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It was most influential among Czech liberals around the middle of the 19th century. First proposed by Karel Havlíček Borovský in 1846, as an opposition to the concept of pan-Slavism, it was further developed into a complete political program by Czech politician František Palacký. Austroslavism also found some support in other Slavic nations in the Austrian Empire, especially the Slovenes and Croats.
Austro-Slavism envisioned peaceful cooperation between the smaller Slavic nations of Central Europe within the Habsburg Monarchy not dominated by German-speaking elites. Palacký proposed a federation of eight national regions, with significant self-governance. After the suppression of the Czech revolution in Prague in June 1848, the program became irrelevant. The Austrian Empire transformed into Austria-Hungary (1867), honouring Hungarian, but not Slavic demands as part of the Ausgleich. This further weakened the position of Austro-Slavism.
As a political concept, Austro-Slavism persisted until the fall of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in 1918. The collapse of Austria-Hungary owed a great deal to that nation's failure to recognise Slavic demands. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, later to become the first President of Czechoslovakia, convinced US President Woodrow Wilson during the First World War that the Slavic peoples of Austria need to be liberated, leading to the promulgation of the Fourteen Points, and ultimate dissolution of the former Austrian Empire. Autroslavism appeared in its last iteration around this time, in the form of several proposals, lacking in influence, to federalise Austria-Hungary (such as the abortive United States of Greater Austria plan).
Prominent supporters of Austroslavism
- Josip Jelačić
- Janez Bleiweis
- Karel Havlíček Borovský
- Jernej Kopitar
- Anton Tomaž Linhart
- Fran Miklošič
- František Palacký
- Paweł Stalmach
- Josip Juraj Strossmayer
- Magcosi, Robert; Pop, Ivan, eds. (2005), "Austro-Slavism", Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p. 21