The Paradox of Persistence. Debate and confusion caused by a costly idea in the Netherlands, 1830‐1840
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This thesis considers the debate around the politics of persistence of William I of the Netherlands during 1830-1840. After the secession of the Southern Netherlands from the Kingdom of the United Netherlands (1815-1830), William I was not ready to give up his claim to the South. To enforce his claim, he commenced his politics of persistence. He refused to recognize Belgium as a new independent state, and kept the northern national army mobilized at the border with the South for eight years, ready to retake Belgium by force. Public opinion in the North generally supported William I, even though--or because--it was not aware of the true purpose of the persistence. Paradoxically, it celebrated Southern independence. Over the years, people in the North became increasingly worried about the purpose and the financial costs of the politics of persistence. This thesis has tried to map the growing doubt over the years, in the public debate as it was waged in pamphlets. It has tried to answer the questions: how did contemporaries perceive the persistence? Did the growing dissatisfaction with the persistence form a broad basis of resistance against William I's rule? In terms of methodology, this research has been innovative in the way it has utilized Knuttel's digital pamphlet collection.