Considered one of the founders of the Romanian modern state, Eugeniu Carada was involved in most of the important moments before the Great Union of 1918. In between politics, the economic area, his journalistic and literary contributions, he was a steady supporter of the union of the Romanian territories. He took part in the important stages preceding the union of 1918, namely the Principalities Union of 1859 and the gaining of the independence in 1877, but also in the construction and development of various institutions and projects of the country beginning with the second half of the 19th century.
Carada’s first political experience is said to have taken place in 1848, when, aged only 12, he was among the residents of his hometown of Craiova who swore on the Islaz Proclamation, considered the revolutionary constitution. The proclamation laid the foundations of a new constitutional order, and declared, among others, the political equality of all citizens and the abolishment of boyar titles.
Six years later, in 1854, he came to Bucharest and worked for a year as the head of the cabinet for instruction minister Grigoriță Bengescu. He also worked in the local administration, as a deputy in Bucharest’s municipal council in 1857 and as a deputy mayor in 1866.
At the time of the Principalities Union in 1859, Carada was the secretary of the Ad-hoc Gathering of Wallachia (Țara Românească), and he translated the body’s documents and working papers. The ad-hoc gatherings of the two principalities were made up of representatives of the boyars, the bourgeoisie, the Church, and the peasants. They were working on proposals on the topic of the union of the principalities.
Historians point to the period spent working as a secretary of the gathering as the time when Carada met Ion C. Brătianu, the future leader of the National Liberal Party and a life-long friend.
The initial support he granted to prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza weakened in time in the case of Carada, as it happened with other radical liberals who believed that the reforms took too long to be implemented and did not go to the core of the issues that needed to be solved.
After meeting C.A. Rosetti, another personality of the Liberal Party he became close friends with, Carada started collaborating with the newspaper “Românul” (The Romanian), one of the most prominent of the time.
After some time spent studying in Paris, Carada returned home and got involved in the movement to remove Cuza from the throne. Movement supporters wanted to replace him with a foreign ruler, a member of a European royal house. From the time Cuza abdicated, in February 1866 and until 1872, when he left for Paris again, Carada was active in politics and was twice member in the Chamber of Deputies.
The writing of the 1866 Constitution has been attributed also to Carada, together with C.A. Rosetti. The document was largely a translation of the Belgian constitution of the time, but has been the country’s longest-standing one so far, as it was in use until 1923.
At the same time, Carada was constantly involved in numerous activities supporting Romanians in the regions of Transylvania or Bessarabia, and offered financial backing to the cultural activities they undertook. For instance, he financed the establishment of several schools and churches, such as the Assumption of Mary Church in Brașov or the Cathedral of Vârșeț, today in Serbia. It was Carada who paid the fines issued by courts in Hungary to Romanian newspapers, which he provided funding for. He is said to have donated over 700,000 lei to the national movement in Transylvania. Among the projects supported were the high schools in Blaj and Brad, the schools in Bihor, Sălaj and Sătmar, book and journal publishing but also a print house. He helped establish a network of activists who will later become the nucleus of the National Romania Party, which, alongside the Social Democrat Party, contributed significantly to the Great Union of 1918.
In 1870, he took part in the movement known as the Republic of Ploiești, which attempted to remove King Carol I from the throne. The failed attempt left its mark on the relationship with the sovereign, and Carada refused until the end of his life any position that would have required investment by royal decree. Although the relation bore the mark of mutual respect, historians kept anecdotal testimonies of Carada’s constant refusal to meet the king but also of the homage that Carol I paid to Carada at his death.
During the independence war, Carada participated in organizing the Romanian army and in the logistical aspects of ensuring the equipment and war material. For this, he received the Crossing of the Danube Cross distinction, the only one ever given to him.
In 1880 the operations of the National Bank of Romania started and, beginning with this, Carada’s work mostly focused on the economy. He declined the bank governor job, but coordinated the institution as its director from 1882 to his death, in 1910. In 1877, he supervised, alongside Emil Costinescu, the issuance of mortgage notes, considered the first local banknotes. These were printed in Paris, in Bank of France’s workshops.
Another project he supported in the banking area was the establishment of the Agricultural Credit Houses, which offered low and medium-interest credits to agricultural producers, which had an important weight in the country’s economy at the end of the 19th century.
Carada is also the author of several poems with a patriotic theme, related to the union of the principalities. He wrote and adapted theater plays, and translated from the French literature. Besides his own work, Carada also supported the establishment of several important monuments of the capital, among them the statue of Mihai Viteazul, that of C.A. Rosetti, the monument of the firemen, and the now-vanished monument of Ion C. Brătianu.
When Carada died, in 1910, the funeral convoy crossed the capital on Calea Victoriei, making its way past the Royal Palace, at the request of King Carol I. In this way, the sovereign wished to bring one last homage to the opponent who, during the centennial year of the Great Union, remains a model in supporting the national cause.
A statue dedicated to Eugeniu Carada can be found in front of the palace of the National Bank of Romania, in Bucharest’s Old Town (opening picture).
Surica Rosentuler, Sabina Marițiu, under the coordination of prof. dr. Mugur Isărescu. Viața și Opera lui Eugeniu Carada (The Life and Work of Eugeniu Carada) in Restitutio, February 2003, Banca Națională a României.
Dorel Dumitru Chirițescu, Eugeniu Carada, ctitorul Băncii Naţionale a României (Eugeniu Carada, the founder of the National Bank of Romania) in Dilema Veche, no. 663, November 3-9, 2016.
Coroana de Oțel și republica lui Carada (The Steel Crown and the Republic of Carada) – https://bit.ly/2IgR3MW
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