Sebő Vukovics

Sebő Vukovics
Minister of Justice of Hungary
In office
2 May 1849  11 August 1849
Preceded by Ferenc Deák
Succeeded by Boldizsár Horvát
Personal details
Born (1811-07-20)20 July 1811
Fiume, Illyrian Provinces
Died 19 November 1872(1872-11-19) (aged 61)
London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Political party Opposition party
Profession politician
The native form of this personal name is Vukovics Sebő. This article uses the Western name order.

Sebő Vukovics (Sava Vuković; b. Fiume, 20 July 1811 – d. London, 19 November 1872) was a Hungarian politician of Serbian descent, who served as Minister of Justice in 1849 during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.[1]

The Serbian Orthodox Sebó Vukovics, who learned to speak Hungarian as a second language in his adolescence, was an example of spontaneous assimilation that sometimes took place especially among those incorporated into Hungarian nobility. He was an enlightened liberal who, at the age of 20, commented flipantly that "our religion is a very dumb religion." In his view, Catholicism too was obscure and Protestanism was "simplest and most natural" religion. Consequently, he argued that he would be delighted if Romanians converted to Protestantism. Later, as a dedicated representative of Hungarian liberalism, Vukovics became a government commissioner of Banat, and a year later minister of justice in Bertalan Szemere's government. Despite the failure of the revolt, he remained Lajos Kossuth's most ardent follower until the end of his life. Vukovics was a pragmatic politician who understood the techniques of county and state bureaucracy. He also knew how to take a person to task—even though he always tried to avoid internal conflicts.

After the 1848 Revolution, the Hungarian commander of Serbian nationality General János Damjanich, with a dozen other high-ranking officers, was hanged by the Austrians, and Vukovics, rightfully, feared for his life. He was hiding from the authorities at the homes of the Menyhért Lónyay and Ervin Vladár families immediately after the Surrender at Világos. Vukovics and the Polish general, Józef Bem, fled into exile, first in France. In Paris Vukovics joined Hungarian refugees Mihály Horváth, László Teleki, Bertalan Szemere, Gyula Andrássy, Lázár Meszáros and Mihály Vörösmarty, all of whom were sentenced to death in absentia by the Austrian crown. Vukovics was the most practical politician among the Paris exiles. In 1851 he emigrated to the United Kingdom, but maintained contact with all the revolutionaries, particularly Lajos Kossuth to whom he wrote many letters, outlining two basic principles for the near future: independence of Hungary, and "complete democratic freedom with respect to politics, nationality, and religion." Vukovics insisted on the unity of historical Hungary. Therefore he did not give up Transylvania but did acknowledge the independence of Croatia, and recognized the establishment of the Voivodeship of Serbia and Banat of Temeschwar. Instead of a confederation he proposed an alliance with the neighbouring Danubian states, obviously vis-à-vis Austria. Vukovics subordinated the nationality question to the issue of universal suffrage while "not keeping up any supremacy for the Hungarian nationality." Since the "central power" would decide only in national affairs, county autonomy could satisfy nationalities claims. The official languages in national affairs would be decided by the state, in county affairs by the county, and municipal affairs by the community.

He died in London on 19 November 1872.

In Novi Sad his father made a donation to found the Gymnasium Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, constructed in 1810.

Sebő Vukovics's memoirs were written while he was living in London. They were published in Budapest by politician Ferenc Besenyei, MP, in 1894.


Political offices
Preceded by
Ferenc Deák
Minister of Justice
Succeeded by
Boldizsár Horvát
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