EÖTVÖS, BARON JOSEPH:
Hungarian statesman; emancipator of the Hungarian Jews; born at Ofen Sept. 13, 1813; died at Budapest Feb. 2, 1871. On the completion of his legal studies he traveled for several years in France. Influenced by the liberalism of French literature and politics, he determined to introduce the liberal institutions of western Europe into his native country. He delivered, in 1840, as a member of the Diet, his first speech in behalf of the emancipation of the Jews. In 1841 he issued a pamphlet on the same theme, which was widely read and was translated into German and Italian. Four years later he published "A Falu Jegyzöje," a novel in three volumes, with the intention of creating, by the presentation of fine Jewish characters, a favorable sentiment toward the Jews. An English translation by Otto Wencksten appeared under the title "Village Notary" (London, 1850). After the Hungarian revolution and the subsequent agreement with Austria, Baron Eötvös was appointed minister of public worship and education (Feb., 1867); in the following December he effected the complete emancipation of the Hungarian Jews.
Not satisfied with their political enfranchisement alone, he endeavored also to secure their autonomy as religious communities. He convened a congress of Hungarian Jews (Budapest Dec. 14, 1868) which he opened with an enthusiastic speech, but he failed in his efforts to secure the adoption of a uniform communal constitution. As a result of this congress,which sat until Feb. 23, 1869, Hungarian Judaism split into three parties—Orthodox, Conservative, and status quo-ante.
- Eötvös, Evkönyv, 1879;
- Szinnyei, Magyar Irók Élete és Müvei;
- Venetianer, A Zsidóság Szervezete az Európai Allamokban, p. 509.