as the Blacken Alp, at the head of the Engelberg valley, though the northernmost slope of the St Gotthard Pass still belongs to Ticino. In 1900 the population of the canton was only 19,700, of whom 18,685 were German-speaking, 947 Italian-speaking (this number varied much during the construction of the St Gotthard railway, mainly by Italian navvies), and 24 French-speaking, while 18,924 were Romanists, 773 Protestants, and 1 a Jew. The capital is Altdorf (q.v.), indissolubly connected with the legend of William Tell (q.v.). The only other important villages are Erstfeld (2416 inhab.), a great railway centre, where the mountain engines are put on, and Silenen (1892 inhab.). The population is all but exclusively pastoral, natural causes limiting much effort in the way of agriculture, save near Altdorf. In the canton there are 102 “alps” or mountain pastures, capable of supporting 10,354 cows, and of an estimated capital value of 5,771,000 fr. Till 1814 Uri formed part of the diocese of Constance (save Ursern, which has always been in that of Coire), while since that date it is administered by the bishop of Coire, though legally in no diocese. The inhabitants are very industrious and saving, though not rich in worldly goods, as their land is so barren. They are extremely conservative, and passionately attached to their religion. Wooden sandals are still commonly worn in the Alpine glens. Of recent years the canton has been much visited by travellers, who have brought much money into it. It forms a single administrative district, which comprises twenty communes. The legislature of the canton is the time-honoured primitive democratic assembly, called the Landsgemeinde, composed of all male citizens of 20 years of age, and meeting once annually near Altdorf on the first Sunday in May. It has retained many curious antique ceremonies and customs. It elects the single member of the Federal Stdnderat, as well as the cantonal executive of seven members (holding office for four years), two of whom are the highest officials, the Landammann and his deputy. There is also a sort of standing committee, called the Landrat, which is charged with the administration and minor legislative matters. It is composed of members elected for four years by a popular vote in the proportion of one to every 400 (or fraction over 200) inhabitants, though each commune, even if not attaining this standard of population, is entitled to a member. The single member of the Federal Nationalrat is elected by a popular vote. The constitutional details, apart from the Landsgemeinde, are settled by the cantonal constitution of 1888 (since revised slightly).
Uri is first mentioned in 732 as the place of banishment of Eto, the abbot of Reichenau, by the duke of Alamannia. In 853 it was given by Louis the German to the nunnery (Frauemminster) at Zürich which he had just founded, and of which his daughter, Hildegard, was the first abbess. Hence the “abbey folk” in Uri enjoyed, as such, the privilege of exemption from all jurisdictions save that of the king's Vogt or “ steward of the manor ” at Zürich, this Vogtei being cut 05 from the country of the Zürichgau. The rule of the abbess was mild, so that the other inhabitants of Uri either became her. tenants or obtained similar privileges. Little by little the gathering together of all the inhabitants for the purpose of regulating the customary cultivation of the land created a corporate feeling and led to a sort of local government. On the extinction of the Zaringen dynasty (1218), the Voglei reverted to the king, whogave it to the Habsburgs. But in 1231 King Henry bought Uri from them, and thus it became again immediately dependent on the king, the purchase being perhaps due to the rising importance of the route over the St Gotthard Pass (first distinctly mentioned in 1236). As early as 1243 Uri had a common seal, and in the confirmation of its privileges (1274) granted by Rudolf of Habsburg mention is made of its “ head-man ” (Amman) and of the “ commune ” (universitas). Uri therefore was quite ready to take part, with Schwyz and Unterwalden, in founding the “ Everlasting League ” (germ of the later Swiss confederation) on the 1st of August 1291, defending its liberty in the fight of Morgarten Acrp (1315) and renewing the League of the Three at Brunnen (1315). Later it took part in the victory of Sempach (1386). In 1403, with the help of Obwalden, it won the Val Leventina from the duke of Milan, but it was lost in 1422, though in 1440 Uri alone reconquered it and kept it (winning the bloody fight of Giornico in 1478) till 1798. In 1419, with Obwalden, Uri bought Bellinzona, but lost it at the battle of Arbedo (1422), though, with Schwyz and Nidwalden, it 'won it back in 1500, keeping it also till 1798. In 1512 Uri shared in the conquest of Lugano, &c., by the Confederates, her natural position forcing her to extend her rule towards the south, though many attempts on and temporary occupations of the Val d'Ossola (1410–1515) ultimately failed. In 1410 a perpetual alliance was made with the valley of Ursern or Val Orsera, the latter being allowed its own head-man and assembly, and courts under those of Uri, with which it was not fully incorporated till 1888. Ursern originally belonged to the great Benedictine monastery of Disentis, at the head of the Vorder Rhine valley, and was most probably colonized in the 13th century by a Germanspeaking folk from the Upper Valais. At the Reformation Uri clung to the old faith, becoming a member of the “ Christliche Vereinigung” (1529) and of the Golden League (1586). In 1798, on the formation of the Helvetic republic, Uri became part of the huge canton of the Waldstatten and lost all its Italian possessions. In September 1799 Suworoff and the Russian army, having crossed the St Gotthard to Altdorf, were forced by the French to pass by the Kinzigkulm Pass into Schwyz, instead of sailing down the lake to Lucerne. In 1803 Uri became an independent canton again, with Ursern, but without the Val Leventina. It tried hard to bring back the old state of things in 1814–15, and opposed all attempts at reform, joining the League of Sarnen in 1832 to maintain the pact of 1815, opposing the proposed revision of the pact, and being one of the members of the Sonderbund in 1845. Despite defeat in the civil war of 1847, Uri voted against the Federal constitution of 1848, and by a crushing majority against that of 1874.
Authorities.—J. J. Blumer, Staats- und Rechtsgeschichte d. schweiz. Demokratien (3 vols., St Gall, 1850–1859). Geschichtsfreund, from 1843. Historisches Neujahrsblalt (published by the Cantonal Hist. Soc.), Altdorf, from 1895. K. F. Lusser, Der Kanton Uri (St Gall, 1834), and Geschichte des Kant. Uri (Schwyz, 1862); A. Lütolf, Sagen, Bniuche, Legenden aus den Filnf Often (Lucerne, 1862); E. Motta, Dei personaggi celebri che varcarono il Gottardo nei tempi antichi e moderni (Bellinzona, 1884); C. Nager, Die Afzpwirtschaft im Kant. Uri (Soleure, 1898); W. Oechsli, Die Anfange er schweiz. Eidgenassenschaft (Zürich, 1891); R. von Reding-Biberegg,Der Zug Suworoff"s durch die Schweiz in 1799 (Stans, 1895); H. Ryffel, Die Schweiz. Landsgemeinden (Zürich, 1903); F. V. Schmid, Allgemeine Geschichte d. Freistaats Uri (2 vols., Zug. 1788–90); J. Sowerby, The Forest Cantons af Switzerland (London, 1892); Uri: Land und Leute (Altdorf, 1902); “Urkunden aus Uri, 1196–1500,” published by A. Denier in vols. 41–44 (1886–89) of the Geschichtsfreund (as above); M. Wanner, Geschichte d. Bauer d. Gotthardbahn (Lucerne, 1885). See also Tell. (W. A. B. C.)
URIC ACID, C5H4N4O3, in organic chemistry, an acid which is one of the penultimate products of the tissue waste in the human body. While the bulk of the nitrogen of the albuminoids passes off through the bladder as urea, a small portion of it stops at the uric acid stage. Human urine contains only a fraction of a per cent. of the acid, chiefly as sodium salt; abundance of uric acid is met with in the excrement of serpents and birds, with whom it is the principal nitrogenous product of tissue waste. For its preparation guano is boiled repeatedly with a solution of borax in 120 parts of water. The filtered solution is acidified with hydrochloric acid, when impure uric acid separates out as a brown precipitate, which is washed with cold water; it is then dissolved in hot dilute caustic potash or soda, the solution filtered, and the filtrate saturated with carbon dioxide. An almost insoluble urate is precipitated, which is filtered, washed and decomposed by hot dilute hydrochloric acid. Uric acid separates as a white precipitate, which is filtered off, washed and dried, to be repurified by a repetition of the alkali process or otherwise. Pure uric acid forms a snow-white