprived in consequence of the reformation in Great Britain, or rather of the struggles which followed it. Henry VIII., when he separated from the Catholic church, retained its dogmas and discipline. It was only under his successor, Edward VI., that the Anglican church decided in favor of the reformation, which finally triumphed during the reign of Elizabeth after a bloody reaction under Queen Mary. From this period the persecution of Catholics became regular, and assumed a legal form; the basis of all the penal laws which followed, are found in the acts of uniformity and supremacy. The act of uniformity prohibited the use of any liturgy but that of the official church, under pain of confiscation for the first offence, imprisonment for a year for the second, and imprisonment for life for the third. A fine of one shilling was imposed for absence from the state church on Sundays and holidays. By the act of supremacy every beneficed clergyman and every layman in the employment of the crown was obliged to abjure the spiritual sovereignty of the pope and recognize that of the queen, under penalty of high treason for a third offense.
—These penal laws soon became more severe. In 1593 the penalty of imprisonment was pronounced against all persons above the age of sixteen who should fail for one month to appear at church, unless they made an open act of submission and a declaration of uniformity. Catholics filled the prisons. They were ruined by fines or left the country. There were hunters of Catholics who tracked the fugitives.
—Under James I. new statutes deprived the Catholics of the control and education of their children; but while parliament imposed these penalties, the king, personally favorable to Catholics, procured them some tranquillity. This condition of the relative quiet continued under Charles I. and Cromwell, and the penal laws were not enforced till tge restoration of CharlesII. Under his reign, and notwithstanding his sympathies for the Catholics, the testact was passed. It declared all persons incapacitated to fill any public office who refused to renounce the doctrine of transubstantiation (1673).
—In 1679 the Catholics, already excluded from the house of commons, were also excluded from the house of lords. Finally, after the revolution of 1688, though William of Orange was disposed to toleration, Anglican fanaticism ruled without control. Priests were forbidden, under pain of imprisonment for life, to celebrate mass or exercise their functions in England, unless in the house of an ambassador. A priest in countries subject to the crown of England was considered guilty of high treason unless he had taken the oaths of supremacy and uniformity. All persons furnishing him an asylum were guilty of felony, without benefit of clergy.
—Laymen professing the Catholic religion and refusing to assist at the services of the established church, incurred, besides the pains and penalties mentioned above, the loss of their right of exercising any employment, of possessing landed property after the age of eighteen years, and of having arms in their houses. They were forbidden to come within eighteen miles of London, or to go farther than five miles from home without permission. Women might be detained in prison if their husbands did not ransom them; they lost a portion of their dowry. A catholic could not bring a case at law; and a wife could neither be the heir nor the testamentary executor of her husband. Marriages, burials, baptisms, could be officiated at only be a clergyman of the official church—The situation of the Catholics in Ireland was still more frightful. There also the acts of uniformity and supremacy had been forced on the people by the prison and the scaffold. But four-fifths of the population were and wished to remain Catholic. The struggle was prolonged into a war of extermination. Defeated at the battle of the Boyne(1690), the Catholics signed the treaty of Limerick. It was agreed that Roman Catholics should retain the exercise of their religion as under the reign of Charles II., and the king agreed to obtain the most ample guarantees for them. These were refused by parliament. The Anglican bishop of Meath justified this breach of faith by proving, in a sermon preached before the lords justices, that Protestants were not bound to observe the peace concluded with the papists.
—A new parliament, convened in 1695, undertook as its first work to ascertain the condition of the penal laws. A committee appointed for this purpose reported that the principal ones were: 1st, an act requiring the oath of supremacy for admission to all employments; 2nd, an act imposing fines for absence form the services of the established church; 3d, an act authorizing the chancellor to appoint a guardian to the child of every Catholic; 4th, an act prohibiting instruction to Catholics. This legislation served as a point of departure for other acts which expelled Catholic priests and prelates, deprived parents of the right to instruct their own children except through Protestant masters, ordered the general disarmament of Catholics, excluded them from public employments, and repealed the laws which confirmed them in the enjoyment of their property. All this was done at a time when England received the Protestants driven from France, and conferred on them the rights of citizenship. At this period there were three or four millions of Irish Catholics, but, as far as the law was concerned, they existed no longer. It did not recognize that there were, in Ireland, any citizens but Protestants. Things thus continued during the first two thirds of the eighteenth century, so that the earliest events which were the incentive to emancipation were purely political. These events were a consequence of the ideas of independence and national interests common to all the inhabitants of Ireland, propagated by the Protestant, Swift, and before him by Molyneux.
—In 1773 the Catholics esteemed as a great favor an act which, without changing the penal laws in any way, permitted them to take a new oath as a pledge of their loyalty. This act implicitly recognized their existence. About the same time a Catholic committee was formed.
—The spirit of the time had changed, George III., in his zeal for Anglicanism, upheld the penal laws, but parliament practiced toleration in spite of the king, as at a former time it had been intolerant in spite of William III. In 1778 it was provided, on motion of Sir George Saville, 1st, that Catholic priests discovered performing their functions should no longer be subject to the penalties of high treason; 2d, that a son, by accepting the Protestant religion, should no longer be able to despoil his father; 3d, that the power of acquitting property by purchase, inheritance or gift should be restored to Catholics. Nevertheless, at the end of the eighteenth century these just measures excited among English Protestants the most formidable insurrection. On May 30, 1780, 60,000 men, under the leadership of Lord George Gordon, a half-crazy fanatic, besieged the houses of parliament; repulsed by the military they wrecked the housed of the principal members of parliament, attacked and burnt the prisons, assassinated Catholics, and were the cause of a frightful conflagration in the city. When order was re-established, parliament limited itself to furnishing some explanations intended to satisfy public opinion on the interests of the Protestant religion. Things remained as they were before the insurrection.
—The example given in England was followed in Ireland. In 1778 a bill was passed which permitted Catholics to teach and exercise guardianship over their own children. The privilege of living in Limerick or Galway was restored to them. The prohibition of owning a horse worth more than five pounds sterling was done away with. From 1790 to 1793 several bills in succession permitted Catholics to engage in the profession of the law, to receive apprentices, to occupy positions in the army as high as colonel inclusive, to have arms on condition of possessing property of a certain value, to be members of a grand jury and justices of the peace, to hold subordinate civil positions, and, which was of great value, to vote at elections. These acts did away with the obligation of attending Protestant service, even authorised Catholic priests, under certain restrictions, to celebrate mass, and removed the remnant of the restraints on acquiring and holding property. The benefit of these laws was acquired by taking an oath, renouncing allegiance to the pretender, and disavowing the doctrine that contracts with heretics may be broken, and that princes excommunicated by the see of Rome may be deposed and put to death.
—When the pact of parliamentary union was established in 1798 between Ireland and England, the latter promised, as a compensation, to abolish all remaining political disabilities. George III, refused to keep the promise of his minister, and William Pitt resigned his office. Thus deceived, Ireland had the courage to employ only legal means to assert her rights. Under the direction of John Reogh, and soon after of O'Connell, the Catholic association was able to arouse and support one of those great movements of public opinion which, in enlightened and free countries, prepare and necessitate the regular change of institutions. A continually growing minority in parliament were in favour of emancipation. It might have been believed, in 1813, that the cause was about to triumph. The bigotry of George III. had become a characteristic folly, and his successor showed more generous tendencies—The condition of the Catholics of England was improved in the same degree as that of their co-religionists in Ireland. Instead of following, in all its details, the gradual abolition of the restrictions and penalties imposed on them, we shall describe the condition of both on the eve of Catholic emancipation. A Catholic could sit neither in the house of lords nor in the house of commons, he was excluded from every judicial office; the higher grades of service in the army and navy were opened to him by law only since 1816; he had no voice in the vestries, though these assemblies had the right of imposing heavy taxes; he could be neither governor nor director of a bank, nor occupy a number of other honorary or lucrative offices. If a Catholic in Ireland did not possess a freehold of a hundred pounds a year, or personal property to the amount of a thousand pounds, he had not the right to keep arms, he was subject to domiciliary visits, and in certain cases to imprisonment, to the pillory or to flogging; he was excluded from certain occupations, such as that of gamekeeper and gunsmith. If a Catholic died without having appointed a guardian to his children, the chancellor had the right of setting aside the nearest relatives and appointing a Protestant stranger. If a Catholic corresponded with the pope, he became guilty of high treason. Catholic endowments, either charitable or benevolent, were expressly forbidden. A Catholic priest who, even by mistake, should marry a Catholic and Protestant, incurred capital punishment. A Catholic priest was liable to imprisonment if he refused to make known the secrets of the confessional before a court of justice. Finally, to retain their property, to practice their religion, in one word, to profit by all the favorable acts passed since 1778, Catholics were obliged to take the oath of fidelity and renounce the temporal authority of the pope. This résumé does not include certain regulations more vexatious than important, such as the prohibition of pilgrimages, the duty imposed on magistrates of destroying Catholic crosses, paintings and inscriptions.
—Such was the legal position of four or five millions of citizens. We have stated, in the introduction to this article, how the duke of Wellington's government was led to put an end to this state of affairs. On March 5, 1829, Robert Peel laid before the house of commons the emancipation bill, entitled. An act for the relief of his majesty's Roman Catholic subjects. Neither the rage of the Protestant party of 1780, nor the enthusiasm of the French revolution, were witnessed at the time, the measure was proposed and voted as a political expedient. The danger of internal dissension, the necessity of decreasing the influence of the priests, as well as of dissolving the Catholic association by granting what it asked for, and the impossibility of continuing the struggle longer, were the motives that the ministry brought to bear. The bill passed the house of lords, by 212 votes against 112, in spite of the opposition of certain bishops, and was finally adopted April 13, 1829. The act or bill of emancipation (Act 10, George IV., chap.vii.) formally abolished all preceding laws, not, however, without certain reservations. Thus, every Catholic could be a member of the house of lords or commons, on condition of his taking an oath of fidelity to the king and the Protestantdynasty, instead of the oath of supremacy and abjuration; of his declaring that he did not consider it an article of faith that princes excommunicated by the pope might be deposed and put to death by their subjects; of his recognizing that the pope had neither civil power nor jurisdiction in the kingdom, and promising to maintain the established church in its privileges and property. By taking the same oath Catholics were allowed to vote at elections for the house of commons, and were eligible to civil and military employments, with the exception of the office of lord chancellor of England or of Ireland, lord lieutenant of Ireland or high commissary to the general assembly of the church of Scotland. Roman Catholics might become members of lay corporations, on condition of taking the above oath and such other oaths as should be required of the members of these corporations, but without being able, while sitting in the same corporations, to cast a vote on questions of presenting an ecclesiastical benefice. No particular oath was required to enable Roman Catholics to possess personal property or real estate, nor for their admission to the army or the navy. The bill at the same time contained a clause directed against O'Connell, elected from the county of Clare. who generously sacrificed his interest to the success of the common cause. The property qualification for voters was raised, in Ireland, from forty shillings to ten pounds, which did not, however, prevent the great agitator from entering parliament.
—The emancipation act was justly considered a great boon. The London Timesremarked that hitherto the union of the three nations was merely nominal; there could be no harmony between the serf and his master, between the suspicious oppressor and his victim. Catholic emancipation was a victory whose consequences would be so many benefits for the remotest generation, for it brought peace and happiness to Ireland and was an element of strength and dignity for Great Britain. Experience has confirmed all this.-In Other Countries. We could not well think not well think of reproaching the pope, when still in possession of the temporal power, with depriving non-Catholics of all political and even civil rights. Civil equality was not compatible with the nature of his government. But we are astonished that in liberal Holland Catholics were so long excluded systematically from the employ of the government in spite of the law of 1798 which emancipated them; that in Sweden, a country where Protestantism is dominant, that is to say. where the right of each one to account only to himself for his faith is recognized dissidents are still excluded from public offices, and citizens professing the state religion are forbidden under penalty of perpetual banishment to embrace another religion.
—It is remarkable that the pretext for the first invasion of Poland in 1768 was the emancipation of the Ruthenians of the Greek rite whom the Catholics held in an inferior political condition. At present, Russia is endeavoring to impose on Polish Catholics the orthodox religion in order to attach them to the throne of the czar and make them forget their own nationality, but we know that every step taken in such a direction leads from the desired end. After similar acts of violence committed in France against the Protestants the only result was to obtain apparent conversions and make the two nations almost irreconcilable.
—In Russia proper, atrocious persecutions were carried on from 1832 and 1855, to favour the progress of the dominant religion. According to Dupretz(Revue des Deux Mondes, 1850, vol. i.) more than five millions of United Greeks, or Greek Catholics, were obliged to join the Russian church. In giving an account of the means employed to effect this end we do not find measures tending to abolish civil equality between the dissidents and the orthodox, and this is easily understood in a country in which the whole nation was subject to the machinery and the external forms of a military government. Resource was had, therefore, to other means; for instance, a ukase of Jan. 2, 1839, granted complete amnesty to persons condemned for robbery or murder, to the knout, to mines, or to the galleys, sa a reward for conversion. Another ukase of March 21, 1840, decreed that every person who should leave the orthodox religion would lose the administration of his own estates, that he could not hold orthodox serfs in his service, etc. The measures decreed under Nicholas I. had nothing of the generous ideas of emancipation which the Russian government applied under Alexander II. to forty millions of his subjects in the question of serfdom. Neither did it in any way resemble the toleration professed by Catherine II., which Voltaire, with a complaisance for which he has been blamed, praised too highly. The illustrious philosopher was scarcely more in the right when, to satirize the morals of Europe, he delighted in lauding the followers of Confucius. Better informed in our time he would, no doubt, have applauded article thirteen of the treaty of peace and alliance concluded at Pekin in 1860, which abolished all penalties and disqualifications affecting Christians in China. But perhaps he would have been less pleased with the clause binding the Chinese government to accord missionaries effectual protection, a protection which appears to be of another kind than that guaranteed to travelers and merchants. He would at least have observed that the conditions of just reciprocity would impose on the French government the obligation of extending a special and effectual protection to bonzes who should try to convert us to the most ancient religion of Asia. It is well to emancipate the members of Christian communities, but for them, as for all others, equality should be the rule.
—EMANCIPATION OF PROTESTANTS. In the general reaction in France which followed the death of Louis XIV., the regent thought of recalling the Huguenots. This inaccurate expression, which was frequently employed in the eighteenth century, was employed to mean the recalling of Protestant refugees to France, and the giving of a civil status to those who had remained in France. Saint-Simon boasted of having made the duke of Orleans abandon this project : he admitted, however, that the legislation of Louis XIV., so harsh toward Protestants, was confused and contradictory, and caused the government frequent embarrassments, especially in questions of marriage and wills. The traditions of the administration had more weight with the regent than the opinion of Saint-Simon. These traditions were represented and upheld especially by a family formerly protestant, that of Phelyppeux, which during almost two whole centuries furnished secretaries of state, under the names of Pontchartrain, Saint-Florentin, Maurepas, La Vrillière. The count of Saint-Florentin, in particular, during a ministry of fifty-two years devoted himself with a rare degree of bureaucratic stubbornness to keeping the protestants under the yoke.
—The honor of having given the first impulse in France belongs to Voltaire. Immediately after a renewal of persecution in the city of Toulouse, noted for the tortures of the pastor Rochette, of the three brothers Grenier, accused of wishing to liberate him, and of Jean Calas, Voltaire called attention to the condition of the Protestants of France, by the success of his efforts, continued during three years, to reverse the decision in the case of Calas, and during nine years in that of Sirven. With the aid of the Duke de Choiseul he endeavored to found at Versoix a manufacturing town whose clock making should rival that of Geneva, and where Protestant workmen should not only enjoy civil rights but even freedom of worship. Voltaire encouraged with all his power writers of his own school and certain tolerant magistrates to publish mémoireson the civil condition of the Protestants, and particularly on the necessity of recognizing their marriages. Rippert de Monclar, Turgot, Target, Condorcet, Gibert de Voisius, Robert de Saint-Vincent, and especially Malesherbes, pleaded the cause of tolerance. Several lawsuits added to the effects of the mémoires. By the law every marriage celebrated according to the reformed rite was null and void. The children born of such a marriage were illegitimate and incapable of inheriting. so that any collateral relation, no matter how distant, might lay claim to the estate of a Protestant provided the claimant was a Catholic or became one. At the end of a century this odious system had introduced inextricable confusion into the situation of 300,000 families, who were without any civil status. The government thus found itself more and more embarrassed from such a state of things. The advent to the ministry of certain tolerant men like Choiseul, and, later, Castries, Breteuil, and especially Turgot and Malesherbes, was calculated to improve the condition of things. Louis XVI. desired to put an end to the disorder by a spirit of kindness and justice. Turgot states that at the moment of his consecration the new king, instead of pronouncing the words obliging him to exterminate the heretics, muttered some confused words, which accords very well with the mixture of generous intentions and weakness which characterized this unfortunate prince.
—The end of persecution was brought about by a more resolute man whose name marks the advent of modern society in France. Lafayette, who had become intimately acquainted in America with Protestantism and the practice of religious liberty, wrote to Washington on May 11, 1785, that he was resolved to take up the cause of his Protestant countrymen, and his illustrious friend encouraged him in this design worthy of them both. Lafayette undertook to examine in person the principal centres of the Protestant population. For this purpose he went to Nimes and attended the Protestant worship in the open air, conducted by Rabant-Saint-Etienue. After the service Lafayette embraced the pastor and engaged him to come to Paris to labor in obtaining civil liberty for his co-religionists. This was the beginning of the political career of Rabaut-Saint-Etienne. His expenses were paid by a subscription, made by the Protestant churches of Nimes, Montpellier, Marseilles and Bordeaux. He came to Paris under the Pretext of publishing his Lettres à Bailly sur Vhintoire primitive de la Grèce. Introduced by Lafayette into Parisian society and to the ministers, the future president of the national assembly was received with curiosity and interest. It was something to get a close view of a man whose profession, which he openly acknowledged, condemned him to death, and who according to the expression of the time was a candidate for martyrdom. With Malesherbes Rabaut prepared the way for emancipation. This minister succeeded in gaining over public opinion through a work which he had written by an academician, Rulhières, more celebrated then than he is now, two volumes of Eclaircissements historiques sur les causes de la revocation de vedil'de Nantes, tirés des archives du gouvernement—The councilors Bretignière and Robert de Saint-Vincent had already laid before the parliament of Paris propositions favoring the Protestants. May 23, 1787, an assembly of notables, of which Lafayette was a member, presided over by Count d'Artois(Afterward Charles X), expressed a unanimous wish to restore their civil status to the Protestants. A petition was presented to Louis XVI., by his brother. At length the edict of reinstatement appeared (Nov. 1787). It was far from restoring to the Protestants the rights accorded them by the edict of Nantes, and to France the glory which she had had of being the first to proclaim liberty to conscience. The reformed religion continued to be prohibited; and, according to the terms of the preamble, the law accorded to the Protestants only "that which natural law forbids us to refuse them, the power to prove their births, their marriages and their deaths". The innovation consisted in this, that the officers of justice and their clerks were charged with registering the marriages, births and deaths in the absence of Catholic priests. This concession was an immense benefit; and the edict, incomplete as it was, does honor to the memory of Lafayette, Malesherbes and Louis XVI. The Protestants of France were no longer outside the pale of society. They appeared in crowds to legalize their condition, and in many places three generations of the same family were seen registering their marriages at the same time. The national assembly completed the work of Louis XVI., Aug 23, 1789, by the following decree: "No one shall be disturbed on account of opinions even on religion, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law." This liberty was at once confirmed, regulated and restrained by the organic law of the first consul (germinal, year X.), which was itself modified and amended by a decree of the president of the republic, dated March 26, 1852.
ATH. COQUEREL, JR.
—Emancipation is not yet complete the world over. It may be considered complete in England and in all the countries inhabited by the Anglo-Saxon race or which are connected with Great Britain, as well as in nearly all Protestant countries. Holland, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden and Norway are almost the only exceptions. In these countries, the Lutheran being the state church, those who are separated from it, whether Catholic or Protestant dissenters are subject to exceptional laws, do not enjoy all the rights of other citizens, and are not admitted to public offices. It is proper to acknowledge that the efforts of government tend to put an end to such an abhorrent state of things, and that the laws voted in 1860 by Sweden show a notable progress.
—In Russia the Protestant population, grouped in compact masses in the Baltic provinces, appears to enjoy as many rights as the orthodox subjects of the czar; still a pressure is exercised to induce, if not to constrain, them to accept the orthodox church.
—In Switzerland, a mixed but a free country, the political emancipation of Protestants is complete even in the Catholic cantons. The cases of mixed marriages, however, still present difficulties of more than one kind, and have caused conflicts between the cantons—Four millions of Austrian Protestants have long been in a difficult and precarious condition, which at one time seemed on the point of becoming more serious on account of the concordat concluded in 1855 between the holy sec and the Vienna government. This act assured a complete preponderance to the Catholic church, with immunities and extensive privileges, created a clerical censorship over publications of every kind, and established ecclesiastical tribunals, which in the case of mixed marriages were able to interfere in a way the most contrary to the rights of Protestants. Happily this concordat was scarcely concluded when it fell into abeyance; if it has never been positively abolished, neither has it ever been completely executed; at present it is almost a dead letter. On the other hand, the imperial patent of Sept. 1, 1859, relating to the Reformed and Lutheran churches in Hungary and its dependent lands, and that of April 10, 1861, concerning Protestants of the rest of the empire, have completed both the civil and religious emancipation of the Austrian Protestants.
—In Italy the civil emancipation of Protestants is also of recent date. Before 1848 only one of the states of the peninsula contained a Protestant population. About 20,000 Waldenses inhabited a few wild valleys of the Alps of Piedmont above Pignerol. Long persecuted, they were at once put in possession of all their civil rights by the French administration, when Napoleon I. united Piedmont to his empire. Since 1814 they have endured an exceptional régime, which closed every liberal career to them and access to public offices. They were finally emancipated in 1848, and given the rights previously refused. At this epoch liberty of conscience existed nowhere else in Italy. The state recognized Protestants only far enough to bring them before tribunals, and there could be no question of civil rights for them. But since the revolutions which have conferred on Italy unity under the government of Victor Emmanuel, in several cities, Milan, Florence, Pisa, Naples, and even in Rome, Protestant communities have been organized, whose members enjoy all the civil and political rights or citizens.
—The situation in Spain is the same. There is a small number of native Protestants in that country, in addition to the congregations composed of foreigners. The law has long condemned their religions meetings and sentenced their members to the severest penalties, but the last revolution put an end to these shameful practices. The constitution of June 1, 1869, which did away with the state religion, declared simply (article 21) that the nation undertakes to maintain the church and the ministers of the Catholic religion, and this constitution establishes, though in indirect terms, the liberty and equality of churches. It guaranteed to strangers (same article) the public or private exercise of their religion, without any limitation but the universal rules of morality and legality, and adds that if a Spaniard professes another religion than the Catholic the preceding rules shall apply to him—Turkey is in advance of Spain. It is known tat in that country each religious community, each nation, Greeks, Armenians, Catholics, govern themselves and administer their own affairs. A considerable number of Armenians (3,000) having embraced Protestantism, found themselves in the most difficult position since 1830. Their former co-religionists rejected them, they were no longer connected with any religion recognized by the state, and were thus without a legal existence, without any rights, without that even of carrying on their occupations. In 1850 an imperial firman put an end to this state of things, and conferred on the Protestant church a legal existence. Since that time the members enjoy all the rights belonging to the other Christian communities of the empire. (See
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