1848-1874 History of Italy 1891-1914

Switzerland 1874-1891

A.) Foreign Policy

Switzerland joined the Universal Postal Congress of 1875, which decided to establish the newly founded Universal Postal Union's headquarters in Bern, Switzerland. Switzerland also joined the Meter Convention (1875).
In the early 1870es, Bismarck pursued the Kulturkampf - a conflict with the Catholic Church; in the late 1870es, Germany passed the Anti-Social Democracy-Laws. A number of Catholic and social democratic leaders fled to Switzerland; the German government, blaming the social democrats for anarchist assassination plots, put pressure on Switzerland.

B.) Domestic Policy

The first Swiss trade union, the Federation Ouvriere Suisse, was founded in 1874. In 1888 the Social Democratic Party was founded; from 1890 onward Mayday was celebrated by the country's organized workers. In the early days the party agitated for class struggle, a radical opposition party. The dominant political groupings were the Liberals (Freisinnige) and Catholics; both were yet organized on cantonal level.
Swiss democracy developed in a rather peculiar way. Many of the seats in parliament were uncontested, and election 'campaigns' were rather dull affairs. Yet numerous matters were presented to the populace in form of a Referendum, Switzerland being the country in Europe with be strongest element of direct democracy.
In 1874 civil marriage was introduced. Laws passed in 1875 and 1877 held employers responsible for accidents in their factories / on the sites on the work conducted. The factory act of 1877 furthermore fixed the standard workday at 11 hours and forbade the employment of children under 14. The Canton of St. Gallen in 1885 introduced compulsory insurance for all of her residents. The federation had established a monopoly on the sales of destilled alcohol (1886), which, intended to have a moderating influence on alcohol consumption, also proved financially successful. Another monopoly, created in 1874, concerned the production and sale of gunpowder.
In 1874 Switzerland abolished the death penalty; in 1879 the cantons were empowered to reintroduce it, and several of them did.

C.) The Economy

The Second Industrial Revolution had a great effect on Switzerland. The pharmaceutical companies Sandoz (1876) and Ciba (1884, later to merge with Geigy (since 1758)) were founded. In 1875 Milk Chocolate was created in Switzerland; the couching process was invented by the Swiss chocolate producer Lindt in 1879. Switzerland remained world leader in chocolate production and per-capita-consumption ever since. Henri Nestle had invented Milk Powder in 1866; the company bearing his name soon became a major brand name.
In 1881 the St. Gotthard Tunnel was opened for (railway) traffic.

D.) Intellectual Life

In 1880-1881 Johanna Spyri published her Heidi stories. Gottfried Keller's Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe was published in 1875. In 1889-1891 the International Catholic University was established at Fribourg.

Johanna Spyri Website
Swiss Chocolate History, from Chocolate Auer
Nestle : Our History
Evangelische Gewerkschaften in der Schweiz - die Anfaenge, from efb, in German
Article Switzerland, from Catholic Encyclopedia
La Suisse de 1848 a 1914 : quelques grandes lignes de son evolution, from Cliotexte, in French, main lines of Swiss political history between 1848 and 1914
Industrialization, Switzerland's Long Way to Women's Right to Vote, from History of Switzerland
DOCUMENTS Graves ac Diuturnae, Encyclical by Pope Pius IX., March 23rd 1875, on the Church in Switzerland, posted by EWTN
List of Swiss Presidents, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Textes sur la Revolution industrielle en Suisse, from Cliotexte, in French
Treaty on residence of Liechtenstein, Swiss nationals in the other country, 1874, posted by Confoederatio Helvetica, in German (also in French, Italian)
Treaty on trade, amity and residence of their nationals between Switzerland and the Netherlands, 1875, posted by Confoederatio Helvetica, in German (also in French, Italian)
Treaty on the residence of Swiss, Austro-Hungarian nationals etc. with Austria-Hungary, 1875, posted by Confoederatio Helvetica, in German (also in French, Italian)
Treaty on residence of French resp. Swiss nationals in the other country, 1882, posted by Confoederatio Helvetica, in German (also in French, Italian)
Treaty on the residence of Swiss, Belgian nationals, with Belgium, 1887, posted by Confoederatio Helvetica, in German (also in French, Italian)
Treaty on the residence of Swiss, Serbian nationals and consular representation with Serbia, 1888, posted by Confoederatio Helvetica, in German (also in French, Italian)
REFERENCE Charles Dandliker, History of Switzerland, The History of Nations Volume XIII. NY : Colliers (1907) 1916, pp.327-594, revised by Elbert J. Benton
Article : Switzerland, in : Statesman's Year Book 1878 pp.444-457 (on events of 1877) [G]
Article : Switzerland, in : Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events 1886 pp.810-811 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 2nd 2002, last revised on September 6th 2007

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