Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung November 1848

Debate in the National Council

Source: MECW Volume 61;
Written: by Engels on November 22, 1848
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 153 (second edition), November 26, 1848.

Berne, November 22. At today’s sitting of the National Council, there was a long debate in which General Dufour made an excellent speech in support of Tessin. All the other military men in the Council — Ziegler, Michel, Benz etc. — bitterly opposed Tessin and after Pioda had made an admirable reply to all the attacks, a motion of the minority on the commission

“to intern the Italian refugees who took part in the recent uprising and to leave the execution of this decision to the Government of Tessin”

was rejected on a roll-call by 62 votes to 31. On the other hand, the majority motions

“1) to expel all Italian refugees from the canton of Tessin into the Swiss interior, taking into account humanitarian considerations, on which the representatives of the Confederation shall decide”,


“2) to forbid the canton of Tessin until further notice to allow Italian refugees to remain there”,

were adopted by 62 votes to 31 and 50 votes to 46 respectively. The two Zurich deputies, Escher and Furrer, decided the issue by skilfully influencing the German Swiss; Furrer threw his whole weight as President of the Federal Council onto the scales against Dufour’s noble gentlemanliness and almost brought the matter to a vote of confidence. The 31 votes for Tessin were, with five or six exceptions, all French Swiss. During the roll-call one heard nothing but “oui” and “nein”, not one “non”, and only five or six “jas”. Romance Switzerland was hopelessly overwhelmed by the Germans.

The remaining points in the majority motion, to which the minority (Herr Pioda) also agreed, are just being adopted. The sitting and the post-office close at the same time. More details of this interesting debate tomorrow.[72]