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January 25, 1831

Parliamentary resolution re. dethronement of Nicholas I

Historical context

In 1815 the Congress of Vienna, convened after the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, decided to create a Kingdom of Poland. Through the person of the Tsar, it was joined in a personal union with Russia. The Tsar and King in a single person, Alexander I, guaranteed the new Kingdom its own constitution, along with a separate government, Sejm, army, and treasury. However, the Tsar soon began to suppress the freedoms awarded to the Polish people. Nor did his younger brother and successor, Nicholas I, crowned King of Poland in 1828, intend to honour those freedoms. These developments led to an insurrection that broke out on November 29, 1830 – the November Uprising. Because the initiative to launch the November Uprising came from the milieu of officer cadets of the Kingdom of Poland’s army and it was ill-prepared politically, during the first phase of the Uprising power was held by people connected with the existing regime who saw no chance for success in the clash with Russia. Thus, they endeavoured to resolve the conflict through negotiations with Tsar Nicholas I and thereby to extinguish the Uprising.

Influenced by the radical patriotic sentiments sweeping the streets of Warsaw, the deputies to the Sejm resolved unanimously on January 25, 1831 that Nicholas I be removed from the throne of Poland. This was tantamount to severing the personal union between the Russian Empire and Poland, declaring the Kingdom’s independence, and continuing the war against Russia. All the attempts made by the Uprising’s interim authorities in December 1830 to agree terms with Russia thus came to naught.

Following the collapse of the November Uprising, the act on dethronement was whisked away to France and safeguarded there from the Russians, who sought to obtain and destroy it.

Document text

Działo się na posiedzeniu połączonych Izb Sejmowych dnia 25 stycznia 1831 roku w Warszawie.
 
Najświętsze, najuroczystsze umowy tyle tylko są nienaruszonymi, ile wiernie dotrzymanymi ze stron obydwóch. Długie cierpienia nasze znane światu całemu, przysięgą zaręczone przez dwóch panujących, a pogwałcone tylekroć swobody, nawzajem i Naród Polski od wierności dziś panującemu uwalniają. Wyrzeczone na koniec przez samego cesarza Mikołaja słowa, że pierwszy ze strony naszej wystrzał stanie się na zawsze zatracenia Polski hasłem, odejmując nam wszelką sprostowania krzywd naszych nadzieję, nie zostawują jak rozpacz szlachetną.
 
Naród zatem polski na sejm zebrany oświadcza: iż jest niepodległym ludem i że ma prawo temu Koronę Polską oddać, którego godnym jej uzna; po którym z pewnością będzie się mógł spodziewać, iż mu zaprzysiężonej wiary i zaprzysiężonych swobód święcie i bez uszczerbku dochowa.
 
 
„Polska w okresie wojen tureckich”, Teksty źródłowe na nauki historji w szkole sredniej, zeszyt 40, oprac. W. Konopczyński, Kraków 1924, s. 21-22.
As it occurred at the Session of the Joint Parliamentary Chambers on January 25, 1831 in Warsaw.
 
The most sacred and most solemn agreements remain unviolated only insofar as they are faithfully upheld by both parties to them. The sufferings we have long endured, ones known to the entire world, and the liberties, vouched on oath by the  two rulers  and yet trampled upon so many a time, do therefore reciprocally release the Polish People from loyalty toward the ruler as of this very day. The words that were uttered in the end by emperor Nicholas himself, that the first discharge on our part shall become the cry for Poland’s eternal doom and destruction, dispel all hope for us to have our wrongs rectified, and leave us with nothing but noble despair.

Therefore, the Polish People, assembled at the Sejm, hereby declares: that they are an independent nation and have the right to offer the Crown of Poland to whomever they deem worthy of it; of whom they may with assurance expect that he shall righteously honour the avowed faithfulness and the sworn liberties, unscathed.
 
 
Translated © by Tristan Korecki, Philip Earl Steele
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