The Norwegian-Swedish crisis of 1905 Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/9p290d62m

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  • The Norwegian-Swedish Crisis of 1905 is unique because the two kingdoms, united in a dual monarchy, separated peacably. The thesis raises three questions: why did Norway want independence at all, why was the secession peacable, and can any of the factors which solved the Crisis of 1905 be injected or underscored in other crises so as to effect a peacable solution. In answering the first question the geography of the Scandinavian countries is compared, and differences in social and historical development are considered from the earliest times to the recent. The Kalmar Union (1397-1523) united the three Scandinavian kingdoms loosely under one monarch, but friction caused in large part by clumsy Danish administration of the area led to Sweden breaking away in 1523. Norway tried to revolt also, but the attempts at rebellion by violence failed, and Norway was placed in a subordinate status under Denmark until the Napoleonic Wars. During these wars the British control of the North Sea and the continental blockade threw the Norwegians onto their own resources. When Denmark allied with Napoleon was defeated by the Fourth Coalition, Norway was assigned to Sweden by the Treaty of Kiel (January 14, 1814). But Norway had caught the contagion of nationalism and chose instead to declare its independence, write a constitution, (proclaimed at Eidsvold on May 17, 1814) and call a popular Danish prince to be king. When the Napoleonic struggle was over in the summer of 1814, Karl Johan Bernadotte, who had been adopted by the aging and heirless Swedish Karl XIII, quickly brought Norway to terms. Under the Act of Union the two kingdoms were united in the person of the king. The union went through ups and downs, but the crises seemed to separate the two monarchies more than any bonds which drew them together. By the end of the Nineteenth Century the strands of union had become badly frayed, and the final straw was the passage by the Norwegian Storting of a bill providing for a consular service separate from that theretofore existing under the Union under the control of the Swedes. When King Oscar II refused to sign the bill, the Norwegian section of the Joint Council resigned, and the king stated that he was unable to form a new government. The Storting took this literally and declared its independence on June 7, 1905. In answering the second question, --why the secession was peacable, --reference is made to the underlying attitudes and traditions, the events of the summer and autumn of 1905, and particularly to the Karlstad Conference at which the two nations negotiated their differences peacably. Several times it seemed as though the conference must fail. But agreement was reached, and the Union was dissolved without any blood being shed. Prince Carl of Denmark was elected king of Norway and assumed power as Haakon VII. The third question addresses itself to whether any of the factors which made the unique settlement of 1905 peaceful could also be injected or underscored in other crises so as to effect a peacable solution. Since no two cases are alike, no iron-clad rule can be laid down. Nevertheless, some elements in the 1905 crisis seem to make a peaceful solution more probable. Among these are the development of a tradition of negotiating conflicts instead of resorting to violence, a respect for authority and legal procedures, the granting of adequate powers to the negotiators, the avoidance of "Goldfish-bowl" negotiations, curbs on extreme expression of both criticism and wild enthusiasm, a vast amount of patience and respect for all the delegates, the shunning of humiliating terms, breaking deadlocks by shifting to less controversial items, the absence of meddling by the Great Powers, and, finally, tackling any controversy while it is still only a slow leak and not a blowout. In laying such a foundation, a heavy burden falls on education, both academic and adult to develop such political maturity. Sweden and Norway in 1905 showed that it could be done.
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