V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > A. Global and Comparative Dimensions > 1. European Global Domination, 1800–1914 > e. Development of Modern Political Systems
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
e. Development of Modern Political Systems
During the 19th century, outside Europe's colonies, states and political systems were increasingly organized along the lines of nation-states with constitutions rather than as dynastic sovereign monarchies. The limitation of monarchical power through instituting constitutional monarchies was an important part of this process. Another important development was the establishment of republics, with recognition of the need for consent or participation by the people, as an alternative to monarchies. The development of nationalist consciousness, the demand for and writing of constitutions as definitions of new state systems, and the creation of republics were interacting parts of the transformation of the political context in the Western world, and the spread of these ideals throughout the world in the 19th century represented important aspects of the expansion of the West.  1
REVOLUTIONARY TRANSFORMATIONS. The 19th century was marked by major efforts to transform political systems and societies. THE FRENCH REVOLUTION (See 1792, Sept. 21–1795, Aug. 22), beginning in 1789, was a major starting point, bringing an end to the old dynastic political system in France and inspiring revolutions elsewhere. Throughout the century, major episodes of revolution, often beginning in France, influenced the development of political systems, inducing even conservative forces to establish constitutional regimes that either established republics or set limits on the powers of monarchs. REVOLUTIONS OF 1830 AND 1848 (See Revolutions in Europe, 1848–1852) were especially important times of political change. Major system-defining revolutions and constitutional reforms transformed the nature of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1848–49 and 1867 and the Russian Empire in 1864, 1905–6, and finally in 1917. Outside of Europe, such changes took place in the Ottoman Empire in 1839, 1876, and 1908; in Japan in 1868 and 1889; and in China in 1911.  2
NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENTS. Many of the states of the modern world were created as a result of revolutions and movements of national liberation opposing control by large multinational states. These movements exhibited an awareness of identity as a nation rather than simply being revolts against rule by foreigners. The AMERICAN REVOLUTION (1776–83) (See 1775–83) ended British control in thirteen North American colonies and resulted in the creation of the United States. The new nation consciously identified its political system as a republic, in contrast to the British monarchy, and defined its political system after achieving independence in a constitution written by a representative constituent assembly. The American experience was an important beginning for the combination of nationalism and constitutionalism, and it contrasted with other late-18th-century revolts against foreign rule, which reflected essential premodern styles. The revolt of Tupac Amarú in Peru (1780–82) (See 1780–82) was a revolt (by Native American forces, in contrast to later revolts in South America) against forced labor and Spanish rule. Similarly, the independence of Egypt from Ottoman rule proclaimed by Ali Bey al-Kabir (r. 1768–73) was an act of a military commander rather than a nationalist. However, by the early 19th century, a growing proportion of major revolts represented combinations of nationalism and constitutionalism.  3
LATIN AMERICAN WARS OF INDEPENDENCE (See Causes) combined efforts to define independent political life in republican constitutions with growing nationalist sensitivities. In MEXICO, a peasant revolt led by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and, after his death in 1811, by José Maria Morelos, led to a declaration of independence in 1813 and promulgation of a constitution in 1814. Attempts to establish an imperial or constitutional monarchy in 1822–23 under Agustin de Iturbide and Archduke Maximilian of Austria, with the aid of French troops in 1863–67, were unsuccessful. Mexico was ruled by a series of presidents who sometimes assumed dictatorial powers under a succession of republican constitutions. The war with the United States in the 1840s and French intervention in the 1860s helped to strengthen Mexican nationalist sentiments. The climax of these developments was the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1911 and overthrew a presidential dictator. The revolutionary constitution of 1917 provided a nationalist and socially radical foundation for 20th-century Mexican politics. Similar combinations of nationalism, constitutionalism, and republicanism provided the basis for the rest of the countries in Latin America that gained their independence from Spain and Portugal in the 19th century. By World War I, all independent countries in the Western Hemisphere were constitutional republics with varying degrees of nationalist identity.  4
EUROPEAN NATIONAL LIBERATION MOVEMENTS. In the multinational states of Europe, many movements of national liberation developed. Some were successful in creating independent states, and most of these state systems were defined by modern constitutions, but they were more frequently constructed as constitutional monarchies than as republics. A major factor in the break with the earlier dynastic state systems was the disruption caused by the French Revolution and NAPOLEON's conquests. In the conquered territories, Napoleon created new political systems, which, even if they did not last, overturned political institutions and traditions. In addition, local responses to the French conquerors gave strong impetus to the development of nationalist sentiments. Resistance to the French invasion of SPAIN strengthened a sense of national identity. Leaders of the resistance convened a Cortes, or assembly, in 1810 in Cádiz, and promulgated the Constitution of 1812, which affirmed the right of the people to determine the laws within a constitutionally limited monarchy. Although it was never fully implemented, its radical idealism meant that constitutionalism would be a major issue throughout modern Spanish history, and it influenced the drafting of constitutions elsewhere, especially in Latin America. During the 19th century, a sequence of constitutions and conflicts defined the evolution of the Spanish political system, which remained basically a constitutional monarchy, with a brief republican period (1873–74) (See 1873–74). Napoleon's conquests in ITALY resulted in the establishment of short-lived republics in a number of areas. After the defeat of Napoleon, the kingdom of Sardinia played a leading role in developing the constitutional political system of the emerging unified Italy. The unification of Italy was completed as a constitutional monarchy in 1870. PRUSSIA provided a similar basis for the unification of Germany in 1871, with the important development of a constitutional monarchy with strong powers reserved for the emperor. The conservative German constitution provided a model for conservative constitutionalists elsewhere and had some influence in the articulation of the Meiji Constitution of 1889 in Japan. BELGIUM provided another important nationalist, constitutional experience. In the Napoleonic peace settlement, Belgium was included in the kingdom of the Netherlands, but a nationalist revolt in 1830 led to Belgium's independence and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy whose structure influenced constitutionalists in the Middle East later in the century. OTTOMAN territories in the Balkans also experienced nationalist revolts. Serbia began a successful revolt in 1804 and gradually expanded its territories and independence throughout the century, becoming an internationally recognized constitutional monarchy in 1882. Greece had a successful war for independence (1821–29) and emerged as a constitutional monarchy as well.  5
GLOBAL CONSTITUTIONAL MOVEMENTS. In major states outside of Europe, there were significant efforts to create constitutional regimes. In the OTTOMAN EMPIRE, constitutionalists succeeded in getting the promulgation of a constitution in 1876, although it was quickly suspended by the sultan, Abdul Hamid II, and was not fully put into force until the Young Turk Revolution 1908. In PERSIA, nationalists and liberals combined to force the shah to promulgate a constitution in 1906. In JAPAN, the Meiji Constitution of 1889 defined the political framework for the modernization efforts of the Japanese Empire. In CHINA, reform efforts were weak, and it was only with the revolution of 1911 and the establishment of the Chinese Republic that China promulgated a constitution.  6
Constitutions, revolutions, and republics throughout the globe by the time of World War I showed the spread of European political models in the 19th century.  7
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.