Mr. Campbell to Mr. Seward

No. 31.]

Sir: I have the honor to enclose the address of his Swedish Majesty to the Diet upon the assembling of that body on the 24th ultimo, with a translation thereof. Herewith will also be found a pamphlet copy of a proposition for the reform of the representation, which was laid before the Swedish Diet of 1863 and brought up for action at the present session.

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According to usage, this proposition must be discussed and accepted or rejected without amendment at the present Diet.

The King, on the opening of the legislative chambers, called the attention of the members of the assembly to this project of reform, and urged its adoption with distinctness.

The proposition, embracing a radical change in the organization of the Swedish Diet, proposes to consolidate the four chambers of which the Diet is composed into two—a first chamber and a second chamber, the members of the first chamber to be elected by provincial assemblies and municipal authorities of the towns, for the period of nine years; the second chamber to be composed of members elected for three years by county jurisdictions, whereof those possessing a population under forty thousand shall elect one member, and those exceeding that number shall be districted by the King on the basis of one member to each forty thousand inhabitants.

These are the noticeable features of the project. It may readily be understood that so radical a change as the one contemplated in the organic law has given rise to much discussion and no little apprehension on the part of the public. It is urged by the friends of reform that the consolidation of the four chambers into two is necessary to meet the requirements of progress which the present cumbersome machinery retards, and that a privileged and numerous body, such as the present House of Nobles, looking more to the interest of their order, as well as to an obsolete past, than to necessary legislation, and drawing to their support the clergy on most questions of a vital nature, fail to meet the exigencies of an industrial and practical age. On the other hand, it is said the House of Nobles acts as a check upon what is termed the radicalism of the times, and is necessary under a monarchial form of government to the security of the throne itself.

The next month will probably determine the fate of the proposed measure, which at present is involved in much doubt, although the prevailing opinion is that it will be defeated. A modification by way of compromise may be agreed to and submitted to an extraordinary Diet convoked for its consideration.

There is apprehension on the part of the public that, in the event of the failure of the contemplated reform, indignation may be followed by revolution; but this I think improbable.

The government has presented the budget to the chambers for one year only, and not for three consecutive years, as has heretofore been the case. This departure from established rule may meet with opposition, as it is affirmed by many to be without precedent and unconstitutional. The explanation given by some of the friends of the government is, that they hope to carry the reform bill this session; hence the inutility of a further demand on the public purse at present.

I shall take care to keep the department informed on the subject as further developments occur.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.


Sirs: Grave interests and duties which impose a high responsibility call you to this session. May the All Powerful, whose divine protection we have just implored in the temple, preside over your works, and cause to issue from them the good of the country. We cannot but recognize with gratitude the happiness, without marked interruption, with which the roya house and Swedish people have been blessed. The union of my brother, the Prince of [Page 208] Dakarlia, with the princess of the noble house of Saxe-Altenburg, and the birth of my nephew, the Duke of Nericia, form a happy increase of the royal family.

In the midst of disease and often alarming phases of the last five years we have constantly been blessed with the benefits of peace, and my relations with all foreign powers conserve the character of friendship and confidence.

The public enthusiasm which marked the celebration of the semi-centennial jubilee of the union of Sweden and Norway, in echoing equally from both sides of the mountains, proves that the ties which unite the people-brothers tighten more and more each day.

The commission of Swedes and Norwegians named by me to deliberate on the means of introducing ameliorations in the compact of union has commenced its labors.

The first of your duties will be to decide definitely, after conscientious examination, on the adoption of my proposition for a reform of the national representation. To ask an existing representation to renounce its rights, in full liberty of action and will, and to give up to others the glorious task of being the mandatories of the country, is to have a great confidence in his patriotism. I have thus a high idea of that with which you are animated in announcing the hope that you will accept this project, in the adoption of which I shall see a new guarantee of social progress.

In consequence of the decisions adopted by the general states at their last reunion, the new penal code, the maritime code, and the law on bankruptcies have received their application, (gone into effect.) In the conviction that the important changes introduced simultaneously to this effect should not be followed too rapidly by reforms in other principal branches of our legislation which should be revised, I will only propose to you during the present diet partial amelioration of existing laws.

I have concluded with his Majesty the Emperor of the French treaties of commerce and navigation, which, so far as they relate to Sweden, will be submitted in their entirety to your approbation. These treaties have not only liberated our navigation from different changes, but have also facilitated the sale of several of our principal products. The concessions which, at the instance of other powers, we have made to France consist principally in a reduction justly due to the consumers of the duties attached to certain merchandise, at the same time maintaining a tax upon them which corresponds to the just measure of protection accorded to our national industries. By the treaties concluded in this regard with foreign powers considerable reductions have been made in the transmission of letters and telegrams abroad, and a new telegraphic cable between Skona and the island of Rugen offers us the certainty of not seeing ourselves deprived by sudden circumstances of this important way of communication with the continent. As the natioaal representation should meet annually according to the terms of the project on. which you are called to decide, the budget which I will submit to you only contains the extraordinary expenses for the year subsequent to those for whose wants the last diet has already provided. If the provisions on which this proposition rests should not be realized, I have still the means of bringing before the general states in an opportune moment the necessary propositions for the following years.

Although important reductions have been made in the custom-house duties, and though the progress made in every sense by the country exact new allocations, you will be satisfied, by an examination of the calculations of the revenues of state, that they will amply suffice to cover the necessary expenses.

I have caused to be prepared complete plans for the organization of the army and the marine, calculated after the measure of our resources and the exigencies of our epoch, and I have approved of these plans in their principal parts. Your concurrence and also the allocations resulting from the adoption of these plans are indispensable to their being put in execution.

In reposing on the views manifested by the general states, I have accorded to industry an almost illimited liberty. The salutary influence that it will exercise in the future can be judged of with more certainty as its inauguration has not been accompanied with any sudden disturbance of existing relations. Liberal principles have equally received a more general application in other respects, for the facilities of distributing capital as well as for the conditions of the circulation of money, and for the establishment of institutions of credit.

Public instruction has been the object of my incessant solicitude. This work of the future becomes greater every day in importance as well as in extent. The number of pupils in the superior schools has been almost doubled during these last years; ameliorations have been introduced as much in the government of these schools as in the manner of teaching. I have united my efforts to yours to realize more and more the great idea of general primary instruction. I have at heart the desire of giving a solid and intelligent education to the population and to spread these benefits to the less fortunate classes.

Perfected institutions will equally furnish the best means of development to the national industry, and will place it on a basis more just, and more conformable to the interests of society, which restrictive laws and a system of onerous protection would fail to accomplish. I count with confidence on your co-operation for the encouragement of our industries; and in order to propagate the knowledge of their progress in all branches, I have decided that next summer a general exhibition of the products of the arts and industry of Sweden, and of the neighboring Countries, will be opened in the capital.

The obstructions which arise at all times from great distances have been more and more [Page 209] overcome by the multiplied works which tend to facilitate in every sense communications between the different parts of the country. Our railroads have taken an extension which, seeing the population of Sweden and its financial resources, can be compared to that which has been executed in the richer and more populated countries. After having effected the junction of the two seas, and having brought ourselves nearer to the great European continent, I think it will be well to concentrate our forces on the accomplishment of railroads which are destined to connect the capitals of the two united kingdoms, in order to bring the people-brothers to each other.

Conforming to the tenor of the fundamental law, I declare the present session opened, in assuring you, sirs, of all my royal good will.