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development of democratic feeling in both minister and congregation. This loss of clerical prestige has been due in no small degree to the increasing habit of dispensing with a form of installation, and of substituting for a permanent pastorate, instituted with the advice and consent of a council, an engagement to serve as a minister for a fixed term of one or more years. Under this custom of “stated supplies” ordination may be granted to those whose ministry in a particular church is made and dissolved by no other process than a mutual agreement. The Congregational churches, as distinct from the churches retaining the same polity, but separated by the adoption of Unitarian opinions, have in times past professed to be Calvinists of stricter or more moderate types. But as early as 1865, Arminians were welcomed to Congregational fellowship. In the last few decades, with the spread in the community of innovations in doctrinal and critical opinions, a wider diversity of belief has come to prevail, so that “Evangelical,” in the popular sense of the term, rather than “Calvinistic,” is the epithet more suitable to American Congregational preachers and churches.

The Year-Book for 1907 reported the total number of communicants in all the states at 708,913 (in 1857, 224,732); Sunday-school scholars, 679,044 (in 1857, 195,572); churches, 5989 (in 1857, 2350); ministers, 5972 (in 1857, 2315); the amount of benevolent contributions by the churches as $2,591,693, in addition to a total home expenditure of $8,986,727. In the theological seminaries there were 417 students in 1907–1908, as compared with a maximum of 596 in 1891–1892, and a minimum of 181 in 1864–1865. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions reported for the year ending August 31, 1907: 579 missionaries and 4135 native workers; 580 churches with 68,000 communicants and 65,000 scholars.

See Williston Walker, History of the Congregational Churches in the United States (1894); A. Dunning, The National Council Digest (Boston, 1906).

CONGRESS (Lat. congressus, coming together, from congredi; cum, with, and gradus, step), in diplomacy, a solemn assembly of sovereigns or their plenipotentiaries met together for the purpose of definitely settling international questions of common interest. In this political connotation the word first came into use in the 17th century; an isolated instance occurs in 1636, when it was applied to the meeting of delegates summoned by the pope to Cologne, to attempt to put an end to the Thirty Years’ War. In 1647 the meetings of delegates for the conclusion of peace, assembled at Osnabrück and Münster, were termed a congress; and in spite of objections to it on the ground that it was “coarse and inappropriate,” based on the physiological sense of the word, it continued thenceforward in use.

The adoption of the name Congress for the national legislative body in the United States (and so for other American countries) was simply a development from this usage, for the “Continental Congresses” of 1774 and 1775–1781, and the “Congress of the Confederation” (1781–1788), were, as inter-state representative deliberative bodies, analogous to international congresses, and the Congress of 1789 onwards ultimately consists of representatives of the sovereign states composing the Union; this body is, however, dealt with under United States: Political Institutions. The more general analogous use of the term (Church Congress, &c.) is of modern origin.

In its international sense the term “congress” is only applied to gatherings of first-class importance, attended either by the sovereigns themselves or by their secretaries of state for foreign affairs; less important meetings, e.g. either in preparation for a congress or for the settlement of a particular question, are usually termed “conferences.” The dividing line between the congress and the conference is, however, historically ill-defined; and though a congress of the first importance, e.g. that of Vienna (1814–1815), is never otherwise described, the two terms have often been used indifferently in official diplomatic correspondence even of such dignified assemblages as the meetings of sovereigns and statesmen at Aix-la-Chapelle (1818), Troppau (1820) and Laibach (1821). The individual sessions of a congress are also sometimes called conferences.

The results of the work done at various international congresses in developing a sense of the common interests of nations are dealt with under International Law and its allied articles. The more important congresses, e.g. Münster and Osnabrück (Westphalia) in 1648; Breda, 1667; Aix-la-Chapelle, 1668, 1748, 1818; Nijmwegen, 1678; Regensburg, 1682; Ryswick, 1697; Utrecht, 1713; Tetschen, 1779; Paris, 1782, 1814, 1815, 1856; Rastadt, 1794; Amiens, 1802; Chatillon, 1814; Vienna, 1814–1815; Troppau, 1820; Laibach, 1821; Verona, 1822; Berlin, 1878, are treated under their topographical headings. The present article is concerned only with the questions of constitution and procedure.

Convocation and constituent Elements of a Congress.—Any sovereign Power has the right to issue invitations to a congress or conference. In principle, moreover, every state directly concerned in the matters to be discussed has the right to be represented. But this principle, though affirmed by the Powers at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, has rarely been translated into practice. At the congress of Vienna (1814–1815), the decisions of which affected every state in Europe, a committee of the five great Powers claimed and exercised the right to settle everything of importance; and this set the precedent which has been followed ever since. At the congresses of Paris and Berlin, as at that of Vienna, the great Powers regulated the affairs of lesser states without consulting the representatives of the latter. Similarly, at the conference of 1869 on the affairs of Crete no representative of Greece was present; and at the conference of London (1883), on the international regulation of the Danube, the sovereign state of Rumania, though a Danubian Power, was not represented. It was only with great difficulty that Cavour obtained admission to the congress of Paris in 1856, and the proposal of a congress in 1859 broke down on the refusal of Austria to admit the right of Sardinia to be represented. M. Pradier-Fodéré deplores the consistent breach of the “fundamental rule” in this respect; but since every sovereign state, great and small, once admitted, has an equal voice, it is difficult to see how a principle, equitable in theory, could be established in practice. The failure of the Hague conferences to arrive at any substantial results was in fact due, more than anything else, to the admission on equal terms of a crowd of very unequal Powers. It may then be laid down that all congresses and conferences that have effected settlements of importance have been summoned and dominated by Powers strong enough to enforce respect for their views.

Preliminaries.—Before a congress meets it is customary, not only to agree on the place of meeting (a question often of first-class importance) and on the Powers to whom invitations are to be sent, but to define very carefully the nature and scope of the business to be transacted. This is done sometimes by an elaborate exchange of diplomatic correspondence issuing in preliminary conventions, sometimes by the summoning of conferences, e.g. those at Vienna in 1855 preliminary to the congress of Paris in 1856.

Procedure.—When the congress assembles the first business is the verification of powers, which is done by a. commission specially appointed to examine the credentials of the plenipotentiaries. It is usual for the Powers, for obvious practical reasons, to be represented by two or three plenipotentiaries. If the foreign minister himself attend, he needs no credentials; those of his colleagues are countersigned by him. The verification being completed, questions of procedure, of precedence and the like, are settled. In earlier times this was a matter of extreme difficulty and delicacy, since there was no norm by which the respective dignity of the representatives of first-class Powers could be established; an incredible amount of time was wasted in futile questions of precedence, and not seldom negotiations for a peace that every one desired broke down on a point of etiquette. All this has been obviated by the rule observed at the congress of Berlin (1878), according to which the plenipotentiaries took their seats at a horse-shoe table in the alphabetical order of the states they represented, according to the French alphabet.

The presidency of the congress is by courtesy reserved for the minister for foreign affairs of the state in which the meeting is held; if, however, he decline to serve, a president is elected;