Mr. Hauge, late Chargé d’Affaires of Sweden and Norway, to the Secretary of State.
Sir: In view of the conditions existing in Norway and the likelihood of a request being made in the near future by the government of that country for its recognition by the United States, as late chargé d’affaires and secretary of the Norwegian and Swedish legation at [Page 855] Washington, I take the liberty of supplying herewith certain information which may not be without interest in the consideration of this matter.
While I am well aware that your excellency is acquainted with the main facts in connection with the formation of the union of Norway and Sweden in 1814, as well as its historical development down to the time of its dissolution quite recently, I think it may not be amiss to respectfully furnish certain historical sketches dealing with the union period in question, and in such behalf I beg herewith to hand you the following recently published works:
- “Sovereign Norway and her state rights,” by A. C. Drolsum (librarian in chief of the University of Christiania).
- “Norway; a few facts from Norwegian history and politics,” by the Norwegian national council of women.
- “Norway and the union with Sweden,” by Prof. Fridtjof Nansen.
In particular I can not recommend too highly the last of these books for giving a clear, concise, and unbiased presentation of the matter, written by the distinguished Norwegian explorer, scientist, and author, who is entirely familiar with his subject, and who was assisted in its composition by several of the leading men of the country of the most divergent political views.
The momentous events that have taken place inNorway since the publishing of the above-mentioned works, that is to say after May 26, 1905, and which include particularly the proceedings had at the Norwegian council of state, held on May 27, and the proceedings taken by the Norwegian ministers and by the Norwegian Storthing on June 7, 1905, have in so many ways been brought to the notice of the world as hardly to require any mention here. However, I think it well to make an exception in the case of the resolution, unanimoulsy passed by the Norwegian Storthing on June 7, 1905, which reads as follows:
- Whereas all the members of the council of state have laid down their offices;
- Whereas His Majesty the King has declared himself unable to establish a new government for the country; and
- Whereas the constitutional regal power thus becomes inoperative, the Storthing authorizes the members of the council of state, who retire to-day, to exercise until further notice as the Norwegian Government the power appertaining to the King, in accordance with Norway’s constitution and existing laws, with those changes which are necessitated by the fact that the union with Sweden under one King is dissolved in consequence of the King having ceased to act as a Norwegian King.
It will be seen that the course and significance of the momentous events referred to was briefly as follows:
The Norwegian Storthing unanimously passed an act providing for a separate consular service for the country, and this law so passed was thereafter in due course submitted to the King for approval. In the council meeting of May 27, 1905, in the face of the said unanimous action of the Storthing, the King refused to approve the law. The Norwegian ministers, who are responsible to the people for governmental acts (a responsibility not shared by the King himself) consequently handed in their resignations. The King refused to accept these resignations, knowing full well that he could form no new ministry owing to the concerted stand of the Storthing and the absolutely unanimous wish of the Norwegian people with respect to the consular act, and the King admitted this to be his position. The ministers insisted upon their incontestable right to resign, and they affirmed and [Page 856] put this right into effect on June 7, 1905, in the meeting of the Norwegian Storthing held that day. According to the constitution of Norway, the King can not govern without his council, which, as already stated, alone is responsible to the people for governmental acts. Consequently, it devolved upon the Norwegian people itself, by its representatives in Storthing assembled, to procure a government for the country; and this right and duty it exercised in requesting the retired ministers to immediately form and constitute themselves the Norwegian Government. They complied with the request, and this action necessarily implied the cessation of the discharge of the executive functions by the King at the same time as the resolution passed in this behalf by the Storthing also necessarily implied the dissolution of the union with Sweden.
On the same day the Storthing passed another resolution which was forwarded to the King, being a request for his cooperation in having one of the princes of the house of Bernadotte ascend the throne of Norway. No official reply has as yet been given to this request, although made more than a month ago.
As there may be considerable further delay in receiving the desired or any reply, it is only natural that the Norwegian Government should not wish to continue indefinitely without foreign relations, nor should the interests of its citizens, abroad be made to suffer from inattention during a protracted period of delay, I therefore take the liberty of respectfully submitting for your consideration the following questions:
- First. Will the United States Government officially receive diplomatic envoys and recognize consuls appointed by the Norwegian Government?
- Secondly. Will the United States Government be inclined to permit its consular officials in different countries to take charge of the interests of Norwegian citizens there that may require such attention until such consuls can be appointed and sent to such countries by the Norwegian Government?
In connection with these questions I beg respectfully to state the following:
The recent events in Norway above related, culminating in the resolutions of the Storthing of June 7, 1905, have in nowise created any new state or sovereignty. It is not a case of a new state springing into existence, nor has there been any splitting up of or separating from any sovereign entity. Norway has, under its own constitution of 1814, reaffirmed by the so-called “Union Act” (defining the relations involved in the late union with Sweden), ever been a separate and distinct sovereign state, and on absolute equality with the other sovereign state joined in the union. Besides the express and plain language providing for this sovereignty of Norway, contained repeatedly in the constitution and the union act, this is amply evidenced by the absolute separation of institutions, governmental and otherwise, of the two countries. Each had its separate constitution, government (cabinet responsible to its own people alone), parliament, or legislative assembly, judiciary, army, navy, treasury, and state church. The King’s household, including all the officials thereof, has been separate and distinct in each country. Still more significant perhaps is the fact that the tariff systems of the two countries have been entirely different, one being practically free trade and the other protection; [Page 857] that there has been no tariff reciprocity between the two countries; and even that goods from one country were subject to full tariff duty in entering, the other. It will therefore be seen that the union was of the very loosest kind, not even sufficiently close and potent to break down a tariff barrier between the two countries.
By virtue of its separate sovereignty Norway has, entirely by itself, independent and unjoined by Sweden, concluded numerous commercial treaties with foreign nations. On many occasions in like manner independent of and unjoined by Sweden, Norway has, through its own separate representatives, taken part in congresses, conferences, expositions, etc., abroad.
It will further be seen that the form of government has by the recent events undergone no change, but remains a kingdom, as it has been since A. D. 872, and a constitutional monarchy, as it has been nearly a century. There neither has been nor is question of altering the constitution of the country, except only as such refers to the union with Sweden. In conclusion, then, it is manifest that the only real change occasioned by the recent events, as far as Norway’s governmental functions are concerned, was the creation of a vacancy in the office of the chief executive, and the termination of the joint proprietorship existing with Sweden in the diplomatic and consular services abroad.
It may not be improper to add that the recent events in Norway took place without any violence or even the slightest disturbance of any kind. After June 7, 1905, the entire governmental machinery in all its ramifications continued to run along as it had before and no official in any department, civil or military, for a moment questioned or was inclined to question the new order of things under which he found himself acting. The unanimous action of the Storthing was acquiesced in and supported by the entire people itself. Not one dissenting voice was heard in the whole country, although the slightest opposition or lack of harmony could have found most easy utterance under the singularly favorable conditions of liberty of press and expression existing in Norway.
P. S.—It is perhaps superfluous to say that the above is not intended as any exhaustive argument for recognition. Such would doubtless be forthcoming in the event of the Norwegian Government officially preferring a request for recognition.