Talleyrand in the Wild West
In 1794, the Unites States was not a comfortable place for an emigrant French aristocrat like Talleyrand. George Washington refused to take official notice of Talleyrand’s presence and risk a conflict with the French regime but he met Alexander Hamilton, and had a very high opinion of him. Talleyrand took advantage of the opportunities for making money: he engaged in various land speculations, just like everybody else. He organized a reconnaissance mission to travel north for Maine and scout around for land-purchasing possibilities. They visited other French emigrants, like the La Tour du Pin family. Then they made their way up towards the Lake Oneida. Once they even fancied themselves as beaver hunters. Where other French emigrants, like Chateaubriand, have found material for romantic fantasizing, Talleyrand saw opportunities for profit and economic development.
“There is a Possibility of an Overture by the Emperor”. Negotiations for the Conclusion of a Commercial Treaty between the United States of America and the Habsburg Empire in the 1780s
The Confederation Congress appointed and empowered John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson to negotiate and conclude commercial treaties with sixteen European powers, including the “court of Vienna” in 1784. The ruler of the Habsburg Empire at the time, Joseph II (1780-1790) was open to the initiative of the American diplomats. It is very interesting that both parties showed readiness for the negotiations and had an interest in the conclusion of a treaty, yet it never materialized. There were fundamentally two reasons behind this failure. First, the American diplomats in Europe were only authorized for two years to conclude commercial treaties and their commission expired in May 1786. By the time the Austrian ambassador in Paris had received full authorization to conclude a treaty for the territory of the whole empire, the American commissioners’ term was about to expire, and Congress was not willing to extend it. The movement to transform the structure of the confederation government had been well under way by that time, and under such circumstances Congress was not eager to engage in such negotiations until the construction of the new governmental structure would be finished. Second, Thomas Jefferson also wanted to postpone the negotiations the reason of which can be found in his economic thought. Fundamentally, he supported free trade policy, but in Europe he was forced to face the mercantilist economic policy of the great powers, and he had to realize that concessions has to be made. He came to the conclusion that certain powers were more important from the American perspective and he started to favor the conclusion of commercial treaties with powers having domains in the Western hemisphere. The Habsburg Empire was not such and it was clear that a treaty with her would not be very profitable from a strictly financial aspect. After realizing this, Jefferson started to pursue dilatory tactics in his negotiations with the Austrian ambassador.
Helene Hadik-Barkóczy and the Freemasons
The paper describes in detail and analyzes the unduly neglected story of the initiation of a woman, the countess Helene Hadik-Barkóczy as a Freemason and the subsequent annulment of the process. In Hungary, there were two masonic Grand Lodges, The Grand Lodge of St. John and the Grand Orient, which operated independently from each other. With the support of Johannite Grand Master Ferenc Pulszky. the countess’ initiation was carried out in a provincial lodge of the Grand Orient. Her initiation was then declared void by the Grand Orient and the participants were punished. To support her request and later the validity of the initiation, the countess referred to precedent. Her argument was based on her knowledge about Freemasonry, her legal status as a male heir (praefectio) and the lack of gender requirements in the constitution of the Grand Orient. On the basis of a Prussian concept of law typical in the country at the time, the latter revoked the initiation with reference to non-compliance with the bureaucratic formal requirements of the Grand Orient. It is an interesting contradiction that while the countess’ emancipatory claims were based on a feudalistic institution (praefectio) the basis for the Freemasons’ refusal was the ideal of civic equality.
Sanitary Cordons in Tolna County during the 1831 Cholera Epidemic
Cholera, a disease, which for millennia used to be endemic to the Southern and Southeastern regions of Asia, could first break out of its homeland at the beginning of the 19th century due to the development of long-distance trade. The first pandemic that reached Europe swept across the continent between 1826 and 1835, and reached Hungary in 1831. According to estimates, during its year-long devastation it killed more than 200,000 people. In Tolna, the county’s administration had already taken the precautions required by the decrees of the Governor’s Council and the Palatine well before the emergence of the disease (already in the first half of July) in order to protect the county from the pandemic. A central part of the protective measures was the establishment of a sanitary cordon at the bank of the Danube to keep any potentially infected travellers outside the confines of the county. At the end of July, the pandemic spread to several settlements near the Danube, which, in the first half of August, prompted the establishment of further quarantine lines by the county’s administration in order to protect the yet healthy inner regions of the county, but neither of these could fulfil the hopes. The author’s goal was to study the factors that caused the failure of sanitary cordons in Tolna county, specifically focusing on potential faults in the measures taken by the authorities and the geographical conditions of the county. The author researched the Archives of Tolna and Baranya counties, and he used the records of the Tolna county central committee and the Baranya county cholera board as sources.
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