Revolutionary France, Part 1
I have no space here at this place to go into the details of the reign of Louis Philippe. What is clear, in short order, the same old monarchical abuses were again to be observed. The legislature was to become a preserve "limited to the aristocracy of wealth and their hangers-on."4 However, Louis Philippe, unlike his predecessors had a way about him which made him attractive to the people of Paris, and, this attraction, was to keep him in power for a number of years. During his reign, as Chambers simply states, the "country prospered." This French prosperity which made itself felt through the years 1830-45, was, however, felt only by the French middle class. The proletariat, the people of the working class, as always, it seems, were miserable. In the years leading up to the Revolution of 1848, a cry went up from the political agitators for electoral reform. Louis Philippe fearful that his reputation with the people would be lost started to muzzle the newspapers, an action which was to lead to the end of his reign.
During February of 1848 things came to a head, and remembering all too well what can happen to a French monarch when he quarrels with a Parisian mob, Louis Philippe slipped out of Paris, never to return. By June of 1848, the barricades were up once again and the Parisian streets became bloodied. Many of the houses in Paris were left in smoking ruins and debris filled the streets.
In all of this, there was a large underclass that had no say, those who in the community who have no claim to any property and who are dependent on daily labor for subsistence, the laboring class, the proletariat. Paris had its Proletarian rabble, but France being an agricultural nation had far greater numbers of working class people out in the countryside. The revolution was almost exclusively Parisian and almost, too, exclusively undertaken to advance the interests of the bourgeoisie. The people of France were upset to think things should be turned on their head for the sake of the Parisian middle class. The people of the provinces came, seemingly all at once, to an understanding that the revolt at Paris had to be put down. Order was soon restored and the leaders of the various factions casted about for a new leader, one that would be recognizable by all and which might be controlled by the elected assembly. Enter Louis Napoleon, "Napoleon-the-Little." Louis Napoleon's father was Louis Bonaparte (1778-1846) who fought in the French wars with his famous brother, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). An election was held on December 10th, 1849, which swept Louis Napoleon into office. The magic name of Napoleon had done the trick; the people of France had once again visions of prestige, glory, and order. Within two years, with the help of the military, "Napoleon-the-Little," got rid of the French constitution and proceeded to imprison or deport any person who opposed him.5
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