France History – The Second Republic

The government, which emerged from the tumultuous Parisian days of February 1848, had not only a republican character, but also a socialist tendency represented by Louis Blanc and the mechanic A.-M. Albert, who were part of it together with seven republican deputies, among the which the best known were A. de Lamartine, A. Ledru-Rollin, France Arago. The trend was the expression of the movement which had taken on more and more development during the last phase of the monarchy in July, and which had a strong hold on the Parisian working mass, excited in the sense of the most advanced conquests. Its strength had succeeded in bringing about a split in the old republican party, giving rise to the current that was agitating the extremist program of a social-democratic republic alongside the current faithful to the conception of the bourgeois republic.

According to ZIPCODESEXPLORER, the pressure of the socialist current on the provisional government was immediately revealed by some significant measures: the establishment of national factories, with the aim of procuring work for unemployed workers and the adoption of universal suffrage.

Through tumultuous attitudes and pressures an important event in the French history of the century was initiated. XIX: the entry and participation of the proletariat in political life, alongside and against the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy. The first months of the republic of 1848 are characterized by continuous pressure on the provisional government by the popular masses of Paris, always advancing new demands.

Once again the Parisian masses tried to impose their will and their directives on the country. But this time the attempt, no longer bourgeois-democratic but socialist, was destined to crash against the resistance and reaction of the forces of the exasperated and frightened bourgeoisie, allied with those of the rural classes, in which the genesis of the new political situation is to be seen. from which the dictatorship of the second empire will arise. The provisional government, while partly yielding, partly resisting with difficulty, faced the socialist masses, had to prepare the organization of the new republican regime, and develop an international activity in relation to the new European situation.

For the first task it was decided to convoke a constituent assembly to be elected by scrutiny in which direct universal suffrage was applied for the first time (April 23-24, 1848). The elections resulted in an assembly of a different color from that which the Socialists and Republicans pushed forward, as the majority resulted from democratic-conservative tendencies. This result was the expression of bourgeois concerns and above all the exasperation of the rural classes, who had seen an extraordinary tax of 45 cents fall upon them. for each franc of direct contributions, the tax burden decided by the government to meet the new expenses, especially those for national factories.

In the meantime, the problems of foreign policy in the revolutionary situation which, following the French events, had taken place in most of Europe, were also urgent, so much so as to make it possible to repeat what had happened between 1792 and 1799. But in the international field the positive action of the new government turned out to be very scarce, even if notable currents tried to push it to intervene in the questions of Italy and Poland. The government, whose foreign policy was directed by Lamartine until June, found itself in reality paralyzed both by the desire not to overshadow foreign governments, the British one at the forefront, and by concerns for the internal situation and between April and June became complicated by the attempts of the Parisian working mass led by the socialist agitators against the government and the Constituent Assembly, attempts which culminated in the bloody insurrection of June (24-26), which took the troops of General L. -AND. Cavaignac, to whom the assembly had given dictatorial powers.

and returned to political life in France after the advent of the republic, as a deputy to the Constituent Assembly. His program based on social order, the prestige of the name, the very skilful propaganda of himself and of the Bonapartists soon reorganized behind him, earned him on 10 December 1848 the resounding success against the outspoken republican candidate Cavaignac and the socialist candidate Ledru-Rollin. , in the election as president of the republic, which was carried out by direct popular vote by universal suffrage. It was the first symptom of the general reaction in France against social-revolutionary excesses, which was followed in May 1849 by the even more significant result of the elections for the Legislative Assembly, in which, if a noisy and restless group of left-wing extremists turned out, it was also a imposing majority in conservative-clerical shades. Meanwhile, the new president had already proved his political ability by promoting the expedition against the Roman Republic, destined not only to balance the Austrian influence in Italy, not leaving the task of restorations to Austria alone, but also to captivate the president’s sympathies. and the support of the clerical masses which he with certain intuition had foreseen prevailing in the elections.

The Legislative Assembly, in front of which the President had the fullness of executive power, since the Constitution of 1848 attributed to him, together with the appointment of the ministers, direct control over the army and the bureaucracy, was difficult to control, because it was divided between conflicting factions. In the same majority, legitimists and Orleanists fought fiercely, making the monarchical restoration impossible, which nevertheless seemed safe and easy, given that the monarchical tendencies had the majority. In this agitated atmosphere, Louis Napoleon skilfully prepared the coup d’état, which only apparently suffocated the republic, while in reality he crushed the attempts at monarchical restoration, as the republic was virtually dead after the elections of May 1849.

The president’s ability was to let the assembly wear itself out and discredit itself in public opinion with its vain internal conflicts and the verbal excesses of the extremists, while for his part the president grabbed the leadership elements of the army and the bureaucracy, he removed from the government men who were dangerous to his ambitions, and with trips to the province he made direct contact with the mass of the population, tying it to his person and his name. After a period in which the president and the majority agreed to break through and disintegrate the surviving republican-democratic forces by dint of decrees and restrictive measures in the field of the press and association, sharp contrasts between the two powers soon emerged., until the fight became fierce around a project to modify the Constitution where it established a ban on re-election for the president, whose office lasted four years. The abolition requested by the president’s partisans found the majority of the assembly irreducibly opposed. But Louis Napoleon by now had for himself broad currents in the country, broad and strong support in the army and in the bureaucracy, and he could dare to take a coup. On 2 December 1851 he proceeded to dissolve the assembly, arresting the main exponents of the opposing parties, and granting himself the powers to reorganize the government on the model of the consular constitution of 1800.

An attempted insurrection against the coup was easily suppressed, and a massive plebiscite of 7,400,000 votes came to give the people’s sanction for the fait accompli. The Constitution issued by Louis Napoleon on January 15, 1852 contemplated a ten-year president flanked by three legislative fora: Council of State, Legislative Body, Senate; but in reality all the powers and all the functions were added together in the president. It was the return to the Empire, which in fact was proclaimed some time later with a decree of the Senate and sanctioned by another massive plebiscite in December 1852.

The convulsions of the revolution of 1848 had brought France back under an authoritarian dictatorship, which, moreover, was in harmony with the situation which had taken place everywhere on the European continent, after the repression of the various insurrectional and national movements which had broken out in connection with the February revolution.

France History - The Second Republic

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