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Revolution of 1848 in France

In France there were various causes of discontent with the government of Louis Philippe. The liberals maintained that the king had too much power and demanded that every Frenchman should have the right to vote so soon as he reached maturity. As Louis Philippe grew older he not only opposed reforms himself but also did all he could to keep the parliament and the newspapers from advocating any changes which the progressive parties demanded. Nevertheless, the strength of the Republicans gradually increased. They found allies in the new group of socialistic writers who desired a fundamental reorganization of the State.

Fall of the July Monarchy

On the morning of February 23d, the streets of Paris were filled with large crowds of people, barricades were erected, and some fighting occurred between the people and the troops, in which several persons were killed. In obedience to the request of the National Guards, who fraternized with the people, the king dismissed the Ministry of M. Guizot, and called on Count Mole to form a new Cabinet. This action of the king produced a lull; but the wanton discharge of musketry upon a large crowd, by the guards assembled before M. Guizot's hotel, by which fifty-two persons were killed and wounded, again excited the fury of the populace, who paraded through the streets with a bier covered with dead bodies, crying "To arms!" "Down with the assassins!" "Down with Louis Philippe!" "Down with the Bourbons!"

On the morning of February 24th, the whole city of Paris was in possession of the people. At the Chateau d' Eau, a large stone building in front of the Palais Royal, a severe fight occurred between the people and the municipal guards, and the chateau was demolished by fire. The mob then marched to the Tuileries, and demanded the abdication of the king. Louis Philippe signed an abdication in favor of his grandson, the young Count of Paris, but the Chambers would not accept the young prince, and Louis Philippe and his family fled to Neuilly, from which place they made their escape to England.

The royal furniture was thrown out of the windows of the Tuileries and burned, the wines in the royal cellars were distributed among the multitude, the throne was carried through the streets, and finally burned on the Place de la Bastile, and the royal carriages were bumed at the Chateau d' Eau. Overwhelmed by the mob, and amid the greatest confusion and shouts of "Vive la Republique!" the sturdy republican, Dupont de l'Eure, was carried to the chair in the Chamber of Deputies, where a provisional government was proclaimed, consisting of the following persons: M. Lamartine, Emanuel Arago, Ledru Rollin. Gamier Pages, Dupont de l'Eure, Lamoriciere, Cavaignac, and Decoutrias. The Provisional Government was installed at the Hotel de Ville, and proclaimed The Second French Republic. The Chamber of Peers was immediately abolished. The poet, M. Lamartine, was the master-spirit of the new government. Every citizen of France was made an elector, and twenty-five years of age constituted elegibihty for office; the penalty of death for political offences was immediately abolished; and all slaves on territory subject to France were declared free.

On the 4th of March, 1848, the victims of the Revolution of February were solemnly interred, in the presence of nearly half a million of people, at the foot of a monument erected to the memory of the victims of the Revolution of July, 1830. France's new rulers directed their first efforts to the reestablishment of order; and many grievences of which the people complained were removed. Fetes, parades, and illuminations were given daily for the public amusement. But the spirit of anarchy and restlessness was now rife for another insurrection. As the Revolution had been the work of the laboring classes, efforts were now taken by the Provisional Government to better their condition. National workshops were established in Paris, where the idle could find employment.

The Moderate and Red Republicans had united to overturn the throne of Louis Philippe, but no sooner had the Republic been proclaimed than the animosity between those two parties broke forth anew and when the Reds perceived that the control of public affairs was in the hands of the Moderate party, they began to conspire for another revolution. The first open opposition to the Provisional Government was made on the 16th of April (1848), the object of the movement being the overthrow of the Provisional Government, and the establishment of a Committee of Safety for the direction of public affairs. This movement, and a rising of the various clubs of Paris, were easily suppressed. Bloody riots occurred on the 23d and 24th of April 1848, the days for the election of members for a permanent National Assembly.

The elections throughout France resulted in large majorities for the Moderate Republicans; and on the 5th of May (1848), the newly-elected National Assembly met in Paris, and organized with the election of M. Buchez as president. On the following day (May 6, 1848), the members of the Provisional Government submitted their reports to the National Assembly and resigned their powers. On the 10th, the National Assembly appointed M. Emanuel Arago, Gamier Pages, M. Marie, M. Lamartine, and Ledru Rollin, an executive committee to act in place of the Provincial Government.

The June Days

On the 15th of May, 1848, an immense mob assembled in the streets of Paris, proceeded to the hall of the National Assembly, drove out the members, and proclaimed Socialism and Commumsm, the imposition of taxes upon the rich for the benefit of the poor, and the restoration of the guillotine. The mob also declared that France should send an army to Poland to drive the Russian troops from that country, and a heavy tax was levied on the rich to carry on the war for Poland. The mob also appointed an executive government composed of the Communist leaders, M. Barbes, Blanqui, Flocon, Cabet, Albert, Raspail, and Louis Blanc. This movement would doubtless have resulted in the most serious consequences, had not the National Guard declared for the National Assemblly, dispersed the mob at the point of the bayonet, and restored order. The Communist leaders, Blanqui, Barbes, Raspail, Sobrier, and Albert, were arrested and imprisoned.

The insurrection of May 15th was only a prelude to the great Communist Rebellion of June 1848. Fearing another demonstration on an extensive scale, the Government made the necessary preparations to meet it. Finding the burdens imposed upon the national treasury too heavy to be borne, the Government, in June 1848, resolved upon the discharge of the immense army of workmen, more than 100,000 in number, uselessly employed in Palis at the public expense. This alarmed the workmen, who immediately organized for another desperate struggle, for the purpose of bringing about the realization in practice of Communism and Socialism - a community of goods and manners. The party of law and order, which controlled the National Assemblv, were resolved upon the complete annihilation of the Communist faction in the event of another appeal to arms.

On the 22nd of June (1848), a deputation of five delegates, appointed by the workmen, called on M. Marie, the Prime-Minister of the Republic. After a short conference, the deputation returned to the workmen, assuring them that they had nothing to expect from the Government. This was the signal for riotous demonstrations. Large crowds collected, in the evening, at the Hotel de Ville, the Place de la Bastile, and other important points, crying for the downfall of the Republic, and the elevation of Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte to the throne of France. On the following morning, June 23d, it was found that the rioters had made considerable progress, and thrown up barricades in various portions of the city. The principal insurgent barricades were in the Rue St. Denis. Rue du Faubourg St. Denis, Rue Villeneuve Bourbon, Rue de Clery, and near the Porte St. Denis and the Porte St. Martin.

The Government appointed General Cavaignac, then Minister of War, commander-in-chief of all the troops in Paris. The barricades near the Porte St. Denis were carried at the point of the bayonet. The insurgents there were aided by boys, and even by women, who appeared on the barricades, waving flags and other emblems. On the 24th, the National Assembly declared Paris in a state of siege, and appointed General Cavaignac dictator. A heavy musketry and artillery fire continued during the greater part of the day, and before evening, the rebellion was suppressed on the left, bank of the Seine, but a sanguinary struggle took place at the Clos St. Lazarre, on the right bank. The conflict raged with great fury during the 25th.

The Government troops numbered 300,000 men, and the insurgents 120,000. A terrible struggle raged at the Pantheon, where the rebel barricades were captured, after frightful carnage. In the evening of this day, occurred one of the saddest events in this unhappy civil war. Monseigneur Affre, Archbishop of Paris, appeared at the Place de la Bastile, for the laudable purpose of bringing about a pacification. On the appearance of the noble prelate, both parties, for a while, ceased firing, but suddenly recommenced, and the venerable Archbishop received a mortal wound, and expired on the morning of the 27th. On the morning of the 26th, the struggle was renewed with terrible fierceness, the principal scenes of action being the Faubourg St. Antoine, the Place Maubert, and the vicinity of the Pantheon. At noon, the insurgents at the Faubourg St. Antoine surrendered, but the other places were stormed, and the insurgent garrisons of each were killed or captured. The insurgent barricade at the corner of the Rue de la Roquette was attacked by the Government troops, under General Lamoriciere, after having carried all the rebel barricades in the Faubourg du Temple. From the Place de le Bastile, Lamoriciere's troops bombarded and cannonaded the insurgent works, when the falling of shells on some of the adjoining houses, several of which were set on fire, so frightened the insurgents that they fled out ot the city.

Thus ended the great Rebellion of the Paris Communists in June, 1848. Never before had Paris witnessed such slaughter as during these four sanguinary days. The number of killed and wounded is not definitely known, but 25,000 is not probably a very high estimate. One-fourth of the city was ruined. Several days were occupied in burying the dead, and in repairing the damage inflicted on the city. On the 29th (June, 1848), General Cavaignac resigned his dictatorship into the hands of the National Assembly, and that body then appointed him Chief Executive of France.

On the 4th of November, 1848, the French National Assembly, by a vote of 739 in favor, and 30 in opposition, adopted a Constitution, giving France a republican form of government, with one Legislative Assembly, and vesting the executive power in a President, to be elected by universal suffrage, for a term of four years. The candidates for the Presidency were General Cavaignac, General Changarnier, M. Lamartine, Raspail, Ledru Rollin, Louis Blanc, and Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte. To the surprise of all, the Presidential election resulted in ihe choice of Louis Napoleon, by a clear majority of 3,556,400 against all the other candidates combined. The President-elect was sworn into office on the 20th of December, 1848, in the presence of the Assembly, by M. Marrast, President of that body.

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