Polish Democratic Society


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Polish Democratic Society

 

a political organization that existed from the 1830’s to the 1860’s. Founded in Paris on Mar. 17, 1832, by a group of Polish émigrés, the society was headed from 1836 by an elected body called the Centralizacja. The Centralizacja was based in France until 1849 and thereafter in Great Britain.

In 1836 the society adopted a manifesto calling for a “revolution of the people” (drawing its main strength from the peasantry), for the abolition of feudal obligations and class inequality, and for making the peasants owners of their land allotments without compensation to the landlords. At the same time the society preached peace among the various classes within the nation and strove to restore Poland’s 1772 borders, including the Ukrainian, Byelorussian, and Lithuanian lands.

The society’s membership ranged from bourgeois nationalist liberals and moderate democrats (L. Mierosławski) to Utopian socialists (S. Worcell’s radical group). In 1835, Worcell’s group broke away to found the revolutionary democratic society Lud Polski (Polish People). The work of the Polish Democratic Society was of great significance for the development of the Polish national liberation movement. The organization planned the Kraków Uprising of 1846, and its members were active in the Revolution of 1848–49. In the 1850’s, as ideological disagreements within the Polish Democratic Society grew stronger, its influence declined considerably. After the founding of the National Central Committee in 1862, the society dissolved itself, calling on its members to struggle for the independence of Poland under the direction of the committee.

REFERENCES

Miller, I. “Krest’ianskii vopros v programme Pol’skogo Demokratiches-kogo obshchestva (30-e-40-e gg. XIX v.).” Voprosy istorii, 1948, no. 9.
Tyrowicz, M. Towarzystwo Demokratyczne Polskie. Warsaw, 1964.
Rzadkowska, H. Dziafalność Centralizacji londońskiej Towarzystwa Demokratycznego polskiego 1850–1862. Wroclaw, 1971.

I. S. MILLER

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