1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tisza, Kálmán

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TISZA, KÁLMÁN [Koloman] (1830-1902), Hungarian statesman, was born at Geszt on the 10th of December 1830, the son of Lajos Tisza and the countess Julia Teleki, and was educated at his father's castle. In 1848 he obtained a post in the ministry of instruction of the revolutionary government which he accompanied to Debreczen. After the war he went abroad with most of his family, and carefully studied foreign institutions. On returning home he devoted himself to the improvement of the family estates, and in 1855 was elected assistant curator of the Calvinist church at Nagyszalonta, in succession to his father. When, on the 1st of September 1859, the Austrian government issued the “Patent” which struck at the very roots of Protestant autonomy in Hungary, Tisza, at the congress of the Calvinist Church beyond the Theiss, held at Debreczen, publicly repudiated the Patent on behalf of the Calvinist laity. He renewed his opposition in the most uncompromising terms at the ensuing congress (Jan. 11, 1860), shrewdly guessing that the Patent was directed as much against the Hungarian constitution as against the Calvinist confession. His fears were justified by the October Diploma (see Hungary: History); which he attacked with equal vehemence. In August 1860 Tisza married the countess Helen Degenfeld-Schomburg, a union which brought him into close connexion with the Karolyis, the Podmaniczkys and the Odescalchis. He was unanimously elected to represent Debreczen at the 1861 Diet, and was elected vice-president of the house at its second session. The Diet was divided between the Addressers, led by Deák, and the “Resolutionists,” led by Count László Teleki, and on the death of the latter Tisza succeeded him as the leader of the more radical party. During the Provisorium (1861-1865) Tisza fought for constitutional reform in the columns of the Hon and the Magyar Sajtó, his leading articles, afterwards collected and published under the title of Alföldi Levelek (Letters from the Alföld), being by far the most important contribution to the controversy. When the Diet was again summoned by royal decree (Dec. 10, 1865), Tisza once more represented Debreczen and formed, with Kálmán Ghyczy (1808-1888), the Left-centre party. From 1867 onwards his influence continued to increase, despite the rupture of his party, which he reconstructed at the conference of Nagyvárad (March 17, 1868), when the famous Bihari pontok, or articles of Bihar, were subscribed. The Bihari pontok started from the assumption that Hungary was a free and independent state. They bound the Tisza party to repeal all laws or institutions contrary to, and to promote all measures necessary for, the national independence. Thus the delegation system and the common ministries were marked out for attack, while every effort was to be made to procure for Hungary a separate army, a separate diplomacy and a separate financial system. It was chiefly owing to the efforts of Tisza and his party that Austria remained neutral during the Franco-German War. His speech on the 3rd of March 1875 led to the resignation of Istoan Bittó's administration and the welding of Deák's followers and the Left-centre into a new party, the Szabadelvü párt or Free Principles Party, which took office under Bela Wenckheim (1811-1879), whom (Oct. 2) Tisza succeeded as prime minister, a post he held, with a few interruptions, for the next fifteen years (1875-1890). In 1877 he resigned on the discussion of the question of the Composition (Ausgleich), but he returned to office on his own terms. The same thing happened the following year, when his brief resignation compelled the Magyar Diet to agree to the occupation of Bosnia. In 1879 he materially contributed to the formation of the Austro-German alliance. Not till 1888, when the national army bill was introduced, did he encounter any serious opposition, but thenceforth his position became precarious. On the 13th of March 1890, on the occasion of the revision of the Indigenat Act, he resigned office, but continued, as deputy for Nagyvárad to place his vast political experience at the disposal of the house. It is no exaggeration to say that Hungary owes to Klámán Tisza a consolidated government, the formation of a parliamentary majority, a healthy public spirit, public credit, the reform of the Upper House, an admirable educational system, economical, and particularly railway, development, and administrative and judicial reconstruction on modern lines. His opponents have accused him of unscrupulousness and party spirit, but not one of them can deny that he reshaped Hungary and made her the leading partner of the dual monarchy. As to his personal integrity and disinterestedness there has never been the slightest doubt. It is an open secret that, on the retirement of Andrassy, he was offered the chancellorship. He refused it because, to use his own expression, “I am as wholly and solely Hungarian as the river (Theiss, Hung. Tisza) whose name I bear.”

See Imre Visi, Kálmán Tisza, a political appreciation (Hung.; Budapest, 1885); Kernel Abrányi, Kálmán Tisza Life and Political Career (Hung.; Budapest, 1878); G. Gratz, Kálmán Tisza (Modern Magyar Statesmen, I.) (Hung.; Budapest, 1902); P. Busbach, The Last Five Years (Hung.; Budapest, 1895).

His youngest son, Count Stephen Tisza (1861- ), was born on the 22nd of April 1861. After being educated at Berlin, Heidelberg and Budapest, he entered the ministry of the interior for the purpose of studying technical and economical questions at the fountain-head, and soon became a specialist in agrarian matters. His Magyar agrárpolitik (Budapest, 1897), authoritative on its subject, was translated into German the same year (Leipzig). In 1886 Tisza began his parliamentary career, speedily becoming a leading member of the principal committees on economical and educational questions. On the resignation of Kálmán Szell (June 17, 1903) he was entrusted with the formation of a ministry of pacification, but abandoned the attempt on finding it impossible to secure a majority. On the 27th of October, however, with the assistance of the Free Principles Party, he succeeded in composing a cabinet, in which he was minister of the interior as well as premier. From the first the ministry was exposed to the most unscrupulous opposition, exacerbated by the new and stringent rules of procedure which Tisza felt it his duty to introduce if any business were to be done. The motion for their introduction was made by the deputy Gábor Daniel, supported by the premier, and after scenes of unheard-of obstruction and violence (Nov. 16-18) the speaker, in the midst of an ear-splitting tumult, declared that the new regulations had been adopted by the house, and produced a royal message suspending the session. But the Andrassy group, immediately afterwards, separated from the Free Principles Party, and during the rest of the year the Opposition made legislation impossible. By January 1905 the situation had become ex lex or anarchical. Tisza stoutly stood by his rules, on the ground that this was a case in which the form must be sacrificed to the substance of parliamentary government. But his appeal to the country at the beginning of 1905 was unsuccessful, and his opponents triumphed by a large majority. Tisza thereupon resigned and retired from public life. (R. N. B.)