The Early History of Texas as Reflected in Vasárnapi Újság
When Mexico adopted a federal constitution in 1824 and a liberal colonization law in 1825 that opened up Texas to immigration, the Hungarian diet of 1825 marked the beginning of the „Age of Reforms”, a series of liberal measures that finally led to the Revolution and War of Independence of 1848-1849, the abolishment of feudal bonds and privileges, the establishment of a Hungarian government, and an attempt to liberate Hungary from Habsburg rule. In the meantime, after Santa Anna’s centralist turn in 1836, Texas became an independent state, and then was annexed to the United States of America in 1845. The purpose of this paper is to examine what the Hungarians knew about the early history Texas and the events of the Texas Revolution and how they reflected on the changes in the Mexican-American borderland region. The analysis is based on an important primary source of the period, the articles of Vasárnapi Újság. It was published in Kolozsvár between April, 1834 and November, 1848. Just like the Western European „penny magazines” of the era, the publishers of Vasárnapi Újság intended to produce an inexpensive paper and provide people who were unable to obtain formal education or were interested in the latest scientific developments with practical and useful information and miscellaneous news about the world. The first news item about Texas appeared in the February 14, 1836 issue and discussed the origins of the Texas Revolution. The weekly paper analysed the situation in the borderland region and regularly informed the Hungarian public about the history of the Texas Republic and the Mexican–American War of 1846–1848 that broke out after the annexation of Texas. At the end of January, 1848, when Vasárnapi Újság reported on the final phase of the war, the Hungarians were getting ready to fight their own revolution.
“The Empire Was Destined to Fall”: Maximilian von Habsburg and the Hungarian Image of Mexico
The 1860s brought immense challenges for North America: a Civil War in the United States and European intervention in Mexico. The Second Mexican Empire (with Maximilian von Habsburg on the throne) resulted in major political, social, and cultural changes and had both inter-American and transatlantic repercussions. After an inter-American overview of the Mexican events in the first part of my paper, the second section of the article discusses the happenings from a Hungarian perspective. As more than a thousand Hungarians participated in Maximilian’s “Mexican venture,” their involvement and reports influenced the image of Mexico in Hungary considerably. The country was “put on the map” in Hungary, a more independent portrayal of the American nation emerged, and the events of the Second Empire became an integral part of the Hungarian image of Mexico. The accounts describe Mexico and present its population, however, they tell just as much about the writers and the questions of their Hungarian identity. I analyze the publications of Hungarian participants and provide a case study of two special forms of travel writing, a soldier’s and a doctor’s book on Mexico, serving as special adaptations of the imperial view often aimed at supporting the legitimacy of French intervention, Habsburg Maximilian’s ascent to the throne, and Hungarians’ own presence in the far-away country.
A Hungarian Politician in the Labyrinths of American Politics: Henry Clay and Lajos Kossuth’s visit in the United States, 1851–1852
Henry Clay (1777–1852) was one of the most influential American politicians in 1851–1852 when Lajos Kossuth (1802–1894) visited the United States. Also, he was one of the American politicians who opposed vehemently the policy of European intervention Kossuth proposed to the American public and politicians. There were two major issues in American politics at that time: the territorial expansion of slavery and the impact of the European revolutions of 1848–1849. Clay wanted to find a peaceful solution to the problem of slavery and he opposed the further expansion beneath the borders of the United States since it would raise again the question of the territorial expansion of slavery, which could ultimately lead to the dissolution of the union. Kossuth promoted the intervention of the United States into European affairs, and he was assisted by those segments of American politics which also supported the further territorial expansion of the American republic. As a result of the victory of the United States again Mexico in the war of 1846–1848, and the outbreak of the European revolutions of 1848–1849, there was a strong affection among some American politicians towards further expansion, especially among the members of the group “Young America” who aided Kossuth in the United States. Under such circumstances, in the midst of the embittered debates about the territorial expansion of slavery and his proposal concerning compromise, Clay saw in Kossuth and in his ambitions a force that could endanger his efforts to save the union.
The Unwelcome Guest of the Nation? Anti-Kossuth Sentiment in the United States, 1851–1852
After the collapse of the Hungarian War of Independence in 1849, Lajos Kossuth and many of the participants of the revolutionary movement were forced into exile and were offered temporary shelter in the Ottoman Empire, which was probably the only way how they could escape the retaliation of the Habsburgs. Eventually, their freedom was brought about by the United States, which, in response to the pressure of the American public, invited him to visit the country as the Nation’s Guest in 1851. His half-a-year lecture tour in America is regarded as one of the pivotal episodes in the history of Hungarian-American links and it contributed to forming the freedom-fighter image of Hungarians overseas. Most works discussing Kossuth’s visit have presented it as a major success citing Kossuth’s immense popularity in the United States as a proof. What they have failed to explain, however, was why Kossuth had lost basically all his previous popularity towards the end of his visit and why he proved to be unable to secure American support – financial, political and military – for a new Hungarian freedom struggle. This paper seeks the answers to the questions what powers turned against Kossuth during his ’Tour de America’ and how their activities contributed to the overall failure of his tour.
Power and film. An introduction to the film policies of dictatorships and democracies
The aim of this paper is to outline, through three case studies, the main features of the relations between cinema and politics in the 20th century. Film was one of the most important inventions of the 20th century, no wonder that societies became highly attracted to this new form of entertainment. Political leaders, especially dictators, soon realized that motion pictures provided them with a new and almost perfect channel to reach and manipulate their citizens. However, democracies also made use of the power of films. Official national cinema usually reflects the ideology of the ruling power, assisting the basic principles of the domestic and foreign policy. This paper focuses on film policies from various aspects (institutions, propaganda, censorship) in relation to three countries of the past decades: two authoritarian regimes (communist-socialist Hungary and francoist Spain) and one democracy (the United States). By laying stress on the similarities and differences, we can delineate the basic principles of film policies. The dictatorial Hungarian and Spanish cases are examined in a comparative way, while with reference to the USA we focus on the democratic film policy's pseudo-democratic measures, introduced by basically not state-controlled associations.