Friends of the Constitution

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May 3rd Constitution, by Matejko (1891). King Stanisław August (left, wearing ermine-trimmed cloak) enters St. John's Cathedral, where deputies will swear to uphold the Constitution. Background: Warsaw's Royal Castle, where Constitution has just been adopted.

Zgromadzenie Przyjaciół Konstytucji Rządowej (in English, also Association of Friends of the (Governing) Constitution,[1][2] Society of Friends of the Government Ordinance,[3] Society of Friends of the Constitution[4]) was the first modern Polish political party (with a charter and organizational discipline), formed in May 1791, shortly after the adoption of the Constitution of May 3, 1791, by the efforts of the Patriotic Party. The purpose of the Friends of the Constitution was to defend the reformed political system and to introduce further reforms.[5]

The party's leading members included Hugo Kołłątaj, Ignacy Potocki, Tadeusz Mostowski, Michał Ossowski and Józef Weyssenhof..[6]

The Friends of the Constitution published a periodical, Gazeta Narodowa i Obca (The National and Foreign Gazette).[7]

History[edit]

In the name "Zgromadzenie Przyjaciół Konstytucji Rządowej", the expression "zgromadzenie" may be rendered in English as "gathering", "assembly" or "congress".[8] The import of "zgromadzenie" in the party's name was, tautologically, that the "Friends of the Constitution" constituted an organization.

The Friends of the Constitution had their own charter and organizational discipline and have been described as the first modern political party in Poland.[3][9]

Since many of the party's members participated in the Sejm's (parliament's) deliberations, the Friends of the Constitution have also been described as the first Polish parliamentary caucus.[10]

Members were also active outside the Sejm and enjoyed support among many segments of society, from szlachta (nobility) salons to more radical, Jacobin-influenced bourgeois circles.[3]

The first meeting of the Friends of the Constitution took place on 21 May 1791.[9] Their charter declared their support for the May 3 Constitution, and their aim of perfecting the Constitution and the polity that it served.[11]

The party numbered at least 213 members whose names are known to history, including those of 126 deputies and 14 senators.[11] Most of the members were of the szlachta, but at least 7 were townsmen.[9] The charter stipulated that all members were equal.[11] Decisions were taken by majority vote.[4] Many members had connections with the Patriotic Party.

Prominent members included: Deputy Chancellor of the Crown Hugo Kołłątaj, Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryski, Prince Józef Poniatowski, Marcin Badeni, Franciszek Barss, Joachim Chreptowicz, Jan August Cichocki, Ignacy Dembiński, Ignacy Działyński, Ksawery Działyński, Antoni Dzieduszycki, Augustyn Gorzeński, Paweł Jerzy Grabowski, Ludwik Szymon Gutakowski, Janusz Stanisław Iliński, Michał Kochanowski, Stanisław Kublicki, Jan Paweł Łuszczewski, Antoni Madaliński, Józef Andrzej Mikorski, Mikołaj Morawski, Tadeusz Mostowski, Adam Naruszewicz, Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Józef Kajetan Ossoliński, Tomasz Adam Ostrowski, Scipione Piattoli, Grzegorz Piramowicz, Ignacy Potocki, Stanisław Kostka Potocki,[12] Józef Ignacy Rybiński, Walenty Sobolewski, Stanisław Sołtan, Stanisław Sołtyk, Michał Strasz, Józef Weyssenhoff, Mikołaj Wolski, Ignacy Wyssogota Zakrzewski.

The founding members of the Friends of the Constitution included King Stanisław August Poniatowski's Italian secretary, Scipione Piattoli, who appears in the above list of prominent members.[13] Notable absentees included the King himself (a co-author of the Constitution of May 3, 1791) and Stanisław Małachowski, the Marshal of the Great Sejm, both of whom preferred to maintain a semblance of political neutrality.[12]

The party's meetings were generally held at the Radziwiłł Palace — now the Presidential Palace — on Warsaw's Krakowskie Przedmieście, a few minutes' walk from the Royal Castle.

The Friends of the Constitution were active until the Commonwealth's defeat in the War in Defense of the Constitution and the demise of the May 3 Constitution.[10]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ HALINA LERSKI (30 January 1996). Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966–1945. ABC-CLIO. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-313-03456-5. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Gregory Fremont-Barnes (2007). Encyclopedia of the Age of Political Revolutions and New Ideologies, 1760–1815: A-L. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 584. ISBN 978-0-313-33446-7. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c J. K. Fedorowicz; Maria Bogucka; Henryk Samsonowicz (1982). A Republic of nobles: studies in Polish history to 1864. CUP Archive. pp. 252–253. ISBN 978-0-521-24093-2. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Daniel Stone (2001). The Polish-Lithuanian state, 1386–1795. University of Washington Press. p. 282. ISBN 978-0-295-98093-5. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "Zgromadzenie Przyjaciół Konstytucji Rządowej" ("Society of Friends of the Constitution"), Encyklopedia Powszechna PWN, vol.4, Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1976, p. 785.
  6. ^ "Zgromadzenie Przyjaciół Konstytucji Rządowej" ("Society of Friends of the Constitution"), Encyklopedia Powszechna PWN, vol.4, Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1976, p. 785.
  7. ^ "Zgromadzenie Przyjaciół Konstytucji Rządowej" ("Society of Friends of the Constitution"), Encyklopedia Powszechna PWN, vol.4, Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1976, p. 785.
  8. ^ Jan Stanisławski, The Great Polish-English Dictionary, Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Wiedza Powszechna, 1970, p. 1457.
  9. ^ a b c Jerzy Kowecki, ed., Konstytucja 3 Maja 1791, Warsaw, PWN, 4th ed., 1991, p. 51.
  10. ^ a b Jerzy Kowecki, ed., Konstytucja 3 Maja 1791, Warsaw, PWN, 4th ed., 1991, p. 54.
  11. ^ a b c Jerzy Kowecki, ed., Konstytucja 3 Maja 1791, Warsaw, PWN, 4th ed., 1991, p. 52.
  12. ^ a b Jerzy Kowecki, ed., Konstytucja 3 Maja 1791, Warsaw, PWN, 4th ed., 1991, p. 53.
  13. ^ Emanuel Roztworowski, "Piattoli Scipione", Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. XXV, Zakład Narodowy Imenia Ossolińskich i Wydawnictwo Polskieh Akademii Nauk, 1980, ISBN 83-04-00148-9, p. 822.

Further reading[edit]

  • Adam Skałkowski, "Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Konstytucji 3 maja" ("The Society of Friends of the Constitution of May 3 [1791]"), in Pamiętnik Biblioteki Kórnickiej (Memoir of the Kórnik Library), 1930.