The new state of Czechoslovakia consisted of four main territories. In the west were the former Austrian provinces of Bohemia, Moravia, and parts of southern Silesia; to the east were Slovakia and Ruthenia, both formerly part of the Hungarian kingdom but different in social and ethnic composition; and, following the bitter dispute with Poland, Czechoslovakia was awarded the area around Teschen.
The new leaders in Prague moved rapidly towards building a political system. They convened a national assembly whose Czech members reflected the distribution of votes in the 1911 Reichsrat elections and whose Slovak representatives were nominated by the most prominent Slovak leader then in Prague, Vavro Srobár; the Germans in the new state refused an invitation to attend. By the middle of November the national assembly had declared itself a constituent assembly, Masaryk had been elected president with Kramář as prime minister, and a provisional constitution had been published.
The rapidity and smoothness with which the Czechs could move at this early stage owed much to their own political experience and sophistication at home and to their diplomatic skill with the allies abroad. The core of the new state was the association of Czech and Slovak in a single Czechoslovak nation. Despite unequal levels of political development and differing attitudes to the Catholic church the first world war had driven Slovak political activists towards closer cooperation with the Czechs, especially after the collapse of tsarism had left both Czechs and Slovaks without any potential patron in central Europe. On 24 May 1918 Hlinka told a secret meeting of the Slovak National Party in Turčanský Svätý Martin that ‘The thousand years of marriage to the Magyars has failed. We must part.’ 1 A few days later the Pittsburgh declaration showed that Slovak émigrés agreed.
Union with the Czechs posed serious problems for the Slovaks. They had no administrative experience or cadre; their agriculture was primitive and the countryside bedevilled with problems of share-cropping, emigration, and alcoholism; Slovak industry was not as advanced as that of the Czech lands and had