European and American Political Architects: Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, Lord Castlereagh, Benjamin Franklin – What Did They Expect?
10 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2014 Last revised: 20 Jun 2019
Date Written: November 7, 2014
The object of this paper is to present the historiographic image of Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich - an Austrian minister of foreign affairs (1809-1848), chancellor (1821-1848), and a champion of conservatism - as written down in many Western historical textbooks and articles, and oppose it to the real position of this famous politician. My main discovery is that this Architect of the Congress of Vienna and the one that is considered to have proclaimed peace-building European political order until the First World War has written almost nothing about his political and personal experience concerning the foundations of the European political order - the Congress of Vienna in his fundamental political work: the Memoirs.
Another political figure that I present explicitly and implicitly is Robert Stewart Viscount of Castlereagh - a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1812-1822), the Leader of the House of Commons (1812-1822), and a Secretary of State for War and the Colonies (1805-1806, 1807-1809) of British nationality. John Bew stated that his life should be required reading by anyone who wants to be at the center of action, and my paper aims to show that there is perhaps some political truth therein. On Castlereagh, one can find hagiographies, spirited defenses of his statesmanship, and highly caustic contemporary and historical critiques. My paper is implicitly asking what this famous politician, universally presented as a statesman, has really achieved in European politics.
Finally, I also present the figure of American politician and scientist - Benjamin Franklin. I reveal that in his autobiography he wrote nothing (at all) about the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Peace with England, and the U.S. Constitution. Why was it the case? It is hard to establish it more than two centuries after his death.
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