In 2014, when the Norwegian Constitution could celebrate its 200th anniversary, publisher Trond B. Olsen put together a book tracing the US Constitution’s influence of its Norwegian counterpart. 1814 – 2014 Red, White and Blue is a fascinating book about the second-oldest living constitution in the world and the Norwegian constitution and Norway’s links to the USA.
The Norwegian constitution has for more than 200 years been the backbone of a society that has created political stability, economic development and personal freedom for generations of Norwegians. The book, 1814-2014 Red, White and Blue, edited by Gudleiv Forr, is a cooperation between 10 artists and 15 authors. The book tells how the Norwegian constitution was created in Eidsvoll northeast of Oslo in 1814, how it has functioned and the authors do not forget the democratic challenges it faces.
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About the book
Although the true Norwegian sovereignty did not happen until 1905, when the country broke free from its union with Sweden, May 17 has become Norway’s national day. Many notable political figures have contributed to the book, including former US Vice President Walter Mondale (whose paternal grandparents were Norwegian). The book features 15 essays by writers and scholars alongside artworks by Norwegian contemporary artists inspired by the Constitution, among them Sverre Bjertnes and Inger Sitter, a one-time young rebel who became a pioneer of Norwegian abstract in the post-World War II years.
The writers as well as the artists focus on what it means to have a national identity. EU researcher Erik Oddvar Eriksen’s chapter deals with the Norwegian connection to the EU, and how it influences and challenges Norway’s sovereignty. According to Eriksen, the Norwegian participance in the EEA has constitutional implications, and every administration since 1994 has brough the country closer to the EU.
Related: Everyman’s Right in Norway
The Norwegian Constitution and Norway’s links to the USA
Norway’s link with the USA goes back around 1,000 years, when Norse Vikings first landed in North America. The largest waves of emigration occurred, however, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, first for religious reasons, and then for work.
“The United States has always been fortunate to have a special relationship with Norway due to the thousands of migrants that left Norway for America at the turn of the last century,” writes Vice President Mondale in the book’s preface. “The impact of this has been that Norwegian-Americans have made and continue to make, significant contributions to US politics, to the arts and sciences, and to the all-round betterment of our society. Their Norwegian ancestors passed down values from one generation to the next that focus on hard work, service to society and placing the public good above all.”
Related: Language of the Vikings
Famous Norwegian Americans
Here are just a few of famous Norwegian Americans. Actor James Arness, Actor James Cagney, the inventor of the outboard motor Olav Evinrude, creator of the animation series The Simpsons Matt Groening, founder of the Hilton Hotels Conrad Hilton, entrepreneur Fred Kavli, actor Robert Mitchum, actress Marilyn Monroe, icon from the Prohibition Eliot Ness, musical director for Frank Sinatra Axel Stordahl, violinist Camilla Wicks,
The Norwegian Constitution and Norway’s links to the USA, written by Tor Kjolberg