The Ethnic Question in 1848: The Long Debate of Széchenyi and Kossuth Cover Image
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The Ethnic Question in 1848: The Long Debate of Széchenyi and Kossuth
The Ethnic Question in 1848: The Long Debate of Széchenyi and Kossuth

Author(s): Mária Gyetvai
Subject(s): Ethnohistory, History of ideas, Social history, 19th Century, Ethnic Minorities Studies
Published by: Lucidus Kiadó
Keywords: Istvan Széchenyi; Lajos Kossuth; national minorityes; Hungary 1848;

Summary/Abstract: István Széchenyi is one of the few historical figures that every Hungarian knows something about, regardless of school qualification. Most would, however, say the overused phrase that he was “the greatest Hungarian”. Most Hungarians who visit Budapest will encounter the visible products of his activity pursued for the ascent of Hungary, for example the building of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences or the Chain Bridge. It is also common knowledge that he did not share the same opinion in several important matters regarding the future of Hungary with Lajos Kossuth, the leader of the 1848 – 1849 Revolution and the War of Independence. Even today, Hungarian academics are still divided between those who agree with Széchenyi’s reform plans that were to “proceed slowly and with care”, and those who favour Kossuth’s revolutionary, passionate and fiercely innovative proposals. However, the general public are not fully aware of their long debate concerning many important questions of their time and that they are partly still relevant today, neither do we know most of his activity as a public writer. With the exception of his most significant political writings (Hitel ‘Credit’, Világ ‘Light’, Stádium) and his Diary, people may not even be able to mention any more titles. He dedicated several writings to the ethnic question that was the second most important matter after our relationship with Austria, and in which Széchenyi held a markedly different viewpoint from Kossuth’s. In his conviction, this question was of decisive importance and it put limits on our pursuit of independence.

  • Issue Year: 2017
  • Issue No: 19
  • Page Range: 135-157
  • Page Count: 23
  • Language: English
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